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Dear COA Family,
This is a continuation of my address at the recent AGM. (Please check out the COA website to read the first part.)

2. Life in our Chaplaincies
Let me move on to our Chaplaincies. They are Open Doors that God provided for us to reach out and should never be taken for granted or de-emphasised. We have a responsibility to be faithful to what God has granted to us.

Let me start with St Andrew’s Junior School. We are thankful for a close relationship between our church and the school and a common vision among both leaderships of how to pastorally care for the students. Due to this, there are increasing opportunities to reach out to the staff and students in morning devotions, assembly sessions, staff chapels, recess ministry and after-school programs. Our effectiveness is limited by the number of church staff and volunteers we have to reach out. With this in mind, we have increased the number of staff  in the Chaplaincy team to 3 – Ps Barnabas Sim (as lead), Shaun Foo and Sam Goh. I also appeal to members who would want to be involved to let Ps Barnabas know of your interest as well.

Next we have Ascension Kindergarten (AK). We are thankful for the long history and close links between the school and us. Shirley Kwek, our Chaplaincy worker, continues to share at the devotions while Dianne Seet also leads in songs. Many of the children joined us this year for both the Little Gems Camp and Easter Children Program. We will continue to reach out to the children through our Chaplaincy and support the operations of the school.

The next half of this year will be a crucial year as AK transits from being a kindergarten to a childcare. Societal trends have accelerated the need for such a change. Many young parents require childcare services as both parents working full-time becomes the norm. In addition, changes in government policy means that subsidies are available for the working parents and operators in childcare, but not in kindergarten. To remain financially viable, we have little choice but to change and change quickly. So, from June this year, Little Seed Pre-School (Ascension) (APS) will renovate our existing AK building to prepare for the transition. The AK children will be using venues in COA, the Diocesan Building and the SA Boarding House from June to end Oct on weekdays for their curriculum. Regardless, our Chaplaincy ministry will not be affected, whether AK remains as a kindergarten or childcare. Let’s continue to support them in our prayers and whatever means we are able.

We also thank God for our APS which is flourishing very well. Enrolment is good, most classes are at full capacity and there is a waiting list to join. This year we thank God for being able to resume the Sports Day which will be held at the Sports Hub on 26 May (Fri). It will be an opportunity for us to connect with the parents.

Another Chaplaincy ministry we have is St Andrew’s Hall. This is a Hall for about 250 foreign scholars studying in 15 schools. We have always been part of this Chaplaincy ever since the Hall was set up in 2012, but this year it will be much more important for us because I will be appointed the Chaplain of the Hall by the Bishop. How can we be involved? By being Host Parents to the scholars. I am thankful that 10 sets of parents in COA are currently taking care of 26 students in the Hall. Some of the youths are also attending our church now. I ask that more of you be ready to serve as Host Parents for the new batches of students. Let us also warmly welcome the foreign students in our midst.

Finally, we will be taking up a new Chaplaincy later this year – the Aljunied Nursing Home. This is a 9-storey, 210-bed nursing home that is situated next to Pelton Canal and will be completed by the end of the year. It will be operational by the first quarter of next year. In view of the ageing population and the increasing needs and ministry to the elders, the PCC and I believe that the Lord is leading us to serve in this area too. To prepare for this new work, we will be hiring a full-time Chaplaincy staff for this ministry later this year.

At this point, you may think that there is a lot for us to do. But there is another way of looking at all of these Chaplaincy ministries: as God’s gracious open doors for us. No other denominational churches have the opportunities and goodwill that we the Anglican Church have – openings in education and healthcare granted by the government to engage the community. Let’s therefore be thankful for these opportunities and step forward in faith together.

Revd Ian