(1962 - 1995)

by Pastor Lau Chin Kwee

Table of Contents:

In the Hands of a Planning God

From all eternity, our Heavenly Father has ordained that there should be the Evangelical Reformed Churches in Singapore to uphold the Reformed Standard of the Three Forms of Unity, which comprise the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordt. This means that in them God does not want another offspring of any of the denominations already existing in Singapore, nor another new non- or inter-denominational independent church. God wants an old faithful standard to be introduced to the Christians in Singapore. The Dutch Reformed Tradition is as old as the great 16th Century Reformation, though virtually unknown to Christians here until about a decade ago when the Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore, the ERCS, was first established in 1982.

This account, which I entitle "THE EVANGELICAL REFORMED CHURCHES IN SINGAPORE", is an attempt to show how the good Lord has led a group of very young believers to the Reformed Faith as it is expressed in the Three Forms of Unity. It should be noted that the essential points of doctrines as found in the Three Forms were inculcated in these young believers not merely by an intellectual process of learning in classrooms, but also through the crucibles of painful separation. Another thing to bear in mind is that each step of the way of development, it was the grace of God that led and sustained us. In retrospect, we can only see how ignorant, frail, weak, and unworthy we have been, yet He was behind, guiding and bringing to pass in an unfailing manner what He had ordained for us. We can only stand in awe and wonder at His Grace.

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The Early Years

About three decades ago, in 1962, there was a teacher in a government school, the Monks' Hill Secondary School, by the name of Goh Seng Fong. A young teacher in his early twenties, Mr. Goh had been a keen sportsman, a prominent rugby player when he was in Raffles' Institution, and now a very good coach in the same sport at Monks' Hill. His persevering spirit was very evident even in his approach to the spread of Christianity. In days when the government school rules were not so strict concerning religious gatherings in school, Mr. Goh wasted no time to start a daily Bible Class within the school compound. At times we even made use of the Science Laboratories for our meetings, seeing that he was a Science teacher and had access to them. We also made our own song books for our regular singspiration sessions. We would also have our prayer meetings regularly. Most Bible lesson sessions were taken by Mr. Goh, while occasionally the older Christians in our midst were given opportunities to teach as well. Tracting sessions within Monk's Hill and in other schools were often organized, and I well remember how many zealous, Christian students packed into his "miniwagon" going into "warfare with the devil".

In the initial years, this group was associated with the Singapore "Youth For Christ" (YFC) movement. So, besides the week-day gatherings in small groups for Bible studies at school, there were the weekly combined Saturday Club meetings held at Newton Life Presbyterian Church.

By the time I joined the group in 1965, it was already a very active group doing very well in the YFC enterprise. It was also in the middle of that same year that Mr. Goh consecrated his life to the Lord to serve Him fully. The occasion for this consecration was the death of Rev. Timothy Tow's first wife and child in a traffic accident at the foot of Cameron Highlands. (Rev. Tow was and still is the pastor of Gilstead Life Bible Presbyterian Church). Mr. Goh, being the oldest child in his family, had the obligation to support his family and had not the opportunity to go into full-time theological training as yet. He, nevertheless, joined the five year-old Far Eastern Bible College as a part-time student. Seeing the importance of church membership, he encouraged the students to join the Life B-P Church. In the years following, many of us were baptized in Life B-P church while still remaining actively involved in the Monk's Hill YFC. In fact, we were more involved in the YFC than in our own Church.

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Early Baptistic Influence

The year I was baptized in Life B-P Church, 1967, saw the beginning of a split in the group. Rev. Tow, generous as he has always been, allowed a certain Rev. Cliff Hunnicut, a fundamentalist Baptist missionary, to preach from his pulpit. The result was a close bond between this minister and the Monk's Hill YFC. His influence became greater as he was allowed to speak regularly at our YFC Saturday club meetings. His baptistic view on the doctrine of baptism became the emphasis, and some members left Life B-P Church and were re-baptized by this minister, who with this group then started the Harvester Baptist Church. It should be noted that at this point, Mr. Goh was not fully persuaded of the Baptist's position on baptism, and considered the matter a non-issue.

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Separation from YFC and Newton Life Church

The separation stand of the fundamentalist movement in Singapore soon reached Mr. Goh, who then led the group into separation from worldliness and also churches and Christian organizations which compromised with unbelievers and "brethren who walk disorderly". Association with YFC was terminated and the Monk's Hill YFC came to be known as the Monk's Hill Bible Club. This also meant that we could not use Newton Life Church any more and had to move to Gilstead Life B-P Church instead.

During this same period of 1968/69, Mr. Goh got involved with the Jesus Saves Mission, a ministry to the slums in Singapore, which was started by the brother-in-law of Rev. Tow, Rev. Peter Ng, on August 8, 1964. He became the domestic missionary of the JSM's station at Bukit Ho Swee. There were many combined meetings between the Monk's Hill Bible Club and the Jesus Saves Mission. I remember joining the over-night prayer meeting of the Jesus Saves Mission every Friday night, half-way up Mount Faber. Then there was also the JSM workers' conference in Tanjong Bungah, Penang. In the busyness of all these activities there was an attempt made to integrate this group of young people into the mainstream life of Life B-P church. The name of the group was changed to "The Gospel Letters and Tract Department" (GLTD), supposedly a department of the Life B-P Church Sunday School. The Monk's Hill Bible Club was to be an outreach of the GLTD. This artificial name tagging did not work, as the GLTD continued to function and develop independently, both administratively and financially. It was obvious that the GLTD's members were of a different breed from the Sunday School students of Life B-P Church.

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The Departure of Mr. Goh Seng Fon

The time finally came for Mr. Goh to leave the country for his theological training in the States. This was in September, 1972. At that time the GLTD consisted of mostly students with only a handful, like myself, who were working members. With no church supporting him, but just the $800/- collected from among the GLTD members, the love gift from JSM, and his personal savings, Mr. Goh set off to the States to study in a Baptist College. There he was converted into a staunch Baptist, and, in fact, became a missionary of a local Baptist church in the States. The objective of his subsequent return to Singapore was to establish Baptist churches here in Singapore on behalf of that church.

For a while, after the departure of Mr. Goh, the group of young believers were like sheep without a shepherd, quite lost and not knowing what to think or do. Soon God raised a brother, Johnson See, to lead the group. After the 1st Annual December Bible Camp at Serimbun in 1972, the work became steadier. There was numerical growth with students coming from other schools besides Monk's Hill. Many of these remain with the group even to this day to become the mothers and fathers in our churches. Being the oldest in the group, my role at that time was to be an advisor and regular speaker to the group, while the Executive Committee did all the planning and running of the activities. Following the example of Mr. Goh, I also started conducting Bible classes in Dunearn Secondary Technical School where I taught. Not a few from this school are now members, and even leaders, of our church. Praise the Lord for His goodness toward us.

By 1975, the group had grown to seventy strong, with more working members. Another brother, Richard (later known as Jonathan) Chan, became a school teacher. At Tanglin Secondary Technical School, he started a Bible Class with not a few students under his care. In a subsequent split, this sub-group did not come along with us, but remained in Life Church and were later organized into the Tabernacle B-P Church.

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Planning for the Return of Mr. Goh Seng Fong

The GLTD was at a cross-roads in 1975, about a year before the return of Mr. Goh from Theological training in the States. The leaders were talking about the future of GLTD - should it remain status quo in Life Church, or should it work towards the establishment of a church with Mr. Goh as its first pastor? The latter was the inclination of the majority in the Executive Committee and the membership. In preparation for Mr. Goh's return the group rented a place at 356-J, River Valley Road for its Sunday worship services.

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Contact with the Protestant Reformed Ministers

In the midst of all this, another event took place which showed the Lord's good pleasure that this group should become an instituted church, but not of the Baptistic persuasion. Out of the blue, we were asked to organize three lectures for two Protestant Reformed ministers who were passing by Singapore. I wonder how these prominent men (a Professor of Theology and a senior minister) felt when they stood before a group of young people, speaking about the Reformed faith. Later, I learnt from Professor Hoeksema that it was beyond his wildest dreams that those lectures could ever spark a Reformed movement here in Singapore. God's ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts transcend our thoughts. We devised our ways to have a church under the Baptist minister, but the Lord directed our steps towards becoming a creedal church confessing the Three Forms of Unity.

The lectures did not have as much effect as the literature that was left behind by the ministers. Among the literature was the Three Forms of Unity, the first question and answer of which so thrilled my heart that I devoured the Heidelberg Catechism whole-heartedly and began to teach it the following year at the Saturday Club meetings. Other Reformed literature, like books by A.W. Pink, were also read to the spiritual benefit of our souls.

After these Reformed lectures, another important man came into the life of the GLTD. He was Mr. Ong Keng Ho, who was instrumental in the organizing of the lectures. A recently returned Colombo Plan scholar, Ong Keng Ho came to know the Protestant Reformed Churches through an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he was a member while studying there. He was, among us, the most Reformed man at that time of our development. Later, he was one of the five elders who were ordained at the time of the institution of the FERC.

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The Split with Mr. Goh Seng Fong

At the end of 1976, Mr. Goh returned to us as Rev. Goh Seng Fong, a missionary of a Baptist Church in the States. We received him joyfully and sincerely worked with him to see if he could indeed become our first pastor. He introduced to us the Congregational form of church government and we even tasted it with him as the moderator of all congregational meetings where decisions on all matters of the church were made. The young members were most confused not knowing what they were actually doing.

Another action of Rev. Goh, which was ordained of God for the good of His people, was his over-zealousness to push his view of baptism by immersion. In the 5th Annual December Bible Camp, he had opportunity to speak to the group. Whenever he led in Scripture reading, he would read the words "baptism" and "baptized" as "immersion" and "immersed" respectively whenever they occurred in our King James Bible. He assumed what he had to prove to the dissatisfaction of the leaders, who then met with him to tell him to refrain from this method.

A forum on the mode of baptism was then decided upon which was to be held in the middle of the following year. He and I were to be the two speakers at the forum - he for immersion alone and I for any mode, preferably sprinkling or pouring. Being a well-trained man in the original NT Greek language, he came to the forum with stacks of notes showing how the word was used by secular Greek writers. Being untrained at that time, I relied on what other Reformed scholars had to say about the use of the word. My approach was to show the people that words used in the secular sphere can have quite a different meaning when used in a technical sense in another sphere. The true sense of a word is to be found in the context in which it appears. I then proceeded to show how in many cases in the Bible where the word was used, it was very unlikely that immersion was meant.

Thanks be to God that most members remained with the group, except for a few, when Rev. Goh decided to leave us. Many who were baptized by immersion by Rev. Goh during this period also chose to remain, which showed our solidarity in times of trials. Rev. Goh, with those few, began to establish a Baptist church, known as the Emmanuel Baptist Church. There were also others who left us because of discouragement over the conflict. Times of separation were painful times for us, but how else could we be purified for the Master's use?

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Established in the Reformed Faith

Coming to the pure Reformed faith from our type of background, the most difficult doctrine to accept was the doctrine of Limited Atonement (the doctrine that states that Christ died for the elect only.) For years we had been preaching the Gospel after the Arminian way of Universal Atonement. Without Christ being stated as dying for all men, head for head, how can there be a gospel to preach? That being our understanding, an acceptance of the doctrine of Limited Atonement could amount to the cessation of evangelism. While this need not be necessarily the case, many could not see the consistency of preaching limited atonement and yet calling all men to repentance and faith in Christ. A few leaders left us and went back to Life B-P Church. Brother Johnson See was not very sure about this doctrine as well, but in the providence of the Lord he was taken away to his "Arabia" in Scotland to be taught this truth by a certain Rev. Eric Alexander of the Tront Church of Scotland. It was soon after the Baptism controversy that Johnson left for Scotland for further studies. While there, he attended Tront Church and was led to a better understanding of the Reformed Faith. He continued to keep in touch during this time and was a blessing to the saints in Singapore.

Also after this controversy our attention was directed to the issue of church government. The confusion of the Congregational form of church government was obvious to us, but what should it be? Through Ong Keng Ho we were able to get a series of taped messages on the Eldership of the Church by Rev. Al Martin, a Reformed Baptist minister. Essentially, he was advocating the Presbyterian form of church government, at least in the local church setting. The thing that thrilled our hearts as we studied these messages was the fact that Johnson, who was then in the States, sent us a set of notes on Eldership which turned out to be notes of the sermons we were studying. That the Lord was encouraging us along, there can be no doubt.

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My Call into the Ministry

1978 saw my admission into the Far Eastern Bible College. My call to the ministry clearly had to do with the doctrine of grace which the Lord was pleased to reveal to me in 1976. The teaching of the Heidelberg Catechism in that year to the young people and the knowledge I had of the rampant Arminianism in all the churches I knew, impressed deeply in my heart the necessity of upholding this glorious truth for the glory and honour of the God of our salvation. The burden that I should be the one to take up the cross and follow the Lord to spread the truth (since God was pleased to reveal the truth to me) grew heavier towards the end of that year as the return of Mr. Goh drew near. Knowing the spiritual state of most churches, I had no confidence that Mr. Goh would return a Calvinist. I left my teaching job at the end of 1976, after enjoying that profession for six years.

The turmoil of 1977 kept me busy enough that I did not consider theological training immediately. When all was more settled at the end of 1977, I decided to join the FEBC in the beginning of 1978. While there were difficulties in the area of theology, I did benefit from the non-controversial subjects taught at FEBC. To FEBC I owe part of my theological training.

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The Emissaries from PRC

The departure of Rev. Goh brought back the previous question - How are we to become an instituted Church of our Lord Jesus Christ? In 1977 already, Brother Johnson was consulting Professor Hoeksema over the issues confronting our group. This led to an official request for help by the GLTD to the Protestant Reformed Churches in 1978.

The first two emissaries to come into our midst was Rev. James Slopsema and the late Elder Dewey Engelsma. The orderliness of the men from the PRC impressed us very much even to this day. The mandate given to these men was to investigate to see if there was indeed a group viable to be organized as a Reformed church. In a question and answer session, leaders of the GLTD played the devil's advocates not only to confirm the position of the PRC on issues dear to us, but also to educate our members in the truth.

It was then decided that the PRC would send us taped messages which we would listen to regularly at our organized "tape hours". Meanwhile, the leaders were to draft a constitution for the purpose of registering the group with the Government. This official recognition was necessary in order that the GLTD would be able to sponsor a missionary working here for a longer period of a few years. Finally, in January, 1979, the GLTD was registered as the Gospel Literature and Tract Society (GLTS).

Another delegation from the PRC came in 1979. This time, Elder Dewey Engelsma and the Rev. Marvin Kamps, together with their wives, came. Through this delegation we officially requested for a missionary to be sent to help us organize into a Reformed church. This delegation also advised us to stop conducting the Lord's Supper, which we had been administrating all this while through a visiting minister from the Sharon B-P Church, Rev. Peter Chua. The reason for this advice was the impropriety of the Lord's Supper without the proper supervision and rule of the elders. We agreed and in that way also learnt the truth of the Three Forms in a practical way long before the adoption of it as our confession. In some sense our painful experiences were the teaching of the Lord in preparing us to adopt the Three Forms of Unity.

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The Institution of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore and Her First Pastors

February, 1980, saw the arrival of Rev. Arie denHartog and his family to labour here in Singapore as our missionary pastor and family. 1980 was also the year that I finished my studies at FEBC, married on August 2, and left for the States on August 14 for further theological training in the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches of America. It was good to know then that the group was not left without an under-shepherd.

After four months of Pastor denHartog's labour, the GLTS requested the PRC to grant him permission to organize us as a Reformed church. Permission was granted on condition that we could conscientiously subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity. We had no problem with the teaching and preaching of the PR men, but to declare explicitly that we subscribe to the Three Forms of Unity without actually studying it ourselves, was beyond our Christian integrity to do. So we decided to wait with the institution and study the Three Forms of Unity under Pastor denHartog first.

While this study was going on, the leaders were working hard getting the constitution of the GLTS amended to a constitution of the would-be church, the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (ERCS). Finally, on January 24, 1982, the Evangelical Reformed Church in Singapore was instituted. During that happy occasion five elders and three deacons signed the Formula of Subscription pledging their adherence to the Three Forms of Unity and confirming that the Three Forms are for our churches. Another moving moment was the reading in unison of The Resolution of Membership by the more than 90 founder members of the church (see Appendix A for the full text). No doubt, this document is an evidence and reflection of the spirit of the founder-members. What a spirit of devotion and consecration, of understanding and determination, of unity and love!

A few months after this momentous event, my expectant wife, Foong Ngee, and I returned home from the States to take up our labour in the midst of God's people in the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore. Joyfully, the people of God ordained their first pastor on September 5, 1982. Thus began the transitional period of handing the work of the ERCS fully to the local saints.

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The Toa Payoh Mission Work

At that time we were still worshipping at the River Valley Road kampong premises, a place which we had rented for our own use without time constraints. As we chose to worship in the morning and did have some time in the evening to serve our Saviour Jesus Christ. We rented another place in Toa Payoh to reach out to the lost there. Thus was started the Toa Payoh Mission (TPM) at the Toa Payoh B-P Church premises at 7:30 p.m. every Lord's Day. Often in this labour, we would go out tracting in the Toa Payoh estate and encourage people to join us. I remember Pastor denHartog and his son, Jonathan, going tracting with us in those days. The two Pastors took turns to preach at this preaching station. Not a few were directed to our church through this early work. After a few years, the TPM became impractical when the time of the worship service was inevitably changed to the afternoon of the Lord's Day.

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The Institution of Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (CERC)

That the Lord was giving us an opportunity to start another congregation became obvious when a young man gave his life to study for the ministry. Jaikishin Mahtani, a gifted young man who was already admitted to the Law faculty of the National University of Singapore, was much touched by the Word of God and decided to serve Him directly in His Kingdom. He shared his sentiment with the church and was soon declared a theological student of our church. In preparation for his trip to the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America, the two pastors were to instruct him first in subjects such as NT Greek, Hebrew and Dogmatics. In mid-1983, Brother Jaikishin Mahtani and his wife, Esther, left for the states for three years of theological training.

In 1986, as Jaiky was nearing the completion of his studies in the States, members were encouraged to consider the possibility of starting another congregation. The idea was to allow a viable group of members to start meeting on their own under the leadership of some office-bearers with the view of organizing it into a church. A survey was made and some 40-50 members indicated willingness to go out and form this new church, the Lord willing. Initially, Pastor denHartog and two elders, Elder Ong Keng Ho and Elder Ang Leng Huat, were there to help out. As Pastor denHartog was planning to leave by the end of that year, the Session called Pastor Mahtani, who was ordained in October, 1986, to provide the pastoral leadership and care for this new congregation.

The zeal of this group of people soon led them to rent a place at the American School for their regular worship service. The Inauguration Service was held on November 9, 1986, while Pastor denHartog and his family were still with them, and the first regular worship service was held the following week. After Pastor denHartog left us in December, 1986, the three office-bearers laboured conscientiously till the institution of the church on September 6, 1987. (See Appendix 2 for the Covenant of Commitment made by the founder-members on that day.)

After the organization of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore, there were, for the first time, two Reformed churches in Singapore. In view of a future denominational name of "Evangelical Reformed Churches of Singapore" (ERCS), the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore officially amended her constitution to call herself the "First Evangelical Reformed Church. "With two churches, the question of a healthy denominational life became an important matter. With the adoption of common by-laws, our two churches were able to express our denominational life to a certain extent with some difficulties when dealing with outsiders officially. Through all these difficulties we are learning concretely the advantages of having sister-churches around us to help each other in times of need. The crisis in CERC, which I will cover later, was a case in point.

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The Lord's Providence of Church Premises

The Lord was also gracious in providing our two churches with their own church premises. For those familiar with what is involved in getting a place of worship which a church can call its own in Singapore, it is indeed a marvel that our two churches with a combined membership of some 300 souls can possess two premises, both legally recognized as places of worship, and within 12 years since the institution of the first Reformed church.

CERC, being a smaller congregation with an energetic pastor, was the first to get their own place of worship at 21 Tessensohn Road. This building is a unit in a block of terraced houses being used for commercial purposes. To get a place such as this to be used as a church is a most difficult matter. The Government has all kinds of regulations controlling the change of use of premises - for church use the surrounding area should not be residential, it should have ample parking places to avoid traffic congestion in the vicinity. Pastor Mahtani shared with me that to obtain the change of use of this place, he was down at the government office very early every day of a certain week until an high official noticed him and asked to discuss his problem. Thank God that to this date the change of use of this place has continually been granted from year to year. CERC moved into their beautifully renovated building during 1988 and the dedication took place on October 29, 1988.

As for FERC, the search for a permanent place of worship took many years. With the small size of our church, we did not begin with the idea of building our own church building. This might have been the passing, wishful thinking of some, but it was never taken seriously. Our idea was more like getting an existing building and converting it for church use, much like what CERC had done, except that we needed a bigger place, being bigger in number. Through the years we ended up buying two terraced units, one at Blair Road and the other at River Valley Road, hoping to get the change of use from the Government for our church home. However, we did not get the necessary approval. These disappointments were God's appointments to prepare us to build a church of our own. Monies invested in these two properties, which appreciated through the years, helped us to get a plot of land along Yio Chu Kang Road for the building of our church.

One of our conditions in the purchase of a plot of land for the church building was the government's approval of our application for re-zoning of the land for religious use. Few owners would be willing to sell their property on that condition as such a process with the Government would take time and finally the deal with us might even fall through because of the authority's disapproval. In the providence of God, Mr. Daniel Teo, a developer, had a plot of land near to a church, which he considered as not suitable for building his initially planned semi-detached houses. He was interested in our two properties, and was finally willing to exchange his property plus $250,000/- for ours under the condition mentioned above. We thank God that the approval for re-zoning was granted. The design of his semi-detached house (a design approved by the government) gave us an idea as to how our church could be constructed (one with two basements).

God gave us men of different abilities and situations to construct this building at the cost of about 1.6 million (Singapore) dollars. Our architect, Mr. Loo King Keong, was a young man doing such a project for the first time and very enthusiastic. Being himself a Christian, he was willing to try to push through unconventional solutions to problems so as to maintain maximum built-in area for our church. We do truly appreciate his hard-work for us during the design stage to help us get what we now have. For the managing of the financial aspect of this project we thank God for Brother Goh Kheng Joo, whose advice and handling of the matter was most orderly to the satisfaction of all. For the construction of the building we have our Brother Wong Chee Choong, a civil engineer, well-experienced in handling contractors and the construction process. These are, of course, the key people, but there are many more whom the Lord has used in one way or another to make this huge project a success.

The building of the church was completed with the partial temporary occupancy permit (TOP) granted on May 24, 1994. The first worship service there was held on June 5, 1994.

The dedication of the church building took place on January 22, 1995. On this auspicious occasion, Rev. Arie denHartog and his wife, Sherry, were invited to rejoice with us. Fond memories of their labour in our midst - from 1980-86 - were brought back as many of us renewed our ties of friendship with them during their short stay with us.

For the dedication of this physical building, I preached from I Peter 2:4,5, which reads: "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ." The physical building we use for worship is not an end in itself. It should serve to remind us of our spiritual calling to be united in truth and holiness, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. If the building does not help us to be spiritually-minded, then it is a curse rather than a blessing to us. It is the spiritually-minded people that form the church, and not the bricks and cement. May that message serve our church well till the Lord's return.

That the Lord is for us in our Reformed churches should give us the confidence that none can be against us. We should grow in understanding of what the Lord wants us to do in this life before His return, that we may walk worthy of what He has given us.

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A Crisis in CERC

That there was a crisis in CERC became evident when a congregational meeting was planned on 26th May 1991 to cast a vote of no confidence in the ministry of their pastor. Through the interventions of FERC and also Pastor denHartog, reconciliation finally took place. Ecclesiastical orderliness, especially in times of crisis, is not something which one can simply learn from the class-room lectures. It has to be experienced to have a lasting, beneficial effect. God wants to make the Evangelical Reformed Churches strong in this area of their ecclesiastical life, which is rather weak even among most of the more conservative churches in Singapore. The timely arrival of a senior minister from the PRC, Pastor J. Kortering, greatly helped us through this crisis. I am sure the lessons learned will serve us well in the years ahead of us. Praise the Lord for His goodness to His people in the Evangelical Reformed Churches in Singapore.

Pastor Mahtani was then given an opportunity to be called by any of our sister churches to minister elsewhere. Later, he was called to Trinity Protestant Reformed Church in Houston, Texas, USA. The two Reformed Churches in Singapore then decided to request a Minister-on-loan from the PRC, to concentrate his labour in CERC.

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The Labour of the Korterings

No doubt the coming of the Rev. and Mrs. Kortering is a great blessing to us. Our two young churches certainly stand in need of guidance as we develop our denominational life. Being a senior minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches of America, Pastor Kortering is a very experienced man in ecclesiastical matters. The office-bearers of our churches can learn much from him. His presence in CERC for the past two years was a great blessing to them. The 1994 Classis (a broader body consisting of delegates from both our churches meeting annually in February) decided that Pastor Kortering should serve the remaining of his three-year stay in Singapore in FERC, so as to give the office-bearers there the opportunity to tap the experience of this man of God. CERC, being then without a pastor, has since called me to be a minister-on-loan to her. Again we see here the benefits of having sister churches to help one another out.

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Mission Work in Myanmar

Sometime in the first half of 1994, I was invited by New Life B-P Church to speak at their morning service. After the service I was introduced to Brother Fung Dun and Sister Kip Vel from Myanmar by Rev. Patrick Tan, the pastor of New Life. Fung Dun and Kip Vel shared their desire to be trained theologically so that they could return to their own country to teach the precious Word to their own people.

Through weeks and months of investigation, we in the Joint Mission Committee of ERCS decided to support them in their training here. After sending Dr. Daniel Kwek in October, 1994, and myself in March, 1995, to Myanmar, the JMC also decided to support the mission work in Myanmar.

Our main emphasis in this work is to instruct the believers in Myanmar in the Reformed faith, though we do extend partial financial support. In my trip in March, 1995, I had the opportunity to teach at a conference organized by the United Reformed Churches of Myanmar. They are planning another such training conference in January, 1996, with Pastor Kortering being the speaker at that time.

The people we are now reaching out to in Myanmar are of the Chin origin. They live in the north-north-eastern part of Myanmar. The early Baptist missionaries had preached successfully to this minority community of Myanmar with the result that most of them are professing Christians. However, for some reason the spirituality of this people has deteriorated, resulting in nominal Christianity among many churches. It was only in the last year or two that the Falam Chin people have their own Bible in the Falam language. One can understand their excitement about wanting to know the truth of Scriptures. May the Lord bless our effort there.

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Looking Ahead

As for the future which we can look forward to, we thank God for Brother Cheah Fook Meng who is being trained to take up his place, the Lord willing, in our midst when he completes his training. Brother Fook Meng is now in his third and final year at the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America. He had already received some training at FEBC prior to this. The Lord willing he will return to us in 1996. With this gifted man coming onto the scene, we hope to see the prosperity of the Reformed cause in Singapore.

We can only thank God for His faithfulness and undying love shown towards us unworthy sinners saved by grace as we recount the events of these past 30 over years. Without His grace where would we be to-day? If left to our own devices during this time, I can only see one conclusion - dead bones scattered here and there! That we are still together for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a testimony of God's faithfulness towards us and not our own skills or abilities.

Let us praise the Lord, the Almighty and God of our salvation, for He alone has done wondrously, carrying us along with Him and often without our being aware of what was happening until a later time when we have opportunity to recall His goodness and to praise Him. Amen.

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Appendix 1


We, who in times past were without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope and without God in the world are now made nigh only by the blood of Christ; such that we who were once not a people are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. We confess according to the Holy Scriptures as from the depth of our own hearts that it is not of ourselves that we are thus, for we were dead, but of God Who by His Holy Spirit made us alive. Our boast is in God alone for it is by grace that we are saved, not of works; nor of the power of our own will, but of God.

Seeing therefore that God Who chose us from before the foundation of the world is pleased to gather us as a Church, built upon the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets contained in the Holy Scriptures with Christ as the cornerstone, we seek to be joined to the same.

Being persuaded that the truth, which is commonly called the Reformed faith, which truth is laid forth in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dordrecht, does faithfully express the doctrines taught us in the Word of God in the Old and New Testaments which we believe, we thank God that He has caused us to believe and love the same. We therefore heartily and with praise to our God desire to be formed into the institute Church of Jesus Christ, the Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore, that she may be the pillar and ground of the truth in this region.

We endeavour henceforth, not by our own frail strength but by the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, as members of this church to confess and live according to this doctrine, in daily repentance not grudgingly as though under some harsh yoke but willingly seeing that these heartwarming and devotional truths are most gracious and comforting to us who once slaved under the ruthless tyranny of sin. We give God our King glory and thanks that He has given to us, in His infinite love and unsearchable wisdom, His servants, men qualified by the Holy Spirit to minister to us in the office of elders and deacons. We submit cheerfully to their care, readily seeking through them God's provision of the counsel and care of the Great Shepherd of the sheep. We count it joy to sit under the doctrine and rule of the elders by the Word, receiving in godly obedience the word preached and subjecting ourselves to their admonition and discipline when we err from the Word that we may be restored.

We drink heartily with thanksgiving at the wells of mercy which God has provided in the deacons as they administer the ministry of mercy and encouragement.

Finally, we seek by grace in our offices and members of the body of Christ to serve our Lord in the church according as He gives us opportunity and power; in mutual encouragements, in searching the Word, in prayer, in tithes and offerings and in what place soever we are, that the Church may grow up into Him in all things which is the head, even Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. AMEN.

Appendix 2


Finally we have come to this joyful occasion of the institution of the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church.

Today we stand here before Almighty God and His beloved people to acknowledge that it is He Who has gathered us together for this most holy task. Almost a year ago we made a covenant of commitment to toil together for the realization of a new church in this island of Singapore. By the grace of God we have come to this auspicious occasion of the institution of our Church. We confess that we continue to rely totally on this grace of our God as we seek to serve Him as the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church.

We promise to behave ourselves as members of this body of Christ, rejoicing together, weeping together, admonishing one another, walking in truth towards each other, and above all, serving one another in the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a special way, our toils, our time, and our prayers will be for her. We will avail ourselves for her good and her welfare. We will seek to be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord in this Church. We do this not selfishly as if only to see the Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church prosper. But we seek her welfare in order that she in turn will be a blessing to others as a testimony of the wonderful mercy and faithfulness of God to His people. If through us God would be pleased to gather His elect out of this world of darkness to His marvelous light, we would count it our greatest joy and blessing. Our prayer also is that God will use us as a means of blessing to the ERCS whom we love and we desire to serve the Lord in unity.

That same Reformed faith which extols God's grace and which is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and explained for us in the Three Forms of Unity, we will continue to declare. The calling to go into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature we will seek to obey by being a good testimony and witness as a Church through the preaching but also as members of the Church through our life and walk.

As we have committed ourselves to the wonderful task of pioneering this work some ten months ago, so now we make this covenant to make it clear before all that it continues to be our earnest desire that God raise up through us this Church of Jesus Christ. This covenant we make because of God's eternal covenant with us. He is our God and the God of our children. This is our confidence, our comfort, our only motivation to begin this work. And truly, if God be for us, who can be against us? We march on in the battle with this banner over our heads: "Jehovah is on our side, and we are on His!"

With such an awesome undertaking we can only bow in humility and trembling before God. In the presence of our fellow brothers and sisters from the ERCS, we make this cry to God our help and our strength: "Help us, bless us, and use us, for Thy own Name's sake!" We also covet your prayers on our behalf; we go by faith in the strength of our God. Do not forget us, but pray for us.

May this endeavour be used in God's grace to gather, defend and preserve His Church which is being built by our Lord Jesus Christ through His Word and Spirit even today in all the nations of the earth. We begin already now as His bride and Church crying: "Come Lord Jesus, Come quickly!" Yes, we see Him coming also in our very institution.

There is no better way to end this resolution than when we first began. Today and always we make this our confession: "Our help is in the name of Jehovah who made heaven and earth." Amen.

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