2018 is indeed a special and historic year not only for the Methodist family in Sabah, but the whole Methodist Church in Malaysia! In conjunction with celebrating the 35th Anniversary of establishing Methodist churches in the ‘Land below the Wind,’ the Sabah Provisional Annual Conference (SPAC), 14 years after its formation in 2004, is constituted as a full annual conference – Sabah Annual Conference (SAC).
During the 15th Session of SPAC held on 8th November, 2018, President Rev Dr Hii Kong Hock formally moved the motion that SPAC be formally constituted the Sabah Annual Conference on 9th November, 2018. This was in accordance with the approval by the 11th General Conference Session held on 20-23 September, 2016 at Kingwood Hotel, Sibu, Sarawak, which permits SPAC to become a full Annual Conference within the Quadrennium 2017-2020 once it has achieved the 25 Elders benchmark. This motion was unanimously passed by the delegates present! One Elder (Rev Esther Lu Yi Tin) and two deacons (Ps Fionalisa Aldrin, Ps Wahyudy Sylvester) were ordained during the closing ceremony of the 15th Session.
On the morning of 9th November, 2018, Bishop Dr Ong Hwai Teik officially declared open the 1st Session of Sabah Annual Conference. Bishop Ong, in his message, reminded us of the “Crossovers” faced by the Israelites, and exhorts SAC to prepare for the challenges ahead. All the other five Annual Conferences’ presidents, the superintendent of Sengoi Mission Conference, GC Secretary Mr Anthony Row and Council of Laity Chair Datin Judy Chin were present to grace the occasion and greeted the delegates.
The Ground-breaking ceremony for the new Sabah Methodist Headquarters Building was solemnized by Bishop Ong on the same afternoon, and this was followed by a grand Celebration Dinner in the evening. Bishop Emeritus Dr Hwa Yung gave the exhortation during the dinner which was attended by 900 people, including the EXCO members of the Sabah Council of Churches.
As we reflected on the past, we truly see God’s blessings and guidance. 35 years ago, on seeing many Foochow migrants in Sabah wandering astray from their faith, Rev Siew Chiu Huo came to Sabah to gather them back to the church. With the pioneering spirit and efforts of our forefathers, Chinese Methodist churches soon flourished in the major towns of Sabah, such as: Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan, and Keningau. 35 years have passed. Today, we have extended our ministries beyond the boundaries of language, ethnicity, and geography! Besides Foochows, many local Chinese clans are joining us. Through evangelism, social work and pastoral ministries, we have planted churches – English and Indigenous (BM) included – in cities, towns, and the interior areas of Sabah. Moreover, we have also ventured into overseas missions and set up centers in Thailand and Myanmar.
On 11th November, 2018, SAC local churches throughout Sabah celebrated our 35th Anniversary Sunday Service to give all glory and praises to God. SAC shall continue to strive in “Pressing Goalward, Enlarging Territory” in the future. Generations come and go, but we shall continue to faithfully nurture disciples, raise up new leaders, and utilize our resources to build lives as well as infrastructure. Soli Deo Gloria – Glory be to God alone!
By President Hii Kong Hock
Sabah Annual Conference