In 1990, several members of TMC Ipoh, including Christians from other churches, moved to the Bercham residential area. The people had difficulty attending services due to transportation problems. There was an urgent need to gather people in Bercham for worship. Such a move was initiated by Rev. P. Tevaraji, the pastor of TMC Ipoh.
The First Fellowship Meeting
The first fellowship meeting was held in the home of Mr. & Mrs. D. David on 11 February 1992 (Monday). Only two families attended. Mr. & Mrs. D. David were appointed as the first coordinators of the Bercham Outreach Ministry. About 11 members from 5 families attended the meeting. Following that, meetings were scheduled to take place every Tuesday between 6.30 pm and 7.30 pm. These weekly meetings focused on Bible study. Members took turns to host the meetings.
Consolidating Ministry with Sunday Service
In 1993, Mr. Isravel and his children surveyed the Bercham area to identify the Christians residing there. Follow-up visits were carried out by lay members to invite believers, including unchurched Christians, to attend the weekly Bible Study sessions. Slowly the ministry grew and Mr. Isravel and Mr. Paramanathan and their children, who had moved from Kati Estate, began to help in this ministry. On 3 April 1993, the first Bercham Outreach Sunday service was held at Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Jacob’s house at 6.30 p.m. These Sunday worship services were arranged once a fortnight in their house. The services continued in the same place until 17 November 1996. Rev. Tevaraji preached, while student pastors Mr. Raymond Raj and Mr. Jayabalan shared testimonies. The people were edified. Mr. Tharmapal, Mr. Solomon, Mr. Louis Martin and Mr. Paramananthan served occasionally. Mr. M. Thavamany Arul, Mr. Paul Manikkam and Mr. A. Thevarajan helped in the area of music. From 1994 to 1996, Mr. Paranjothi offered his van and provided free transport. After 1996, TMC Ipoh provided van transport for the people. Services continued in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Solomon Jacob.
Move to Double-Storey Shop-Lot
On 1 January 1997, a double storey shop-lot was rented for RM 800, and services were then held in this building. The building was subsequently bought for RM 178,000 on 10 April 2000. One church member graciously contributed RM 100,000 and the remaining amount was raised from the contributions of members. In 2002, Pastor John Mathuni was posted to TMC Ipoh to assist in the Bercham Outreach Ministry. The mother church targeted to make Bercham into a Local Conference. However, due to various reasons, the ministry slowed down. In 2005 though Mr. Salomon Thangaiah was sent as the coordinator from the Mother Church, he was posted as the Supply Pastor of TMC Johor Bahru in January 2006. As there was no one to take over, the task was given to Rev. Dr. A.E. Joseph, the pastor.
Sunday Morning Worship Service
At the LCEC meeting in November 2006, Bercham members indicated that they would like to start a morning worship service from January 2007 onwards. In 2007, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Manymuthu were sent as coordinators to revive the ministry. The first morning service was conducted on 14 January 2007 at 8 a.m. About fifty adults and twenty children attended. In this service the LCEC Chairperson, Mr. R. Steven, challenged the members to pray and work hard so that Bercham Outreach would become a Local Conference by 2009. After the service, a Pro Tem Committee was formed. Mr. R. Steven, the LCEC and Evangelism Chairperson conducted the election. Mr. Joseph William was elected Chairperson. On 17 January 2007 at 7.30 p.m. the Pro Tem Committee held their first committee meeting to plan for the year. The second meeting was held on 14 June 2007 at 7.35 p.m. The Cell Group had its first meeting on 6 February and Prayer Cell on 7 February.
Becoming a Local Conference
On 21 June 2007, a proposal was brought to the LCEC monthly meeting by the Chairperson, Mr. R. Steven to recommend Bercham Outreach to become a Local Conference in June 2008. This was further discussed on 18 July, and August and September 2007. All were in favour. The resolution was brought to the Second Local Conference held on 26 September 2007, the District Conference on 7 October 2007 and to the TAC Executive Board on 12 October 2007. On 18 November 2007, at the 32nd Session of the Tamil Annual Conference, this was unanimously accepted. Tamil Methodist Church Bercham was accepted as the 47th Local Conference of the Tamil Annual Conference. On 19 April 2008, the Bercham Outreach of the Tamil Methodist Church Ipoh was organised as a Local Conference by Rev. P. Tevaraji, the TAC President. He was assisted by the Perak DS and Local Church Pastor, Rev. Dr. A.E. Joseph.
The Full Membership of the Bercham Outreach at the time of Local Conference recommendation was 47. There were 27 Preparatory Members and one Affiliate Member. On the day of its formation, the Full Membership stood at 48 and the Preparatory Roll was 28. The Full Membership on 30 June 2008 was 53. Worship attendance averaged 50 – 60 persons. A new Outreach was started at Kg. Simee. Rev. Dr A.E. Joseph was the first pastor-in-charge with Pastor Paul Mani assisting. Mr. Paramanatham was the Lay Leader and Mr. William the LCEC Chairperson.
Initial Leadership and Identity Crisis
From 2009 till 2012, Rev. Herbert John was the pastor. In 2009, Pastor Richard Lawrence was the Assistant Pastor. The Full Membership was 46. The MYF and MW were officially formed. The church organised a “Christian Star Night” to raise funds for purchasing a shop lot. The DS Rev. Herbert John reported: “The church is new and is going through the initial leadership and identity crisis.” In 2010, the Full Membership was 50. Mr Rohindra Rao (Pre-Ministerial Student) assisted the pastor. The church purchased the adjoining building. In 2011, Pastor Tharmapal, who was a Church Worker, assisted Rev. Herbert.
The Full Membership was 53. The new building was used for church fellowship, until renovation was complete. Tithing was low and was a concern. The church was grateful to the Annual Conference for writing off the RM 25,000 loan. In 2012, the Full Membership was 56. There was one Cell Group.
From 2013 to 2015, Rev. Paul Mani was the pastor. Pastor Tharmapal continued to assist till 2015. An evangelistic meeting was held from 6 – 9 June 2013 with Mr. GMM Mutu as the speaker. In 2014, the Full Membership was 50. An Evangelistic Rally was conducted in August, for which thousands of flyers were distributed around Bercham. In 2015 the Full Membership was 47. Both the MYF and MW were struggling to meet. Many youths had left for studies. The youths from TMC Pusing helped in the Children’s and Music ministry
Church Turns Eleven Years Old
From 2016 – 2018, Rev. K. Segaran was the pastor and assisted by Pastor Sargunawaran (Part Time). The Full Membership remained at 57 from 2016 till 2018. In 2016, a Christian puppet show was conducted by Pastor Lesley from India, which was very successful. There was some growth in the area of finance. Renovation work was done to the altar area. In 2017 two evangelistic meetings were held. Since the youths were studying outside Ipoh, they only met twice a month for their fellowship gatherings. However, they took active part in the worship and music ministry. A VBS was conducted and attracted 40 children. 12 were non-Christians. This was conducted again in 2018 with 20 children, of which 11 were non-Christians. Three Church School teachers attended a training session held in TMC Kampar. A two-day evangelistic meeting was held and one couple who attended this meeting, now attend the church. The church celebrated their 10th Anniversary on 14 October.
In 2019, Rev. David Retnam, the Assistant Pastor of TMC Tamil Settlement Ipoh, is the pastor-in-charge. Pastor Sargunawaran is the part-time Church Worker. The Full Membership is 77 after the membership was stagnant at 57 for three years. The membership in the Agencies are as follows: MYF (10), MSF (17) and MW (17). There are 30 children and 4 teachers in the Church School. They have one Cell Group. There are no Outreach Points.
Conclusion: 60% of the Full Membership of TMC Bercham are seniors. Also, the MSF is the most active group of the church. Many of the church youth study outside Ipoh. The church has no Outreach work. These factors have contributed to the church membership being stagnant over the years. Although the church is eleven years old, much prayer and effort is needed to help bring spiritual growth. This would enable them to reach out to the community with the Gospel message.