Local Church History
The ministry in Ulu Tiram began when Rev. C. Paul was the Pastor in charge of the Tamil Methodist Church Johore Baru. Initially there were house meetings in the home of Mr. Isaac Christian. When the ministry grew, the LCEC of Johore Baru decided to rent a shop lot at Taman Ros for worship services. After eight months, they moved to No. 17, Jalan Badik, Taman Puteri Wangsa Ulu Tiram. In 2001 Ulu Tiram, with 35 members was the only Outreach of the Johore Baru Church.
Resident Fulltime Church Worker
In 2002 Mr. Pattiyan was appointed the first resident fulltime Church Worker for the Ulu Tiram Outreach. He assisted Rev. C. Paul from 2002 – 2003. The Ulu Tiram’s Full Membership grew to 53. Tamil Methodist Church Kuantan financially supported the Ulu Tiram ministry with a monthly aid of RM 600. The new Outreach was officially dedicated on 9 March 2003 by the TAC President Rev. P. Tevaraji. In August 2004 Rev. C. Paul resigned. Pastor John Mathuni, who was stationed at Ulu Tiram, played an important role in keeping the members together and in the rebuilding of the church. He served from 2001 till 2004.
The Growing Years
Those who served as pastors of TMC Johor Bahru were also in-charge of the Ulu Tiram Outreach. These included Rev Mark Subramanyam (2004 – 2005), Rev Jonathan Jesudas (2006 – 2007) and Rev Dennis Raj (2008 – 2010). The PMYF was formed in Ulu Tiram during the tenure of Rev Dennis Raj. From 2006 – 2011, Pastor Solomon Thangaiah served as a Church Worker. He retired in 2011. In 2007 a second hand van was donated by TMC Ipoh to the Ulu Tiram Outreach. In 2012, the Southern DS appointed Mr. Shanmugam as Church Worker in Ulu Tiram. He served from January 2012 till June 2013. From July – December 2013 Ms. Mercy Rani served there.
Formation as a Local Conference
Ulu Tiram Outreach was organized as a Local Conference on 15 March 2014. Rev. Silvester Louis Martin, the pastor of TMC Johore Baru, was also appointed as the first Pastor of TMC Ulu Tiram. In 2014, Rev Richard Lawrence, a Member on Trial, served as the Assistant Pastor in Ulu Tiram. The Full Membership in June was 62. They had a regular Bible Study on the Book of Revelation. They had one Cell Group which used Rev. Victor Vethamani’s Small Group Bible Study Book. The Methodist Women’s Fellowship was officially organised on 18 May and transport was an issue for the gathering of the ladies. The MYAF was formally organised on 25 May. Their first program was hospital visitation. Six of them attended the National MYAF Camp. Work commitments made it difficult for them to meet. The church rental was RM 1,000.
They had RM 40,000 in their Building Account. They hoped to buy a shop-lot or a piece of land in a nearby vicinity. They had a Family Outing on 1 May and the whole church participated. The DS observed that there was a lack of understanding of the Methodist system and the working of the Tamil Annual Conference. He also expressed concern that “Before the formation the excitement and unity level was high but after the formation, ‘silently’ the atmosphere changed.” Several members faced family struggles and many ‘gifted’ people were unable to use their gifts constructively.
Early Years with Major Financial Challenges
From 2015 – 2016, Rev. Richard Lawrence was the Pastor. In 2015 the Full Membership was 75. Two members were received into full membership through Confirmation. Cell Groups were held on Tuesdays. They adopted 10 children under the MMM Gift of Hope Project. The finances of the church was a major concern and TMC Johore Baru supported it by giving RM 1,000 a month. Mr. Anthony Row gave RM 300 monthly. A few committed local church leaders were also contributing monthly to help pay the church rental, parsonage and utility bills. In 2016, the Full Membership was 68. They had ministry to the poor by providing provisions. They also had training in evangelism.
From 2017 – 2018, Rev. Silvester Louis Martin was the Pastor in charge. During this period, he was assisted by a Fulltime Church Worker, Mr. Jack Kennedy. In 2017, the Full Membership was 73. The church experienced a new beginning in spiritual maturity, as they focussed on the Word. An average of ten people faithfully attended their Thursday Prayer Session. In 2018, the Full Membership was 87. The local church continued to struggle financially because of the high rental of their place of worship (RM 1,200 a month) and the parsonage (RM 700 a month)
From 2019, Rev. Samuel Periathamby is the Pastor in charge. He is assisted by Church Worker Pastor Jeyaseelan John. The Full Membership is 87. The monthly rental for the place of worship is RM 1,200 and the parsonage rental is now RM 800 a month. The giving of the members has improved and so the present financial situation is not alarming, though it is still a challenge. The church does not receive any outside financial aid from any other local church or individuals. The membership of the Agencies are as follows: MYF (17), MYAF (10), MW (24) and the MSF is inactive. There are 27 children, 3 teachers and 3 helpers in the Church School. Several youths of this church are working in Singapore. As such, weekday ministries are difficult. The older people need encouragement and deeper commitment for greater involvement in the church ministries.
Conclusion: TMC Ulu Tiram is a little over 5 years old. They were blessed to have either a Church Worker or a Pastor stationed in Ulu Tiram even before they were formed as a local church. This helped the church to grow with proper guidance. The fact that they do not have a place of their own for worship and with no parsonage, the church continues to face financial pressure due to high rentals. Their location, being near to Singapore, has helped them financially, as many have found employment. But at the same time, this has meant difficulty in getting participation for their week-day programs. The church has to find ways to overcome these challenges, if they are to experience church growth.
1. Souvenir Program – Formation of TMC Ulu Tiram on 15 March 2014
2. Telephone Interviews – Pastor Jack Kennedy and Pastor Jeyaseelan John
3. TAC Journals