by Archbishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing
This is the ninth year for our Diocesan Theme for Decade of Mission and Networking – Mission Challenge: One In Christ (2011 – 2020) and the theme of this year 2019 is Bringing In the Sheaves. It is time for us to bring in the fruits and start counting the blessings and giving thanks to God while not stopping in our daily work and ministry. We have been Sowing, Nurturing, Planting, Guarding, Tending, Extending, Harvesting and so on over the last eight years. We thank God for the blessings and challenges in church planting, mission, evangelism, relief work, training, teaching and equipping. The Diocese has certainly seen much growth over the past 30 years, and especially so over the last 10 years.
In 1985 the Diocese has about 45 churches and less than 30 Priests and Parish Assistants. In 2015, we have grown to 155 churches and 125 Priests and Deaconesses and another 16 Evangelists. Within the 155 churches, there are altogether 255 congregations of various languages. Much of the growth was consistently experienced between 1995 and 2015. On one hand, we are quite happy with the increase but on the other hand, we are challenged to keep up the pace and to make sure that we can harvest the fruits and do not allow them to fall off. There was a season in our history when we can identify with this fact in our churches – “the people came in from the front door but left through the back door”. During those years we were praying and working very hard trying to retain the people in the church. Every types of measures were employed and used. We praised God that we managed to retain some and brought in others.
The Lay Readers and Lay Pastors Schools have certainly improved and brought in a significant number from the ‘frozen’ laity to serve in the church. The Anglican Institute of Ministry has further enhanced many in the trail to ordained ministry as well as in the deepening of their knowledge and understanding of the Bible, God and theology. The Anglican Care, a diocesan body for all social and welfare ministries of the churches, has encouraged many more to serve in the arena of caring ministries. Today Anglican Care has a membership of 18 Caring Ministries. The Relief Emergency And Crisis Help (R.E.A.C.H.) has reached a state where it can now operate independently in relief and crisis work within Malaysia and beyond. The last three places of relief ministries were Kelantan in Malaysia, Palu in Sulawesi and Dhading in Nepal. The Diocese has through the Anglican Mission School Board, which oversees all our mission schools, manages a scholarship grant for those Anglican members who wish to study in the tertiary colleges in Education or related courses. This is to encourage more Christian church members to become teachers or enter the teaching profession in our nation. The Diocesan Boards and Committees are playing their parts in equipping and ministering to the people of their contemporary, such as the Diocesan Golden Circle reaching out to the senior citizens, the Diocesan Women’s Committee to the women and so on.
Many church plants have been established over the years. Some have become Missionary Districts and Parishes. Other churches have started new language services. Since 1995, when the BM and Iban services/churches were officially recognized as a part of the Diocese, there are now many BM/Iban churches. We have a BM/Iban church in all the States of West Malaysia while we have yet to see English, Chinese and Tamil speaking churches in all the States. One of the aims of the division of dioceses into three is to Decentralise for Mission. It is our desire to spur growth so that we can bring in more sheaves into the Kingdom of God i.e. more ministries, workers, members and resources for the glory of God.
Let us work together and bring in the sheaves for His Glory and Honour.