35TH SESSION OF EMMANUEL TAMIL ANNUAL CONFERENCE: NOV 12-13, 2010
IN 10 YEARS when the current pastors at Emmanuel Tamil Annual Conference (ETAC) reach retirement age, there may be a shortage of pastors to serve in the conference’s churches, warned ETAC President Rev James Nagulan.
Calling the conference to address the problem now, he revealed that three of the conference’s five ministers have to serve two churches concurrently due to the shortage.
“This need to have one pastor to provide pastorate for two churches has led us to seek assistance for pastors from other conferences outsides Singapore,” he explained.
In fact, the problem had even affected the conference’s pastors planning to go on sabbatical leave.
The Rev Nagulan, who was delivering his President’s Review at ETAC’s 35th Session at the Short Street Tamil Methodist Church on Nov 13, gave the example of the Rev R. Prabhu who had to postpone his sabbatical even after his application had been approved because there would be no one to take over his duties.
He cautioned that if the conference was not sincere about its succession plan now, it would be a major concern in a decade’s time.
The Rev Anilkumar Samuel was ordained as an Elder at the Session’s Closing Service later in the evening.
ETAC has 10 Elders and one Deacon, one Member-on-Trial and a part-time approved supply pastor.
The ETAC President also gave a summary of the conference’s programmes over the past year. They included a conference camp participated by 160 members to learn about the “Joy in the Journey” and a mission trip to Yangoon, Myanmar which involved almost all the eight churches in the conference.
Next, he called on the conference’s leaders to re-commit themselves to be united in worship and in all the other ministries.
He said: “Our need to stay united today is greater than it has ever been. We have to build the church. The conference has to be strengthened and be more effective in doing God’s work for His glory. There are and there will be problems, but we will overcome when we humble ourselves before God.”
Moving forward, the Rev Nagulan said, he wanted the conference leaders to reach out to foreigners or the expatriate community in Singapore.
“There is an influx of foreigners into Singapore. They want to make their homes here. They come with a different culture.
We need to be sensitive to their needs and reach out to them strategically. We need to explore ways and methods to evangelise to them, with our fellow Christian communities, and if needed, partner them to reach out to the expatriate community.”
Spelling out his hopes for the future, he concluded by telling the conference: “When I began my ministry as a pastor, I was told to be careful and not be stuck in a rut. This is my biggest fear for the conference too. There is a grave danger that we may fall into this state and not even realise it.
“I truly hope that we would not just spend this day as yet another day of receiving reports but would put our hearts and minds to listen to God’s voice and take heed as leaders of the conference and local churches on how we should progress.”
Leong Weng Kam is an Associate Editor of Methodist Message.