Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church

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Telok Ayer
Chinese Methodist Church
Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church05.jpg
Church view from Telok Ayer Street
Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church is located in Singapore
Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church
Telok Ayer
Chinese Methodist Church
1°16′42.5″N 103°50′48.8″E / 1.278472°N 103.846889°E / 1.278472; 103.846889
Location235 Telok Ayer Street
Singapore 068656
Country Singapore
DenominationMethodist
Membership1,200+
Websitewww.tacmc.org.sg
History
Former name(s)
  • Hokkien Church
  • Telok Ayer Church
  • Chinese Methodist Church
Founded1889
Founder(s)Dr. Benjamin F. West
Architecture
Functional statusActive
Heritage designationNational Monument
Designated1989
Architect(s)Swan and Maclaren
Clergy
Senior pastor(s)Rev. Chua Ooi Suah
Designated23 March 1989

Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (Abbreviation: TACMC), (Chinese: 卫理公会直落亚逸礼拜堂) is located on Telok Ayer Street within the Downtown Core of Singapore's central business district. The church is approximately 450 metres from Telok Ayer MRT station.[1]

Founded in 1889,[2] TACMC is the first Chinese Methodist Church to be established in Singapore.[3][4][5] It has stood on Telok Ayer Street for more than a century.[6]

TACMC is presently affiliated to the Chinese Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Singapore.[7] It was gazetted a national monument by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority on 23 March 1989.[8][9]

History[edit]

In 1889, a Methodist missionary and medical doctor, Dr. Benjamin Franklin West, arrived in Singapore to set up his dispensary and home on Japan Street (now Boon Tat Street).[10] The Chinese living in the area were mostly Hokkiens and many were opium addicts.[11] Dr. West started services in a rented house in Upper Nankin Street in August 1889.[12]

Initially, the congregation was mostly Hokkien-speaking. However, as more migrants from China came from the Methodist strongholds of Henghua, Hockchia and Foochow, many of the Hokkien speakers in the congregation left the church. This led to two Chinese Methodist churches being developed namely, Foochow Methodist Church and the Hokkien Methodist Church.

Gradually, the house on Upper Nankin Street where services were being conducted became overcrowded, so new premises were found on Japan Street for the Hokkien Church. In 1906, the Hokkien church became known as Telok Ayer Church.[13]

In early 1913, the church bought a piece of land at the junction of Telok Ayer Street and Cecil Street for 3,600 Straits dollars.[14][15] The site was up the road from Japan Street. A tent was put up on the vacant plot, and services and a Sunday school were held here. In 1914, the tent collapsed and the church moved to the former Fairfield Methodist Girls' School on Neil Road.[16] In September 1915, the congregation returned to the Telok Ayer Street site after a building made of wood and corrugated iron was constructed for about 900 Straits dollars.

Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (TA2) at Wishart Road, off Telok Blangah Road

In 1921, Ng Hong Guan, a church steward, donated 10,000 Straits dollars towards the construction of a new church building and undertook to solicit more funds. Tenders were called for the construction of a three-storey building. The French firm Bross and Mogin offered the lowest tender fee of 46,000 Straits dollars, a sum that excluded the architect's fee and foundation work. The architectural firm that designed the building was Swan and Maclaren.[17][18] On 19 January 1924, the church’s foundation stone was laid by Bishop George Harvey Bickley. Work commenced and the building was ready in December 1924. On 11 January 1925, the Telok Ayer Church was consecrated by Methodist Bishop Titus Lowe. It was in this building that the well-known Chinese evangelist, Dr. John Sung conducted his revival meetings in 1935.[19]

Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church was gazetted a national monument on 23 March 1989.[20][21]

The church later underwent restoration works which started in October 1993 and were completed in August 1995 at a cost of S$3 million.[22][23] Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church later built a new branch church building on Wishart Road, off Telok Blangah Road.[24] Its new branch building, with an 800-seat auditorium, was completed in 2004[25] and it is presently known as TA2. The church's Chinese and Hokkien services have been conducted at this church since 2005, while English and afternoon Hokkien services are conducted at the main church building on Telok Ayer Street (TA).

The church presently has a weekly attendance of about 1,200 members. Its music programme, which was started in 1935, boasts six all-volunteer choirs — three adult, one youth, and two children's choirs. TACMC’s Honorary Music Director is Dr. Emilia Wong; the church’s senior pastor is Rev. Chua Ooi Suah.

Architecture[edit]

The sanctuary of the church, which is on the second floor of the building

The basic design of Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church is western: it has a rectangular main body sitting on arch colonnades.[26]

The church is a highly mannered, somewhat eccentric building. Unlike the architecture of traditional churches, TACMC does not have a cruciform plan.[27] Instead, the church reflects its Chinese environment and the time in which it was built.[28]

The body of the church is demarcated at its four corners by large, full-height tapered buttress-like forms, within which access is gained to offices and other accommodation on the upper floors. These "buttresses" are punctured by rectangular and circular window openings and broken by projecting tiled porch roofs at the first storey level. Further, the church itself is arched, lit through large arched, quasi-Byzantine windows and crowned with a continuous tiled roof loggia. Art Deco features can be seen in the ornate window styles. The roof of the pavilion atop the last storey of the building is distinctly Chinese.[29]

Features[edit]

The pulpit used by Dr. John Sung, an evangelist from China, when he conducted revival meetings in the church in 1935
The church has a five foot way on its west side, making the building a part of the surrounding streetscape.
  • The church has a five foot way on its west side, making the building a part of the surrounding streetscape. It links with the five-foot way to the shophouses on Telok Ayer Street.[30]
  • Along the church’s five foot way is a row of columns alternating with piers along its length. This is a design feature seen in eighth-century Byzantine architecture.
  • There are 14 types of windows and vents of varying sizes and designs. They range from arched windows, to rectangular, square, and round windows. Some are marked with a cross design. Aside from the function of ventilating the building, they act as design features. The windows are complemented by louvred vents.
  • There are ten types of doors which are also a design feature of this building. They range from wooden double-leaf doors with panels to wooden single-leaf doors to steel and glass panelled single- and double-leaf doors.
  • The first- and second-storey interiors have eight columns with a moulded scroll design at the column-beam joint and a moulded column base. The ceiling is a coffer ceiling formed by the reinforced concrete longitudinal and cross beams complete with mouldings.
  • The first storey is a multi-purpose hall named after Dr. Benjamin West. The south entrance to the hall consists of two long doors to ventilate the room well.
  • The third storey was originally an open terrace with a parapet wall. The terrace was roofed over subsequently and small function rooms put in on either side of the central area consisting of a large room and a multi-purpose hall. The ceiling is also a coffered ceiling but of a simpler design than the original coffered ceilings on the first and second storey.
  • The church sanctuary is on the second storey.[31] On the apse side of the church is the altar. The wall behind it has the phrase "God is love" in Chinese characters. To the left and right of the altar are round windows with stained glass. On either side of the sanctuary are long arched windows with timber louvres. The longer windows have wooden panels with Chinese characters in gold.
  • There is a pavilion on the rooftop with a Chinese-style roof.[32][33][34] TACMC is the first Chinese church to have this feature. The pavilion on the roof faces a small rectangular room that balances the outline of the building. This room now houses the air-conditioning system.
  • The pavilion has recessed windows with semi-circular openings and square relief mouldings at the top edge of each recessed panel. Below the recessed panels are windows.
  • The space inside the pavilion is used as a prayer room.
  • There are two staircases to the upper levels at either end of the north side of the building.
  • On the south side, above the windows, is the name of the church and its established date, given as 1889.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church, Google map". Google Inc. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  2. ^ "Methodist church a refuge during WWII, The Straits Times, 8 December 2016".
  3. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  4. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  5. ^ "Clans of Chinatown, The Business Times, 21 October 2017".
  6. ^ "Methodist church a refuge during WWII, The Straits Times, 8 December 2016".
  7. ^ "Chinese Annual Conference". The Methodist Church in Singapore.
  8. ^ "List of Singapore's National Monuments" (PDF). Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  9. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  10. ^ "Church which early Chinese migrants could call home, The Straits Times, 10 August 1989". p. 4.
  11. ^ "Methodist church a refuge during WWII, The Straits Times, 8 December 2016".
  12. ^ "Methodist church a refuge during WWII, The Straits Times, 8 December 2016".
  13. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  14. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  15. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  16. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  17. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  18. ^ "A Chinese Church, The Straits Times, 27 April 1925". p. 9.
  19. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  20. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  21. ^ "List of Singapore's National Monuments" (PDF). Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  22. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  23. ^ "Methodist church a refuge during WWII, The Straits Times, 8 December 2016".
  24. ^ "Wishart Road's sleepy neighbourhood wakes up to curious find, The Straits Times, 10 October 2014".
  25. ^ "Methodist church a refuge during WWII, The Straits Times, 8 December 2016".
  26. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  27. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  28. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  29. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  30. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  31. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.
  32. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church". Urban Redevelopment Authority.
  33. ^ "Six of Singapore's 71 national monuments are on Telok Ayer Street, The New Paper, 4 January 2016".
  34. ^ "Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church Our Heritage". TACMC.

News articles[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Edwards, Norman; Keys, Peter (1996) [1988], Singapore – A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, Singapore; Kuala Lumpur: Times Books International, ISBN 978-981-204-781-6.
  • Lee, Geok Boi (2002), The Religious Monuments of Singapore, Singapore: Landmark Books, ISBN 978-981-3065-62-8.
  • Lau, Earnest (1994). Lest we forget 1894-1994. Singapore. ISBN 9810062672.
  • Lau, Earnest (2008). From mission to church : the evolution of the Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaysia, 1885-1976. Singapore: Genesis Books. ISBN 9789814222426.

Video[edit]

External links[edit]