City Harvest Church conducts its worship services at its Jurong West premises for two weeks before heading to Suntec City.
Contributed By Dannon Har, Elizabeth Low & Kong Yunrui
It’s one week to City Harvest Church’s grand migration to Suntec Singapore, but for these two weeks, the congregation will be at Jurong West Street 91 for the weekend services. Unlike the large expanse of Singapore Expo Hall 8, with a capacity of several thousands, the main auditorium at Jurong West sits only a fraction of the capacity in Expo. This is the reason for multiple services (six per weekend, three each on Saturday and Sunday) for these two weeks in the west.
For seasoned veterans, going back to the familiar premises of Jurong West Street 91 evoked a sense of nostalgia. “It’s like coming home, because this is the place where I first came to church,” shared 20-year-old Kenvin Kok who received Christ in 2005 at this venue. “Compared to Singapore Expo, there is greater sentimental value for me here,” he added.
The decision for heading back to the west came as a practical decision for the church who will only begin its services at Suntec Singapore from March 19 onward.
While there were those who were delighted to relive their fond memories of this place, there were members who had never set foot in this church complex. This included regular parishioners as well as members who were serving in their respective ministries (i.e. Ushers and Security personnel) for the first time.
Ryan Woo, 23, a teacher, was one such example of a ministry member who had to adjust his duties as an usher and fit a different service schedule. As a regular Usher Ministry volunteer at Singapore Expo, serving in the Jurong West building for the first time was an eye-opener. “I found it more challenging having to do multiple transitions within a very short amount of time between the services. For me, it was indeed a learning experience,” he said.
Compared to Singapore Expo’s single service on Saturday and Sunday, Woo had to handle three services each on Saturday and Sunday at Jurong West. The short turnaround time of less than 30 minutes between the services meant that he had to manage the incoming and outgoing crowds.
Fellow CHC goer Gabriel Hui, 24, a volunteer in the Security Ministry, also shared similar sentiments. He highlighted how the smaller hall and capacity meant that any small movement was easily amplified during the service and could potentially distract the preacher or others in the hall. As such, the key was to remain sharp throughout the entire service and be more attentive.
Hui also shared how the full schedule meant that he had to go the extra mile in putting his best foot forward at all times and adapt to the different conditions despite the tiredness he felt. “[Serving in such a capacity] really tests our faithfulness toward God and the ministry. It really determines the passion we have in serving the Lord and His people. Through this experience, I learned how to humble myself to serve in various ways throughout the day.”
For student, Leona Leong, 18, the Jurong West auditorium was a welcome change, partly because she stays in the western part of Singapore and the traveling distance was greatly minimized. Plus the smaller space meant it was easier to find friends. “The space is much smaller compared to Expo, and although it felt a little cramped at first, I felt it was a good thing because it brought the people closer in a way. For example, there was a lot more exchanges of greetings because it’s easier to spot one another.” Prior to this, Leong had never stepped inside the building and shared that she would miss the experience of “closeness” to everyone as well as the “super clean toilets.”
The hall was full during the first weekend in Jurong and the atmosphere in each meeting was full of excitement and expectation. Since the hall was smaller, the congregation was also situated closer to the stage, thus creating a more intimate experience for everyone.
When it was time for the Word, CHC’s senior pastor, Kong Hee, took to the stage and preached a message on commitment. He shared a passage from the Book of Nehemiah describing Judah’s miraculous work of construction in rebuilding the temple and drew a parallel between those biblical times and what CHC was currently experiencing for its imminent shift to Suntec Singapore.
Too soon, the service ended—all within a span of 90 minutes. Due to the tight schedule of running back-to-back services, the two weeks in Jurong will mean shorter service times for the congregation. But come March 19 and 20, worshippers can look forward to new premises in the heart of town at Suntec Singapore.
“I feel happy to be back in Jurong because this is our very first church building! I have many fun memories of my time here in Children’s Church.”
~ James Bian Ying Xin, 13 (member since 2005)
“Expo is near my home while Jurong West is near my school (Nanyang Techonlogical University). These two weeks, I made arrangements to stay at my school hostel which is just 15 minutes away.”
~ Lam Sze Wing, 23 (member since 2004)
“I live in Pasir Ris but I really don’t mind waking up extra early to travel all the way to Jurong West to attend the service. It’s only for these two weeks so it’s not a big deal.”
~ Lo Handian, 26 (member since 2011)
“[In Jurong West] everyone is closer to the stage so the feeling is more intimate and the atmosphere seems better. You can feel a difference when the church worships in the Jurong West services.”
~ Teo Boon Kiat, 15 (member since 2010)
The best part about the Jurong West church building is its sense of homeliness, almost like a family church. The church compound may be small, but it’s way easier to spot your friends from other cell groups and meet each other for a chat before and after the service.”
~ Karrington Koh, 18 (member since 2010)
“It is wonderful to know that coming all the way to Jurong West, we are still able to experience the same atmosphere as we did every weekend in Expo. Initially I was wondering if it would be different, but coming here definitely puts away those doubts.”
~ Jack Neo, 51, filmmaker (member since 2008)
“It was inspiring for me to see different ones taking the time to serve God and the church the entire day—Pastor Kong preaching in all six services, the worship team leading the entire day, and all the other ministry volunteers that supported the services.”
~ Vinson Tay, 35, (member since 1998)
“As a security personnel, we need to maintain a constant level of concentration to ensure the safety of the members and the smooth running of the program lineup in every service. But it’s all worth it, knowing that you are putting God first through your serving. Probably the challenge that I faced in the [Jurong West] building would be having to adapt to the procedures that are different compared to Singapore Expo. Other than that, I will miss the ban mian stall across the road and the cozy, electric atmosphere that Jurong West generates.”
~ Peter Choong, 23, Security Ministry (member since 2006)