After a six-year hunt and wait, City Harvest Church holds its first services at Suntec Singapore this weekend.
Contributed By Theresa Tan
“This weekend, as a church, we are finally completing the journey we have been making for the last six years,” says Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church.
“God has done so much for City Harvest throughout our history, above and beyond what we ever ask for or imagine. His faithfulness and love towards us truly humbles me before His presence. I am very grateful to the church members for persevering in this season of our church history. I cannot wait to celebrate this new day with them, worshipping Jesus together in our new premises. To God be the glory!”
This is the dawn of a new era for the church, which has been through not a few challenges on its way to this new space. Five years and 25 unsuitable commercial plots of land and buildings later, Suntec Singapore presented itself as the perfect place that offered the three key things CHC needed: a central location, a size big enough to fit all its services, and ample facilities (carpark, eateries) to service the congregation.
For City Harvesters, this weekend is indubitably a triumphant and emotional one, the celebration of a hard-won achievement.
“Personally, I am excited for the members to step into the hall and enjoy the fruits of their sowing and sacrifice,” says Sun Ho, Kong’s wife, who is the central figure in the planning and design of the new premises.
“The team that is working with me for the setup of City Harvest in Suntec Singapore has been toiling tirelessly because they have such a passionate faith that this is a work of God. Everyone has given so much into this, and I believe that what we have sowed will reap back for us unimaginable miracles, signs and wonders both for the church and for our individual lives.”
It is a bittersweet victory—the church has corporately worked and pressed on towards this day, despite the challenges that have been tossed at CHC the past year.
“Everyone knows that it has not been the easiest of times for City Harvest Church,” says Kong. “But through it all, we really feel that our tenacity and unity as a church has really shone through. Sun and I both have such a deep gratitude for all our leaders, staff and members that have rallied around the leadership and the church over the last 10 months. The letters, cards and notes of encouragement that we receive are the ‘hands’ that God uses every day as the glory and lifter of our heads.”
The church has themed this first weekend “A New Day.” “It’s our vision that our move into Suntec will signify a brand new book for our church as a whole. Not just a new page or chapter, but a whole new book!” Ho explains.
“A new day that represents God’s future and hope for us. A new day in which we can rest in His presence without the distractions of circumstances around us. A new day where we can go back to the basics of loving God wholeheartedly and loving people fervently.”
REAPING IN JOY
For members who have been with the church for many years, going into Suntec Singapore is the latest in a string of miracles that God has given to City Harvest Church in its 22-year history.
Serene Chia, an assistant business development manager, became a Christian in 2000 at Hollywood Theatre. “I was still in university when Pastor Kong announced our Jurong West plot. I used to joke that I could only give enough during the Arise and Build campaign to pay for one inch of a tile at Jurong West.”
She had just started working when it came time for Arise and Build for the new marketplace location. “I looked forward to every single Arise and Build season—as I gave, God gave me amazing breakthroughs in my career.”
Now coming into Suntec Singapore is “really pure, ecstatic joy, because I have been a witness of the entire journey: outgrowing Jurong West, moving to Singapore Expo, catching Pastor’s vision of going into the marketplace, praying through, giving to Arise and Build, and, after years of believing, finally getting our place in the marketplace!”
Chia is not alone in her emotional triumph. She echoes the sentiments of thousands of members, children to adults to old folk, who have lived, breathed and believed for this worship location in the city since 2005.
This weekend is especially significant for Chew Eng Han, who was deeply involved in the hunt for CHC’s marketplace location from 2005 to 2010 when the Suntec Singapore agreement was finally signed. It was no smooth journey—Chew battled business and personal “giants” all the way. But he kept his eye on the prize.
“I feel that God, through His wisdom and understanding, has brought us through so much, so as to shape us and mold us, and we are now ready to enter Suntec Singapore! I know the glory of God will fill the whole place this weekend.”
THE BIG MOVE
The lease for Suntec Singapore began March 16, but the CHC operations team started work on the move in October 2010. They had two short weeks before the opening weekend to tear down Singapore Expo Hall 8, pack and transport the equipment to Suntec, and four hectic days to install all the fittings and new equipment, construct the auditorium in Halls 601 and 602, and non-service rooms, play areas, members’ and visitors’ lounges, and a book corner in Hall 603.
Churchgoers can look forward to new speakers, LED screens, lights and other equipment.
Lu Jiahui, the church’s facilities operations administrator estimates her team have only had about 20 hours of sleep the past week. But she wouldn’t trade this moving experience for anything in the world.
“We are privileged to play an essential role in this historical moment: our move to Suntec Singapore. Being a part of all this is thoroughly satisfying.”
For Lu, the most “magical” moment in this move was “to see a completely empty Expo Hall 8, knowing that it is an end to a chapter and a brand new beginning.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I am glad to say, in years to come, when people ask about the story of CHC going to Suntec, I know for sure that I will definitely have a part of that wonderful story to tell!”
With the move, all the services of CHC will no longer be scattered islandwide, but will come under one roof: English service, Chinese Church, Indonesian service, Filipino service, Children’s Church and Jesus for All Minds service will all happen on Saturday and Sunday at Suntec Singapore.
Ho is looking forward to the church getting back to basics after the busy-ness of this shift. “We have had much time to think and pray about our church over the last 10 months, and it may sound contradictory, but when we speak of a ‘new day’, our mind actually brings us back full circle to the moments in our ministry where our focus was simpler—prayer, worship and fellowship. I have always called these the ‘boring basics’; they are not the flashiest elements, but definitely the most crucial in our life with God and as a church.”
Kong expresses a desire that the church leadership has for City Harvest to settle down after years of journeying. “We have been missions-minded for a long time, and though it is good to want to win the world for Christ, we never want to neglect our home because this is where our hearts truly belong. So as we move forward into the future, we want to draw the church deeper into His presence, deeper into His Word and deeper into quality fellowship with each other in the house of God.
“God has given City Harvest such an amazing mandate and a string of miracles that have brought us from a small group of 20 to who we are today … we just want all of us to take time to remember His goodness and to ground ourselves in Him again for many more history-making years to come!”
“I have been looking forward so much to attending church in the city. This is like a corporate dream come true. I think it’s fantastic that having our space in the marketplace has finally come to pass.”
~ Pamela Yeo, General Counsel for Asia Pacific, Chartis Asia Pacific Pte Ltd
“My family and I are so excited about moving into Suntec Singapore. We believe that our family and business will move to a higher level together with City Harvest Church. May Jesus shine even brighter in our city.”
“I am very happy and excited that we are at last moving into Suntec Singapore. I am expecting a new anointing and a greater move of God in this new day, new place.”
~ Dr. David Lum, General Practitioner, Lum Clinic & Surgery
“Going to Suntec is very exciting. Everyone should experience a move once. This is going to be a good start to our next lap together as a church.”
~ Tan Tian-An, training manager, Avantus Training Pte Ltd
~ Dr. Isaac Chong, Clinical Director, Canaan Dental Surgery
“It is amazing how the name that God gave Pastor Kong—‘City Harvest Church’—is literally coming to pass. We are really going to have our church right in the heart of our lovely city state.”
~ Harry Sim, advocator & solicitor, Asia Law Corporation.
“I am excited about the move to Suntec Singapore. Moving there is the beginning of a new day for CHC and for all of us. We are moving into Canaan, and there are still trials and problems to face, but we go in the name of God, led by our courageous leaders.”
~ Prof. Francis Seow-Choen, Colorectal Surgeon, Seow-Choen Colorectal Centre
“I have been in this church since I was 16 years old, and it has been a great 22 years. As we enter in, it’s truly like a new day for all of us. I grew up in this church, and this is the family I choose to grow old in and to serve for the rest of my life.”
~ Serene Koh, liaison officer, City Harvest Church
“I am absolutely excited! This is a great testimony of our church’s and our leaders’ unshakeable faith to be in the world, for the world. This is an awesome new day!”
~ Yeong Wee Tan, Deputy Director, IDA International
CHC (Suntec) By Numbers
• Number of light fixtures: 354 in Halls 601-602
• Number of cameras: 8
• Number of crane: 1
• Number of fork lifts: 7
• Number of camera crew: 30 per service
• Number of people involved in Expo shut-down: 18 staff, 226 volunteers,170 workers
• Number of people involved in Suntec move-in: 40 staff, 720 volunteers, 350 workers
• Number of trips to move equipment: 20 trips for 40ft trailers, 80 trips for 24ft trucks
• Number of bouncy castles in play area: 10
• Height of the playground/maze: 4.8m
• Number of lifts: 4
• Number of carpark lots: 3,200
• Number of eateries: 108
• Number of retail outlets: More than 300
• Number of MRT stations at Suntec: 3 (Esplanade, City Hall & Promenade)
Through The Years
41A AMBER ROAD
This single-storey house was the seedbed of dreams and marked the beginning of City Harvest Church. Known as Ekklesia Ministry back then, this group of passionate believers embarked on a journey to become one of the largest and most influential churches in Asia today. Even though the original building no longer exists, it remains an address that is fondly remembered by all the pioneers of CHC.
WORLD TRADE CENTRE
CHC originally booked the Conference Hall that had a seating capacity of a few hundred. As the congregation grew, the church shifted across the foyer to the World Trade Centre Auditorium, which could seat about 1,000 people. This was where CHC began to experience tremendous growth throughout its tenancy, at times using the [now defunct] Harbour Pavilion and the WTC warehouse.
SWISSOTEL STAMFORD HOTEL
Formerly known as the Westin Stamford Hotel, CHC held its services every Sunday in one of their ballrooms. While attending the services was convenient, it was no mean feat for those who had to set up the hall as early as 5:30 a.m. and tear down the fixtures late in the evening on a weekly basis without fail. This routine led to the search for a more “permanent” place to house the congregation.
The move into Hollywood Theatre was a historic one. It was here that the church received the vision to build a Church Without Walls—a call to go beyond the four walls of the church and reach the unchurched in society with the love of God. This became the turning point in the ministry of CHC. As a result, CHC experienced its fastest growth ever and the church eventually crossed the 10,000 mark!
After more than a decade of moving from venue to venue, CHC finally had a place to call her own. Located in the western part of Singapore, the impressive titanium-clad edifice boasts state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Within four years, the church once again outgrew the main auditorium, which gave rise for the shift to the Singapore Expo. This time, the church moved to the far east.
CHC leased the Singapore Expo for their weekend church meetings in 2005. While other supporting ministries such as the Bible school and Children’s Church remained in Jurong West, the main English congregation was now worshipping at the Singapore Expo. This was also the venue that hosted one of the largest Christian events in Singapore, Asia Conference.