MOT: Member-on-Trial. This title is given to pastors who are beginning their full-time pastoral journey with the Annual Conference in the Methodist Church in Singapore.
Did you know that every MOT undergoes MOT training? This period of training typically lasts 4 years, during which MOTs are usually ordained as Deacons at the 2-year mark. This training formally prepares them for their pastoral ministry. Upon completion, they will be ordained as Elders. In the Methodist Church, only Elders are given the authority to administer Holy Communion.
CAC currently has 9 MOTs. We share here some of their reflections from their training on Baptism and Holy Communion. As you get to know who some of our MOTs are, may you also gain a bit more understanding of these sacraments that we Methodists practise and observe.
PASTOR JOSHUA ONG
I believe one thing that everyone would have felt was Bishop Emeritus Chong’s passion for worship and liturgy, the zeal he has when he teaches these topics (not to mention his familiarity with them), and also how it grieves him when people seem to miss the point of certain aspects of the liturgy – like how people face the cross for the doxology, or the open table communion of our sister Conferences.
It was helpful when Rev Andy shared about how Grace Methodist Church had been conducting confirmation, where the youth would receive it while standing in the baptismal pool. Of course, it was also important to ensure that they did not mistake it as a second baptism. But this does help address the issue of “遗憾” (pitifulness) that some of them might have felt since their baptism as an infant.
Perhaps one thing that I am still reflecting on is how to show the richness of the Holy Communion liturgy to the congregation. We were able to understand the liturgy more deeply, but that was because we had the time to go in-depth, reading the liturgy phrase by phrase more than once. But we likely cannot do so during the actual Holy Communion, especially for churches with multiple services back-to-back. One thing that might help is to take intentional pauses at certain parts of the ritual, or to even have a moment of intentional silence. Maybe we can emphasise different parts of the liturgy each month as well.
I was observing the way the ritual was conducted yesterday: during the breaking of bread, there was actually the possibility of doing the whole action of breaking the bread and lifting the cup in silence, before proceeding with the rest of the liturgy. I felt that such a “space” would have been beneficial to the congregation.
PASTOR TEH YOU SIONG
PASTOR SHARON LEE
Though Baptism and Holy Communion are familiar to me and as Bishop Emeritus Chong went through them, I found many helpful reminders, especially when comparing them to real-life practice. I was reminded again that deliberate effort is needed to ensure that the sacramental meaning of Baptism and Holy Communion are fully expressed when conducting them.
Bishop Chong emphasised that a sacrament is a re-enactment of theologically significant actions. Hence, the liturgy should not be shortened or lengthened, lest it violates the meaning behind the ritual. It is important that symbolic elements are seen, heard, and felt by the candidates during the sacrament.
Water is the crucial element during baptism that needs to be seen. The phrase “baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” also needs to be heard, along with the sound of dripping water.
This brings to mind the powerful feelings I experienced when conducting the blessing of the water during a baptism at Telok Ayer CMC. While the Elder recited the blessing of the water (“水”的祝谢 文), we poured the water from a jug into the baptismal bowl, amplifying the sound of flowing water through a microphone. Standing where we were at the centre of the stage, everyone could see and hear the flowing water. It was such an impactful moment, clearly highlighting the sacredness of this sacrament.
And when the water was scooped from the bowl and poured onto the candidate, he/she could feel the water dripping from head to shoulder, while hearing the word of declaration that he/she was now born again in Christ. I believe that this was a very memorable moment that will remain in the heart of the candidate.
With this learning from Bishop Chong and experiences from the church, I am motivated to be deliberate with the details when assisting or conducting the holy sacrament, to express its significance and to help the candidate experience the importance of this moment in his/her journey of faith.
PASTOR TIMOTHY ANG
This session on the sacraments by Bishop Emeritus Chong was very insightful in many ways. The following are some of the key lessons I have learnt.
Firstly, on Liturgy, Bishop taught us to pay attention to the rubric in the Book of Worship (the red italicised words in the liturgy) which provides helpful explanations of the liturgical rituals. I find that it would also be beneficial to educate our church members more on these rituals, through the information provided in the rubrics.
Secondly, on Baptism, I was reminded that the mode of baptism (sprinkling, pouring, immersion) is less important than the inward reality of being born again by water and the Spirit. Bishop also emphasised the value of the baptismal font in the church sanctuary, sometimes placed at the entrance, as a visible reminder of baptism initiating us into the faith community. In addition, I learnt that the baptismal ritual comprises two actions: the act of baptism, and the laying of hands, and this would help me to be more intentional as I conduct baptisms in future.
Thirdly, on Holy Communion, it was insightful to learn from Bishop that we turn to the communion table (not the cross) during Gloria Patri as the table represents the Lord’s presence. My understanding of Holy Communion has also been enriched through Bishop’s sharing, to see it not only as a blessing but a commitment, a covenant meal, the deeper fulfilment of the Passover Meal that God’s covenant people partook in. These profound theological truths and commitments are reflected in the richness of the Holy Communion liturgy, which in fact takes us through the whole Biblical story—with the initial part up to the Sanctus focusing on the OT story, and the portion after the Sanctus speaking of the NT story. Considering the covenantal commitments involved in the Holy Communion liturgy, this sacrament should be reserved only for the baptised, those who bear the mark of being God’s people. This was in fact the historical context when John Wesley opened the table to all, because all the English people then (whether they were actively practising Christians or not) were baptised members of Christendom.