27 March 2022 I 9.30 am I The Grand Cathay
The atmosphere was laced with excitement and anticipation, mixed with a hint of pensiveness and a tinge of poignancy.
It was the last service for Wesley@Cathay, at The Grand Cathay, its home for the past five years.
And it was the first time in a long while that the service saw this many people — over 300 registered worshippers.
After months of having to be seated within safe distancing requirements, it was the first time that the congregation could freely sit wherever they wanted.
Even though the congregation was not able to join the worship team in singing aloud (in adherence to safety guidelines), we basked in the music, moved along to the beat of the drums, and followed the lyrics in our hearts, as the instrumental strains and voices of the worship team reverberated in the darkened theatre.
Heart-warming to See a Crowd
Members of the Wesley@Cathay Welcome Team, adorned in their familiar red polo tee, brought the energy by brightly greeting the worshippers who streamed in throughout the service.
Berlinda, who has been serving here since pre-Covid time, felt touched to see so many people back for the service — she has had seniors sharing with her that it was their first time attending a service in person since the pandemic started.
She said, “It is nice to see families and friends sitting together without the need for social distancing, for the first time after a long while.”
Aik Wee, who had served in the Prayer & Praise team in church before serving at Wesley@Cathay, shared Berlinda’s sentiments, saying that he was elated to see so many people. “It feels good and makes the place warm.”
Many Fond Memories Formed
The Welcome Team has fond memories of the service at the Grand Cathay, such as the coffee that was served pre-service, which offered a homely and welcoming touch for the worshippers and the volunteer team.
Esther, Berlinda’s fellow long time teammate, gave thanks for the community here, recalling their after-service fellowship and post-fellowship community and friendships. Having come back recently to serving after a break, she said, “It was nice to be back here serving and seeing familiar faces in the crowd.”
Pastoral Team Member Patrick Chua felt “emotional”, having seen Wesley@Cathay through the whole five years and more. He will miss this place and what it means to the team who has seen its growth from inception — “everything — the atmosphere, the space, the volunteers, the welcoming culture.”
It was the same feeling for mother-and-daughter team Tabitha and Amberle Lee, who have been serving together with their family members here for many years, with Tabitha belonging to the pioneering batch of volunteers.
During Covid-19, when the service at The Grand Cathay moved online, their family volunteered at the main church serving as greeters.
“We wanted to continue to serve together. We felt that it was important to help people not to forget the privilege of serving,” Tabitha said.
Amberle saw how God really provided for the team through Covid-19 pandemic, citing the large number of worshippers on site today, which demonstrated that people are willing to come back to worship on site. Her prayer for the new move is for people to be willing to attend the services at Cineleisure, and that the disruption may be minimal, especially to families with children.
It was an “overwhelming” experience for Siu Ming, who has been serving since 2018 in the Welcome Team, after having to take a two-year break due to the pandemic restrictions. “Wesley@Cathay was like a second home away from home for me,” she said, sharing the many memories she has formed here, being involved in various events like Alpha@Cathay, Gifts of Blessings and Christmas@Cathay.
She looks forward to the new community at Cineleisure Orchard, where there would be many new tenants to bless.
Thanksgiving for the Time of Growth
After the sermon given by Rev Gladwin Lee, Holy Communion was served, the final one for Wesley@Cathay here at The Grand Cathay.
In a Thanksgiving segment, Pastor Clement thanked God for watching over the service and the team over the past five years, particularly for the opportunity to grow as one faith community.
Pastor Clement led the congregation to affirm what the Lord has done here at Wesley@Cathay and seek His guidance as we look forward to the new home for our Prayer & Praise services. Special thanks were given to the team of Wesley@Cathay volunteers — whose sacrifices and commitment helped to build the service from its beginnings to its current stature, persevering through the Covid-19 pandemic — dedicating them for continued service at the new location.
Looking Forward to New Things As a Community
The sense of wistful anticipation was also shared by the congregation, especially the ones who worship here regularly.
The Gwee family, who usually worship together at the Traditional Service, had attended a few services here. They attended the final service as one family, sitting together and enjoying the atmosphere. They are looking forward to visiting the services at Cineleisure Orchard.
Aleene and Monica also had good things to say about the Wesley@Cathay service. Aleene, who was a regular worshipper at Wesley@Cathay, will miss the convenience of being near the main church.
Regular worshippers here with their family of seven, Matthew and Sarah shared about planning the logistics of travelling to the new location, which included ferrying their children to their respective ministries. While this was a convenient location, they were looking forward to the many food options at Cineleisure Orchard.
Focused on packing up the audio and visual equipment was Samuel, from the Creative Team. He thought that the last service felt “surreal and sad” and described the move as “challenging and exciting”. He expressed thankfulness that in the last five years, God has clearly shown them how He could grow His people when they avail themselves to Him.
Eric, a familiar face at Wesley@Cathay, was greeting and saying goodbye to the congregation. He shared that while it was sad to be leaving this place, it being God’s home, the team is also looking forward to a new season with excitement and anticipation. It is so because “the community remains intact”, likening the move to a corporate scenario — instead of it being like one resigning from a job and leaving colleagues, it is more like the whole office moving to new premises together, with everyone intact and involved.
As the last slide went off and lights died down, the Wesley@Cathay team of staff and volunteers busied themselves with packing up the equipment and arranging for the transition. A group of volunteers organised themselves for the Gift of Blessings Project, to bid farewell to tenants at The Cathay — with whom the team has formed relationships over the years — with a small gift.
With that, a chapter of Wesley@Cathay comes to an end, but a new one is beginning soon — on 1 May 2022 — one that would be welcomed with joy and thanksgiving — and loud singing!
Photos by Henry Lim.
Watch Sermon video, read Sermon notes and reflection questions>> https://tidings.wesleymc.org/sermon-reflection/death-by-unforgiveness-pp/