OBITUARY: THE REV TAN PHEK GEOK
First woman pastor in Singapore dies
THE Rev Tan Phek Geok, the first
woman pastor to serve in Singapore, passed away early in the
morning of Oct 18, 2002.
The Rev Tan, who was with the Chinese Annual Conference (CAC), was ordained in 1958 with a group of women pastors from Singapore and Malaya. She alone served in Singapore.
She was born in Amoy, China on April 20, 1911 into a very staunch Buddhist family.
At the age of 11, she entered a mission primary school at Tai San Church, and thereafter joined the Mission Girls Middle School at Chiang Chew, China. She graduated from the Middle School in 1929 and taught there for four years.
On March 6, 1935, at a Gospel rally in Amoy, China, she accepted Christ as her personal saviour. In September that year, she enrolled at the Shanghai Chiang Oan Seminary, graduating in 1937. She became the Preacher/Principal of the Primary School of Amoy Koe Hoa Church.
Mr Ong Heng Kok, LCEC Chairman and Lay Leader of Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church, said in an eulogy at the Rev Tan's funeral service at the church on Oct 22, 2002: "When the Japanese invaded China in early 1938, the Rev Tan fled to Vietnam and stayed there for six months working as a freelance preacher. She then went to Bangkok for a few months, then to Penang, and finally to Singapore. She joined Geylang Chinese Methodist Church as a preacher.
THE REV TAN PHEK GEOK: Served
the church for almost 65 years.
"She was officially appointed by the Conference on Jan 1, 1939 as Pastor of Sinchew Hougang Chinese Methodist Church, now named Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church. As a 28-year-old single woman pastor, she was totally taken care of by Mrs Ong Eng Leng, a founder member of Paya Lebar Chinese Methodist Church, and stayed at 214-D Lorong Ah Soo, the home of Mrs Ong.
"With a full-time pastor, the church was richly blessed by the grace of the Lord. More activities were organised and new members joined the church. Jesus said in John 12:24, 'I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it bears a rich harvest.' The words have been fulfilled in our church and the surrounding community."