Local Church History
The Rawang Outreach Work of the Tamil Methodist Church Kuala Lumpur began in 1981 in the home of Mr. & Mrs. G. J. Thanaraj and Gunaseely. Mr. & Mrs. Robert Ananthan were Coordinators of this ministry. It became a Local Conference on 1 November 1992 with a Full Membership of 49.
The Early History
In 1993 Rev. David Paul Raj was appointed as the first pastor of this church. Since he was also the pastor of Bukit Rotan, he came on alternate Sundays and Mr. David Rasahpandy, the ministerial student, helped conduct the services on the other alternate Sundays. The Full Membership was 45. The worship services were held at 9.30 a.m. every Sunday. Regular Bible study and prayer cell gatherings were conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Batu Arang and Kuang were their two outreach points. The lay members were involved in this work. A fresh application was made for a piece of land for the church land and they waited for the State Exco for approval. They had RM57, 000 in their Building Fund with AEC.
In 1994, Rev. Roberts Pandian, the pastor of Petaling Jaya, was the pastor-in- charge. Mr. James Ravindaren, the STM Student assisted Rev Pandian. The Full Membership was 46. The Sunday Worship service was now at 10:30 am. The members were active and met every Sunday after service. The WSCS had 18 members. The Church School met on Sundays at 8.30 a.m. and there were about 30-40 children and 5 teachers. The church was at the final stage of getting a plot of land in Rawang (0.7 acres). RM 81, 000 was raised. The cost for a sanctuary which could seat 300 people was estimated at RM150, 000. The church also expressed the need for a full time or supply pastor.
Moving From the Housing Estate
From 1995 to 1996, Rev. A. E. Joseph was the pastor. In 1995, the Full Membership was 46. The church saw the urgent need for a separate place for worship and activities as the present place was in a housing estate which was very inconvenient. In 1996, STM Student Mr. Dennis Raj helped. The Full Membership was 64. One reason for the almost zero growth was the absence of a resident pastor in Rawang. Worship services was at 8.30 a.m. with Holy Communion on Second Sundays. There were two Church Schools, one held in the local church (4 classes in Rawang with 4 teachers) and the other in Batu Arang (2 classes with two teachers).
From 1997 to 1999, the Approved Supply Pastor, Pastor R. Yesudason was the pastor-in- charge. The Full Membership was 76. The church embarked on a programme to purchase the present bungalow used for worship and other ministries of the church for RM250,000. In 1998, the Full Membership was 77. The Outreach in Batu Arang had a Church School which was attended by mostly non-Christians and Catholic children.
About 32 children attended the Church School. Bible studies and Cottage Prayer Meetings were also conducted. The purchase of the present property was at its final stage where the Sales and Purchase Agreement would be transacted.
In 1999, the Full Membership was 78. The Ulu Yam Baru worship service was started and they met on every fourth Tuesday. There were 2 Church Schools on Sundays, one held in the local church at 10.45 a.m. and the other in Batu Arang at 4.30 p.m. There are six teachers and about 70 children. Finally, the church bought the property where they were worshipping. The church tried hard with its limited resources to cope with paying the loans for its building project.
Three Outreach Ministries
From 2000 to 2001, Rev. M.G. Thana Raj was the pastor. In 2000, the Full Membership was 77. The main reason for the drop in membership was that several members were removed by the action of the Local Conference. Mrs. Rhoda Peter was elected as the coordinator for the MYAF at the Second Local Conference. The worship place was painted. There were three outreach ministries – Batu Arang, Bukit Beruntung and Batang Kali. The bungalow which was used as a place of worship was too far inside the housing estate for easy access for members. Members who came by bus needed to walk a long distance and the church was not visible for the general public. No signboards could be placed to indicate that a Tamil Methodist Church was in existence in Rawang.
In 2001, the Full Membership was 77. Two families were added after June and a few others were waiting to be baptised. Evangelism work was done in Bukit Beruntung and Cottage Prayer Meetings and Bible studies were conducted once a month. Through the Missions Committee, two members went on a Mission Trip to the Sengoi Community in Kampar. They joined the Perak district group. Regular assistance was given to an elderly couple to purchase provisions amounting to RM30 a month. A special offering was taken on the 5th Sundays for the Building project. The church paid RM15, 000 to the AEC. The church also purchased an electronic organ. The Batang Kali outreach ministry was unexpectedly stopped because the contact family had moved out without informing the church.
The main concern of the church was to pay the pastoral remuneration and the TAC cum AEC loans. The LCEC was sensitive to this and considered various ways to make prompt payments and it was a struggle. They received subsidies from three sources namely, TAC, the Sentul and Kuala Lumpur Tamil Methodist Churches. The church was slowly beginning to get financially stable as the giving from members improved. It was hoped that this would be sustained. Mostly consisting of young adults, the church could flourish if they knew their responsibilities and supported the church by their presence and financial support. Though a small church, they could become a strong one over time.
It was a joy to see some members from other Methodist churches moving to Rawang and Bukit Beruntung. If they could at least be affiliate members for the moment, the Lord’s work in Rawang could grow without much strain. Emotional attachment to their churches of origin, kept the newcomers from taking local membership. It was hoped that this would change.
From 1 January to 15 July 2002, Rev. Hendry Ponniah was the pastor. From 17 July 2002, Rev. Dennis Raj was the pastor. STM student Mr. Edward Devadason helped Rev. Dennis Raj. The Full Membership was 85 with 12 members transferred in and 4 members transferred out. The roof and porch was repaired for RM 650. The water tank was replaced for RM 240. The church bought a second van for RM9, 500 disposing the old for RM 4,000. A fund raising dinner was organised on 15 June 2002 and they raised about RM 9, 000. Five more choir robes were tailored for RM160. The Christian Education Committee started a small church library. In addition to the Batu Arang ministry, the church started a new outreach in Bukit Beruntung on 12 June 2002 which was launched by Rev. James Solamadan, the Central District Superintendent. The church needed a new and bigger sanctuary to accommodate its congregation. Some newcomers did not choose to stay because of the present place. Rev. Dennis Raj brought new excitement to the ministry and Mr. Edward Devadason continued in the same spirit. The main concern of the church was to pay off the building loan.
In 2003 and 2004, Rev. Jonathan Jesudas was the pastor- in- charge with Mr. Edward Devadason as the weekend ministerial student. In 2003, the Full Membership was 75. The Sunday worship service was at 8 a.m. About 60 people attended and the space in the sanctuary was not sufficient for the congregation. The Church School was conducted in 3 places: Rawang (30 children and 4 teachers), Batu Arang (25 children and 3 teachers) and Bukit Beruntung (7 children and 1 teacher). Among other lessons, the children were taught how to tithe. The church ministry was hindered by their need to repay the building loan. The present place of worship, being in a house, did not attract people. Also, the church desired to have a pastor of their own, but their finances with the loan repayment did not allow for this.
Old Building Sold, New Building Purchased
In 2004, Mr. Isaac Nathan was the weekend ministerial student. The Full Membership was 82. The old church premise was sold for RM355,000 and a new building was purchased for RM245, 000. The church settled the AEC loan completely and hoped to settle the outstanding TAC loan of RM21, 000 by the middle of the following year. The new worship place in a shop house was sufficient and very comfortable and it was dedicated by the TAC President Rev. P. Tevaraji on 4 September 2004. The church thanked Mr. Paul Devadason, the Conference Property Chairperson, for his counsel and help. The church reached out to their outreaches in Batu Arang and Bukit Beruntung through the children’s ministry, prayer meetings, tuition classes, sewing classes etc. Mission work was done among the Nepali and Bangladeshi migrant workers in Bukit Beruntung.
Relationship Struggles Affects Church Growth
From 2005 to 2008, Rev. Timothy Krishnan was the pastor- in- charge. In 2005, the Full Membership was 88. For the first time, the church had a pastor of its own. The church’s finances improved and the loan repayments went on smoothly. The membership had grown and as of September 2005, they had 115 Full Members. In 2006, the Full Membership was 110. Cottage Prayer Meetings were held on Thursdays at 8 pm. in the members’ homes. About 30-40 members attended. The church experienced strained relationships which caused the church to go through much tension. More could have been achieved if there was unity in the church. In 2007, the Full Membership dropped to 100. One youth attended the Oral History Program conducted in Sitiawan. Strained relationships caused some members to leave the church. Those who remained were united and focused in their work on the ministries of the church. Rev. Timothy Krishnan worked hard and gave his best to the ministry and his family rallied around him.
In 2008, Mrs. Sarah Abraham became TMC Rawang’s first Church Worker and was placed in Bukit Beruntung. The Full Membership was 107. The local church requested the Annual Conference to visit and give advice on the encumbrances that the vacant land had. The church planned to buy a parsonage and a van. From 2009 to 2010, Rev. John Kovilpillai was the pastor-in-charge and he was assisted by Pastor E. Kunabalan. Mrs. Sarah Abraham continued as Church Worker. The Full Membership grew to 113. Pastor Kunabalan, a young pastor, was musically talented and a good worship leader. There was concern over the vacant land that belonged to the church which was lying idle. Mr. Nelson Nadarajan came forward for fulltime ministry. In 2010, the Full Membership was 114.
From 2011 to 2013, Rev. E. Kunabalan was the pastor-in-charge. In 2011, the Full Membership was 109. In 2012, the Full Membership was 123.The DS reminded the local church that they were located in a strategic area where there are many Indians and they needed to reach out to these people. In 2013, the Full Membership was 134. Lighthouse prayer meetings were held in Bukit Beruntung.
From 2014 – 2016, Rev. P. Sandireaseheran was the pastor-in-charge and Mrs. Sarah Abraham continued as Church Worker. The Full Membership as at October 2014 was 105. Rev. Sandireaseheran was also the pastor of TMC Bahau. In 2015, the Full Membership was 105. This year, he was also the pastor of TMC Mentakab. The Rawang church’s efforts to buy their own parsonage did not materialise as they were unable to raise the needed funds. It was noted that less than 7% of the church’s income was utilized for ministry. Most of it was spent on salaries, rental and utilities.
In 2016, the pastor was able to give undivided pastoral care to the church. The Full Membership was 112. The church appointed a coordinator for the MSF. Majority of the church members were from the lower income group. However, they were sacrificial in their giving. Mr. Jack Kennedy, a member of the local church, committed himself to be a full time Church Worker.
In 2017, Rev. Timothy Krishnan was the pastor- in-charge till August that year Rev. David Abraham took charge from September 2017 onwards. Mrs. Sarah Abraham continued as the Church Worker. The Full Membership was 113. The church raised RM 300 for the Conference’s Social Concern project and donated RM 250 for the souvenir programme of the fund raising dinner. The church finances were stable and the giving was consistent. Yet, a significant number of members did not tithe. After having a fulltime pastor of their own, TMC Rawang had to share their pastor with TMC Selayang. The church orgaised Easter carolling. On 7 October, the church celebrated their 25th anniversary. There was a thanksgiving service followed by dinner. From 2018 onwards, Rev. Dr. A.E. Joseph was the pastor-in-charge. The Full Membership in 2018 was 113.
In 2019, Rev. Dr. A.E. Joseph is still the pastor. Mr. Jacob Rao is the Lay Leader and Mr. Paul Moorthy is the LCEC Chairperson. The Full Membership is 125.The number of members in the Agencies is as follows: MYF (22), MYAF (24) and MW (31). They do not have an organized MSF. There are a total of 49 children (including those from the Outreach Points) and 9 teachers. The Bukit Beruntung Outreach Ministry has a Church Worker stationed at Bukit Beruntung. They have weekly worship service on Sundays, weekly Cell Group Ministry on Wednesdays and weekly Bible study and Prayer on Thursdays. There is a slight growth in attendance in all ministries. The Batu Arang Outreach is basically a children’s ministry handled by the locals. They are looking into the possibility of developing this ministry. A study is being conducted on the prospect of dividing the whole parish into Cell Groups for 2020.
Conclusion: The Tamil Methodist ministry in Rawang began in the home of Mr. & Mrs. G. J. Thanaraj and Gunaseely, with the gathering of a small group of believers. This group grew over the years as the Outreach of TMC KL. When it was eventually formed as a Local Conference in 1992, there were 49 Full Members. They have journeyed as a local church for the past 27 years, faced many challenges and today have a Full Membership of 125. The church has plans to structure its membership into Cell Groups. They have good numbers in their Agencies and this is an indication that the church is active. With the Lord as their helper, they can grow and bring glory to God.
Sources: TAC Journals