Local Church History
There were no Tamil worship services for Methodist members living in the Sentul area until 1921. Those who needed a Tamil worship service had to go to TMC KL, then situated in Malacca Street. Many found it difficult to travel. Thus TMC KL opened a Mission Hall in Sentul – a rented shop house. Mr. W.V. Nithchingham was the person in charge of the worship service and other related work. At this time a plot of land was acquired with the intention of constructing a Church Building. With this development, Sunday worship services, a Sunday school and Women’s Work were carried out. Mrs. Abraham from the KL Church held Bible Classes for the women in Sentul. She also gave sewing lessons.
Worship Services in a Railway Quarters Home
From 1923 until 1925, worship services were conducted at the Railway Quarters, in the home of Mr. S.J. Davies, a Railway Officer. He took charge of the worship services and his home was the temporary church. Those who attended the services were mostly South Indian Tamil Christians. The worship services were made meaningful by the enthusiastic singing. Until the end of 1924, Mr. Davies was in charge of the small but growing congregation. After he left for India, the worship services were held in the homes of other members, with the help of Mr. S.M. Rajamoney.
New Church Building New Pastors
In 1926, a church was built on a plot of land along Sentul Road in the New Railway Housing Scheme Area. A parsonage was attached to this new church. The first Pastor to this new church was Rev. L.A. Samuel. He was in charge until 1929. He travelled to the surrounding estates for his evangelistic work. Mrs. Blasdell, Mrs. Urech and Mrs. L.A. Samuel assisted in the work of the Women’s Society.
From 1930 to 1932, Rev. S.A. Philips was the Pastor. Ministry in the estates continued. The Church School, Youth group and the Women’s Work progressed. The new church made of brick was completed in 1933. The old building was used for Church School classes, youth meetings and women’s work. The pastor and his family continued living in the wooden parsonage attached to the old church.
Rev. N.G. Manickam was the next Pastor and he served from 1933 until 1935. Rev. S.A. Philips was re-posted to Sentul in 1936 and he served for two years. From 1938 – 1939, both Rev. Philips and Rev. Paul Athimuthu served together. In 1940, Rev. Paul Athimuthu took over as the sole Pastor.
Through the Second World War and Beyond
During the Japanese occupation, Rev. Ponniah looked after the Church with the help of Local Preachers and Exhorters. After the War, Rev. Paul Athimuthu was appointed Pastor in 1948. From 1949 – 1950, Rev. M. Thangamuthu was the Pastor. He was a Tamil classical song composer and singer. He did a lot of evangelistic work in and around Sentul. From 1951 – 1952, Rev. J.A.P. Oswald, the Principal of the Methodist Boys’ School, Sentul, was appointed the Pastor. In spite of the demands from his school duties, there was progress in all the different areas of the church ministry. From 1953 to 1955, Rev. John Abraham was the Pastor. The church membership grew and the church building was renovated and extended. During this period, a new parsonage was underway and completed.
Going out to Minister
From 1956 to 1959, Rev. C.A. Watson was the Pastor. He took along some youths to the Ulu Klang area and conducted Church School and Youth meetings. In 1959, Rev. Peter David was appointed the Pastor. During this time there were many youth activities as the pastor was very popular with the youths. Rev. S.A. Andar became the resident Pastor from 1960 to 1966. In 1960, Mr. Koilpitchai, the Secretary of the Christian Literature Society of India, preached to a packed Church on 10 November. Many orders for religious books were made with him. In 1961, the Church School had 65 children. About half the children were non- Christians. The Church School was conducted successfully under the guidance of Mrs. J.W. David. Five children were baptized. The MYF was revived and functioned well under the leadership of Mr. T. Victor. After Rev. Andar, Rev. Peter David returned as Pastor for a short period of seven months. From 1967 to 1971, Rev. John Kovilpillai was the Pastor. He did much evangelistic and social work. The church grew. In 1969, the Full Membership was 114. In 1970 Rev. John took some youths of TMC Sentul to help him at TMC Bukit Rotan. He was also the pastor there.
From 1972 – 1974, Rev. James Solamadan was the Pastor. In 1972 the Full Membership was 129. He was also the pastor of TMC Tanjong Malim and went there twice a month to hold services. The church bought a new Yamaha electronic organ at a cost of about $2,500 with the help of the WSCS. In 1973 the Full Membership was 129. A Church School was organised at the beginning of the year and there were about 30 children and 3 teachers. Miss Ruth Beckett conducted a training course for the teachers. In 1974 the Full Membership was 151. The WSCS bought furniture for the parsonage costing $700. In 1975 the Full Membership was 179. From February 1974 – 1976 June, Rev. Eddie Thoraisingam was the Pastor. He was then followed by Rev. John Kovilpillai, also in 1976, for two month, in July and August.
Choir Ministry Extended to Other Churches
From 1976 September – 1982, Rev. David Tharmakan was the Pastor. He brought revival to church music and worship. He was instrumental in building a strong choir, which was well known for its singing and the church was called as the “Singing Church.”. In 1977, the choir sang in TMC Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Tanjung Malim. In 1978 the Full Membership was 180. Outreach work was carried out at the Ampang New Village. The local MYF successfully hosted the Conference MYF Youth Institute in Sentul. The church came forward to meet the whole salary of the pastor.
In 1979, the church choir presented a special programme called ‘Christ and the Unstable Man” in Kuala Lumpur, Seremban and Ipoh. In 1980, the church presented their third Musical Presentation entitled, ‘The Word Became Flesh’ in Kuala Lumpur, Seremban and Ipoh. In 1981, they had outreach work in Ampang, Puchong, Mindef and Sungai Way Subang. The Church Choir presented their fourth Musical Programme called ‘At Calvary’ in September. In 1982 the Full Membership was 195. The Trinity Annual Conference had through the Trustees handed the management of the playground leased from the Railways to the Tamil Church. The land adjoining the Sentul Parsonage was handed over by the Grace Methodist Church to the Sentul Tamil Church.
Two Youths Respond for the Fulltime Ministry
From 1983 to September 1985, Rev. Devadass Ratnam was the Pastor. Two youths, Mr. Justin Clarance (1984) and Mr. Devarakam John (1985) responded to the call, to fulltime ministry. In 1984 the Full Membership was 206. Sunday worship service was at 9 a.m. and Friday Prayer Service was at 7:45 pm. The pastor revived the defunct Youth group at the end of 1983 with a Bible Study. The Plan for Church Extension was sent to the Town Planners on 9 July. The church Building Fund had about RM 100,000. In 1985 the Full Membership was 213. Rev. Devadass was the pastor till September. The MYF met on alternate Sundays in the church and about 15 youths attended. The Church School met on Sundays at 8:15 am in the M.B.S. (Primary) classrooms. A Young Adult Fellowship was organised. The proposed Church extension plan was not approved. The Building Fund had RM 121, 220.21.
Mission Support and Sending out Missionaries
From October 1985 to 1991 Rev. Gabriel Jabanathan was the Pastor. In 1986, the Full Membership was 261. Sunday Worship Service was at 9:30 am. Bible Study was conducted for new believers, youth and church members. The MYF grew from 5 to 40 members. The church had a programme to help the poor and the needy by giving small loans. The Church identified Selayang, Batu Caves, Gombak, Serdang and Ampang as possible Outreach Points. The Building Plans were delayed as the Government wanted a portion of the land for road extension. They were then informed that the land was not required. In 1987 the Full Membership was 308. The pastor conducted systematic Bible study and about 30 – 40 persons attended. The Youth Bible Study was on Tuesdays. Video tape ministry was also started. The church spent about RM 2,580 on transport for the Church School children. Nine areas were identified for Cell-Groups and 13 persons were trained to take charge. A 35 member choir played an important role in assisting the worship. The church staged a variety concert to raise money for the Church Building Fund. The youth bible study group collected about RM 950 towards Missions and donated RM 100 each to two missionary organisations. Tithes increased from RM 21,000 to RM 39,000. Work on the Church Extension Building Project started in October 1987. The total cost of construction was RM 248,322.50. The extension included a new Church Hall and Toilet rooms adjoining it. The Parsonage was enlarged to provide a Dining Room.
In 1988 the Full Membership was 335. The pastor trained worship leaders to lead in the prayer and praise. The Church Extension programme was successfully completed and the building was dedicated to the glory of God on 23 April, 1988 by the Conference President, Rev. V. John Kovilpillai. The total cost of the project was RM 278,121.20 and money raised through donations and the giving of the members was RM 194,684.84. The pastor identified leaders and trained them for the Cell Groups. There were 9 cell groups and 17 leaders were trained. About 50 persons attended the Bible Study. The total cost of the Church Extension and Church Hall was RM 283,000.
In 1989 the Full Membership was 370, in 1990 it was 412 and 414 in 1991. The church launched its first English Service on 15 September 1991. The Tamil Worship Service was at 8:30 am and the English Worship Service at 10:30 am on Sundays. The church celebrated their 60th Church Anniversary on 11 August 1991 with an Anniversary Service. Bishop Dr. Denis C. Dutton graced the occasion and brought the Lord’s Message. The Gospel Team went on a Ministry Tour to Kuantan and Tanjong Malim. During the Christmas Season of 1990, they ministered at Subang Parade.
Growing in Prayer, Worship and Study of God’s Word
From 1992 – 1995, Rev. Daniel Pupalarajah was the Pastor. He emphasized on prayer and worship, together with the study of God’s Word. In 1992 the Full Membership was 437. A hostel project was initiated by the Social Concerns Committee. The church supported missions work in Pakistan, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nepal in addition to the Sengoi Mission Work, Andaman Island Mission work and Individual Evangelists. To expose members to missions work, they were sent to Pakistan, Thailand, Medan and to the YWAM programme in Penang.
In 1993 the Full Membership was 464. A Junior Band, a Young Adult Fellowship and a morning watch at 5:30 am was started. The Building Plans were altered as required by the authorities for a 2 storey building and submitted for approval. In 1994 the Full Membership was 421. The church sent Miss Daisy Korinthiar as a missionary. The Building Plans for the 2nd Phase was rejected. In 1995 the Full Membership was 470.
From 1996 – 1998, Rev. A.E. Joseph was the Pastor. He enhanced the worship and the music ministry of the church. He visited the church members regularly and related well with the youths. In 1996 the Full Membership was 496. The church sent out 10 missionaries to serve both locally and overseas. The Kajang and Old Klang Road Home Fellowships met fortnightly. Attendance varied from 10 to 12 people. The church bought a second van to help in the many ministries of the church. The church organised a Praise and Worship concert in which most of the district churches participated. In 1997 ministerial student Mr. Samuel Periathamby assisted. The Full Membership was 443.
The following were serving as missionaries of the church: Peter V. and Puspa (M.M.M.), Daisy Korinthiar (M.M.M.) Dass and Rani (Y.W.A.M.), James Maniam (Y.W.A.M.),Edwin and Shanti (M.M.M.), Shanti Latimer (Local Church Prayer coordinator),James Kumar (M.M.M. Coordinator). The church also contributed RM 2,000 monthly towards the work of missions. The church bought two units of condominium apartments in Sentul Perdana as investment for the purchase of property for worship in Ampang and Batu Caves. In 1998 Ministerial Student Mr. Samuel Periathamby continued to serve. The Full Membership was 449. The church continued to support mission work with RM2000 each month.
From 1999 – 2005, Rev. James Solamadan was the Pastor. In 1999 the Full Membership was 403 (29 members removed by Local Conference Action). In 2000 the Full Membership was 417. The leaders were concerned that those who were confirmed did not show interest in the church after their Confirmation. The MYF faced some problems and were not meeting regularly. The pastor and the elders met the youths and resolved the issue. Mr. Aldrin, the ministerial student, helped the youth group. The church donated their second van to TMC Jerantut after spending about RM6,000 to repair the van.
In 2001 the Full Membership was 332. The church was concerned that many children did not attend the Church school, but chose to attend other nearby churches for convenience. In 2002 the Full Membership was 354. PMR, SPM and STPM students were honoured with cash gifts for their good performance. In 2003 Supply Pastor Reuben Rajandurai served from 1 August. The Full Membership was 373. The MYF was reorganised on 23 February and met fortnightly. They had 25 members. The condominiums purchased at Sentul Perdana were completed and the church took possession.
In 2004 Supply Pastor Reuben Rajandurai continued to serve. The Full Membership was 372. M.S.F. was organised on 25 July. Mr. N. Pandian was elected the President. There were 8 Cell Groups and more than 50 families attended. The condominiums were dedicated on 4 July 2004 by the Conference President Rev. P. Tevaraji. One unit was occupied by the Senior Pastor and the other was rented out. With the pastor moving to the condominium there was more space for ministry in the church. In 2005 Rev. Reuben Kanagalingam served as the Assistant Pastor. The Full Membership on 5 October was 405. The church was air-conditioned but still lacked basic facilities like a hall and meeting rooms. Bible study was conducted before the Sunday morning service.
Diamond Jubilee Celebrations
From 2006 – 2017, for a period of 12 years, Rev. Devadass Ratnam was the Pastor. In 2006 the Full Membership was 374. The reduced number was due to the membership updating exercise. The Missions Committee supplied 300 bibles for an Indian village. New Ministries included Indian Christian Business Fellowship from June. This was held on alternate Fridays and about 5 to 10 attended.
The 75th Diamond Jubilee Celebrations: In 2006 three major events took place - Dynamic Life Conference from 28 – 30 July, Father Heart of God from 1 – 3 September and Thanksgiving Service and Dinner on 19 November. In 2007, the Full Membership rose to 407. Weekend ministerial student was Mr. Kunabalan. The Missions Committee raised RM 5,649 for the purchase of bibles for Indian Villages. There were 55 children in the Church School in the main church, 15 in Kepong and 10 in the Ampang Outreach. There was a hospitality room at the old parsonage building. The church began ministry in Kepong with Mr. Joel Kumar as a worker.
Ministry Personnel Strengthened
In 2008 the following were the local church workers: Pastor Joel Kumar, Sis Sarah Nadarajah, Mr. Peter Anthony and Mr. Victor Alagesan. The Full Membership was 420. The church supported mission work in Orissa, Myanmar and Nepal. Orang Asli visits were done. Social Concerns ministry included the setting up of a Tuition Centre. The Christian Education Committee organized a library. There were three outreaches: Kepong (under Pastor Joel Kumar and 20- 30 attend), Ampang (covered by Miss Sarah Nadarajah and 30 attend) and Cheras a (Joint Outreach with TMC KL).
The Joy of Giving Birth to a New Church after 80 Years
In 2009 the church added Ms. Shanti Latimer (Intercession) to their ministerial team. The Full Membership was 402. They helped to build a church in Orissa for RM 11,000 for the tribal people. Cheras was recommended to become a Local Conference in just 3 years. In 2010 the Full Membership was 346 after it was updated to 337 at the Second Local Conference. The formation of Cheras as a Local Church on 27 March 2010, is the first for the Sentul church after 80 years of history. The Sentul church faced the challenges of an economic and property boom in Sentul.
Involvment in the Social Needs of the Community
In 2011 the church had the assistance of ministerial student Mr. Ronald Rohendra Rao and Mr. Edward Maniam as a church worker. The Full Membership was 316. Through the “My Daftar Campaign” the church helped people with problems of Red IC, no IC and no Birth Certificates. The impact was tremendous to the extent that the Batu Caves Hindu Temple Committee asked the church’s help. Also, a Tamil Newspaper published an article about the church’s involvement in this project.
Development around the Church Poses New Challenges
In 2012 Mr Yesudass joined as Church Worker. The Full Membership was 328. The church considered giving up the present location and negotiated with YTL for an alternative site in Sentul itself. This is to be fully built with a church and ministry facilities. This was made known to the TAC leadership. In 2013 the Full Membership was 357.
Evangelism was done in Karak, Ampang and Kirubai areas. In 2014 the Full Membership was 364. Rev. Devadass underwent a triple bypass heart surgery on 20 January. He was on recovery leave till 31 May. There was some work among the migrant Sri Lankans. There was an urgent need for a fulltime worker in the Karak area. The church spent RM40,000 to upgrade their P.A. system.
In 2015 the Full Membership was 361. The Sri Lankan migrant ministry was organized. The Ampang Outreach work was done in two areas – Taman Cahaya and Bukit Belacan. The church contributed RM71,620 towards the Nehemiah Project of the TAC. The church strongly requested for a full time Assistant Pastor. In 2016 the Full Membership was 369. In 2017 the Full Membership was 349. After faithfully serving the Sentul church for 12 years, Rev. Devadass Ratnam retired at the end of the year. The Ampang work continued to grow with the placement of Mr. Clarence James as a worker.
Returning to Serve the Home Church
In 2018, Rev. Justin Clarance was appointed the Pastor. Rev. Justin, who was sent for ministry by the Sentul Church, returned with much experience. In 2018 the Full Membership was 349. There were 10 active Small Groups and they met every first and third Tuesdays.
In 2019, Rev. Justin Clarance is the Pastor. The Lay Leader of the local church is Mr. Mohan Moses and the LCEC Chairperson is Mr. Guna Arulalan David. The Full Membership is 318. The church has one Outreach Point in Ampang with 60 adults and 13 children. Mr. Clarence James is the Church Worker placed there. The membership of the Agencies is as follows: MYF (18), MYAF (21), MSF (63) and MW (57). There are 51 children, 5 teachers and 4 helpers in the Church School in Sentul and 14 children, 4 teachers and 3 helpers in the Ampang Outreach. The church has 4 Life Groups in Sentul, Ampang, Setapak and one MYF Group.
Conclusion: TMC Sentul was started because there was a need for the people in Sentul to have a Tamil worship service. Today the church has grown tremendously and is serving not only her members and those in the Sentul vicinity, but through the work of missions, they have reached out to many parts of the world. The church has produced the following pastors: Rev. Justin Clarence, Rev. Devarakam John (Herbert), Rev. Francis Loh (ELCM) and the late Rev. Francis Lawrence (TRAC). The church needs more in number, both in their pastoral team as well as their lay leaders to enable and ensure greater impact within the local church as well as in the society at large. This would then make the church to keep on moving to greater heights for the glory of God.
1. Methodist Journals – MAC,TPAC, TAC
2. Local Church Souvenir Programmes
3. Local Church Feedback