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Road Methodist, Bukit Timah, Singapore
|Mystery Worshipper: Rebirth2006.
The church: Barker Road
Methodist, Bukit Timah, Singapore.
Church in Singapore.
The building: Barker Road Methodist began in 1956 as a chapel within the compound
of the Methodist Church in Singapore headquarters and the
Anglo-Chinese school in Bukit Timah, and was granted church
status the following year. The pastel coloured sanctuary is
located on elevated ground and has a contemporary feel to
it. Architecturally it is the centre-point of the entire complex.
There is a floor-to-ceiling stained glass window at the back
of the building.
The church: Although Barker Road is a Methodist church, it runs a number
of different worship services to accommodate the diversity
of the congregation. There is a hymn book service, a contemporary
service, and a pentecostal service, as well as services in
Tagalog, Indonesian, and Mandarin Chinese.
The neighbourhood: Bukit Timah is a prime residental district of Singapore and
is located near the centre of the island on a hill, the highest
point in Singapore. It is where the British surrendered the
island to the Japanese invading force during World War II.
During the Japanese occupation it was a major industrial centre,
but luxury housing has now replaced the factories. It is also
the site of a private saddle club.
The cast: The Revd Malcolm Tan, senior pastor and preacher.
The date & time: 30 January 2011, 10.30am.
What was the
name of the service?
How full was
Comfortably full. Around 700 people were seated in the pews.
welcome you personally?
There were ushers who were giving out bulletins at the front of the
sanctuary. We were also asked to greet a few people during a part of
Was your pew
The pew was the standard wooden pew used in most churches, but it was
relatively comfortable. One interesting thing was that the pew had been
sponsored by a person, whose name was engraved on the top right hand
How would you
describe the pre-service
Hardly anybody was in the sanctuary when I arrived. It was extremely
reverential yet peaceful.
What were the
exact opening words of the
"Indeed, the presence of the Lord is in this place!"
What books did
the congregation use during the
The words to the worship songs in the first part of the service
were projected on the screen, as well as the offertory anthem
by the choir, but the hymn of preparation and dedication as
well as scriptural references were referred to in the United
Methodist Hymnal and The
Holy Bible, New International Version, respectively.
instruments were played?
The opening worship set had an
acoustic guitar, drums, worship
leader and two singers, backed up by a 15 member choir.
Organ was used for the hymns.
A number of mobile phones went off at full volume during the
Was the worship
stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or
Even though this was a contemporary service in a Methodist
church, many people sang the worship songs with their arms
by their sides. A few people raised hands. The rendition of
the songs was also slowed down to suit the more conservative
congregation. At one point of the service, the pastor allowed
us to "give a clap offering to God".
long was the sermon?
On a scale of
1-10, how good was the preacher?
10 – Pastor Tan spoke in a crisp and clear British Received
accent with a tinge of Singaporean English. His sermon was
well structured and clearly illustrated, and closely followed
the biblical context.
In a nutshell,
what was the sermon
The sermon was based on 2 Corinthians 4:1-10 (Paul plainly
preaches Christ's truth to those who will receive it) and
was entitled "The Treasure Within". He divided his talk into
a number of sections, viz. life principles, hard truths to
living, the treasure within, false life perspectives, Paul's
testimony, and dimensions of the Christian life.
Which part of
the service was like being in
The anthem called "I Want to Know Christ" during the offertory
showed the full potential of the choir and was wonderfully
And which part
was like being in... er... the other place?
The worship team was horribly off beat during the opening set of
worship songs. I also struggled with the singing of hymns as the lyrics
were not projected on the screen.
when you hung around after the service looking lost?
As it was raining heavily that day, many people were more willing to
rush off than to stay and mingle with their fellow parishioners.
How would you
describe the after-service
There were dispensers with hot coffee and a number of cold
drinks such as fruit punch outside the sanctuary. Food was
also available for purchase in the canteen of the school.
How would you
feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 =
5 – Although Barker Road is a church with an incredible in-depth
style of solid biblical preaching and doctrine, I would find it hard to
accommodate singing out of a hymnbook and to blend in with a more
senior, conservative group of parishioners.
Did the service
make you feel glad to be a
I'm glad that I'm a Christian no matter what, but I was glad that
traditional denominations are now embracing more contemporary methods
of worship and preaching.
What one thing
will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The offertory choral anthem.
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