On the 27th of December, 2013, the church held an Extraordinary Congregational Meeting (ECM) to announce the official commencement of the CBPC Redevelopment Project (CRP), a project which the church congregation had officially approved in the previous year.
At the ECM, Pastor Isaac Ong gave an exhortation from Haggai 1:8, 1:13 and 2:4. Below are the highlights of his message.
There are two things which church leaders would choose not to do, if given a choice: one is to exercise church discipline; and another is to start a building project, because it would be a strain to interpersonal relationships to speak the least. However the Board of Elders (BOE) has decided to build for the following reasons:
a) The lease for the present piece of land will end in 16 years’ time. We will need to redevelop sooner or later in order for Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) to consider renewing the lease.
b) We can choose not to build and Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church (CBPC) and all its ministries will come to end in 16 years’ time.
c) We can wait till later, but that would also mean we have to save more to make up for escalating construction costs.
d) We can choose to start a second service but this does not solve the problem of lease-renewing condition.
e) We can choose to relocate by buying a new piece of land but the price is astronomical. For example; the latest piece of land reserved for religious use had a winning bid of $30 million for 30,000 sq ft.
f) We can merge and share premises with other churches. The Singapore Council of Christian Churches (SCCC) has written to the government suggesting the setting up of religious hubs where all churches are centralised in one area. Choosing to join these hubs will also be detrimental to CBPC as we will have to share the same premises with churches of all persuasions and practices.
g) We can choose to do partial redevelopment; that is, rebuilding only the sanctuary block, but the difference in cost between partial development and full redevelopment of the church is only $500,000.
Everyone likes to embark on new projects with the comfort of financial security and preparations against contingencies. I fully understand the sentiment. There are a lot of “what ifs” in the future, but we should not build our future on “what ifs.” God has provided us with a temporal holding area – Eden School near Lakeside MRT station – which is available from Jan 2015 to Dec 2016, exactly the window for our redevelopment. The BOE has prayed about it and thinks that this is a God-ordained opportunity. A temporal site like this will not be available in the future, especially after the government’s Jurong Gateway project enters its mature phase.
God is glorified when we build despite of our financial constraints. If we build when we are rich, people will understand that it is possible as we are financially capable. Whereas if we build when we are financially inadequate, people will look at the building and give all glory to God.
We have an arduous task ahead. But God has promised that He will be with us. God said; “I am with you.” to many in the Bible: Jacob, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Jeremiah – to name a few. God often uses the weak to do His work. We need to be strong as God is with us (Haggai 2 4).
The redevelopment project is also a spiritual exercise for our church. It is the building of faith within us. It is setting a pattern of faith for generations to follow. May we rely on God and respond in faith.