The Pastors of the Early Years
As early as 1918, some Tamil pastors laboured in Tanjung Malim and they include Rev. Samuel Abraham, Rev. M.R. Doraisamy, Rev. J.A. Supramaniam, Rev. V.A. Chelliah and Rev. L.A. Samuel. TMC Tanjung Malim was eventually organised as a Local Church in 1959.
From 1959 to 1966, Rev. Paul Athimuthu was the Pastor. Concerning him, in 1961, the DS Rev. Robert Lundy reported, “At Tanjung Malim, Brother Athimuthu has again managed to be pastor, principal, headmaster and manager, besides assuming his added duties this year as District Superintendent.” In 1963, Rev. Athimuthu reported that Sunday services were held in English in the morning and in Tamil in the afternoon. The Full Membership was 33 out of which, 15 were students. The church raised $1,000 for the Boys Brigade’s band.
From 1966 to 1970, Rev. S.A. Andar was the Pastor. In 1969, the Full Membership was 47. The church received a monthly subsidy of $ 185.
Designated TPAC Property
“The Joint Liaison Committee also unanimously decided that the Methodist Church building and Parsonage be designated TPAC property. At the Local Conference, it was reported that the Church-Parsonage land was submitted to A.D.O. for assessment as ‘school land’, because of the existence of the special low rate of assessment for schools. No prior consultation with the TPAC appears to have been made on this. In order to forestall future trouble, it seems advisable for our Conference to take appropriate action” (TPAC Journal 1970 p. 44).
Struggle to Hold Weekly Worship Services
From 1971 to 1973, Rev. James Solamadan was the Pastor. In 1971, the Full Membership was 57. A Food and Fun Fair was organised and they raised just over $1,000. The church received the gift of a new organ through the efforts of one layman. In 1972, the Full Membership was 55. Rev. Solamadan resided at Sentul and came to Tanjong Malim twice a month. The services on the other Sundays were conducted by laypersons and visiting preachers. In 1973, services were held fortnightly, but with the posting of the ministerial student Mr. C. Pandian from 1 May, weekly services resumed. When Mr. Pandian completed his fieldwork on 31 October, the holding of weekly services was again a practical difficulty. The Full Membership was 53.
Struggle to Pay the Pastor’s Salary
From 1 February 1974 to 1975, Rev. E. J. Thoraisingam was the Pastor. In 1974, the Full Membership was 62. Over RM 1,100 was raised by organising a church dinner. Most of it was spent to put up a new fence around the church and parsonage. The DS reported that the church owed the pastor Rev. Thoraisingam RM 532 in arrears of salary as at 30 September 1974.
Also, the church had not cleared the salary arrears of RM 659 to the late Rev. S. A. Andar. The leaders of the church assured the DS Rev. Jacob Paul that both the debts would be cleared by the end of the year. This matter was resolved. Bishop T.R. Doraisamy visited and preached on 21 April 1974. In 1975, Rev. Thoraisingam was pastor of both Sentul and Tanjong Malim. The Full Membership was 65.
From 1976 to 1978, Rev. David Tharmakan was the Pastor. In 1977, the Full Membership was 34. The MYF did very well under the able leadership of Miss Rose Cheng. They successfully hosted the 1st TAC MYF Institute. Miss Rose Cheng informed the church of her call to the ministry and the Local Conference recommended her for theological studies. The WSCS began with 10 ladies and attempts were made to activate the group from Kuala Lumpur. In 1978, the Full Membership was 27. Worship Services were held on Sundays at 5 p.m.
Kindergarten Handed Over to TMC Tanjung Malim
From 1979 to 1981, Rev. S.M. Sadagopan was the Pastor. In 1979, the Full Membership was 29. The church took over the kindergarten on 8 October. The church thanked Mr. D.R. Daniel for his continual support. The kindergarten was handed over by the Secondary School to the Tanjong Malim Tamil Church. The DS was the Manager and the local pastor was the Supervisor. In 1980, the Full Membership rose to 39. The evening worship service was discontinued due to poor attendance. Regular bilingual services were held. The problem of church land and school properties continued to be a source of irritation and unpleasantness. Though from time to time the church found short-term solutions, definite decisions were needed in the light of the appointment of non-Christian heads to the schools. In 1981, the Full Membership was 40. The kindergarten was doing well with Rev. Sadagopan as the manager. Kindergarten accounts were submitted to the Local Church Conference.
Outreach Ministry in Sungai Gumut, Kerling and Slim River
In 1982, Rev. A. E. Joseph was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 38. Outreach work was done in Sungai Gumut, Kerling and Slim River. The Tamil School moved out of the church land and the building was given to the church. The Primary School lost 4 classrooms due to fire and therefore 4 classrooms from the Tamil School building were temporarily loaned to the Primary School. Two classrooms from the Tamil School building were used by the church as additional rooms for the Kindergarten. From 1983 to May 1986, Rev. Denison J.J. was the Pastor. In 1983, the Full Membership was 38. A Worship Service and Church School was conducted at the Sungai Gumut Estate. There was also a weekly bible study. The church negotiated for a separate registration for the kindergarten and spent about RM 2,900 for repairs. The kindergarten gave RM 690 in rental to the church. The church spent RM1,200 on repairs to the parsonage. The school used the downstairs of the parsonage as the Domestic Science Room and paid a rent of RM 70 a month. The church house was renovated for about RM 2,400 and rented out for RM 90 a month. The WSCS was officially organised on 16 October 1983 with 10 members.
“Jesus” Movie in Tamil Screened in the Kuala Kubu Estates
In 1984, the Full Membership was 37. There were two Church Schools. The Town Church School had about 45 children and 6 teachers. The work of the Campus Crusade, the Operation Mobilization and Mr. John Devasekaran strengthened the MYF group. The Campus Crusade team conducted door to door witnessing and visitation. The film “Jesus” in Tamil was screened in the estates of Kuala Kubu Baru. Weekly Outreach meetings were conducted and about 10 attended. Student ministry was conducted for about 20 on Fridays. Tuition classes were organised for the Form 4 students. The pastor had a burden for the youth in the school. The kindergarten was registered as “Tadika Methodist”. There were 70 children and it was run well under the supervision of Mrs. Rose Denison.
In 1985, the Full Membership was 37. The church spent RM 3,632.35 to replace the roof of the parsonage and purchased an organ for RM 2,850. Work started among the Orang Asli Christians. In Kuala Kubu Baru, a weekly ministry was held on Tuesdays in the Chinese Methodist Church Chapel. In 1986, the Full Membership was 34. Rev. Denison was the pastor till the end of May. Regular worship services were held in Kuala Kubu Baru on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. In Slim River, fortnightly bible study was conducted on Wednesdays.
From June 1986 to 1994, Mrs. Joy Pandian was the Pastor. In 1987, the Full Membership was 37. Bible study classes were conducted, one in Tamil and another in English. Another bible class for about 12 children was conducted in the Tamil School. Fortnightly Home Meeting/Bible Study was conducted in Kuala Kubu Bharu and a fortnightly Prayer Meeting/Bible Study was conducted in Escott Estate. The church altar floor was resurfaced for RM 2,800 and another RM 1,161 for piping, drainage and the septic tank. The parsonage ground floor was finally vacated by the School and the church planned to rebuild the parsonage. In 1988, the Full Membership was 39. Since Pastor Joy Pandian was not ordained at that time, Selangor District pastors conducted the Holy Communion services. Cottage Prayer meetings were conducted on Wednesdays. The MYF met on the 2nd and 4th Sundays and the Junior Youth Fellowship met on Sunday evenings.
Quit Rent Issue
On 12 November 1985, the Land Office raised the Quit Rent from RM 1,130 to RM 11, 009.80. The local church appealed to the Secretary of the Trustees stating that the place was used for religious purposes. For three years, there was no response from him. In 1988, they were informed by him that the Menteri Besar had approached the Primary School Headmaster and endorsed the grant of the church land as “the site of the school or that which is related to it and for no other purpose.” The Board on Property was shocked that the Trustee took it upon himself to transfer the land to the school without their knowledge.
The land on Lot No. 183 was purchased by the church on 20 August 1952 for RM 6,367 with the help of a loan from the Methodist Headquarters. The Board on Property protested to the Council of Trustees to restore the land to the Tamil Church. The Quit Rent remained unpaid (Board on Property Report).
Three Major Problems Related to Property
In 1989, the Full Membership was 39. The MYF had 12 members and the MIF 8. The church donated 200 exercise books to the Tamil School and planned to donate 40 desks and chairs costing about RM 1,400. The church faced three major problems related to their property; firstly, it was with regards to the quit rent; secondly, it was to do with the Methodist Primary School’s refusal to return the building allocated to the church and thirdly, it had to do with the fencing of the church property for security reasons.
In 1990, the Full Membership was 47. Since most of the members lived in the estates, there was a need for a van. A van fund was initiated. The Tanjong Malim Methodist Church English (Private) School built on church land was defunct for nearly 20 years. The Tanjong Malim Methodist Tamil Primary School moved out of the church land 8 years ago and formed the Tanjong Malim Government Tamil School (Board on Property Report).
Active Student Christian Fellowship
In 1991, the Full Membership was 52. There was an active Student Christian Fellowship functioning in Tanjong Malim and about 15 – 20 students from the Methodist English School (M.E.S.) met weekly. The church leaders helped conduct these meetings. The Methodist Schools occupied more than half of the land bought by the church for its purposes (Board on Property Report). In 1992, although the Full Membership was 54, about 50% of them were staying outstation. Also, a few who gave good leadership were transferred out. In 1993, the Full Membership was 57 and in 1994, it was 48. The Outreach Points were in Kuala Kubu Bharu and Jernih Estate.
In 1995 and 1996, Rev. Mark Subramanyam was the Pastor. TMC Tanjung Malim came under the Central District. In 1995, the Full Membership was 46. The decrease was due to transfers. In 1996, the Full Membership was 44. An outreach ministry was started in Rasa. A worship service was conducted and about 10 attended. The church decided to purchase a second-hand van for the ongoing ministries.
Ministry Affected Because No Resident Pastor
In 1997, Rev. Joseph Komar (Jan – Mar) and Rev. M.G. Thana Raj (from March) served as Pastors. Mr. Dennis Raj was the ministerial student. The Full Membership was 40. There were no bible studies and Prayers Sessions were not done regularly because there was no resident pastor. From August 1998 to 2001, Rev. David Tharmakan was the Pastor. In 1998, Mr. Jonathan Jesudas was the ministerial student. The Full Membership was 40. Kalumpang ministry was started. There was only one class in the Church School (Junior) with 9 children. The MW met when there was a need.
In 1999, the Full Membership was 57. They conducted two weekly worship services, one on Sunday mornings at 9.30 a.m. and the other on Fridays at 7.30 p.m. The church lost all their outreach points because they had no resident pastor for a while. There was no MYF because the youths had all left for better opportunities. The garage was extended to park the van and the car. Netting all around the top of the church was done to prevent birds from nesting. They purchased a new van. In 2000, the Full Membership was 53. Some Chinese Christians living nearby and lecturers joined in the worship services. The church ran the kindergarten to cater for the community.
The Quit Rent Issue:
The State Exco had reduced it to RM10.00 per square meter but the Secretary of Trustees was not happy with it. The National Land Department had reduced it to RM1.00 only but it had not been implemented yet (Board on Property report). In 2001, approval was given at National Level for all schools and churches to pay a token sum of RM1.00 per year. This was not implemented at local level. The quit rent was finally settled in 2004. On March 12, an amount of RM21,868.80 was paid. The church thanked Mr. Paul Devadason, the TAC Property Chairman, for his help.
In 2001, the Full Membership was 45. The bible study cum prayer sessions were conducted on three days to cater to the needs of the various groups - for the youths on Sundays at 8:15 am, for the Tamil speaking group on Tuesdays and on Thursdays for the English speaking group. The Church School had three classes (Senior, Beginner and Junior).
In 2002, Rev. Hendry Ponniah was the Pastor till 15 July. Rev. James Solamadan was the Pastor from 16 July 2002. Church worker Mr. Tankaraj served from 16 July. The Full Membership was 38. The MW was organised on 11 August.
Reaching out to the College Students
From 2003 to 2005, Rev. Jonathan Jesudas was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 42. The church had two worship services every Sunday, at 8 a.m. the Tamil service and at 9 a.m. the English service. A coordinator was appointed for the MYF. The left wing room was renovated with new floor tiling and the walls were painted. It was used as the Pastor’s office. In 2004, the Full Membership was 42.
The response from the students from the Lembah Beringin College and the Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) for the Worship Service was encouraging. With thoughts to develop the Tanjung Malim land, an occupational survey was done. The English service helped to cater to the needs of the University and college students. In 2005, the Full Membership was 45. Outreach work was done among the Nepali and the Bangladeshi people on Sundays at 2 p.m. The church helped the Orang Asli people through the SIB Church.
The pastor Rev. Jonathan Jesudas was on long medical leave due to a fall. At the request of the Central District Superintendent Rev. Victor Vethamani, Mr. P.P. Abraham helped to coordinate the speakers at that time. The church was thankful to Mr. Abraham.
From 2006 to 2008, Rev. Reuben Kanagalingam was the Pastor. In 2006, the Full Membership was 64. Though there was no organised MYF, the youths helped in the church ministry. The kindergarten facility was upgraded from chalkboards to magnetic white boards. The local church launched a Building Fund and raised a total of RM8,420. In 2007, the Full Membership was 61. The kindergarten enrolment dropped further to 26. This was because many kindergartens were coming up in that area. Efforts were taken to improve the skills of the teachers. In June 2008, the Full Membership was 72 but it dropped to 54 in September 2008. There was a bilingual service on Sundays at 9 a.m. There were 25-30 Hindu children in the Church School. Mr. Joseph Neelagandan helped to organise the MYF with 20 members.
Celebrating 50th Church Anniversary
From 2009 to 2011, Rev. Dr. John Kovilpillai was the Pastor. In 2009, the Full Membership was 61. The church held its 50th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday 10 October. The whole church with the adjoining building was repainted. Drainage system was improved, the pews varnished and the fence rebuilt. There was a problem of water seeping into the walls of the building due to inadequate drainage system. Though they reported to the Majilis Daerah Tanjong Malim, the church rectified the problem at its own expense. The TAC Executive Board approved RM10,000 for the remedial works. In 2010, the Full Membership was 60. The conflict between the school and church had seen new light as the church finally allowed the use of the ‘abandoned’ classroom block. It was renovated and a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) was signed for the use. In 2011, the Full Membership was 54.
In 2012 and 2013, Rev. Dr A.E. Joseph was the Pastor. In 2012, the Full Membership was 54 and in 2013, it was 53. In 2014, Rev. John Mathuni was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 55. Telugu migrants attended the service. The church saw the great need of the poor in Tanjong Malim. They provided food packs to four families during Easter. Another five families continued to receive help till the end of the year. This was a joint effort between TMC Tanjong Malim and TMC Kuala Lumpur.
From 2015 onwards Rev. David Tharmakan has been the Pastor. In 2015, the Full Membership was 55. The church started the Boys’ Hostel Project under the “Fund Raising and Investment” (FRI) of TAC. There were plans to expand this ministry. A Christian Fellowship was conducted in the school. In 2016, the Full Membership was 52. Mr. Steven and Mr. Thinesh helped out in the Prayer Ministry in the pastor’s absence. In 2017, the Full Membership was 53. The boys of the Boys’ Hostel were very talented and helpful in all areas of church life. Mr. Steven Vimal must be commended for his good work.
In 2018, the Full Membership was 53. There was a Church School in Slim River which met fortnightly. Fifteen non-Christian children attended regularly. The pastor’s son, Mr. Immanuel Tharumakan has come forward to commit to the fulltime ministry. He is the first to do so from this local church.
In 2019, Rev. David Tharmakan continues as the Pastor. They have a Full Membership of 54. They have a small membership of six in the MYF and are finding it a challenge. They do not have any other Agencies functioning. They have one Church School in Slim River where there are 8 children and 3 teachers. There are plans for the Boys’ Home Hostel to move to Sungai Pelek after this year. On 3 November, six adults and four children were baptized. For a small congregation, this is a very significant event.
Conclusion: TMC Tanjung Malim is strategically located between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh. Also, its proximity to the Methodist school and UPSI contributed to the ministry of this local church. Some students and lecturers attended the church and have both contributed and benefitted. Sadly, many young people have left the town to go elsewhere for better opportunities. This is one main reason the membership of this local church has remained low. This has also contributed to the financial difficulties of the church. Yet, they still have opportunities to reach out to the students as well as to the surrounding Indian population. Happily, the year is ending on a bright note with six adults and four children baptized on 3 November 2019. This is truly a much needed boost for the local church, to believe and attempt great things for the glory of God.
1. Journals – MAC, TPAC, TAC
2. Local Church 50th Anniversary Souvenir Programme, 10 October 2009