Maturing as Light of the World: Trinity Theological College’s 70th Anniversary
Despite the dark days of the Japanese Occupation, developments took place which Christians today can rejoice about. The internment of Anglican missionary leaders, Bishop Leonard Wilson and Canon Sorby Adams, in Changi Prison led to discussions with fellow Methodist and Presbyterian interns that culminated in the founding of Trinity Theological College (TTC) as a union college. TTC opened its doors in 1948 as the first seminary in Singapore. By the 1960s, the Lutheran Church joined as one of the College’s governing churches.
Training and Equipping
TTC’s hallmark is its dedication to providing quality theological education as well as equipping lay people. For lay training, TTC’s Centre for the Development of Christian Ministry (CDCM) has been providing evening courses. An increasing number of lay people are undertaking the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) programme since its launch in 2005.
The Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, Principal of TTC, said, “If more members from our churches get educated theologically, there can be better synergy between them and their pastors and pastoral teams to develop spiritual formation in the churches.” In this respect, CDCM will be revamped with a new name and direction.
“Not all are called to full-time ministry, but are called instead to public square witness. We are seeing civil servants, and professionals enrolling in the MTS programme,” says Rev Dr Ngoei. For current student Dr Kelvin Li, it is a wonderful programme that has helped him develop a holistic vision of reality that is grounded in the Word of God. He says, “my medical practice has been challenged and reinvigorated by the theological perspectives and reflections.”
When TTC started, many of her faculty members were missionary educators. Among the staff today, only one is a missionary lecturer and the rest are Singaporean lecturers trained overseas. TTC has been intentional over the last decade to encourage talented local scholars to come on staff. Rev Dr Ngoei says, “As TTC matures, we have very competent faculty staff who can speak boldly to provide contextualised theological perspectives for the local church. As the number of Singaporean staff increases, our budget will of course also go up. But we have become self-sufficient with support from our churches - another sign of maturity.”
The College will continue to invite top international scholars to conduct seminars and participate in conferences. As part of its 70th Anniversary Celebrations, TTC has invited Professor Tom Greggs from the University of Aberdeen to present three public lectures (July 24-26) and to participate in a symposium on Salvation and Eschatology (Jul 23-27). For a full list of upcoming events, please log onto www.ttc.edu.sg for more details.
Public Square Engagement
One milestone for this august institution was her partnership in 2014 with the National Council of Churches of Singapore and the Bible Society of Singapore to form the think tank, ETHOS Institute for Public Christianity. ETHOS works with churches to look at commonalities and think through issues cohesively. The various events organized thus far have been well received and are well attended not only by pastors but also the lay people and academics. There is a growing willingness to work together across denominational lines.
The concert, Trinity Rhapsody by the TTC choir, was the first of TTC’s celebrative events. Conducted by Mrs Simon Chan, it was held on 2 February at Bukit Panjang Methodist Church before a packed audience.
On 8 and 9 March, a Preaching Symposium Light of the World was conducted in English and Mandarin. Bishop Rennis Ponniah was one of the featured speakers in the English track and Rev Canon Dr Titus Chung spoke in the Chinese track.
A conference for Chinese churches entitled Chinese Churches and Chinese Worldwide (April 18-19) had speakers, both local and from the region, speak to over 200 participants.
One of the highlights of its Anniversary celebration is the Alumni Heritage Trail After the Darkness… Lux Mundi event. Here Diocesan Digest learns something new about TTC’s connection to Changi Prison, beyond it being TTC’s birthplace. Three former offenders who have studied at TTC after their release will get to present their testimonies. This event will launch a scholarship for more former offenders to pursue their theological studies here.
While TTC matures and looks to the future, she remains a servant of the Lord. Called into being during a war, she continues in her calling to be Lux Mundi: light of the world.
St Peter's Hall
TTC has afforded us, from time past, a special place in which to have a formation hall for Anglican students. This is St Peter’s Hall (SPH).
Established in 1954, St Peter’s Hall was originally located in St Andrew’s Boys’ School. As the centre for leadership development, training and spiritual formation for the Diocese, it was re-located within TTC, of which the Anglican Church is a founding member. SPH trains our Anglican parish workers and clergy, and also plays a regional role with its Overseas Clergy’s Sabbatical Programme.
Revd Joseph Goh, Warden of SPH since 2016, shares that the vision for SPH is four fold; it is to:
- develop our theological students, as future church leaders, with a deepening understanding, appreciation and experience of the Anglican inheritance in their personal and corporate worship, discipleship and mission,
- develop potential faculty,
- develop local Anglicans as Bible scholars and theologians to support the Church in addressing issues of the day with the current generation and the nation, and
- grow SPH as a regional centre for Anglican studies and research in collaboration with other regional Anglican centres, especially in the Province.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the close-knit and vibrant SPH community where I made wonderful friends," recalls Mr Hambali Leonardi (MDiv, 2005), a newly ordained deacon from St Andrew’s Cathedral. "The Warden at that time, Revd Hwa Chih, and the SPH family blessed me with the discipline and rigours of community life and spiritual formation."