Christians in nation-building
A CONFERENCE on the role of Christians in nation-building
was held at Trinity Theological College on Sept 11 and 12, 2003
for some 90 participants.
Sponsored by the Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia
(CSCA) at the college, 13 papers were presented
by well-known church leaders, academics and service professionals
covering quite a thorough analysis of how Christians have been
engaged in the building of civic society and the nation since
Though numerically small, Christians in Singapore have, over the
years, been actively involved in providing the kind of services
which have contributed to human resource development that spanned
education, medical and health development, youth work, and latterly
especially, the care of the elderly.
A paper by Dr Roland Chia that opened the conference was "Rendering to Caesar" - a
theological reflection on the relation between Church and State
that provided some important principles.
These underpin the two-fold responsibility that Christians have
as disciples of Christ as well as citizens enjoined to submit
to the rule of the secular state that "fulfils its divine
ordained role [by] rewarding the righteous and punishing evildoers".
But, he said, "the submission of the Church to the State
must not contradict the Church's prior, supreme and absolute submission
to Jesus Christ".
That said, the other papers dealt with the process that led to
the decolonisation of Singapore (Dr Ernest Chew) and the establishment
of independent Singapore and the role played by Christians, particularly
in the post-World War II years, in educating and promoting English-educated
Christian leadership (Mr Lawrence Ko).
Others dealt with the Church in a multi-racial community (Bishop
Dr Robert Solomon), the Church and community relations (Bishop
John Chew), the Church and medical care (Prof Lee Hin Peng), caring
for the elderly (Dr Fong Ngan Phoon), community service (Asso
Prof Tan Ngoh Tiong), education and the church (Dr Chen Ai Yen),
Christian women in nation-building (Dr Eileen Poh), the church
and young adults (Dr Loo Yeow Hwa), and the role of the Boys'
Brigade (Mr Christopher Lock).
There were also papers of a more technical nature focusing on
political economy and nation-building (Dr Lee Soo Ann) and technology
(Dr Yap Kian Tiong).
It is anticipated that the papers will be published, perhaps to
contribute to its civic development.