In the middle of Little India, an elegant white building stands at a clearing where narrow roads meet. Kampong Kapor Methodist Church (KKMC) has been in this location since 1930. Designed by the architectural firm Swan and Maclaren, this building with its quasi-Art Deco design houses worshippers across generations and language groups.
Where it began
KKMC traces its origins to 1894, when Sophia Blackmore moved an expanding Malay-language worship gathering from her home at Sophia Road to Middle Road, establishing the first Peranakan church in Singapore. There, the congregation of the Malay Church, as it was called, continued to grow under the leadership of its first pastor, William Shellabear. Further growth to the congregation led to its relocation in 1930 to a larger building at its current site, 1 Kampong Kapor Road, where it was called the Straits Chinese Methodist Church, reflecting the make-up of its congregation. The church was renamed Kampong Kapor Methodist Church in the 1950s as its congregation by then comprised the Straits Chinese, as well as other ethnic groups.
This year, KKMC celebrates its 128th anniversary and its congregation is spread across its English, Mandarin, Tamil and Peranakan services. With such a long history, it comes as no surprise that KKMC’s congregation is a multi-generational one, where children worship together with their parents and grandparents, and in some cases, their great-grandparents!
Living in authentic community and reaching out as bold witnesses
The church’s vision is to be faithful disciples in authentic community engaged in loving outreach and bold witness to the glory of God. This vision is expressed in activities engaging with people in the community that God has placed us in.
Over the past few years, KKMC has regularly held events that reach out to the people in the neighbourhood. One such community blessing event was the recently held Project 5 Loaves & 2 Fishes, conceived after church members observed the specific needs of our neighbours, who were, in various ways, affected by the pandemic. Residents in the neighbourhood of KKMC were invited to our church to collect food and other essential household items that they needed. More than providing for their material needs, it gave us the opportunity to befriend them.
Before Covid-19 put a stop to large gatherings, KKMC used to conduct weekly activities for seniors in the neighbourhood. This was yet another avenue for outreach to the community and we hope to be able to resume regular meetings soon.
Outreach and worship come together at KKMC’s annual Hymn Festival. Our congregation looks forward to the Hymn Festival where they can worship God in a special Sunday service largely made up of songs to praise and worship God. Inviting guests is a must, as they get to hear the gospel message delivered by the choirs of both adults and children. God has blessed our church with gifted musicians among us, and central to the music created is the pipe organ that stands in the sanctuary. One might see this pipe organ as yet another testament of God’s goodness to KKMC – it was installed in 1937 and is still the only one to be found in Singapore Methodist churches today.
KKMC also conducts ALPHA classes both in English and Mandarin. Church members can invite their family members and friends to these sessions where they can ask questions about Christianity and how it relates to daily life. This provides another avenue for participants to discover the relevance and necessity of the gospel of Jesus in their lives.
Witness also goes beyond our local neighbourhood. Missions work features strongly in KKMC, with our church supporting 29 missionaries serving in mission fields in Singapore and several other countries, including India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
With 128 years of history and as the fourth Methodist church to be established in Singapore, KKMC has surely been blessed in countless ways. May the church continue to stand as a beacon of God’s presence in the community and beyond, and may we seek to live out God’s commandments, generation after generation.
This article was first published in Methodist Message (May 2022 issue).