2022 EP Retreat Reflection
The past two years of Covid took away many EP fellowship activities that we have often taken for granted. Our usual monthly EP Fellowship meetings and annual EP retreats were either put on hold or were held virtually over zoom. Pastors and leaders of our EP churches persevered on in caring for their flock. Yet deep down, there was a yearning for the fellowship and gatherings we used to share with one another.
Earlier in the year, the EP Exco started exploring the possibility of a retreat to bring our pastors and leaders together again. As travelling restrictions to Malaysia were still uncertain, a small group comprising members of our EP Equipping Committee started looking into a day retreat instead.
After exploring a few possible retreat locations, Elder Andrew Goh, our EP Executive Secretary, helped to secure Raffles Town Club as it was easily accessible. We also heard the food there was good and that sealed the deal!
When the publicity went out to the EP churches, the sign-ups started off slowly and there were initial concerns if people would come. However, as the weeks went by, the sign-ups began picking up and we had a total number of 126 participants on the day of retreat.
Thanks be to God, after a 2-year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, our English Presbytery churches were able to finally come together on 13 September 2022. Despite not having the usual 3 days 2 nights retreat in Johor Bahru that we used to look forward to each year, we were thankful that we were finally able to have a day conference at Raffles Town Club.
The retreat started early morning with participants reaching early to register and catch up over a hearty breakfast spread.
After breakfast, Rev Jordan Tan continued the day’s program with a warm welcome and gave us a preview of the day’s activities.
Rev Peter Chan then led us in a time of singing praises to God. We are grateful that he readily responded to our plea for help the day before, as our worship leader for the retreat fell ill and we had to quickly find someone else. He also encouraged us with a song he wrote, ‘Fear Not’ based on Isaiah 43:1-2. Indeed, the song was a timely reminder that we need not fear when we experience life's uncertainties.
Rev Chris Chia our EP Moderator was up next. And over two sessions, he reminded us through God’s Word - to ‘watch and pray’:
- in our personal relationship with God
- our relationship with each another
- and how God’s great commandment to love one another, ought to unite our hearts and minds to the future challenges ahead for our EP churches.
One of the aims that the EP Equipping Committee had was to give more opportunities for participants to know and catch up with fellow brothers and sisters from the 16 EP churches during the retreat.
Thus, pockets of time – during meals, breaks, and discussions were intentionally planned in the program to encourage conversations and to pray with one another.
As the retreat drew to a close, Rev Chris Chia led us in celebrating the Lord’s Supper together as God’s people. As we partook of the bread and the cup, we were reminded of the fellowship we share in Christ and with each other.
While the EP retreat has ended, we have much to thank God for. We were blessed with encouragement from God’s Word, warm conversations, fellowship, and of course great food!
We were heartened and encouraged to see our co-workers - pastors, elders and deacons making the effort to meet up with each other. It was indeed a joy to see new and old friends coming together. Conversations filled the air throughout the retreat as we took turns to share our stories - of life and ministry amidst our joys and struggles - and encourage each other in prayer. We hope and pray that these bonds of friendship would continue.
Till we meet again … may God keep us in His love and sustain us with His all-sufficient grace!
Prepared by: Tan Hui Ru, Ron Tan, Jordan Tan, Tan Sern Khoon, Carol Ng, Anthon Simangunsong, Rachel Chua, Stanley Soh