The Earliest Records
At the 30th Session of the Malaysia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held in Singapore from 6 – 11 January 1922, Sungai Siput Tamil Church is mentioned in the Appointments Report with A. Devadason as the Supply Pastor. The Full Membership recorded then was 38. A Tamil School is also mentioned in Sungai Siput on page 29 of this Report. This is the earliest record up to date that we have. In 1949, the March MAC Journal’s Statistical Report mentions the Full Membership as 95. The activities of the Ipoh Church were often extended to Sungai Siput.
Supply Pastors and Elders Bring Revival
In 1952, the Full Membership was 76 as mentioned in the Statistical Report under Sungai Siput – Kuala Kangsar Tamil Circuit. No further information is available on the church. In 1953, the Pastor was Rev. A. P. Paul and the Full Membership was 40. In 1954, the Full Membership was 52. The Sungai Siput Circuit was under the Supply Pastors who were trained in the Tamil Preachers’ Seminary in Ipoh. In 1955, Rev. A.P. Paul resigned from the Conference in April and Rev. S.A. Andar, the Circuit Supply Pastor, took charge. His good work enabled the church to contribute $170 towards the Conference Benevolence. In 1956, the Church rose to new heights of accomplishment under the pastoral care of Rev. V.A. Subramaniam. The Church School and M.Y.F. were revived. There were weekly Sunday services instead of fortnightly.
The Post-Independence Era
From 1957 to 1959, Rev. S.R. Jebamoney was the Pastor. In 1957, there were 53 Full Members and 62 Preparatory Members. 11 children and 2 adults were baptized. They gave $180 for the Conference Benevolence. In 1958 the Full Membership was 46 and 37 in 1959. After 1922, there was a rise in membership and it reached 95 in 1949. Then it began to drop and finally in 1959, the membership was one less than what was recorded in 1922. It dropped from 38 (1929) to 37 (1959).
Ministry in Kati Estate, Kuala Kangsar and Lintang
From 1960 to 1962, Rev. John Abraham, was the Pastor. He ministered as far as the Kati Estate and to the north to Kuala Kangsar, and also to Lintang, east of Sungei Siput. In 1961 the pastor conducted two Sunday services a month in Sungei Siput and spent another Sunday visiting the Kati Estate. In 1962, the Full Membership was 45. The Tamil church was small and weak and did not have a resident pastor. In 1963, Rev. K.J. Timothy was the Pastor. The Full membership was 39. In 1964, Rev. Eddie Joseph was the Pastor and the Full Membership was 31. In 1965 and 1966, Rev. S. Ratnasamy was the Pastor. In 1965 the Full Membership was 39. Attendance improved and a Woman’s Society was started.
In 1966 the Full Membership was 36 and in 1967 it was 44. While waiting for a pastor to be supplied to Sg. Siput, pastors who served TMC Ipoh were given the added responsibility to give pastoral care for Sungai Siput as well. In 1968, Mr. B. A. Thangaraj (Local Preacher) was the pastor.
Expatriate Pastors’ Ministry
From 1969 – July 1970, Rev. Francis Sunderaraj, a missionary from India was the Pastor of TMC Ipoh. He was also appointed as the Pastor of TMC Sg. Siput. From August 1970, he was on Study Leave. The DS reported, “At present no services are held at Sg. Siput, Kati Estate etc. Services will be revived in the new year.” From 1971 – 1975 Rev. Chellaraj Fenn, also from India, was covering Sg. Siput from Ipoh. In 1971, the church showed tremendous improvements. They had regular Sunday services. The worship services in Kati were in the evening. The renovated Sungai Siput church building was re-dedicated on 17 September 1972 by the TPAC President, Rev. T.R. Doraisamy. The Full Membership was 34. In 1973, there was a Church School with three classes. Its enrolment was 35. The teachers of two classes were from the Ipoh Church, but after a Teachers’ Training conducted by Miss Joyce Parkins, a missionary from OMF, the teaching of these two classes was taken over by local MYFers.
In 1974, the Full Membership was 44. There was a small but vibrant MYF, which hosted the 1974 Youth Institute in Sg. Siput from 15 to 19 April. Rev. Chellaraj Fenn was the Dean of this Institute. They purchased the school land adjoining the Church land for $ 11,000 with loans from the TPAC and Ipoh Church. In 1975 the Full Membership was 33.
From 1976 – 1977, Rev. James Solamadan was the Pastor. In 1977 Mr. C. Jayaraj, a ministerial student, was posted to Sg. Siput area from May 1977 till April 1978. The Ipoh Town Church youths conducted a two-day retreat in Kati Estate on 27 and 28 of May 1977.
From 1978 to 1979, Rev. J. J. Ratnarajah from Sri Lanka was the Pastor-in- charge. In 1978, the Full Membership was 43. The Church School had 3 teachers and 10 pupils. Worship services were held regularly in both Kati Estate and Sungai Siput. Communion Service by Rev. Ratnarajah was conducted monthly on the 1st Sundays in Sg. Siput and the 3rd Saturdays in Kati Estate. After the ministerial student Mr. Jayaraj, Pastor Stanley M. Sadagopan served as Supply Pastor.
The Beginning of the Ministry of Local Pastors
From 1980 to 1982, Rev. Jacob David was the Pastor-in-charge. The congregation met for worship on Sundays at 5pm. According to the pastor, the attendance was good. The laity conducted the worship on Sundays when the pastor could not be present. The Kati Estate service was conducted on Fridays. There were three Church Schools - one in Sg. Siput, one in Kati and one in Kota Tampan. ‘The Cross and the Switch Blade’ film was shown in Kati Estate. In
1981 Mr. Peter Jebasekaran, a ministerial student, helped this congregation from May – August. The church was repaired for about RM3,000. Sg. Siput has a church building. The old school building was rented out to a person to run a private school. He cultivated the entire church land for his personal benefit. Kati Estate however was without a chapel and the Estate management was not willing to give a piece of land for this purpose. Attempts to get a land outside of the Estate also failed. In April 1982 the church was painted. The Full Membership was 42. The total giving of the church amounted to RM1,600. They paid the pastor only his travel allowance.
From 1983 – 1984 Rev. A.E. Joseph was the Pastor. In 1983 about 20 converts (from Kati Estate, Batu Dua and Kg. Chepor) were baptised near Sauk by Rev. Jacob David and the arrangements were made by Rev. A. E. Joseph. The Full Membership of this circuit was 68 (Sg. Siput 27 and Kati Estate 41). From 1984 onwards, the church was called Sungai Siput, Kati Estate and Kuala Kangsar Circuit. For the first time the church received a resident pastor in the person of Rev. David Paul Raj. He was posted on Assignment (MOT) and so Rev. A.E. Joseph was still the pastor-in-charge. This brought excitement, enthusiasm and a new awakening in the church. There was a Church School in Kati Estate with 40 children. The new pastor reorganised the whole LCEC. Tithing was emphasized. With the appointment of a pastor, the church received a monthly subsidy of RM 350 from the Conference towards the pastor’s salary and paid the other RM 30 on its own.
Beginning of Locally-Trained Pastors
From August 1985 – 1988 Rev. David Paul Raj took pastoral charge. In 1985, with its own pastor, the church saw growth in many areas. Every Sunday, there were three services - Sg. Siput, Kuala Kangsar and Kati Estate. The outreach areas were Chenderoh, Batu Dua and Moly Estate. The pastor and members faced much opposition in the outreach areas. The church completed fencing the compound. In 1986 the Full Membership was 108. The pastor used two lay people in his outreach ministries: Mr. Paramanathan and Mr. Rajendran. Miss Lilly assisted in Kota Tampan. The pastor was keenly involved in the social ministry, mainly to drug addicts at Pusat Serenti. The pastor reported that four Sikhs had come to the Lord. The Church School ministry was reorganised and had about 60 children and 6 teachers. CEEFI materials were used to teach the lessons. The teachers received training and Mrs. Hilda David, the pastor’s wife, gave good leadership. In 1987 Sg. Siput /Kati/Kuala Kangsar Circuit had a Full Membership of 114. New ministries were started in Sg. Krudda Estate in early June and weekly meetings were held on Tuesdays at 6.30pm. The meetings were held in a home. Ministry in Beng Lee Estate was started in July. Kota Tampan ministry near Lenggong, was first started among children and was followed by home visitation. The Kati Estate urgently needed a place of worship. The District Office was approached but this was not successful because there was no land available. In 1988 the Full Membership was 115. A Charity Dinner was held on 7 May 1988 to raise funds for the Parsonage Building Project. Datuk Samy Vellu was the Guest of Honour. A sum of RM5,600 was raised through the dinner.
Property Development and Land Matters The Parsonage was built on Lot. 176 and dedicated on Saturday 8 October 1988 by the Conference President Rev. John Kovilpillai. The estimated cost was RM 25,000, but finally came up to RM 35,000. The church was thankful to Datuk Samy Vellu who gave RM25,000 from the government allocation under the Prime Minister’s Department. The Land Lot 176 was declared as a Joint Property. The church requested the Trustees to take action to restore it as the Tamil Church property.
From 1989 – 1993, Rev. Devarakam John was the Pastor. Mr. David Rasahpandy served as the ministerial student. In 1989, the Full Membership was 106. In Kati Estate, a small chapel was built on government land, because the previously used building was demolished. The change of workers affected the church in every area. It was hoped that with a posting of a trained pastor, the situation would improve. In 1990, the Full Membership was 95. The membership in Kati Estate was decreasing due to transfers of its members. This affected the ministry. The neighbouring pastors helped to serve Holy Communion. In 1991, the Full Membership was 86 and in 1992 it was 113. The church bought a van. The church experienced a revival. The pastor worked hard and the church responded well and worked towards being self-supporting. In 1993, the Full Membership was 103. The church invested wisely to support the mission program, by planting durian, papaya, rambutan and banana trees. The idea was to give 50% of the income for missions. The chapel in Kati built on government land was demolished. However the estate management gave an alternate place for worship. On a sad note, the members in Kati were moving to other towns. But the church in Sg. Siput was active. There was a dispute in Sg. Siput regarding the Cemetery Land which the Property Committee looked into.
In 1994, Rev. David Jeyapal was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 112. The DS reported that the church was affected by the transfer of the previous pastor, though Rev. Jeyapal put in much effort to serve God faithfully. Some key people had moved out of Kati to other places. There was also a ministry done among inmates of Pusat Serenti. The church received RM15,000 from the Government. There was a lack of leadership. Worship services in Sg. Siput was at 9 a.m. and in Kati Estate it was 1 p.m. In 1995, Rev. Joseph Komar was the Pastor-in- charge with Pastor Doraiseelan John. Rev. Doraiseelan served here till 1999, first as Supply Pastor, then as Approved Supply Pastor and then as Ordained Approved Supply Pastor. The MYF was inactive for about a year. The church planned to build a new sanctuary costing RM 200,000 to seat about 250 people. A fund-raising dinner was organised on 4 March 1995. The honoured guests were Bishop Denis C. Dutton and Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Minister of Works. In his speech, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu promised to donate ringgit for ringgit up to RM100, 000. From 1996 to 1997, Rev. David Rasahpandy, the pastor of Taiping, was the Pastor in charge of this Circuit. Pastor Doraiseelan John continued as Supply Pastor. In 1996, the Full membership was 93.
The Church School met on Sundays at 8 a.m. and the attendance had dropped to 30 regulars. The reason for the drop was the free tuition and computer classes that were being provided for Tamil children by a Tamil group at the same time in town. In 1997, the church launched into a major Church Renovation and Extension Project. This began as a project just to repair and renovate the existing sanctuary but when it was finally completed, they had practically built a new sanctuary. The total cost of the renovation and extension was RM34,696. The Building Fund had RM5,684 and RM6,500 was raised from church members. The rest came from Dato Seri S. Samy Vellu (a personal donation of RM5,000) and from friends and well-wishers. The building was extended by about 10 feet. A new ceiling was put up and bricks replaced the wooden walls.
Membership Growth Brings Increase in Cell Groups
From 1998 to 1999 Rev. Doraiseelan was the Pastor. In 1998, the Full Membership grew to 134. Cell Groups were conducted in 5 areas – Taman Tun Sambanthan, Jalong Camp, Foong Lee/Sg. Karuda, Sg. Siput Town and Kuala Kangsar. In 1999, the Full Membership rose to 144. There were 4 cell groups at: Taman Tun Sambanthan, Foong Lee/Sg. Karuda, Sg. Siput town and Kuala Kangsar. In 2000, Rev. Moses Jayaseelan was the Pastor. This church had established good contact with the community and worked with about 30 non- Christians. They were strong in the area of evangelism. Full membership was 140. Bible study and prayers were held on Fridays and about 30-40 gathered for a time of study and prayer. The church had 3 cell groups in the past and due to leadership crisis it dropped to one. On 26 April 2000, the church formed its MYAF. They had 15 members. From 2001 to 2003, Rev. Barnabas Baskaran was the Pastor. In 2001, the Full Membership was 118. They had four Cell Groups in: Sg. Siput Town, Sg. Siput Taman, Kati and Kuala Kangsar. In 2002, the church was financially able to fulfil its commitments. In 2003 the church was painted and the PA system was upgraded.
In 2004 Rev. Joseph Yesupatham was the Pastor-in-charge, followed by Rev. S. Jayabalan in 2005. The Full Membership was 137. Two Cell Groups functioned. Three Church Schools were conducted in three different places: Sg. Siput, Kati and Jerlun. The Outreach in Jerlun (later named as Kuala Kangsar Outreach), which was started this year, showed positive results. In 2006 Rev. D.B. Laurence, the pastor of Tamil Settlement Ipoh, was the Pastor-in-charge. About 60 people attended worship in Sg. Siput and 20 in Kuala Kangsar Outreach. In 2007 and 2008 Rev. Joseph Yesupatham, the pastor of TMC Kampar/Gopeng, was the Pastor-in-charge. In 2007, the Full Membership was 148 and in 2008 it dropped to 139. The church identified Karai as a migrant mission field and looked for ways to build a ministry there. In 2009 Rev. Silvester Louis Martin, the Assistant Pastor of Tamil Settlement, was the Pastor-in- charge. The Full Membership was 131. Cell Group meetings were held in 8 places.
Long Serving Resident Pastor
From 2010 onwards, Rev. Isaac Nathan has been the Pastor here. In 2010, the Full Membership was 125. This number fluctuated and finally in 2018 it was 139. In 2010, the Annual Income was RM39,649.95 and Expenditure was RM34,716.80. They started a Youth Service, but after a few years, some youths went outstation for work and studies and the number attending this service dwindled. This Service was eventually discontinued. In 2011, the church improved in the area of giving and lay involvement in the ministry. They also made their presence felt in the community. In 2012, six Cell Groups were functioning. The Preaching Point at Batu Lima was growing well. The church purchased a new van – AHV 2013 for RM95,000
In 2013 the Cell-Groups were held in seven places on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, using Rev. Victor Vethamani’s Small Group materials. In 2014, the Full Membership was 106. The church went through a renovation project which caused much excitement among the members. Preaching points continued in Sauk, Kuala Kangsar, Salak and Batu Lima estate areas. In 2015, the Full Membership was 115. Four Healing and Deliverance Meetings brought many Hindus to the church. Two active Outreaches were in Batu Lima Estate and Salak Baru. Major renovation to their building helped the church to look forward to do other projects in the adjacent land. The parsonage needed repairs.
In 2016 the Full Membership was 125. Cell Groups functioned in seven areas. Evangelistic and Healing Services were conducted and many unbelievers attended. In 2017, the Full Membership was 130. The cell groups met in Sg. SIput, Dovenby, Kuala Kangsar, Kati, Sauk, Batu Lima Estate and Klebang. They purchased another van, AKU 8518 for RM129,000. In 2018 the Full Membership was 139. Worship Services were as follows: (a) Sg. Siput 8 a.m., (b) Kuala Kangsar 7:30 p.m., (c) Batu Lima Estate 7:30 p.m., (d) Sauk 7:30 p.m. on Thursday (e) Grik 8 p.m. on Tuesdays. The Grik ministry was handed over to Rev. Rasahpandy in August 2018. The church installed 10 units of air conditioners in the sanctuary. They also bought a new van.
In 2019 Rev. Isaac Nathan continues as the pastor here for the tenth year. Mr. Louis Arasamy is the Lay Leader and Mr. Richard Santana Dass is the LCEC Chairperson. The Full Membership is 136. The membership of the Agencies are as follows: MYF (10), MYAF (10), MW (14) and MSF (10). There are 22 children and 3 teachers in the Sungai Siput Church School and 7 children and 1 teacher in the Sauk Church School. The church has a total of 4 teachers. There are 8 Cell Groups in the following places: a) Sauk, b) Kati, c) Kuala Kangsar, d) Salak Baru, e) Sungai Siput, f) Batu Lima Estate, g) Dovenby and h) Klebang. The church has three Outreaches a) Kuala Kangsar, b) Sauk and c) Gerik. They have one Preaching Point in Batu Lima Estate. In April they purchased 26 new (Nyatok) wooden pews, 5 (Nyatok) wooden chairs for Pastors, 2 coffee tables and one Table for Holy Communion. The total cost was RM 77,000. In August they purchased a new Sound System (Behringer) 16 channel Powered Mixer and 4 Behringer Speaker at a cost of RM 6,800.
Conclusion: TMC Sungai Siput has a very long history but unfortunately at the point of writing, we are unable to say exactly how long. Our research shows the church to be more than 97 years old. In the early years, the pastoral care came from the pastors stationed in Ipoh Lahat Road, Ipoh Tamil Settlement and even Kampar/Gopeng. Though with limitations and challenges, the church reached out with the Gospel from Sungai Siput to the neighbouring towns as well as estates. The current situation is encouraging, with various forms of ministry. Hopefully all this would lead the church to share the love of Jesus Christ to more people, resulting in both church growth and glory for Jesus Christ.
1. Methodist Journals – Malaysia Conference, MAC, TPAC, TAC
2. Rev. Isaac Nathan