Candidates for Elections 

Dear BPCWA worshipper, Worshippers will find together with the bulletin today a booklet with the details of the candidates who have been nominated by the Board of Elders to be put up for election into the Session at the upcoming ACM next month. All members should ensure that they have a copy of this booklet before they leave the church today. This is a long pastoral because there is much to explain, and it is needful for us to understand in detail the assessment process and evaluation criteria that led us to these final candidates for elections.  As members and worshippers in BPCWA, you must be interested to read through these.

The process before final nominations. Although we are only announcing the candidates today, the process started much earlier. If you recall, I wrote in my pastoral on 19 Feb as to why we were requesting anyone who wished to propose a consideration for nomination into the Session to do so several months before the elections. The process for elections and nominations had in effect started even before February. While you see four persons, an elder and three deacons, being put up for elections, there were more than these four discussed. The BOE also discussed a wider group to include those whom some members may think are suitable. After careful and prayerful consideration based on Biblical principles, the BOE confirmed that these 4 would be the candidates to be put up for elections. Following this conclusion, the candidate for the office of elder and the candidates for the offices of deacon were approached in February to ask them to prayerfully consider if they would be willing to stand for these offices. After they confirmed their readiness, Eugene was required to write 6 papers on topics relevant to his proposed role, while Terry and Soo Jin were required to write 5 papers. It is important to point out that even prior to this election year, as the pastor of BPCWA, the consideration of potential candidates has been on my mind continually, and not just only when elections are due. The Session serves an important function in the church, and it must consist of who God intends in that office. Hence, any nomination must not be based upon that individual’s performance or ministry in that election year itself, but on what the person has demonstrated consistently over the past years in terms of meeting the qualifications for that role. It was based on their observed track record that I proposed the new candidates for elections this year. Although we are putting up 2 new nominees this year, I must remind everyone that we must not expect new people to be nominated every cycle. We are not interested in pumping up the numbers in the Session just so that we can have confidence in numbers, match the numbers in another church, or for others outside the church to see how large a Session we have.  We need to be absolutely sure before we put someone up for elections.

The rigorous assessment. I have been purposeful in terms of considering who is added to the Session, whether they will be able to contribute fully as a deacon if voted in, and if they will be able to pull their weight with all the others in the Session. Even before considering the 2 new candidates for deacons, I deliberated long and hard to consider if they should be deacons or if it were better for them to just continue serving actively outside of the Session like many are. In BPCWA, many are serving very diligently, and it is often better for many to continue to serve in their current capacity rather than to take up new responsibilities in a church office which may distract or take them away from their current niche areas of service needed by the church. Even the 2 new candidates preferred to focus on their current roles than stand for office because they knew that there will be additional administrative responsibilities and burdens as a church office holder. But we thank God that they responded by faith after prayerful and careful consideration of God’s leading. When it comes to the nomination for an elder, it is not because of a pressing need to appoint a local elder, but because I believe that God has provided someone who meets the qualifications of an elder. As a Presbyterian church, we believe that the Biblical church government is one ruled jointly by elder(s) together with the pastor. One area that I emphasised when I taught the church study series last year on the Bible-Presbyterian Church Government is that we want a working Session in BPCWA wherein everyone in the Session is fully qualified, with lives befitting that of their office, and puts in their fair share of carrying the load of what a Session member ought to do. When we are blessed with a church wherein many serve very faithfully, the Session must be an even greater example of service in the church. Some churches may give office titles to “reward” those who work hard and to express their “recognition” of their efforts so that the church does not “lose” these people, but “retain” their service instead. These are very wrong concepts and must never be adopted by God’s church. We only nominate those who are suitably qualified, tested, and willing to serve God regardless of titles and recognition of man. A deacon is not a title of “recognition to reward” someone who serves. A deacon is not just a “white collar” worker but must be ready to be the first person to do hands-on, even laborious “blue collar” work without publicizing it to be appreciated or admired by others. In other words, he has a genuine heart to be a hands-on servant even if he is never offered an office in the church. I am always highly thankful to God that many who serve in BPCWA understand this and are devoted to their service to God, whether they are part of the Session or not. The new people that are now being put up for elections are people that I have observed and tested, without them knowing, over the past years through various projects and were consistently faithful and gifted in their various assignments. The tasks they were given were not easy ones, and I certainly did not lower standards for God’s work as I oversaw their areas. Their assignments were behind-the-scenes tasks that did not necessarily give them great visibility to most of the congregation. Even if any project was visible to others, I would observe to see if they sought visibility. These final nominees have proven themselves to not just be supervisors who don’t get their hands dirty if they can avoid it. This must be the heart of a deacon – for God’s work, whether it is a great or small task, forefront or background, and recognised by man or not.  The candidates that you see are those that have been considered prayerfully by the Board of Elders after due evaluation and discussion. Many hard and searching questions were asked during the interview process following the review of the papers they submitted. The examination ranged from matters of doctrine to character and to them ruling their wives and children. No candidate is perfect, but to the best of our knowledge, the BOE is satisfied that they meet all the Biblical qualifications for the roles. I hope that after explaining the process we use, all worshippers will be assured that I personally take an active spiritual interest to ensure that there is due assessment, consideration, and nomination of potential candidates. We should always desire to have the right Session for BPCWA – the right people in it and the right size relative to our congregation. If there are no suitable candidates, we will not propose someone just to have more Session members.

The candidates. As can be seen from the insert, there are a total of 3 candidates for the offices of deacon, 1 candidate for the office of elder, and myself for the office of pastor. Having observed that Eugene served well through 2 cycles in several ministries (especially with him leading in the church extension project) as required by our Constitution, I have proposed to have him stand for the Office of Elder. If God wills that Eugene is elected to this office, this will mean that we will be able to have a local Board of Elders from within BPCWA. But I wish to emphasise that this is not just “for completeness” or “for a show”. It is because of years of evaluation of Eugene’s spirituality, character, doctrinal soundness and firmness of convictions, proven gifts, and commitment to the holy faith, and because the current BOE has evaluated his written papers and interviewed him extensively that the BOE believes that Eugene meets the requirements to be nominated and take the Office of Elder if elected. It is important for all of you to realise that in the February Board of Elders meeting when the candidates were first discussed, Rev Cheng said that once BPCWA had an elder elected from within, there would be no need to second someone (namely him) from outside of BPCWA into our BOE. Hence, Rev Cheng will step down from being on our BOE once we have a ruling elder from within BPCWA as part of the plan. Rev Cheng would be glad for BPCWA if God shows His will through the upcoming elections that BPCWA will have its local BOE. So, when this transition happens, know that it is by no means a rushed and impetuous decision, but carefully and prayerfully thought through to transition to a local BOE if it is God’s timing for us to have one. Both Rev Cheng and I have been in much prayer and are fully submitted to the Lord’s leading and will in whatever the outcome of the elections may be. Having been part of BPCWA’s interviewing BOE, I have requested Rev Cheng to travel down for our ACM cum elections in September. If God wills that the candidate for elder is elected to the office at the elections that day, the charge and ordination will jointly be conducted by BPCWA’s current BOE members immediately after the ACM concludes.

Adrian has agreed to stand again for election as a deacon this cycle. There may be some necessary changes in portfolios if elected, as he will be needed to help in certain areas. Standing as new candidates for the Office of Deacon will be Terry and Soo Jin. Though perhaps not as familiar to many, they have demonstrated through their projects over the past years their commitment and ability to take care of complex projects despite unexpected curveballs. I encourage everyone to read the insert of our candidates for more details.

Stepping down of an existing Session member.  When I checked with the existing 3 deacons back in February if they would consider standing again for the upcoming elections, Joel decided not to do so. After prayerfully seeking God’s will in the matter, he feels led to serve without the additional responsibilities of being a deacon. He has been in Treasury since first being elected to the role of deacon in 2014, in addition to being the Session representative in the Chinese congregation. The area of Treasury has much intensive work happening behind the scenes every week. Although Joel will no longer be a deacon after the upcoming elections, he will continue to serve as a non-church office holder, such as being the lead of the Chinese Fellowship and the Chinese Retreat. Ever since Joel indicated his intention not to stand some months ago, the deacon identified to take over the Treasurer portfolio, if elected, has been tasked with understudying and being ready to take over and ensure a smooth transition after elections. I will continue to be there for the Chinese congregation weekly as a Session representative and our Chinese worshippers can continue to approach me as they have been. I will also be chairing our Chinese worship services after the ACM, with interpretation. This change has been planned into the transition. Chinese functional areas such as transport, AV, and ushering have been and will continue to work directly with the overall lead for their functional ministry. This has been the intended and already ongoing process set up for the church ministries in both congregations.

The nominees’ information is inserted in our bulletin today so that members can get familiar with every candidate and their previous areas of service. It is also published a few weeks ahead of the elections so that there is sufficient time for prayerful consideration of the candidates before voting. If you wish, you can also approach the candidates to talk to them or even just get to know them better so that you can make an informed decision. I hope that members will use the upcoming weeks to intensify their prayer, even fast, for the upcoming elections to be according to God’s good will for His church, BPCWA:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints (Eph 6:18)

Yours in our Lord’s service,