The Beginning of the Ministry
In June 1938 Rev. S.M. Pandian arrived in Kuantan. He administered the Holy Communion to both the English and Tamil congregations. The first Sunday Worship Service was held on 28 August 1938. Rev.Pandian, after receiving his Deacon Ordination, was appointed the pioneer Pastor of TMC Kuantan. Thus began the history of the Tamil Methodist Church Kuantan. In the early years, both the worship service and Church School were held in the Chinese Hokkien Association. The Church grew from 4 families to 18 families in 1941. The worship services continued through the war years until Rev. Pandian left for Perak in 1943. Soon after the World War II, late in 1945, Rev. Pandian, getting information that the Army Camp at Jalan Gambut, where the present Church and School is situated, was moving away to the 9th Mile Jalan Gambang, then approached the District Officer and managed to acquire the present site for the Church and School. The family moved to stay at the army barracks as a temporary parsonage. Worship services were held in the army barracks.
Church moves through Challenges and Presses on
In 1947, Rev. S.M. Pandian left for Johore and Rev. D.K. Gnananantham arrived in Kuantan. He stayed in one of the wooden barracks since there was no parsonage. At the beginning of 1951, Rev. Gnananantham left for Kedah. From 1951 to 1955, there was no resident pastor and so pastors from Raub (Rev. Retnasamy and Rev. Thangamuthu) came once a month to hold Holy Communion services. From September 1956 to 1957, Rev. John Abraham was the Pastor. He made quarterly visits to Kelantan and Terengganu for the Tamil work. In 1957 there were 30 Full Members. In 1958 and 1959, Rev. S. Ratnasamy was the Pastor. In 1958 the Full Membership was 74. Rev. Peter David was active in outstation visitation in East Pahang, especially at Pekan. In Jabor Valley, Jeram Kuantan, Semambu, Athara and Kuala Reman Estates he led in the distribution of powdered milk to labourers. Tamil members in East (Kuantan) and West Pahang (Raub) were challenged at the beginning of the year to contribute RM 30 and RM 50 monthly, respectively for the support of thepastors. In 1959, Rev. S. Ratnasamy was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 72.
Working in unity with the Wesley Church
From 1959 to 1962, Rev. S. Sundararaj was the Pastor. In 1959, he started Church School in the nearby estates. There was an enrolment of some 380 students. In 1960, the Tamil work was launched along new lines. It was thought wise not to establish a separate Tamil Quarterly Conference. The Kuantan ‘Wesley’ Church had two congregations (Tamil and English), served by two pastors, but united in one organized Quarterly Conference with one set of officers, including a Treasurer. They made a common appeal for an ‘every member pledge’ for the budget of the church for 1961. This system financially strengthened the Tamil work.
In 1961 Pahang was divided into two sections, namely East and West Pahang. In the East, Kuantan was the centre of the work. There was an addition to the Tamil work here with a new MYF and five new Church Schools in the neighbouring estates which totalled 240 children. In both the new MYF and in the new Church Schools only a few were Christian children. In 1962 there were 7 Church Schools with a total of 318 children. The Tamil MYF was the largest Tamil speaking MYF in Malaya and was placed 5th among all the Malaya MYF’s in attendance. Rev. Yesusegayam’s visit in May and the visit of the Trinity College Caravan in July were extremely helpful to the Tamil work. The English and Tamil speaking congregations were under one Quarterly conference for several years. The attempt here was to encourage the support of the English speaking congregation for the Tamil work which was mainly in surrounding estates. The various efforts to establish a separate Tamil congregation in the town failed because of lack of sufficient support from the Tamil people. The Tamil work was supported by the church for a number of years. In 1963 Mr. K Isaac was sent early in the year to manage the Tamil work around Kuantan in Jeram Estate, Bukit Ubi Road, Semambu Estate, Jabor Estate, Transit Quarters and Jeram.
Model for Malaysian Methodism
In 1964 and 1965, Mr. B. A. Thangaraj, a Tamil Evangelist, conducted three Church Schools, cottage prayer meetings, MYF and lyrical preaching in the estates. In 1965 both the English and Tamil congregations continued under one Quarterly Conference. They were ministered by Rev. David H. Hilton and Mr. B. A. Thangaraj. The lay too worked together. The DS, Rev. Craig S. Wilder, saw this as a ‘model’ for Malaysian Methodism.
Separate Local Conference
From September 1966 till 1968, Rev. K.J. Timothy was the Pastor. Mr. S. Selvaraj was posted in January 1969. TMC Kuantan became a separate Local Conference on 21 January 1969. The Full Membership of the church was 38. When Mr. Selvaraj left for studies to India in April 1970, Rev. I.G. Sunderarajan served for a short period from May 1970. Then Rev. Eddie J. Thoraisingam was the Pastor from 1971 to 31 January 1974. Worship services were conducted in Kota Bahru and Mentakab. A kindergarten was started in Sri Jaya. The Conference MYF Institute was hosted by TMC Kuantan in 1971. In 1972, Rev. Eddie Thoraisingam was appointed the first DS of the newly formed Eastern Malaya District. Before this, Kuantan was part of the Central Malaya District.
35th Church Anniversary
In 1973, there was an increase of 12 members and the Full Membership was 79.There were Church Schools in Jeram, Semambu, Tanah Puteh, Bukit Ubi and Kuantan Town. Through the generosity of one friend of the church, a free bus service was provided every year to enable children from the estates to get to the Town for the Centralised Christmas Party.
The church started a monthly Service at Kota Bharu. There were about four families. Ministry was started at Sri Jaya, a fast developing small town with many Tamils about 38 miles south of Kuantan. Many of them were retrenched from the estates in Kuantan. The church has acquired a land and had a hall for a monthly rent of $70 to start work among the children. The church celebrated its 35th Anniversary with Tea and a Thanksgiving Service. The Anniversary Cake, in the shape of the church, was cut by the oldest member of the church Mr. G. Gabriel. The Conference President Rev. T.R. Doraisamy delivered the Anniversary Address. A strong protest was launched against the decision to designate Kuantan Church and Hall as SMAC property.
First to Respond to Fulltime Ministry
In February 1974, Rev. James K. Solamadan became the Pastor. Mr. A.E. Joseph was sent from this church as their first candidate for the full-time ministry. In 1975, the church hosted the Conference Youth Institute once again. From 8 May 1976 to 1981 Rev. Gabriel Jabanathan was the Pastor. The Church became a Missionary Church and reached out to Jerantut, Jenka and Mentakab. In 1977 the Full Membership was 88. The WSCS organised sewing class for women in Jeram Estate and also paid the bus fare for a needy boy to go to school. In 1978 the Full Membership was 96. Kemaman and Jerantut were new Outreaches. The Youth Choir went to Singapore on a singing mission. The Sunday school conducted a VBS from 24 July to 2August. In 1979 the MIF won four converts for the Lord. The regular Christian nurture helped the church to reach the unreached. In 1980 apart from meeting their own commitments, the church gave liberally to Missions. Almost RM 1,500 a year was given to Missionary Fellowship and Evangelistic work. The Full Membership was 135. In 1981 the church resolved to reopen the issue of the Kuantan Church property. The Full Membership was 142.
Reaping the Harvest in Plentiful
From 1982 to 1986 Rev. C. Pandian was the Pastor. In 1982, he started new outreach work in Karak, Bentong (125 miles), Kuala Lipis/Budu Estate (160 miles), Kemaman, Dara Lamsoon, Pekan and Maran. Two new Local Conferences were formed in Mentakab and Jerantut. The Full Membership was 152. In 1983 the Full Membership was 187. A total of 134 adults and children were baptised in the Outreach areas during the period January to 20 November 1983. On 20 November, 14 were baptised at Jerantut. A number of preachers from India ministered in these areas and this was one of the reasons for spiritual revival. In 1984 the Full Membership was 379. There were 194 adult baptisms. 190 were received on Confession of Faith. The church spent RM 8,000 on outreach and evangelism and this was 35% of their total budget. The church property issue remained unresolved. The Parsonage/Land issue needed attention. In 1985 the Full Membership was 236 and there were 36 baptisms. Another outreach work was established at Maran. This church reached out to the north to Semambu (6 miles), Jeran (9 miles), Kemaman (40 miles), and Kerteh (65 miles) both of these are in Terengganu. To the south to Taman Tas (8 miles), Gambang (20 miles) and Lam Soon (60 miles). To the east to Maran (50 miles).
Losing a Servant of God in Tragedy
In 1986 the Full Membership was 260. Rev. Pandian’s untimely death on 22 May 1986 was a shock to all. Due to lack of information and in the absence of proper records the exact number of converts, baptised persons and contacts were not available. Rev. Emanuel Rajahser served as the Pastor from 3 July to 30 December 1986.
Celebrating Fifty Years of Ministry
From January 1987 to November 1989, Rev. Stanley Sadagopan was the Pastor. In 1987, the Full Membership was 165. There were 85 children and 9 teachers in the Church School. Mr. R. Yesudason was their Outreach Worker (till November 1992). In Maran, for the first time 8 adults and 19 children were baptised. The church used the Wesley church for worship services on Sundays. The weekday use of the church was restricted because the Wesley Church had programs. Though there were many baptisms in the past, there was no proper follow-up and the church lost track of a number of them. In 1988, the Full Membership was 170. Sunday worship was at 7.30 am. and about 110 people attended. Area fellowship was organised in one area. MYF met on Sundays at 10 am. They raised money to support the Sengoi Christians. The Church celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a Thanksgiving Service on Saturday 27 August. About 200 attended. In 1989, the Full Membership was 172. The Outreach work in Maran did not progress. There was a lot of opposition from the non-Christians in the District.
From December 1989 to June 1994, Rev. A.E. Joseph was the Pastor. A worship team was formed and a music band was organised. The pastor, together with the worship team ministered in many churches. In 1990, the Full Membership was 164. Sunday Worship Service: 8 am. Taman Tas Worship was held on Sundays at 7 pm and about 15 adults attended the worship. Since the response for Bible Study was poor the pastor incorporated it into the regular prayer meetings. A monthly Bible Competition was conducted by the pastor. There were 58 children in the Church School and they met on Sundays at 10 am. The MYF had 27 members. 1991 the Full Membership was 191 in 1992 it was 203 and in 1993 it was 205. The D.S. Rev. Devadass Ratnam met the pastor and Building Committee to discuss the problem of land ownership and encroachment. In 1994, Rev. Joseph was the pastor till June 1994, and then he left for his studies. Rev. Devadass Ratnam was Pastor-in-charge from July to November 1994. In 1994, the Full Membership was 208. Pastor Segaran was posted as Supply Pastor in August 1994. The church was generous and they adopted TMC Cheroh and sent RM200 monthly for a period of time. They pledged to donate RM15,000 for 1 room in Wisma TAC. Progress was made with the Land problem, when representatives from the Trustees met with 4 representatives from the church to sort out matters. It was decided to research into earlier records after which decisions reached would become official. The Land problem with the school was amicably resolved. (Property Report page 132)
Moving Out To Sing and Share for the Lord
In 1995, Rev. Peter Devadason was the pastor-in-charge with Supply Pastor K. Segaran. The Full Membership was 203. Sunday Worship was at 8 am. The average attendance was 180. Time was limited as they had to make way for the Wesley Congregation by 10 am. The worship team ministered in the Northern District at the warm invitation of its DS, Rev. Victor Vethamani and the pastors there and also in certain Perak District churches. A Junior Church was conducted for children below 6 years during the service in the Kuantan church. Door-to-door tracting was carried out by the Evangelism Committee. Eight members of the missions committee visited the Kuala Krai Kelantan Missionary Field. The church bought a new Ford Econovan – CAF 608. Pastor Segaran served till November 1995.
From December 1996 to 2000, Rev. C. Paul Arputharaj was the Pastor. In 1996, the Full Membership was 217. There were 8 Cell Groups that met on Tuesdays. There was Outreach work in Maran, Gemang, and Pekan. The second church van, a Ford Econovan, CAS 2712 was purchased in 1996. In 1997, the Full Membership increased by 14 and was 229. An annex to the parsonage was constructed. In 1998 the Full Membership was 251. Ministerial student Mr. Edward Devadason was posted here. The church celebrated its 60th Anniversary.
In 1999 the Full Membership was 240, an increase of 15 through conversions. The Church Theme was: “Theology and Kneelogy.” The church had their first Foreign Mission trip to Thailand. Every quarterly, the Christian Education Committee released the official church magazine – “The Rising Eagle”. In 2000 the Full Membership was 262. There were 21 new members in this church and 7 were adults. Mr. John Simson, a ministerial student, served from January to May. Rev. Paul served till end of December 2000. The church had 2 vans. A double storey bungalow was purchased for RM100,000. Trips to Kuala Kerai, Orang Asli, Sri Lanka and India were arranged. A manse/bungalow was purchased from the Council of Education. (Board on Property report pg. 245)
From 2001 to 2008 Rev. Justin Clarance was the Pastor. In 2001 the Full Membership was 262. The church gave RM10,000 towards the mission work among the Orang Asli in Paka Terengganu. Renovations were done to the new parsonage and restoration work in the house at B-398 Jalan Gambut. The Trustees were notified of the encroachment and renovations by School Hostel. The MSF was formed. In 2002 the Full Membership was 248. Children’s classes were conducted at Kampung Padang (Outreach Point). The church gave RM600 monthly support to TMC Ulu Tiram. The Conference Youth Camp was organised for the third time in Kuantan. The third church van Kia Pregio, CBJ 261 was purchased. The church supported the following programs and ministries: (a) Appeal for Jerusalem churches - RM700; (b) Cheroh church building request - RM2,000; (c) UluTiram Ministry support – RM5,400; (d) Missionary Christmas gift (MMM) – RM1,500 and (e) MYF Youth Convention – RM1,000.
In 2003 the Full Membership was 242. Outreach ministries were conducted in Paka, Kuala Krai, Lepar Hilir/Pekan. There were Care Groups in Taman Tas and Mahkota Jaya. Missions Support Ulu Tiram – RM3,600; IEM RM500; Scripture Union India – RM200. A new van was purchased and the parsonage was repainted. The church celebrated its 65th Church Anniversary with breakfast for members.
Realizing the dream of their own Church Building
In 2004 the Full Membership was 254. There was Outreach work in Kampung Wawah. In 2005 the Full Membership was 241.There was a monthly Friday worship in Kuala Terengganu. In 2006 the Full Membership was 252. The Methodist Women contributed RM5,000 and the MYAF contributed RM20, 000 for the Building Project. The church began its Building Project costing RM400,000 after waiting for 68 years to have their own building. A church hall costing RM400,000 was to be constructed on a 2 acre parcel of land (former parsonage area) which has a commercial status. The Plans were approved on 1 March 2006 and the ground breaking ceremony was held on 10 September 2006. In 2007 the Full Membership was 194. The MW raised RM10,000 for the Church Building Fund. In 2008 the Full Membership was 187. The new church building was dedicated on 13 April 2008.
From 2009 to 2012 Rev. Samuel Periathamby was the Pastor. In 2009, the Full Membership was 202. The church van went through a major overhaul and there was also a major renovation work done at the parsonage. In 2010, the Full Membership was 197. The youths were actively involved in the church: leading praise and worship, ‘Orang Asal’ ministry and Sri Jaya outreach ministry. Prayer and Orang Asal ministry was held in Kg. Wah Wah with 30 – 35 children attending regularly. A local member, Mr. Saravanan, committed for the full time ministry. In 2011, the Full Membership was 217. The Church School building was renovated from a wooden to a concrete structure. In 2012, Mr. David Retnam, a Pre-Ministerial Candidate, was posted here. The Full Membership was 211. There was Outreach work done in Sri Jaya and Lepar.
From 2013 to 2015, Rev. D.B. Laurence was the Pastor. In 2013, the Full Membership was 215, in 2014 it was 210 and in 2015 it was 204. Cell Group ministry was conducted in Taman Tas and Taman Impianku. New Cell Groups were started in Taman Cenderawasih and Taman Fairmont/Indera Mahkota.
In 2016, Rev. Jevaratnam Sowria was the Pastor-in-charge with Pastor Vincen Dass as the Assistant Pastor. The Full Membership dropped to 199. In 2017, Rev. Vincen Dass was the Pastor-in-charge. The Full Membership was 194. From 2018 onwards Rev. Jevaratnam Sowria was again the Pastor-in-charge. In 2018, the Full Membership rose to 206. Six youths attended the Youth Missions Camp in Songkhla, Thailand.
In 2019, Rev. Jevaratnam continues as the pastor. Mr. Danasamy is the Lay Leader and Mr. Robert Selvaraj is the LCEC Chairperson. The Full membership of the church is 212. There are three Cell Groups, named as follows: 1) Hebron Cell Group 2) Gethsemane Cell Group and 3) Bethel Cell Group They have outreach work in Sri Jaya (Preaching point) and Kg. Wah Wah (Orang Asli). The membership in the Agencies is as follows: MYF (37), MYAF (40), MSF, (28) and MW (30). The Church School has 34 children and 5 teachers.
Conclusion: The Tamil Methodist ministry in Malaysia started in Penang, where the very first Tamil Methodist church was established in 1894. It was only after another 44 years that the first Tamil Methodist pastor in the person of Rev. S.M. Pandian came to Kuantan in 1938. Inspite of the late start of the Tamil Methodist ministry here, God has blessed this church. TMC Kuantan has played a major role in not only building the Tamil Methodist ministries in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, but also in the total mission of TAC. Their mission emphasis has helped them to reach people beyond our nation. Like all our other churches, TMC Kuantan is experiencing God’s blessings as well as facing different challenges. They need God’s grace to stay humble and overcome the challenges to continue to build TMC Kuantan and bring glory to God.
TMC Kuantan 70th Anniversary Souvenir/Mr. David Pandian
Methodist Journals MAC, TPAC, TAC