The Early Years
The Tamil Methodist ministry in Bukit Rotan goes back to the 1920s. It is reported that Pastor L.A. Samuel, who served as the Pastor from 1939 to 1959, organised Church school classes, youth meetings and worship services. He started a Tamil Vernacular School where he taught in the mornings. He held services in several estates and conducted open-air worship meetings. He baptised 83 converts and solemnised 76 Christian marriages. Travel was difficult, often on bullock- cart and there were tigers on the prowl. (Source: “In God’s Light” biography of LA Samuel p. 8).
Church Building Needs Urgent Repair
In 1969, Rev. John Kovilpillai, the pastor of TMC Sentul, was the Pastor in charge from May. The Full Membership was 38. In 1970 Rev. Kovilpillai visited twice a month along with a group of young people from the Sentul Church. The church building needed to be rebuilt and the congregation raised RM 500. The parsonage was rented for a monthly rent of RM 15.
Young Ministerial Students on Practical Breaks
From 1971 – 1973, Rev. Jacob Paul, the pastor of TMC KL, was the Pastor in charge. The Building Fund amounted to $ 1,671.30 at the T.P.A.C. Office and $1,500 at the Methodist Headquarters. In 1972 TMCKL was actively involved in Bukit Rotan and they in turn carried out outreach work in Bukit Belimbing Estate. For the first time, three young people from Bukit Rotan attended the National Youth Institute – Daniel, Chandran and Simon. The Conference President, Rev. T.R. Doraisamy, initiated and kindly provided funds for them to attend the Institute. From 1 May, Mr. Gabriel Jabanathan, a ministerial student, for his one year field work, was stationed in Monmouth Estate. He was instrumental in bringing new life to the church. Miss Ruth Beckett, an O.M.F. Missionary on secondment to the Tamil Conference, was involved in Church School Teacher Training.
In 1973, this congregation made up of a small group of rubber tappers (membership 56) gave a total of $1,816.51 for all causes. There were two outstation Church Schools run by them. Ms. Ruth Beckett continued to help train the teachers. Their Building Fund stood at around $ 9,000. Mr. Gabriel Jabanathan brought to the church and the community a new impetus of the Spirit. Mr. P. Tevaraji, another ministerial student, ably continued to build and develop the work.
From1974 – 1976, Rev. Francis Sunderaraj, the pastor of TMC KL, was the Pastor in charge. The Full Membership was 68. Mr. Tevaraji completed his field work on 30 April 1974 and Mr. A. Simon Chandran, another ministerial student, began his field work on 1 May 1974.With the assistance of TMC KL, the Monmouth Estate Chapel was equipped with 12 pews and 1 pulpit.
The congregation enthusiastically cooperated in the renovation and extension of the Chapel and the repairing of the attap roof of the Bukit Rotan church building. The Building Fund stood at $ 10,922.41 as on 30 September 1974. A Vacation Bible School was held for the first time in December 1973. Miss Beckett was a great help in training and preparing the teachers. In 1975 the Building Fund stood at RM 13,080.46 as of 30 September 1975. Efforts were made to secure the renewal of the land lease for 99 years. While continuing as an employee of the government, Mr. Victor Vethamani gave himself to the ministry in Bukit Rotan during the weekends.
From 1977 to 1978, Rev. John Kovilpillai, the pastor of TMC KL, gave Pastoral leadership. Mr. S. Daniel, a Church School product from Bukit Rotan conducted regular Sunday worship services and Bible study classes. In the month of May, Mr. S. Duraisingam, another ministerial student from UBS India on one year practical break, served in Bukit Rotan. He and Mr. S. Daniel were actively involved in Estate Evangelism and visitation. In 1978 the Full Membership was 183. Mr. S. Daniel went to Johor Bahru for theological studies. Mr. Peter Jebasekaran, a prospect for ministerial training, assisted.
Youths Leaving For Job Opportunities
From 1979 – 1983 Rev. David Tharmakan, the pastor of TMC Sentul, was the Pastor in charge. In 1979, the Full Membership was 128. The church found it difficult to get sufficient Church School teachers because of young people leaving for work in Kuala Lumpur. There was no news from the Trustees regarding the renewal of the lease for the Bukit Rotan land. The final plan for the building of a chapel in Monmouth Estate was already submitted. In 1980 the Full Membership was 72. This lively congregation had the ministry of Rev. David Tharmakan who was also pastor of the Sentul congregation and the Conference Youth Director. The church WSCS hosted the first District WSCS Conference. Plans for a Chapel and Community Centre at Monmouth Estate were submitted to the authorities. The chapel at Monmouth Estate was arranged by the Local Council to be built by the Public Works Department according to approved plans.
A Local Called for Ministry
In 1981 the Full Membership was 78. Mr. Daniel Samikanu, a local lay worker helped in the outreach work in Bukit Rotan and in Batang Berjuntai. TMC KL supported this worker and the local church provided the transport allowance. The weekly bible study was attended by more Hindus than the church people in Elmore Estate. Plans submitted for approval for the new church building was held up at the Land Office for quite some time, pending the conversion of the land from Agricultural to Residential. This conversion was now approved.
They now waited for the approval of the Building Plan. RM 10,000 grant was given by the State Government to put up a Chapel at the Monmouth Estate. When plans were submitted to the Public Works Department, who were to put up this building, they found that the cost would be approximately RM 30,000. The District Officer applied to the State Government to increase the grant to RM 40,000.
Chapel at the Monmouth Estate
In 1982 the Full Membership was 79. Though the lease for the church land was extended for 66 years, the building plan was not passed yet. Several trips to the Kuala Selangor District Office and the office of the Assemblyman did not bring any solution. The Building Fund with Methodist H.Q. stood at RM 60,694.41. As for the chapel at the Monmouth Estate, with the church building just four miles away in the Bukit Rotan town, it was felt that it would be better to renovate the chapel with the RM 10,000 grant from the government rather than build a new and much bigger one as originally proposed. In 1983 the Full Membership was 82. The Building Plan was redrawn because the Town Council had taken 10 feet of the church’s land for road widening.
From 1984 – 1985, Rev. Devadass Ratnam, the pastor of TMC Sentul, was the Pastor in charge. In 1984 the Full Membership was 82. The final Building Plan documents for the church and parsonage on Lot 1, Sec. 2, Jalan Bukit Rotan, Kampung Rotan, District of Api-Api/Ijok were signed and submitted for approval. In 1985 the Full Membership was 86. The church was told verbally that the plan for the church building had been approved but was not informed officially. The amended plans were signed for the proposed church and parsonage.
From 1986 – 1987 Rev. Gabriel Jabanathan, the pastor of TMC Sentul, was the Pastor in charge. In 1986, the Full Membership was 84 (Damansara 21 and Bukit Rotan area 63). The church spent about RM1,200 to renovate the Chapel at Monmouth Estate and to extend the back to construct a sitting room, a bedroom and a kitchen for the worker to stay. Damansara was the church’s Outreach where worship was conducted on Sundays at 7.30 pm. For the Bukit Rotan congregation, the worship services were conducted in the chapel at the Monmouth Estate. The Building Plan for the church and parsonage in Bukit Rotan were approved by the government. In the process of waiting, the lease for the land was renewed. In 1987 the Full Membership was 119. There were about 15 children in the Church School. They met in Nicol Garden Estate and there were six in Monmouth Estate. A kindergarten was started with the help of Rev. Kovilpillai and there were 10 children. The teacher was paid RM 250 salary and the rental was RM 100. The total construction cost for the Bukit Rotan Building Project was estimated at RM 105,000
Bukit Rotan Building Project
From1988– 1990, a new graduate Pastor Arulandu, took charge. The church in the Bukit Rotan town was to be the centre for the circuit covering members from the Kuala Selangor area, Bukit Rotan town, Monmouth Estate, Batang Berjuntai and Tanjung Karang. The Building Plans for the sanctuary and parsonage at the Bukit Rotan town were finally approved and tenders were called and the contract signed.
In 1988 the Full Membership grew to 146. Bukit Rotan congregation was one of the oldest churches in Selangor but was without a proper place of worship for many years. The present Building Project was initiated about 16 years ago and the people waited patiently and the Lord has blessed them with a beautiful church and parsonage. The total cost of the project was RM134,460. The money collected over the years was RM102,000. The balance amount to be raised was RM32,460. This balance was reduced to RM15,000 with the help of Rev. V. John Kovilpillai and Mr. E.V. Nesaratnam. The church applied for a loan of RM 15,000.
Looking Towards Kapar, Kuala Selangor and Tanjong Karang
In 1989 the Full Membership dropped to 128 because 28 members in Damansara were transferred to the Kuala Lumpur Outreach in Kg. Pinang. The pastor arranged for four bible classes in Bukit Rotan, Sg. Yu, Monmouth Estate and Batang Berjuntai. The church settled the Building Fund loan and received RM 10,000 from the Government. In 1990 the Full Membership was 120. Kapar was identified as a possible Outreach, together with Kuala Selangor and Tanjong Karang for future ministry.
From 1991 – 1993 Rev. David Paul Raj was the Pastor and he began his ministry from 1 December 1990. The Full Membership was 131. Bible studies were conducted in Monmouth Estate (about 15-20 people attend on Fridays at 7.30pm) and in Batang Berjuntai (about 10-15 people attended on Wednesdays). In 1992 the Full Membership was 131. The church had an outreach ministry in Batu Belah. About 25 Hindus attended the meetings on Thursdays. The church was strong in the area of social concerns. They stored food to help the needy. Co- operative sale of cooking oil at a low price was started for members. In 1993 the Full Membership dropped to 98. The local authorities required 60 feet of the church’s land for development purposes. The church asked for compensation.
Damansara Outreach Point Added
From 1994 to 2000 Rev. Vinsant Rayar was the Pastor. In 1994, the Full Membership was 85 with about 70 in regular attendance. In 1995 the Full Membership remained at 85. From July, the Damansara Outreach Point of TMC KL was handed over to TMC Bukit Rotan. An Outreach ministry was started in Sekinchan. Though a small rural congregation, this church has ambitiously launched into three major projects: (a) Church Building Extension (b) Purchase of a van and (c) Purchase of a P.A. system. In 1996 the Full Membership rose to 143. At the Damamsara Outreach, ministerial student Mr. Jevaratnam served. The
Full Membership was 43. The church bought a van. In 1997 the members in Damansara looked for a new place of worship as their present place might be taken over for development purposes. Student pastor Mr. Joseph Yesupatham served here. Though small and rural, the church had a vision to put up a new building costing RM600,000. In 1998 the Full Membership was 182. They started a Children’s Worship Service.
In 1999 the Full Membership was 172 and in 2000 it was 176. The MYAF committed themselves to establish the Batu 16 Sungai Buloh Outreach ministry. The Damansara Outreach was blessed with a Church Building costing RM152, 000 through the help of a loan from Mr. Anthony Row. Ministerial student Mr. Anthony Panan, gave encouragement and leadership in Damansara.
Sungai Buloh Outreach
From 2001 – 2002 Rev. Jonathan Jesudas was the Pastor. In 2001 the Full Membership was 179 and in 2002 it was 182. From 2003 – 2008, Rev. P. Sandireaseheran was the Pastor. In 2003, the Full Membership was 192. Though there were plans to make Kampung Kayu Ara a local church, it was deferred. In 2004 the Full Membership of TMC Bukit Rotan rose to 213. There were 7 Cell groups in Bukit Rotan and 5 groups in Kayu Ara. Sungai Buloh was declared as an Outreach of TMC Bukit Rotan. In 2005 the Full Membership was 127. A plan to upgrade and extend the church building was submitted at a cost of RM170,000. Until the church renovation work was completed, that is from April 2008 to March 2010, the congregation worshipped in a Chapel in Caledonia Estate which was given by the Estate Management. The Sungai Buloh Outreach co-ordinator was Mr. Jesudass Sinnappen. Regular attendance for Sunday service was about 15 people. There were Cell Groups in Kg. Baru Sg. Buloh/Mah Seng (Subang) and Bandar Baru (Sungai Buloh).
Thoughts of a Campus Ministry
In 2006 the Full Membership was 133. The extension work on the church building at RM170, 000 was given a grace period of up to November 2006. In 2007 the Full Membership was 137. The church worked towards establishing a Campus Ministry. Some students from the University Selangor (Unisel) in Batang Berjuntai were ferried on Sundays to the church. The building plans were approved on 11 October 2007 and work on the RM170,000 church extension Project was to begin soon. In 2008 the Church worship services in Bukit Rotan was at 9 am. There was an average attendance of 85-100 people. The Sungai Buloh service was at 6 pm. with an average attendance of 25-30 people. The Full Membership was 146. The Small Groups met in Kuala Selangor, Bukit Rotan, Batang Berjuntai and Sungai Buloh and an average of 10 people gathered in every group. The Church School which met in Sungei Buloh at 5.30pm, had 7 children and a teacher. The church started an evening Church School in Kuala Selangor where 15 children met every Tuesday at 8 pm. The MSF in Bukit Rotan was formed on 13 April 2008.The church embarked on putting up a new worship sanctuary. The project took off in April 2008. The Caledonia Chapel was situated in the Caledonia Division (Batu Arang) of the Kuala Lumpur Kepong Group of estates. It was given for their use in 2004 and the church has congregated in this chapel for worship since May 2008. In 2009 Rev. Anthony Panan was the Pastor. The Full Membership was 141. Many ministries of the church were affected because of the delay in the completion of the building project (Sanctuary).The Full Membership was 137. The new building work completed in March 2010 at the cost of RM350,000 including the fittings. The worship in the new building took place on Easter Day April 4, 2010.
New Sanctuary Dedicated
From 2010 to 2012, Rev. S. Jevaratnam was the Pastor. In 2010 he was assisted by Supply Pastor S. Selvaraj. The Dedication Service of the new sanctuary was held on 25 July 2010. They also had a Fund Raising Dinner after the Dedication Service. Pastor S. Selvaraj, with his experience, gave able leadership and settled a number of unfinished businesses. In 2011 the Full Membership was 136. Ministerial student Mr. Samuel Manokaran Jacob served for a year. The church formed a Pro Tem Committee for Sungai Buloh Outreach. In 2012, he was assisted by Rev. David Tharmakan.
From 2013 to 2014, Rev. David Tharmakan was the Pastor. In 2012, the Full Membership was 132. In 2013 it was 133. There were challenging situations between the church leadership and the pastors due to the Building Project. In view of this, a reconciliation service was held on 8 September 2013 between the church and three former pastors, namely Rev. Sandireaseheran, Rev. Anthony Panan and Rev. Jevaratnam and their families. This is commendable for the church leaders acknowledged and did the needful to keep the unity of the church.
Single storey corner terrace house a “gift”
A single storey (corner terrace house) was given as a “gift” to the church by Mr. Balraj (a member of Bukit Rotan). In 2014 the Full Membership was 156. The Friday ministry was affected after the pastor fell ill but it still continued. Rev. David Tharmakan had a bypass surgery and was on leave for about two months. The church had a successful Fund Raising Dinner to raise money to buy a van. It was also to pay back all the loans they took for their Building Fund.
From 2015 to 2017, Rev. Dr. A.E. Joseph was the Pastor. In 2015 Rev. S. Krishnan was appointed to help Rev. A.E. Joseph. The Full Membership was 158. From 2016 – 2018, Lay Pastor Jeyaseelan John was appointed to help the pastor- in-charge. In 2016 the Full Membership was 159. There were plans to develop Tasek Puteri into an Outreach Point by 2017/2018. In 2017 the Full Membership was 154.
In 2018 Rev. Vinsant Rayar, the pastor of TMC Klang, was the Pastor in charge. Lay Pastor Jeyaseelan continued to help. In 2018 the Full Membership was 142. The church planned to start a Preaching Point/Outreach ministry at Bestari Jaya & Tasek Puteri.
In 2019, Rev. Jonathan Jesudas, is the Pastor-in-charge. He is assisted by Lay Pastor P.P. Abraham. The Full Membership is 142. There are a total of 7 Cell Groups in these places: (a) Taman Bukit Rotan, (b) Kuala Selangor, (c) Shah Alam & Kapar, (d)Bestari Jaya, (e)Tasik Puteri, (f) Sg. Buloh, (g) Kota Damansara. They have one Outreach work in Sungai Buloh and one Preaching Point in Tasik Puteri. The membership in the Agencies is as follows: MYF (21), MYAF (42), MSF (28) and MW (37). There are 40 children and 7 teachers (inclusive of helpers) in the Church School.
Conclusion: TMC Bukit Rotan has a long history going back to the 1920s. In those days travel was difficult (bullock cart) and dangerous (tigers could be following). Much has changed since then. From a Full Membership of 38 in 1969, after 50 years it is now 142. There were three Church Buildings: first was dedicated in 1929, the second in 1988 and the third in 2010. The ministry has expanded, reaching out to the surrounding towns and estates. The active Cell Group ministry is an indication of the church’s keenness to provide spiritual nurture to the members. This, together with active agencies and Children’s Ministry, shows the bright future of this church.
1. “In God’s Light” LA Samuel
2. Methodist Journals – MAC, TPAC, TAC