Monday, November 30, 2009

Unite against alternative values, Anglicans urged

A tourist boat travels near the Merlion statue overlooking the Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore - Reuters pic


SINGAPORE, Nov 30 — The leader of Singapore’s 30,000- strong Anglican community yesterday called on his followers to unite against “alternative cultures” and recognise the family as a cornerstone of faith-building.

“There’s hardly any consensus on mainstream values,” Archbishop John Chew said in a sermon to about 10,000 people during the Church’s centenary service at Suntec City, citing the spread of “alternative”, “fringe” and “fundamentalistic” values.

Speaking to The Straits Times after the service, Dr Chew, who is also president of the National Council of Churches of Singapore, said he was referring to the erosion of mainstream culture by homosexuality, rampant materialism and religious extremism.

He spoke on the need for “classical compositions” of family structures — father, mother and children — instead of non-traditional ones consisting of single, divorced or same-sex parents.

He said the West has had to face the consequences of the rise of non-traditional family structures and “alternative” cultures.

In his sermon, he also spoke on the importance of procreation within the family structure. Referring to the low fertility rate, he said if Singaporeans do not produce enough babies, “the danger is that the mainstream population, its socio-cultural norms and ethos, will dwindle and diminish down the generations.”

He added: “The breaking down of families, and the changing of classical family norms, makes all this more aggravated.”

Dr Chew’s address to his flock comes at a time when Christians at home and abroad, facing rising divorce figures, increasingly outspoken gays and pervasive pop culture influences, are turning to the church for guidance.

In the worldwide Anglican Church, members in North America and Europe are deeply divided over theological reforms that have been introduced over the years.

Last month, the Vatican said it would allow Anglicans who are uncomfortable with the Anglican Church’s acceptance of female priests and gay bishops to join the Roman Catholic Church.

Speaking on this issue publicly for the first time, Dr Chew said: “It’s different in the West. Here, the Anglican Church is united in our faith. Our members have no cause or reason to look elsewhere.”

Yesterday, that unity was manifest in the thousands who came together to celebrate the Church’s 100th anniversary on the theme of building the Christian faith within families, and handing it down through generations.

The Church held an inter-generational service in the morning and a “consecration” service in the evening to bless the clergy, laity and its programmes in education and community services here and in the region. Altogether, about 20,000 people attended the two services.

The Anglican community has built 26 churches, 10 schools and several welfare groups, including hospitals and nursing homes, in Singapore.

It oversees Christian communities in Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Nepal, and is a member of the Anglican Province of South-east Asia, headed by Dr Chew.

Next year, the Church will open the St Andrew’s Autism Centre and a primary school in Batam, Indonesia.

Reverend George Tay, who heads the deanery in Indonesia, said the newS $7million (RM16.8 million) school in Batam, to be built by 2012, continues the legacy of education of the Singapore Anglican Church. — The Straits Times

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