How did the Usher Ministry in City Harvest Church begin? A look at the history and purpose behind the friendly faces that greet churchgoers every week.
Contributed By Melvin Lim
City Harvest Church’s Usher Ministry officially started when the church had several hundred members in the early 90s. Back then, the church ushers were responsible for the logistics of the church as well as helping to run the services and perform basic crowd control. In the early days, the ushers helped in the transportation of equipment from the church office (then at Mackenzie Road) to the conference hall (in World Trade Centre) and various other venues every week—a very time-consuming activity that left the group little time to improve on their weekly operations.
The roles and responsibilities of the Usher Ministry became more defined in 1995 when the church moved into Hollywood Theatre. The ministry leaders began to meet regularly to strategize on the growth and improvement of the entire ministry, especially with regards to the running of the weekly services. Time was also given to the development and training of the existing members in the ministry. Today, CHC’s executive pastor, Derek Dunn oversees the Usher Ministry.
The fruits of the ministry are evident with the ever-ready smiles that greet you as you walk into one of CHC’s services, Bible study conferences and various other church meetings. The various church-related paraphernalia (offering envelopes, bulletins, special event flyers) are neatly placed on every seat inside the hall—thanks to the commitment of the ushers who come three to four hours before the service to prepare the hall for the services. They also help to serve the communion elements to the church.
Eugene Chee Wee Leong, an assistant chief usher, 39, believes that the ministry helps its volunteers to understand the importance of servanthood. “The Usher Ministry opens up opportunities for people to give back to the church, and act on the biblical concept of serving others. It isn’t enough to have faith alone; we should show our love to others through our actions as well,” he explains.
Being a City Harvest usher requires patience, sacrifice, commitment and above all, a love for both God and for people. This ministry is predominantly a people-oriented one and it focuses on serving people in a relevant and practical manner. CHC ushers not only show you to available seats, they willingly assist the physically-challenged; offer assistance to parents with nursing infants, and help carry your items if your arms are laden with too many things.
Some CHC members may remember the days when the church used to have buckets for people to drop in their service offerings.
Chief usher, Alex Choh Chee Yang, 38, recollects, “Back then, we used buckets to collect the offering. Because of the noise made by the dropping of coins into the bucket, we actually cut and pasted Styrofoam pieces at the bottom of the offering buckets to reduce the noise.” This method worked quite well, till finally the church decided to distribute envelopes for people to insert their offering. This method also assured a more personal and private way of giving to the church for each individual who was in the service.
SERVING WITH A HEART
Beatrice Syn, a long-time CHC member, is one of the pioneers of this vibrant ministry. She first joined the ministry in 1993, and has, over the years, had the opportunity to serve alongside many different members of the ministry, even some who are physically-challenged.
“The Usher Ministry welcomes everyone. As long as you want to serve, we will help you to serve and find duties or responsibilities that are suitable for you,” she explains. To illustrate this, Syn cited the example of Jan Lee, 28, who is wheelchair-bound, and an active member in the ministry.
Lee is an information researcher at KPMG Singapore and has always wanted to serve in the Usher Ministry. Although a spinal cord infection at a young age left him less able-bodied than others, his optimism and cheerful disposition is a welcome attitude. “I may not be able to carry chairs like the other brothers in the ministry but I can carry smiles,” he says.
Due to his medical condition, Lee takes a longer time to get ready and leave the house for church, but he still makes it a point to arrive at least one hour before the service starts. He then assumes his duties and responsibilities promptly, whether is it as a greeter, preparing the communion elements, or placing the bulletins on the chairs inside the main auditorium.
Syn adds, “Regardless of your background, anyone can contribute to this ministry in a meaningful way and be part of the team.”
For more information or to join the Usher Ministry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
FAQs On The UsherMinistry
1. The Usher Ministry is the largest in CHC. I am interested to become an usher but will they accept me since you already have so many people?
Yes, we will accept you as long as you have a desire to serve with us. While we may have the largest number of people, we are always progressing and increasing our scope of responsibilities. This is especially true in our journey as a church where we have moved to different venues and our team has consistently adapted to the changes according to the needs of the church. Because we are always growing and discovering new things, there is always a space for you in the Usher Ministry.
2. Why do the church ushers bring me to a seat that’s already taken?
As we have many new friends attending services for the first time each week, member tend to reserve seats for their new friends. The ushers will do their best to ensure that priority seating is given to those already in the hall while at the same time, being sensitive to the new friends in the service. Since our move to Suntec Singapore, to deal with this matter, we have especially designated reserved seats for new visitors to give the ushers more liberty in this area.
3. Some ushers seem to just ‘stand around.’ Why is this so?
Because our ministry has many different areas of responsibility, that particular usher may be a greeter whose sole duty is to welcome you as you enter the hall. In addition, we also ensure that there is always an available usher in every part of the hall to assist any one who may require assistance in any form, be it helping a first-time visitor to look for a seat, or directing an elderly person who is trying to find the restroom.