Recalling Our Early History
1955 – On 1 January, property was acquired at 3 & 5 Tavistock Avenue, Serangoon Garden Estate by our predecessor, the Christian Stewardship Foundation, headed by Rev Jason Linn of Indonesia, with the help of his colleagues such as Rev Torrey Shih and Rev Paul Lenn of Singapore. This property is situated in the district of Ang Mo Kio and is known as Private Lot 2875 Serangoon Garden Estate marked on the Government Resurvey Map as Lot 266249 of Mukim XVIII, containing an area of 37,486 sq. ft.
1956 – Construction of Zion Kindergarten was completed and classes started in October.
1957 – Life Bible-Presbyterian Church of Prinsep Street started a branch Sunday School on the Lord’s Day of 7 April, in the Z.K. building at the invitation of the Christian Stewardship Foundation, following a meeting of the Malaysia Council of Christian Churches in the building on 16 February. Elder Chia Kim Chwee served as Superintendent of the Sunday School.
The Christian Stewardship Foundation met with serious setback as a result of the unexpected suspension of financial aid from Indonesia, then in political turmoil, to pay off the remaining half of the nearly $200,000 cost of the building which was yet unpaid.
Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, with the help of the Central Christian Church of Short Street and some brethren in the Malaysia Council of Christian Churches, was asked to consider taking over the assets and liabilities of the property. To save the branch Sunday School and continue the work of God being carried out in the building which might otherwise have to be abandoned, Life B-P Church accepted the request.
Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church was established and inaugurated on the third Lord’s Day of June, using two classrooms combined as the place of worship. Rev Quek Kiok Chiang, then an Elder of Life B-P Church and in Singapore Government Service, offered his services as Pastor in an honorary capacity.
One week earlier, on Saturday 15 June, the Zion Church Youth Fellowship was organised.
Meanwhile, Zion Kindergarten continued to function as a joint responsibility of Life B-P Church, Central Christian Church and Zion I3-P Church. Rev Timothy Tow served as honorary Principal of the Kindergarten with the help of Elder Heng Mui Kiah and Miss Ong Soo Kheng.
Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church, on its first anniversary on the third Lord’s Day of June 1958, started a Chinese section, holding separate worship service on the Lord’s Day in Chinese immediately following the worship service in English.
1960 – On the last Lord’s Day of January, the Central Christian Church, which had been worshipping at the Chung Hwa Institution, Short Street, and which had to vacate the borrowed premises in view of demolition of the premises due to urban renewal, merged with the Chinese section of Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church to form Faith Bible-Presbyterian Church. Both Zion and Faith B-P Churches shared the use of the same property, with Rev Quek Kiok Chiang continuing to serve both Churches as Pastor.
1961 – On 19 February, Zion B-P Church started its first branch Sunday School at Seletar Hills, a housing estate some three miles to the north of Serangoon Garden Estate.
In October, Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, which had built her own new Church at Gilstead Road, gave up her right to the Z.K. property out of brotherly love and on the principle that each congregation in the same Bible-Presbyterian denomination should have its own property, and left the responsibility for the stewardship of the Zion Kindergarten property entirely to Zion and Faith B-P Churches.
1962 – In April, Zion B-P Church started its second branch Sunday School at Jalan Aman in the midst of a big housing estate some three miles to the south of Serangoon Gardens.
1964 – On 26 March, the long-delayed conveyancing of the Z.K. property from the Christian Stewardship Foundation to Zion and Faith B-P Churches was finally completed, following written agreement in Hong Kong by Rev Jason Linn who had moved there from Indonesia. The title deed, signed by five trustees for the two congregations, (Rev Quek Kiok Chiang, Elders Chia Kim Chwee, Lee Tsu Hwai, Teo See Yah and Deacon Heng Yow Tong) was registered with the Registrar of Deeds, Singapore on Li.th April 1964 in volume 1512, page 809 No. 183.
On the second Lord’s Day of June, Zion and Faith B-P Churches decided at a joint Session Meeting to erect a proper Church building to meet the needs of increasing attendances especially of Zion B-P Church.
A three-year plan from July was worked out for the completion of the new 2-storey building for Church and Kindergarten, with the aim that the cost of the building as well as the outstanding debt of $17,25o on the existing Z.K. property would be paid off within five years, i.e. by July 1969.
1965 – On its First Anniversary in January, Faith B-P Church started its first branch Sunday School, the Ling Kwang (i.e. Spiritual Light) Sunday School at Playfair English School, Paya Lebar. This branch Sunday School had to be suspended after some months, as permission to use any Government School for Sunday School purposes was generally withdrawn. On 9 May, Ling Kwang Sunday School moved to the Cheng San Kampong next to the Church and on the last Lord’s Day of June, it moved into the Church premises.
On the last Lord’s Day of May, a Thanksgiving Service was held to mark the completion of the taking over of the stewardship of the Z.K. property, and a tablet on the history of the Zion Kindergarten was unveiled by Dr Timothy Tow, then Moderator of the Bible-Presbyterian Church, who had devoted so much to the taking over of the Zion Kindergarten property in the initial stage.
This tablet reads:
This Kindergarten was founded in 1955 by Rev Jason Linn and his colleagues of the Christian Stewardship Foundation with financial support mainly of Mr Yang Wee Pin of Indonesia. This support through unforeseen adverse circumstances discontinued, so that the Kindergarten property was offered and transferred jointly to Life and Zion Bible-Presbyterian Churches and Central Christian Church for the purpose of carrying on God’s work. In October 1961 Life Church gave up her right to the property to Zion Church and Faith Church, the latter being an amalgamation in January 196o of the former Central Christian Church and the Chinese Congregation of Zion Church.
Zion and Faith Churches, active in the 20th Century Reformation Movement of the International Council of Christian Churches and akin to the purpose of the Christian Stewardship Foundation, endeavour to revive and reform the Church of Jesus Christ. May this Kindergarten property always be used effectively for the propagation of the Gospel of Christ and may all glory, praise and thanksgiving be unto the Holy Triune God. Amen.
30th May 1965
ZION BIBLE-PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
FAITH BIBLE-PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
1966 – Piling for the new Zion and Faith Church and Kindergarten building within the compound adjoining the existing Z.K. building at right angles began in August.
1967 – On the third Lord’s Day of June, ten years after the inauguration of Zion B-P Church, the foundation stone for the new Zion and Faith Churches and Kindergarten building was unveiled by Rev Quek Khee Swee, Advisory Pastor of Faith B-P Church, at a joint Service of the two congregations.
This foundation stone reads:
THIS STONE IS LAID FOR THE FOUNDING OF ZION BIBLE-PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AND FAITH BIBLE-PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH UPON THE FOUNDATION OF THE APOSTLES AND PROPHETS, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE, FOR THE WORD OF GOD AND FOR THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST
DATED THIS 18TH DAY OF JUNE IN THE 1967TH YEAR OF OUR LORD
On Saturday, 18 November, the new Kindergarten Hall on the ground floor was declared open by Miss P K Mah, Inspector of Kindergartens, Ministry of Education at a Parents’ Day/Annual Concert of the Zion Kindergarten. About 500 parents and visitors were present.
On Saturday, 3o December, the new Zion and Faith Church and Kindergarten building, erected at a cost of $200 000 (not counting the cost of land nor the Architect Mr Quek Kiok Boo’s fee which had been completely waived as an offering to God), was dedicated for the Word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. The dedicatory message on our body being the temple of God was given by Rev Quek Khee Swee, Faith B-P Church Advisory Pastor. God had moved His people in the two congregations and some friends to give so liberally and cheerfully that with the added proceeds from the Zion Kindergarten, all needs for this new House of God had been more than fully met. Besides having met the total cost of $210 757, there was a surplus of $5 855 which was used to whitewash the existing Zion Kindergarten building! To Jehovah-Jireh who is our Sufficiency be all glory, praise and thanksgiving. Amen.
1968 to 1970 – Apart from developing the present programmes at the home base and branch Sunday Schools, Zion and Faith B-P Churches had, for some years, been praying for extension to the adjacent kampongs of our Christian witness which had hitherto made no headway with the Ling Kwang Sunday School. The immediate missionary project of the two Churches was therefore to establish a free medical clinic, a Children’s Centre in the afternoons and free tuition classes and study facilities, all exclusively for the needy among the kampong residents and their children.
The afternoon Children’s Centre headed by Miss Mo Ah Lian and free tuition classes for students of both English and Chinese streams from Primary One to Secondary Four, headed by Mrs Angie Tan-Chua, started with the new school term in January 1968. No fee was charged, except for $1.00 per month for refreshments and stationery. Many volunteer workers offered their services for the tuition classes.
Ling Kwang Free Medical Clinic Leading to Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens
On 8th March 1968, Zion and Faith B-P Churches jointly started Ling Kwang (Spiritual Light) Free Medical Clinic, officially declared open by Professor Tow Siang Hwa. The Clinic opened for two evenings during the week, with a number of volunteer medical doctors and nurses taking turn to serve the kampong folks in the neighbourhood. In those days, hardly any clinic opened in the evenings. Hence there was often a queue at our Ling Kwang Free Medical Clinic, and our Christian nurses and missioner Miss Mo had good opportunities for personal evangelism to the patients lining up to see the doctor.
As a result, when the Singapore government began to acquire land to develop Ang Mo Kio New Town, and Zion and Faith requested for land to build a Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens, we were able to present a list of some 2,000 patients on our Ling Kwang Free Medical Clinic register and so convinced the Authorities concerned that we were able to run an old folks’ home. Thus a small beginning with a little “Ling Kwang Free Medical Clinic” had led to a major nursing home – our present 350-bed Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens. For who has despiseth the day of small things?” (Zachariah 4:10). How great Thou art, 0 Lord!
And so ended my pastorate with Zion B-P Church, when Rev Dr Quek Swee Hwa returned to Singapore from his overseas studies in October 1970. Thereafter the writer is thankful to God that he has been able to continue serving Zion as Advisory Pastor, and Faith as Senior Pastor ever since.