Pastoral Letter

Pastoral Letter

Previous Letters

Updated 9 July 2020

Dear Living Praise,

How are you? We miss you! As I write this, Singapore has entered Phase 2 of moving towards a Covid-safe Singapore. We hope you are well and safe, and we pray that you are growing in the Lord. Our nation is about to go to the polls. During this time of uncertainty about our jobs, the economy and our health, let us remember the faithfulness of our Lord, who assures us in Luke 12:29-31 that He provides our needs:

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Previously, I shared with you that with Singapore’s Phase 2 reopening, places of worship are permitted to resume physical services with up to 50 persons at a time. I asked for your prayers for our staff and EDC as we studied the guidelines in light of biblical principles of loving God and our neighbour.

Continuing to meet on-line

After studying the government guidelines, we have decided to continue meeting on-line and not resume our physical meetings yet. In this decision we have been guided by the desire to love God and our neighbour.

The guidelines for safe meeting come with many restrictions that affect the quality of our gatherings – an upper limit of 50; safe distancing; mask-wearing; no singing; no mingling or socialising; minimum duration. With these restrictions, we could practise a form of service, yes, but the substance of Christian fellowship would be lacking. Virtual meetings, on the other hand, allow us to continue singing His praises freely, and encouraging one another in our small groups and one-to-one. Just as God has loved us, loving our neighbour in COVID-times also means not putting any one of them in harm’s way.

Of course, virtual spaces are only a concession to COVID-19 and will never be able to replace our physical meetings. We will continue longing to meet physically again at 8A Bishan Street 13, and will review our service arrangements as the Covid situation improves, or our government introduces new guidelines.

Zoom

Meanwhile, alongside our YouTube link you may have noticed a link to the Zoom virtual meeting platform in our service announcements. May I encourage those of us who have not moved to meet over Zoom to do so? Your presence encourages your brothers and sisters. Our attentive listening and enthusiastic singing mutually encourage us to be focussed and engaged, and we can welcome one another before, during and after the service. We enjoy praying together too – details of July’s 1..3,4 Prayer Meeting on Zoom will be sent to you soon.

LPPC electronic ACM on 23 August

In light of uncertainty over when our physical gatherings may safely resume, we have decided to hold our ACM electronically on 23 August. We will send out more details shortly. But let me highlight some of the alternative arrangements needed, in accordance with the government’s COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) (Alternative Arrangements for Meetings for Charities, Co-operative Societies and Mutual Benefit Organisations) Order 2020:

  1. Members may only vote using the proxy form that we will email to you before the meeting. There will be no electronic voting at the ACM.
  2. We will determine the quorum from the number of proxy forms we receive.
  3. While the ACM is in progress, only LPPC members will be able to observe and listen to the proceedings of the meeting by Zoom.
  4. LPPC members will not be permitted to ask questions during the ACM. So please send all your questions to us before the ACM. Please be assured that our EDC will answer all your queries.

The proxy form allows your vote and determines the quorum at the meeting, so please send it back to us. Be assured that no one other than our counters will see your form and they will sign off on a declaration not to disclose your vote.

You may be used to me chairing the ACM. Yet, this year as I will be standing for re-election as your Senior Minister, Elder Wang Kim Meng has kindly volunteered to be the chairperson. Even though the format will be different, the content of the ACM will be familiar to you. The reports and matters shared will be what you received in March before the ACM was postponed, except for two new matters:

  1. We will present a modified budget due to a decrease in our expenditure from the cancellation of church camp, suspension of lunch fellowship and other physical meetings and reduced spending because of COVID.
  2. Yeo Zhi Wei and I have continued to serve the church in our respective capacities in the EDC. At this ACM we ask your approval to rectify the expiry of our term of office due to the postponed ACM.

As we look forward to meeting again face to face, may God’s Word in the Psalms speak comfort and the peace of God which transcends all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

Your pastor and brother Yuk Yee

for our Pastoral Team and Elders & Deacons Court


Updated 31 May 2020

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we miss you all! We thank God for keeping you and giving us opportunities to catch up now and then with you over Zoom, WhatsApp or phonecalls. Now that the circuit breaker is ending I’m sure many of you must be wondering when we can resume our physical meetings! 

As I mentioned last Sunday, our government has shared that Singapore will re-open in three phases – Phase One “Safe Re-opening”, Phase Two “Safe Transition” and Phase Three “Safe Nation”. 

What can LP expect during Phase One?

Marriage solemnisations, wakes and funerals are allowed during Phase One, but other than those, our LP gatherings will continue to be online, not physical. 

(In case you are wondering about government provisions for private worship, this refers to other religions’ practice of opening worship places to people praying individually or in groups. Only up to five members of the same household may meet for such private worship. Since our services and cell group meetings all involve individuals from different households, our physical gatherings in Bishan for Sunday services and church activities – cell groups, Sunday School, youth ministry and young adults will continue to be suspended during Phase One.)

What can LP expect during Phase Two/Three?

During Phase Two, the government will discuss with religious organisations when to resume church services. It is possible that services could resume within Phase Two or, alternatively, by Phase Three. Rest assured that we will keep you updated. Let’s trust in and continue praying for God’s perfect timing in all these things, while we continue acting in love towards our community and others.

A “New Normal”

Even when services resume, we should expect gathering sizes to be limited to prevent large clusters from arising. When the time comes, LP will comply with recommended safety and social distancing measures – the new normal will not be the same as pre-covid-19, until a vaccine is found or the coronavirus stops being a threat.

Loving One Another While We Wait

God has been speaking to us from our studies in Luke, so may we recognise that loving one another is part of our worship of God (Luke 10:27). Let’s be mindful, in our eagerness to resume our physical meetings, not to put at risk the health of any brother or sister in Christ. Here are some ways that our pastoral staff, elders and deacons have thought of, for members to continue interacting with and encouraging one another until our physical gatherings resume:

From Sunday 7 June, we will be able to gather for LPPC services over Zoom to join the YouTube streams together! We would like to encourage everyone to make this “move” to an experience that is much more like church. Zoom enables us to gather in a common, scheduled, virtual space and brings us one step closer to our physical meetings because:

a. Our attendance, while still virtual, is visible and therefore encouraging to one another. Just as our physical meetings encourage commitment, presence in the Zoom room is time set aside with brothers and sisters. This virtual presence also fosters accountability, minimising the distractions that otherwise compete for our attention. Furthermore our attentive listening and enthusiastic singing mutually encourage us to be focussed and engaged.

b. “Eye contact” closes the emotional distance – we can take the opportunity to further encourage others after the service, through a call or on messaging platforms.

So do join us – we are in the testing process and will be updating you with the details of how to “attend”, very soon!

Also from Sunday 7 June, parents, do help your children come along to virtual Sunday School! Our Sunday School teachers miss our children, so we are coming up with an online meeting for children to interact and pray with their teachers and one another. Details to follow, very soon!

Even though our cell groups normally have no formal meetings in June, we are encouraging all groups to continue meeting online to care for one another. To help facilitate this, our preachers will be coming up with optional discussion questions that tie in to Sunday messages. Feel free also to hang out, play games, relax, have a chat, snack, share and pray together online!

Do come for our LP prayer meeting where we meet every third Thursday of the month to pray for the needs of our church, our country and the world. Our next meeting is on 18 June.

This relief scheme was set up in 2013 to extend our love and care to brothers and sisters in Christ who are in physical, emotional, or financial need. As we expect that needs may be greater during this covid-19 season, we have tweaked some of the guidelines to help us disburse the funds in a more timely manner. If you would benefit from this support please do not hesitate to let either your cell group leader, our pastoral staff or any elder or deacon know so that we can help you. Don’t be “paiseh” or feel bad – loving one another in this way honours the Lord our God because it brings Him thanksgiving (2 Cor 9:11).

May our good Lord bless you and keep you as we look forward together to the day of His return – and of course the return of our physical gatherings. See you soon!

Your pastor and brother Yuk Yee

for our Pastoral Team and Elders & Deacons Court


Updated: 5 April 2020

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,

You are all constantly in our thoughts and prayers – how are you?

Many of us tuned in to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s national address on Friday 3 April with sinking hearts. Globally, the pandemic is spreading, and locally, despite recent social distancing measures, new coronavirus clusters have sprouted, and so our government is taking the decisive move to apply a “circuit breaker” from 7 April.

The additional tightening of measures will mean that even small teams will not be able to gather to record and live-stream our Sunday services from the church sanctuary, as we have been doing. With sadness, we have chosen to move pre-emptively, to stream home-based recorded services from today (5 April) onwards.

Why haven’t we waited until next Sunday? In the words of Minister of National Development Lawrence Wong, ”we must assume that the virus is circulating within our own population. There will be undetected carriers amongst us. Each and every interaction we have with others may well be the link that causes the virus to spread and causes a new infection cluster.” If we rightly understand the spirit of the new regulations, we are already part of a nationwide effort to fight rising spread. We need not wait until 7 April to act in love for our neighbours and do our part to minimise physical interactions.

How, then, shall we gather as God’s people, around His Word? Hebrews 12:22–24 has amazing encouragement for us, because the writer reminds us that all who believe in and are saved by Jesus don’t “come to a mountain that can be touched”,

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:22–24

Friends, when we gather physically as the LP family, we’re also part of the heavenly church that God has gathered around Himself and Jesus! This reality of the heavenly gathering remains, even when we can’t be physically together.

As we move to home-based recorded services, you might notice some changes in format (such as the absence of the LP lectern, the use of lyrics-videos on YouTube, modifications to the service order, etc). But the essence of our church gathering remains the same – we are seeking to bring to you the Word of God through songs, prayers, Bible reading and sermons, so that we can participate together virtually at 11:30am on Sundays.

This COVID-time picture of LP is part of the unchanging heavenly church, and, most importantly, the Hebrews writer invites us to assemble joyfully! So do gladly expect to receive an sms from us to join our service at 11:30am, and be comforted and encouraged by the joy of being close to Jesus and therefore with one another in spirit.

For our cell groups, the Luke Bible studies resume the week starting Monday, 20 April, but before then you might enjoy meeting up virtually over the following.

  1.  Good Friday video messages recorded by the English Presbytery and available on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (8, 9 and 10 April) at 9am at http://epeasterconvention.org/
  2. Sharing and praying about Easter lessons from our Easter service (12 April) and the following Sunday service (19 April)

During this time when our Sunday School is unable to meet, may we remember and practise the truth that discipling our children is our responsibility as parents. For those who require additional resources on top of the Wonder of Easter devotional that we have recently sent out, our Sunday School will publish a schedule for the book Gospel Story Bible that you all are using with your children. Our Sunday School will contact you about the resource and offer help with using it with your children.

During these times let us continue to pray for our world, Singapore and all leaders.

The Lord bless you and keep you, as we look forward to meeting again face to face. Indeed He is near to all who call on him in the truth of Jesus (Psalm 145:18).

Pastor Yuk Yee on behalf of the pastoral team and elders and deacons court.


Updated: 27 March 2020

Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,

All around the world this week, countries went into partial or full lockdown, with many flights re-routed or cancelled. We in Singapore received tighter measures to restrict the further spread of COVID-19 infections. And we’re to brace ourselves for the return of 200,000 overseas Singaporeans. What has been going through your mind in response to all this news, friends? I caught myself half wishing those people would just stay where they are so that Singapore can keep our infection numbers down. It’s very tempting, at times like this, to seize any and every precaution that seems to offer us a measure of safety.

In this light, Luke 4:1–12 speaks to me. It’s part of the larger section (Luke 2:41–4:13) that we’re studying in our small groups this week. Here’s Jesus in the wilderness, and the devil exploiting all his possible fears –

  • Hey, Son of God, you’re hungry with no food in sight (v.2);
    How tempting, for Jesus to satisfy his own hunger rather than trust in his Father.
  • Hey, Son of God, you’re humbled instead of glorious (v.6);
    How tempting, for Jesus to get glory by worshipping Satan instead of going to the cross.
  • Hey, Son of God, you’re vulnerable without assurance (v.9). 
    How tempting, for Jesus to demand divine protection and dramatic, instant “ministry success”, rather than taking God’s way – the long, slow preaching of the kingdom of God and the gathering of a team of weak men and women.

It’s very tempting, isn’t it, to seize any and every offer that looks to us like safety.

But our Lord does not give up. He does not give in. Jesus wins the battle with the devil in the wilderness and ultimately on the cross of Calvary.

As we’re bombarded by COVID-19 news feeds, let’s not forget how significant Jesus’ victory is: Jesus died in my place so that I no longer need to fear death. God’s Son didn’t just watch a sin pandemic from afar or flee the infection zone. He chose to enter a diseased, infected world to stand with us, as one of us, in order to bring us life with him. I can go to Jesus in prayer about anything, including COVID-19 challenges yet to come,knowing that the one who defeated the devil on my behalf is with me to help me in my time of need.

What about you, friends? What temptation or struggle are you facing this season? Perhaps it is fear, anxiety or a lack of thanksgiving. Let’s take this time to remember that Jesus has drawn near to us – may we draw near to him and bring our struggles to him.

Let us also remind one another who Jesus is and what he’s come to do.

  • Cell groups, even though you’re not able to meet physically during this period, do continue to find other means like meeting through Zoom or Skype. If you have difficulty with this, do let our office know.
  • Encourage one another with text messages, calls, cards or notes. (Our elders, pastors, cell and ministry leaders are looking out for you, but you don’t have to be one of them to care for others.)
  • Make sure our news feeds are also Good News feeds. We are hoping in the coming weeks to put more content on our website to encourage you, but in the meantime do consider the following:

https://www.desiringgod.org/coronavirus

https://ymi.today/covid-19/

https://www.crossway.org/articles/free-resources-for-your-stay-at-home-during-covid-19/

May our good Lord bless you and keep you.

Pastor Yuk Yee

for our Pastoral Team and Elders & Deacons Court