This year is the 35th anniversary of the founding of Methodist churches in Sabah by Rev Joel Siew Chiu Huo who came from Sarawak. Further, this year marks the Sabah Provisional Annual Conference (SPAC) being officially recognized by the General Conference and upgraded to a full-fledged Annual Conference. To mark the double celebrations, SPAC held the 15th session of its annual conference on Nov 8 at Shern En Methodist Church, KK and announced the formation of a full fledge Annual Conference on the following day. The 1st session of Annual Conference was immediately called into session on Nov 9, 2018.
Bishop Rev Dr Ong Hwai Teik, Bishop of the Methodist Churches in Malaysia, officiated and preached at the opening of the conference and also conducted the conference. Bishop Emeritus Rev Dr Hwa Yung, the Presidents of the 5 other Annual Conferences and representatives from the General Conference were also in attendance. Over 80 pastors, representatives and observers from various pastoral districts attended the conference.
In his sermon, Bishop Ong reminded the congregation that there are all kinds of trials in our nation, our church and our life. We have to face them and overcome them with confidence in God. The ordination ceremony was conducted by Bishop Ong assisted by President Rev Hii Kong Hock on the evening of November 8. Esther Lu Yi Tin was ordained as Elder while Fionalisa Aldrin and Wahyudy Sylvester were ordained as Deacons.
The theme of the Sabah Annual Conference for 2017-2020 is “Rooted deep on solid foundation, enlarging our territory”. The four major areas of ministry are: the nurturing of discipleship, church planting and local missions, caring for the community and overseas cross-cultural missions. In addition to reviewing and adopting the annual reports of various departments and ministries, the conference also discussed about administrative, financial and facilities matters, the planning of future ministry and other matters.
During the closing ceremony on Nov 9, President Hii Kong Hock encouraged the congregation that the upgrading of SPAC to a full-fledged Annual Conference also signified a new journey for Methodist churches in Sabah! He used the ministry of Jesus Christ as a model to remind the participants on their priorities: to seek God’s will through prayer, to focus on missionary works, to serve the people with love and experiencing the power of God.
At noon, witnessed by the congregation, Bishop Ong and Rev Hii Kong Hock together with the leaders of the Sabah Methodist churches conducted a simple yet solemn ground breaking ceremony for the Sabah Methodist Church HQ.
To celebrate these occasions, the Sabah Annual Conference hosted a grand banquet on the evening of November 9. Invited guests were the Bishop, Presidents of various Annual Conferences, Principals of seminaries and representatives of the Sabah Council of Churches. Bishop Emeritus Rev Dr Hwa Yung was invited to speak on the occasion and he called upon the Methodists to be convinced that the God who began a good work in our hearts would surely accomplish His will. The founder of the Sabah Methodist Church, Rev Joel Siew also reminded all that we should be Christians who “believe and walk the talk”. Members of the Sabah Methodist churches from the Chinese, English and BM congregations participated in the banquet. They shared the moments of joy watching the videos and power-points together as well as the singing of hymns, musical presentation and an Aboriginal dance.
Thanksgiving worship services were held simultaneously in all the Methodist churches in Sabah on November 11 and simultaneously marked the closing of the 35th anniversary celebration as well as the coming of a new mission and a new beginning! We pray that the Methodist Church Sabah Annual Conference will continue to be a church after God’s own heart and a blessing to many.
By David Shia, translated by KT Chew