The house “for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all the lands” (1 Chr. 22:5).
Contributed by Kong Hee
In the Holy Scripture, Jacob encountered the Lord in a dream. When he awoke, he proclaimed, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven,” (Gen. 38:17). He called the name of that place Bethel, which means “the house of God.” What a beautiful description of the church—an awesome place, the gate of heaven. Jesus Christ Himself says, “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18).
After five years of seemingly endless property searches, City Harvest Church has finally purchased a new property to serve our next phase of growth and development. Our members have been giving faithfully and sacrificially, seeking to own a venue where God’s people can gather to worship, pray and serve His kingdom purpose. This weekend, we have made that location known and we rejoice with one another as we move into the next chapter of our life here as a church.
I have generated a list of Frequently Asked Questions for those who may have some queries weighing on their minds. I hope that we will share the same conviction as King David that the house “for the LORD must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glorious throughout all the lands” (1 Chr. 22:5).
1. Why is there a need for CHC to secure such a huge facility?
We need a facility that will be able to accommodate the congregations from our English Services, Children’s Church, Chinese Church, Dialect Church, JAMs (Jesus for All Minds) Church, Indonesian Service, Tamil Service, and Filipino Service. By God’s grace, our membership has been growing steadily and it currently stands at 32,731. At the same time, the cost of hall rentals in Singapore has been increasing. It therefore makes financial sense to have our own facility in the long run. What’s more, our ability to rent halls for worship depends on their availability and other contractual terms. Having our own property means we will no longer subject our congregations to the risk of not being able to rent a facility for use, or having to move from time to time to different venues.
2. Why does the project cost S$310 million?
There are three factors to consider regarding the cost of a project:
a) The size of the property: The land size of the property is large enough to contain a 12,000-seater auditorium to accommodate the needs of our growing congregation.
b) The location of the property: We have members coming from all over the island. Centrality and ease of access via public transportation is important to us.
c) The facilities of the property: The building will have many meeting rooms and restaurants, with sufficient car parking space for our congregants and the general public.
3. What type of building will the facility be housed in? Integrated mall? Or purely a place of worship?
It is not purely a place of worship. This property has a 12,000-seater auditorium, and many other meeting rooms and F&B outlets.
4. Why does the church need to be in the CBD area?
We already have an existing church building at Jurong West. But our members come from all over the island. Proximity and accessibility by public transportation is the key factor behind our decision to find another facility that is in the central district of Singapore.
5. How does CHC plan to finance the project?
We will finance the project from the free-will contributions of our members.
6. CHC is planning to spend S$310 million on their building, shouldn’t the focus be on the poor and needy instead?
CHC spends 20 percent of its annual budget on local community and overseas humanitarian work to help the poor and needy. This work has been ongoing since the church began in May 1989. For example, in the aftermath of the Aceh tsunami and Haiti earthquake, our church volunteered teams of doctors and disaster relief workers with medical supplies, tents and water filters to help the victims. In addition, we have been actively giving to missions work and supporting its network of churches all over Asia. With a facility to house the church’s growing congregation and multifaceted ministries, we can serve the needs of the community in an even greater way.
7. Economically, wouldn’t the church save more money if its facility is outside of CBD or in the suburbs of Singapore?
Properties are scarce and property prices are generally high throughout Singapore. The key consideration behind our choice of location is proximity and accessibility for our members.
8. What does CHC plan to achieve in undertaking this massive project?
The facility is meant to meet the needs of our growing congregations for a place of worship. It also allows us to move from a present expensive rental model to a more financially sustainable ownership model for the long term.
9. Since majority of the activities of the church are on weekends, how will the building be used during the weekdays? Isn’t it a waste of space?
The facilities of the property and F&B outlets are open to the public daily. During the weekdays, the auditorium will be used from time-to-time as a venue for seminars, conferences, arts and cultural performances.
10. According to the laws of Singapore, can worship services be held within the central business district?
There is no legal restriction against conducting worship services in the CBD area, provided zoning and other legal requirements are met. Currently there are more than 30 places of worship in downtown Singapore. These include churches, temples and mosques such as St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Wesley Methodist Church, Orchard Road Presbyterian Church, Sri Mariamman Temple, Masjid Jamae Chulia, Kwan Im Thong Cho Temple, Maghain Aboth Synagogue; just to name a few. We will ensure that use of our new facility does not breach zoning restrictions or other legal restrictions applicable to the facility.
11. Since CHC already owns a property in Jurong West, why does it need another facility?
We have long outgrown our facility at Jurong West as its capacity is limited to 2,300 people. Our present congregation is more than 14 times the maximum capacity of our Jurong West building. Since 2005 we have had to rent premises at Singapore Expo to accommodate our congregations. It should also be noted that the new facility does not mean the Jurong West church building will be redundant. Activities such as outreach to the elderly and children living in the Jurong area will continue. The property in Jurong West will still be utilized for training, counseling, prayers, etc.
12. Should CHC elect to have its facility in the downtown area, would there be a potential for crowds and traffic jams in the already crowded CBD?
This is an important consideration which we factored into our planning for the new facility. There is ample car parking space, and the roads surrounding the property are wide enough to ensure smooth traffic.