Local Church History
The Tamil Methodist work in Teluk Intan began in 1905 as one of the outreach and preaching points of TMC Ipoh. This continued until 1914. It was made into a “minor church” with Rev Kohlhoff as the Pastor. The worship service was held in the Teluk Anson ACS. Only in 1916, was the Tamil work organized as a Local Church with a Full Membership of 30. The ministry was extended to Ratanui and Bagan Datuk Estates and became part of the church circuit. The work was among Tamils as well as the Telugus.
The Early Pastors
The early Pastors who served from 1917 include Rev. Edward Isaac, Rev. L.A Samuel and Rev. J.J. Kovilpillai. In 1919 an Epworth League was formed and it had 55 members in the Senior Group and 22 in the Junior Group. There were 67 children in the Church School. From 1921 – 1923 Rev. S.S. Pakianathan was the Pastor. In 1921 the site for a new parsonage and church costing $3,500 was donated by the Sabapathy family. From 1924 – 1927 Rev. M. R. Doraisamy was the Pastor. By 1927 the church and its circuit had a Christian community of 800 (450 Telegus and 350 Tamils).
The New Church Building
Mr S. Sabapathy supported and helped in the growth of the Tamil work in Teluk Anson. Unfortunately, he went to be with the Lord in December 1918. Nevertheless, his wife Mrs Sabapathy carried his passion. She promised $5,000 to erect a new church. Later she purchased a new site for $3,500.00 and presented it for the building of a new church in Teluk Anson. In 1936 the foundation stone for the church was laid by Bishop Rev Edwin Lee. The church building cost $6,780.00 and was dedicated on 5 April 1936 which was Palm Sunday. However, there were insufficient funds to purchase any other furniture. Hence, the old benches were used. The Communion Railing, Communion Table and pulpit were given by Mr P. Gnaniah.
The Other Early Pastors
From 1928 to 1958 the following served as pastors:- Rev. Edward Isaac (1928 – 1929); Rev. M.J. David (1930 – 1935); Rev. V. Devasahayam (1936); Rev. D. John (Supply in 1937); Rev. V.B. Paranjothy (1938); Rev. Kingham Joseph (1939 – 1941); Rev. J.D. Asirvatham (1946 – 1951); Rev. John Abraham (1952) and Rev. A.G.J. Rasanayakam (1953 – 1958).
The Challenging Years
The years 1934 to the late 1940’s were very challenging. The church neglected the work in the estates such as Ratanui Estate and the Bagan Datok area. The church records are silent on the reasons for the loss in membership. This tragic situation could have been due to war when many Indians were taken to Siam for forced labour. Another factor was that a large number of Indians went back to India. However, by the grace of God, from 1951 onwards the Church grew steadily in membership and in giving.
An Exemplary Member
In January 1954, the DS, Rev. Athimuthu, reported: “The church had a good year under the pastoral care of Rev. & Mrs. Rasanayakam. It will not be out of place to say that one devoted member of the Tamil Church is contributing $50 every month towards the support of the church. If we had a few such members in other churches, we need not worry about the support of our churches. Rev. Rasanayakam visits Christian members in 15 estates.” Here we have an indication of the depth of commitment of the lay as well as the clergy. In 1955 the congregation, though small, was liberal in giving and took a keen interest in the work of the church. Rev. Rasanayakam was truly a Methodist circuit worker. He visited more than 20 estates in his itinerary. He spent ten days of every month ministering to the spiritual needs of the Tamil Christians who were scattered in all the estates.
Estate Fragmentation, Unemployment and Work Permit Restrictions
In December 1957 Rev. Rasanayakam, after a faithful service of 23 years in Malaya, went to Ceylon on a five month holiday. During his absence no one could be found to do his estate work and so the work was neglected but it was revived after he arrived in September. He reported 116 Full Members, 149 Preparatory Members, 2 adult baptisms and 10 infant baptisms. Also, in 1958, the church was affected by the fragmentation of estates and transfer of members. The Full Membership in 1958 was only 60.
Rev. K.J. Timothy was the Pastor from 1959 – 1960. After this Rev. V.A. Chelliah was the Pastor from 1961 – 1979. He served the church for 18 years. Rev. Chelliah had the added responsibility of serving both the General Conference and Annual Conference as the Secretary. In addition, starting from the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, unemployment and work permit restrictions affected the church members living in the estates. Since 1973, many young people started leaving the estates seeking jobs in bigger towns like Kuala Lumpur. Even though from 1975 onwards there was positive church growth, the young people continued to move to other towns for jobs and studies. From 1980 – 1981 Rev. Devadass Ratnam was the Pastor. In 1981, the film “Jesus” was screened to expose the non-Christians to the Gospel. From 1982 – 1985 Rev. Jacob David was the Pastor. In 1982, the church had a retreat for the LCEC. In 1983, a major evangelistic meeting was held and many Hindus attended. In 1984, concerted effort was taken to teach tithing and how the church could be a witnessing community. In 1985, a new Church School was started in Nova Scotia Estate.
Reaching Out More to the Estates
In 1986 the Full Membership was 83. The church updated its membership records. Mr. Selwyn Anamtham was the Church Worker and the church fully met his expenses. The Church School ministry went on well with 50 children and 6 teachers.
Mrs. Alice Selwyn gave good leadership and organised a teachers’ training. The church had outreach ministry in 6 places: Bidor, Bikam Estate, Sungkai, Sengai Estate, Bonapdana Estate and Ulu Bernam Estate. All these places were visited on a weekly basis except for Bonapdana which was visited monthly.
Strengthening Children and Youth Ministries
In 1987 the Full Membership was 95. Two families were baptised in January. Organ or piano music was sadly missing in this church. The Church school ministry in Teluk Intan, Nova Scotia and Torkington Estate totalled 63 children. A VBS was conducted in November 1986 for 5 days. About 76 children accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour. The MYF grew from 6 to 16. In 1988 Church Worker Mr. A. Selwyn served the church. Full Membership was 106. The Christian Education Committee started a Tamil Class for those who could not read and write Tamil. About 14 attended the class.
In 1985 there was an urgent need to replace the dilapidated parsonage built in 1931.Once the Trustees signed the Parsonage Building Plans, the old parsonage was demolished in 1987. The new parsonage was erected in the old site in 1988 at a cost of around RM 50,000. It was dedicated by the then, TAC President Rev John Kovilpillai on 9 October 1988. The cost of the building was RM 46,000. The church was short of RM 8,000
From 1989 – 1992 November, Rev. Justin Clarance was the Pastor. He began his ministry in January 1989 and the Full Membership was 97. The average church attendance was about 50 – 60 members. In 1990 the Full Membership was 93. The Outreach work in Sabak Bernam and Sungkai was encouraging. In 1991 the Full Membership was 87.
Strengthening Outreach Work
From 1992 December – 1997, Rev. Stanley M. Sadagopan was the Pastor. In 1992 the Full Membership was 88 and in 1993 it was 87. The Common Toilet Project was completed in July. In 1993 about 50 members attended service. The church had outreach ministries in Bidor, Sungkai, Sabak Bernam and Ulu Bernam. A second-hand van was bought. In 1994 the Full Membership increased to 101. The pastor went for a refresher program in New Zealand for three months. Ministerial Student Mr. Dennis Raj was very helpful when the pastor was away. 20 youths were received into Full Membership through Confirmation on 8 May 1994. MYF meetings were held fortnightly under the guidance of the pastor’s wife Mrs Susan Sadagopan. In 1995 the Full Membership was 114. There was outreach work in three areas - Bidor-Sungkai, Tapah and Ulu Bernam. Supply Pastor Seenivasagam ministered in the Tapah and Bidor/ Sungkai area and he developed the work there. There were about 35 resident members in the Tapah/Bidor/Sungkai area. In 1996 the Full Membership was 101. In the absence of a worker for Tapah/Bidor/Sungkai areas, the church transferred the Tapah ministry back to TMC Kampar.
There were two Church Schools - one in Teluk Intan and one in Sungkai. The Teluk Intan Church School met at 8am and had 20 children and 5 teachers. The Sungkai Church School met fortnightly on Sunday afternoons with 15 children. Five teachers went there on a rotational basis with two teachers going at any one time.
80th Anniversary Celebration
The 80th Anniversary Celebration/Thanksgiving Service was held on 7 September 1996 at 6pm. and was attended by 250 people. It was followed by an Anniversary Dinner which was attended by about 320 people. The Bishop Datuk Dr. Denis C. Dutton and the TAC President Rev. David Tharmakan graced the occasion. Former members and former pastors with their families came from far and near. In 1997 the Full Membership was 91. There was outreach work in two places – fortnightly in Sungkai (on Sundays and 10 – 15 adults attended). In Ulu Bernam, worship services were conducted once a month in the home of a member. Regular visits were made to Sabak Bernam.
Some years earlier, TMC Teluk Intan had allowed the Chinese Methodist Church to build a parsonage in its compound. Later, the Chinese Methodist Church bought a piece of land and built a multi-purpose hall to be used as their sanctuary and pastor’s residence. When the Chinese Methodist Church moved out in 1997, TMC Teluk Intan bought over the former Chinese Methodist Church parsonage for RM 5,000. They planned to build a hall where the Chinese Methodist parsonage stood but the plan did not materialise. This building was converted to be the church’s Christian Education Centre.
From 1998 – 1999 Rev. Dennis Raj was the Pastor. In 1998 the Full Membership was 82. All LCEC members were actively involved in the ministry. In 1999 the Full Membership was 95. Weekly services were held in Sungkai and Bidor. In 2000 Rev. Barnabas Baskaran was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 94. Worship Services were well attended, with an average of 65 members at Teluk Intan and 14 at Sungkai Outreach. Area Fellowships were conducted in five different places.
In 2001 Rev. Stanley M. Sadagopan was the Pastor and the Full Membership was 94. Cell Groups were held fortnightly in two places in the homes of members- Teluk Intan on Fridays and Bidor/Sungkai on Thursdays. There was outreach work in Sungkai. In 2002 Rev. Abraham Selvanayakam was the Pastor till August, when he resigned. From September 2002, Rev. Mark Subramanyam was the pastor. The Full Membership was 101. Financially the church was stable and the lay leadership was strong. These factors helped the church to sustain its ministries, even though there was a frequent change of pastors.
From 2003 – 2011 Rev. Joy Pandian was the Pastor. In 2004 the roofing above the pulpit was changed. It was noted that the youths were leaving the town in search of jobs elsewhere. However, there were a few youths who came forward to take up leadership.
In 2005 the Full Membership was 106. Migrant ministry among the Tamils was carried out at Seberang Estate. In 2006 the Full Membership was 116. Five Cell Groups met twice a month in Teluk Intan and 3 Cell Groups met once a month in Bidor, Sabak Bernam and Langkap. Migrant ministry among the Tamils was conducted at Seberang and Rubana Estates. Two of them received Christ and were baptised. Free tuition classes were also given.
Serving Through Tuition Classes and Medical Camp
In 2007 the Full Membership was 123. There were five Cell Groups and they studied Rick Warrens Purpose Driven Life. 80% of the church members attended the cell groups. A Bible Rally at local church level was held. A Medical Camp, with the help of Gethsemane Medical Team from Kuala Lumpur, was held in the Seberang Estate. The long standing Quit rent arrears of RM 3,422 was settled. An application to change the status from “Bangunan” to “Rumah Ibadat” – from residential to religious was forwarded to the land office. In 2008 the Full Membership was 121. The church reached out through tuition classes in Seberang Estate and Pengkalan Chepa. The Medical Camp was used as a tool for evangelism.
In 2009 the Full Membership was 116. Tuition classes were conducted in three areas in Ulu Bernam. In 2010 the Full Membership was 121. There were four adult conversions. The church thanked the Conference and TMC Tamil Settlement for the monthly financial aid. The Church employed Ms. K. Annammah as their church worker. A motorbike was bought for her use through donations. The application to change the land status was approved. A premium of RM 1,000 was needed to be paid and the annual quit rent was now RM 40. In 2011 the Full Membership was 113. Ms. K. Annammah continued as the church worker. Nepali ministry was started and 2 Nepali brothers were baptised. The Ulu Bernam ministry was stopped from July 2011. The church was going through a major division among the members. Five families stopped attending the church. Attempts were made by the TAC Exco for reconciliation. Finances were very tight. The Conference extended a sum of RM 10,000 as a loan to help with the tight financial situation. The pastor, Rev. Joy Pandian retired in that year.
In 2012 Rev. Ruben Rajandurai was the pastor. New ministries were started in Langkap and Benta Estate. The Bidor Sungkai ministry was done by Ms. K. Annammah. In 2013 the Full Membership dropped to 92. Rev. Vinsant Rayar was the Pastor-in-charge and he was assisted by Ministerial Student Mr. Vincen Dass. VBS was conducted for five days in the month of May by Mr. & Mrs. A. Selwyn. About 50 children participated. The church was affected financially due to members leaving for other churches.
In 2014 and 2015, Rev. Stephen Gunaraja was the Pastor. The parsonage was refurbished. Ms. Annammah was the Church Worker in the Bidor Outreach. In 2015 the Full Membership was 96.
From 2016 to 2018, Rev. Seenivasagam David was the Pastor. In 2016, the Full Membership was 96. The church had its Centennial Celebration on Sunday 9 October 2016.In conjunction with the occasion the church was refurbished. A new LCD projector was installed. Some dilapidated parts of the sanctuary building were repaired. All the old pews were gradually replaced. The church building received a fresh coat of paint giving it a new look. The condition of the roof was a concern too. In 2017 the Full Membership was 90. There were Cell Groups in three places on Wednesdays. A friend of the church donated a new PA system for usage in the church. The Pro Tem Committee in Bidor functioned well for a year but could not continue due to lack of leadership. Mr. Seemon Daniel from Bidor committed himself for fulltime ministry and was posted to TMC Mentakab. The youths were actively involved in all church activities. A Fund Raising Dinner was carried out to raise funds for the repair of the leaking roof. The church raised RM 11,202.78.
Sanctuary Roof Leak Repaired
In 2018 the Full Membership was 90. The Cell Groups met in two areas on Wednesdays. After much hard work over several years, sufficient funds were raised and the repair work on the church roof leak started. A new PA system was installed in Bidor. Seven youths were added into Full Membership through Confirmation. There were talks that the Perak State Government was considering to declare the church a heritage building. However, the church did not receive any written confirmation.
In 2019, Rev. Stephen Gunaraja was once again appointed the Pastor-in-charge. Mr. Jack Kennedy was appointed Church Worker to assist him. The Lay Leader, Mr. Yesupatham passed away on 4 October. The LCEC Chairperson is Mr. James Daniel. The Full Membership is 98. The church has one Outreach in Bidor. There are four Cell Groups, three in Teluk Intan and one in the Bidor Outreach. The number of members in the Agencies are as follows: MYF (20), MSF (19) and MW (19). There are 20 children and 3 teachers in the Church School.
Conclusion: God’s faithfulness is evident as we see the 103 years of history of TMC Teluk Intan. The then TAC President Rev. C. Jayaraj, in his message in the Centennial Souvenir Program rightly stated: “You are small but do not be discouraged. God in His grace gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40: 29). Press on in unity and love. God in His time will surely ignite a revival in your midst. There will be great growth when you faithfully seek Him.” In the work of the Lord, the best is always yet to be.
1. Mr. James Daniel, Teluk Intan Centennial Celebration Souvenir Program
2. 21st Session of TAC Souvenir Program 1996
3. Methodist Journals MAC, TPAC and TAC