Sun 31st October: As the sun set on an unusually cold and chilly day in Bangkok, Revd Pairoj Phiammattawat was ordained at Christ Church. Led by Archbishop John Chew, hands were laid to ordain the first local Anglican priest of Thailand. It was a historic moment. Over 300 witnesses gathered; some were pastors and leaders from other churches in Bangkok. Delegates from the wider Anglican family were also present.
This proudest moment however truly belonged to the local Thai Anglicans. Leaders and members from Anglican congregations from other parts of Thailand were present to savor the occasion. After 105 years of Anglican work and presence, finally someone from amongst their ranks rose to assume the ministry of a clergy. As friends from around the world gathered to express the support of the wider Anglican family, it was a local moment, as sweet as the local refreshments served later of pad thai and colorful desserts. Mrs Dorothy Jason, who with her late husband, Revd Gerald Khoo pioneered the local Anglican Thai work during the 80’s and 90’s was present to share in the joy. In fact, it was Revd Khoo who first persuaded Revd Pairoj to be trained for the ministry. The current Dean, Revd Yee Ching Wah could hardly hold back his emotions on this momentous occasion, “I was praying, in the words of St Paul in Romans 12, that we will be offering an acceptable worship before the Lord through our lives.
Sometime in the future, the Thai Church will look back to this day, and praise God for what He has done.” The church chosen for this event had her fair share of historical moments. Christ Church sits off North Sathorn Road, on a site given by King Chulalongkorn in 1904. She sees herself as a “spiritual oasis of living waters in the heart of Bangkok,” a fitting picture, given the beautiful garden that she is right at the heart of this highly urbanized city. This thought was hardly comforting though for those anxious about the floods in the areas north of Bangkok. The Ordination Service was run in both Thai and English. Somehow, the two languages blended well. The sounds of Veni Creator in the vernacular were beautiful as the choir asked the Spirit to inspire. Archbishop Chew dedicated an inspiring message to Revd Pairoj. Speaking from Philippians 1, he spoke of the injustices which St Paul suffered. The apostle’s response was “if the Gospel is advanced and Christ is exalted, what does it matter?” It is far easier to organize events, ministry activities and make things happen. But how will we react when our rights are affected and our inner character is tested? How will we react in a world which is constantly comparing and wondering who is greater? Facing these challenges, it is natural for us to complain, to defend or promote ourselves. But for Paul, “for him to live is Christ.” It is never about himself, but about Christ. He reminded Revd Pairoj to take both the short-term and long-term view. “If we have this resolute Christ-centered commitment within us, we can last the distance,” Archbishop Chew reminded us as he made a humorous reference to his approaching retirement. Revd Pairoj, who felt honored and overwhelmed by the occasion, said, “I do not feel worthy of the attention and supportive presence of so many senior church leaders.
Most of all, before the Lord, as I take up this ministry in His name, apart from His call and grace, I do not deserve this. I am immensely grateful to Archbishop John Chew and the many clergy who have contributed to my training and preparation for this role.” When asked what his thoughts are for the future of the Anglican Church here, he said that there is work to do as the Anglican Church is relatively new to local Thais. He is praying that
in the years to come, more local Thais will be trained and ordained for the ministry.