Most productive church in Singapore is Anglican
The Chapel of the Resurrection(Anglican), now pastored by Canon Daniel Tong, is definitely the most productive(or “reproductive”), and yet unrecognized, church in Singapore’s church history. It has pioneered a path that few local churches can claim to have neared. Its glory is that it is the mother of many churches, a few of them, much bigger than herself. A few have lost their Anglican roots, two of which have become large, autonomous and independent churches. COR is just short of being a church planting movement, as the churches that were birthed and matured have not gone on to birth more new churches.
This blog post is based on conversations I had with Christiana Tan(current secretary of retired Canon James Wong) and John Seet from Century Christian Fellowship. They have been with the Chapel of Resurrection when she was under Canon James Wong, when she experienced this remarkable spiritual movement and mobilization of the church members. More facts are needed to give a better picture but what I have is sufficient to give a sketch of the greatness of this Anglican church.
The womb that gave it birth
The fertile womb of this reproductive spurt of several decades was the charismatic revival of the early 1970’s. The then Bishop Chiu Ban It opened the heavy cathedral doors to the Holy Spirit and the fresh wind swept away all the cobwebs hanging from the candlesticks to the altar and the pews. Wherever the Spirit was welcome, He left behind pulsating Anglican congregations, alive in Christ and hungry to realize their full potential as the animated body of Christ. In fact, the Anglican church, was like “an exceeding great army”. The bones had come together, the flesh had clothed the skeletons, and the breath of God had just filled their lungs. They were eager for battle. For too long they have sung their songs in the prison of dead orthodoxy. The Chapel of Resurrection was birthed as two fired up Anglican house groups from Holland Village and Depot road were welded together to form a formidable weapon.
“There was a man sent by God….”
The impetus for all this came from a robust, daring, visionary priest- a man filled with the new wine of the Spirit in the 1970’s. He was convinced the new Anglican wine, a laity filled with the Spirit, needed new wineskins, so that the newfound bubbling energies and overflowing life, may have new open structures for expression and extension. For him, the answer was planting new churches. He was going to put his doctoral thesis into practice. The timing was perfect, and for such a time as this, this “sent one” was the inimitable James Wong. God had a new weapon in His hand, and the weapon of choice was a battering ram!
Mother of many
Here is a list of the Anglican churches and church plants initiated by the Chapel of the Resurrection or in partnership with other Anglican extensions:
- The extension in Whampoa became the Chapel of the Holy Spirit.
- The extension at Bukit Batok extension married with Jurong Christian Centre extension and became Westside Anglican Church.
- Two extensions(Orchard City Church and St Andrews Christian Centre) married and became St Andrew’s City Church.
- An extension comprised of four youth cells from Chapel of Resurrection married an extension of Church of our Savior in Woodlands and became the Light of Christ, Woodlands.
- An extension started in 1991, mainly meeting in Pasir Ris, is the Century Christian Fellowship.
- The extension at Bukit Timah became Chapel of Christ the King which meets at St Margaret’s Primary School.
A legacy of manifold benefits
The benefits of the legacy of this productive spurt in the Anglican denomination are many: a “can do” spirit of faith in the Anglican ethos, not existent before then, and now spilled over into missions in the region; depth and maturity of clergy and lay leadership in strong local churches built to last, over against an over-dependency on the rare and “many talents” charismatic leader; harnessing and releasing thousands of revived laity into ministry and maturity, who otherwise might have left for other more dynamic, open structures at that time, namely the Calvary Charismatic Centre; it cemented the Anglican denomination’s position of being the third largest “church” in Singapore after the Roman Catholics and the Methodists; and without doubt, the Anglicans have long had an “apostle” in its midst, with the credentials, though not the official title.
( This is no research paper, just a blog post. However it is the digital age, so do fill in the comment box with information that will enhance or increase the accuracy of what was written.)
Thank you very much for this piece, Blogpastor. I appreciate very much the life COR brings to the Body of Christ in Singapore and beyond. Also I have personally benefitted from the ministry of Canon James Wong and his wife many years ago when I was growing up in the Charismatic Renewal.
I truly believe that COR was a God fearing community but not for long. I was baptised by Cannon James Wong, a member of COR, cell group leader, active participant with the Mission ministry to Balai and serve with the Worship ministry during my times with the Youth Congregation and English Adults Congregation.
Having said that – as time goes by over the years, the church started act like a commercial entity. nothing but expansion. That was still bearable. The last straw was that when judgments were made on me when i graduated and started to go into the working world where my schedule could no longer permit me to spend my Tuesday nights (prayer meetings), Friday nights (Cell Group), Sat whole day for prayer group, cell activities, mission activities, worship practise etc and my Sundays for not only services but worship practises, meetings, lunches, gatherings etc etc. That is when they tell you that you have backslided.
There is no wonder why there are quite a number of youths that never left church and started to work there in the name of serving God. Yes – sure. there are some with that calling. but i began to think that most are afraid of being judged and isolated for being a backslidder as long as we have to work and not “serve” as actively if we were students.
Left COR after 16 years. Born again Catholic now and acceptance from the community is nothing comparable to a church run like an organisation gunning for IPO.
Your experience is a sad one and I understand that letting your comment pass must not be understood to mean that it is verified unless we have heard from the other party. If its true than may you find grace to forgive the church for in the pursuit of “church growth” members have often been treated as digits, units of production, as human doings and not as human beings. May your healing and peace increase and you live in a loving and reconciling and accepting community. God bless you!
Thanks Kenny for highlighting this church. It is encouraging to learn of other faith communities that remains faithful to their calling.
wow! thanks bro, didn’t know so many churches birthed out of the COR, is this the one at potong pasir?
Canon daniel Tong? was he also the one who wrote about the chinese customs and traditions thingy too in a mini book….
wow wow….thanks for bringing me thru the lineage of the anglican roots.
I was only 7 years old when Canon was a pastor at Church of Good Sherpherd in Margaret Drive area….was that part of Anglican?
Hi Pastor Kenny,
Thank you for sharing about this. It’s truly a testament to the resurrection power of God.
I read somewhere about how Bishop Chew Ban It experienced the Holy Spirit and how a tremendous move of God began from there. What you have shared is less known to me, but still wonderful to know!
Yes, Revd. Canon Daniel Tong is the one behind the book on chinese customs and also one on feng shui.
Thanks for highlighting the journey of our church. Yes, Canon James Wong was a trailblazer for the Anglican Church in Singapore and beyond. He also planted churches in various parts of Indonesia, sending out planters from Singapore.
Actually our root is from the Church of the Good Shepherd where Canon James Wong was serving as a priest. All the extension centres and house churches came together as the Chapel of the Resurrection and started to worship at the St Andrew’s Junior College when that JC was birthed in Malan Road.
By the way, the Ghim Moh extension was actually a cell group that joined up with SJSM.
There are other Anglican churches in Singapore which can trace their roots to Chapel of the resurrection too.
Thanks Cephas for that important information. As some do not read comments, I marked the error and amended it. Do tell us which other church extensions in Singapore which COR birthed, did I miss out on?
May I also add that it was the Lord Jesus Christ who used and is still using Canon James Wong as His instrument to bring about transformed lives to the furthest corners of the earth.
why? the Lord Jesus saved you to be an anglican? or to follow Him?
anglicans are usually very kind souls.