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Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church

telok ayer chinese

Know About Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church

The Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church (TACMC), part of Singapore’s Downtown Core, is situated on Telok Ayer Street. The distance between Telok Ayer MRT station and the church is roughly 450 meters. Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church is the first Chinese Methodist Church to have been established in Singapore, having been founded in 1889. It has been a fixture on Telok Ayer Street for over a century. 

Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church is currently associated with the Singapore Chinese Annual Conference of the Methodist Church. The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore designated it as a national monument on March 23, 1989.

History

Upon his arrival in Singapore in 1889, Methodist missionary and physician Dr. Benjamin Franklin West established his clinic and residence on Japan Street (now Boon Tat Street). Most of the local Chinese were Hokkiens, and many of them were opium addicts. In August 1889, Dr. West began providing his services out of a rented home on Upper Nankin Street.

At first, the majority of the congregation spoke Hokkien. Many of the congregation’s Hokkien-speaking members left the church when more immigrants from China arrived in the Methodist strongholds of Henghua, Hockchia, and Foochow. As a result, the Foochow Methodist Church and the Hokkien Methodist Church, two Chinese Methodist churches, were established.

The Hokkien Church eventually outgrew its residence on Upper Nankin Street, where services get held and relocated to bigger quarters on Japan Street. The Telok Ayer Church name get given to the Hokkien church in 1906.

The church paid 3,600 Straits dollars at the beginning of 1913 for a property plot near the intersection of Telok Ayer and Cecil Streets. After a building made of wood and corrugated iron gets built for around 900 Straits dollars in September 1915, the church moved back to the Telok Ayer Street location.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore designated Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church as a national monument on March 23, 1989.

Building design and ornamentation

The Telok Ayer Chinese Methodist Church has a beautifully diverse design. Denis Santry of Swan & Maclaren, who also designed the Cenotaph, Sultan Mosque, and Former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, created it. Around the church Edifice, one can detect elements of European architecture, such as the prominent use of arches. 

However, the structure atop the building’s front gets finished with a roof Chinese in design. The piers and columns that run down the five-foot path have Byzantine architectural elements like little crosses gracing their cushioned capitals. Before the invention of air conditioning, the inside gets effectively ventilated by several doors and windows with louvers.

The church’s social hall, named after Benjamin West, is on the lower floor. The second floor of the structure houses the sanctuary. The church started a renovation project soon after being designated a National Monument, during which the four original timber panels behind the altar get discovered.

Gold-leafed characters that read Shangdi shi ai are written on the panels (God is Love). There are circular ornamental windows with colored glass on either side of the altar. Six Chinese characters, gong (reverence or respect), qian (piety or sincerity), sheng (holiness), xin (faith or trustworthiness), ren (benevolence), and ren (responsibility), are written along the sanctuary’s walls (tolerance).

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