BPCIS UPDATE, 30 October 2022: Returning To a Different Normal



Since March this year when COVID restrictions were lifted, worshippers have been returning to onsite services, singing without masks, congregating without distancing, enjoying after-service fellowship and refreshments. But things are not back to normal. Live-streamed services are still on, and significant numbers are still worshipping from home, having discovered the various conveniences of attending a service online.


At our Fourth Annual Presbytery Meeting on 24 September, we were given a sneak preview of a nationwide survey of 144 churches representing 104,653 attendees across 316 congregations. (All 11 churches of BPCIS took part.) Table 5 in the Survey shows the change in church attendance before and after the COVID pandemic, with these comments:


“Compared to pre-pandemic times, the number of attendees has decreased for two-thirds (67%) of the churches. Among these churches, 59 (41% of all churches) saw a substantial decrease. Attendee numbers stayed largely the same for only 34, while only 14 churches reported an increase. … In summary, in-person worship gatherings have not reached pre-pandemic attendee numbers, but are short by between 13 and 43%. To be more precise, our point estimate of the number of attendees who have returned for worship onsite is 72% of pre-pandemic levels.”


(The 26-page “State of the Church, Singapore 2022” is a collaborative effort by 3 theological schools, BGST, SBC, TTC, and Salt&Light. All queries to survey@salt&light.sg.)


Also, at the national level, we see the repeal of Section 377A, and introduction of an amendment to the Constitution to uphold the definition of marriage as one between a man and a woman (already found in the Women’s Charter). In a meeting of religious leaders with Minister Desmond Lee on 19 Oct, I was seated next to the leader of the Buddhist Federation and the leader of the Muslim community. The former stated that the move to define marriage should not be viewed as the government giving in to pressures from the religious communities, but a move for the common good of society. The latter noted that social norms may change over time to re-define marriage, but as religious leaders, we have a responsibility to influence such norms by our teachings and examples.


Indeed, the future belongs to our next generation who must serve, as King David did, “the purpose of God in his own generation” (Acts 13:36). For this, we are thankful for four of our men who completed their ordination process this year. Aged 37, 42, 48 and 64, they represent different generations, and will join the ranks of our ordained ministers. Let us keep them in our prayers: Joseph Tee (Zion Serangoon), Ng Zhiwen and Paul Yeo (Zion Bishan) and David Leong (Emmanuel).


Finally, a book “Faithful in Ministry, Fruitful in Mission” was launched on 15 October to honour Pastor Daniel Chua who served 33 years at Mount Carmel, from 1988 to 2021. The collection of essays from 33 contributors is testimony to someone who served God faithfully and fruitfully. The first print was sold out in two weeks, and raised $6,146.99 for BPCIS.


Pastor David Wong

General Secretary, BPCIS

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