Since 1881

The history of the Presbyterian Church of Malaysia can be traced to the 19th century.

During those days, there were already a lot of Chinese migrating from Southern China to Singapore to seek better life. Many of these immigrants were from the Teochew speaking Swatow and Hockien speaking Amoy.In 1872, under the urging of the missionary of the London Missionary Society in Singapore and the Prinsep Street Church, together with the support of the Western Missionary from the Swatow and Amoy, the England Presbyterian Church sent their first missionary, Rev. J. A. B. Cook to Singapore. Rev.Cook arrived in Singapore on 16/11/1881, and henceforth began of the missionary work of the Presbyterian Church.


On 24/5/1886, Rev. Cook Started his church planting work in the Southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, ie in Johor Baru. Due to the shortage of pastors in the beginning, he invited a brethren selling bible to take charge of the church there. That brethren had been baptised by one Rev. Duffus. During the early stage of the church planting. Dato James Maldrum, who was the son-in-law of the then missionary of the London Missionary Society in Singapore Rev. B. Keasberry, requested for a piece of land for the church from H. R. H. Sultan Abu Bakar. That piece of land; measuring 3 acres, was the present site of the Holy Light Church ground. Rev. Cook was the Interim Moderator, while Mr Ban Quee Pek was the first preacher. The first Presbyterian Church was thus formed. and Dato James Meldrum who was a sawmill operator, donated many timber materials for the Church building.


In January 1892, Rev. Cook sent Mr. Huang Yue Lin to Muar; and rented a corner shoplot between Jalan Sayang and Jalan Abdullah, to be used for worship service. He was assisted by Rev. Liau Thian Ek. In the same year, Rev. Cook requested for a piece of land for church building and school from H. R. H. Sultan Abu Bakar. He was offered the piece of land in Jalan Salleh ( the present site of the Living Water Church ) and the cost of construction. Construction of the church building commenced on 4/3/1893 and was completed in December 1893. Rev. Cook was the first interim moderator and Rev. Liau Thian Ek was appointed the first pastor (He was subsequently appointed as minister of the Living Water Church in 14/3/1928 ). The church was named as the Muar Jalan Salleh Church of the Singapore Malaya Presbyterian Church.


In 17/1/1901 Rev. Cook called a meeting at his residence in No1, Gilstead Road. The meeting was attended by Rev. Tay Seck Tin from China, Rev. Cook from Presbyterian Church of England, Rev. John Steal and five elders (Chen Guang Hui, Li Qiong, Huang Mu Jin, Li Niang Sheng, Lin Ne Chou). The Meeting decided to form a Synod, called Singapore Presbyterian Church, and to call the Annual general assembly during spring time (first half year) and autumn time (second half year).


In 1924, Rev. Cook retired and returned to England, after serving 43 years in the Synod. In 13/7/1926, he returned to be with the Lord at the age of 73. The pioneer from the Synod, Rev. Liau Thian Ek also retired in 1938. From 1901 to 1930, the Synod planted more churches in Southern Malaya, including Batu Pahat Saving Grace Church (1921), Eternal Life Preaching Station (1922), Yong Peng Church (1923), Herald Church (1926), Muar Trinity Church (1926), Senai Preaching Station (1926). During this period, the England Presbyterian Church also sent Rev. W. Murray and Rev. Anderson to assist, the latter having served only 1 year (1925-1926). Due to the many churches in Johor State, the Synod changed its name to Singapore Johor Presbyterian Church.


On 4/11/1931, the Synod celebrated its 50th year of Church planting at the Singapore Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church and 30 year of formation of the Synod. A commemorative journal named The Nanyang Chinese Presbyterian Church was published, and then Synod clerk Mr. Zhuang Ji Qing was the editor. In the same year, the London Missionary Society transfered Rev. T. C. Gibson who has served for 20 years in Swatow to the Synod. The England Presbyterian Church also sent Rev. Anderson to serve in the Synod. From 1931 to 1941, the Synod planted more churches in Kota Tinggi (Truth Church in1931), Mersing (Mersing Preaching Station in 1931), Pontian (Joyful Grace Church 1933), Paloh (Jin Ai Church 1933), Bakri (Bakri Preaching Station 1933), Parit Jawa (Parit Jawa Church 1936), Kota Bharu (Kelantan Presbyterian Church 1938), Terengganu (Terengganu Presbyterian Church 1941), Chamek (Chamek Preaching Station 1941).


On 8/12/1941 was the outbreak of the Pacific War. During the Japanese Invasion of Malaya and Singapore, all the western missionaries in Singapore and Malaya were imprisoned in the Singapore Changi Prison. Some of these were the Leaders of the various denominations, including Rev. Robert Greer and Rev. T. C. Gibson of the Presbyterian Church, Bishop. Hobart B. Amstutz of the Methodist Church of Singapore and Malaya and Bishop Leonard Wilson of the Singapore-Malaya Anglican Church. During their imprisonment, they had quiet time, prayer, confession and thanksgiving together. Under the revelation of the Holy Spirit, it was nurtured in their mind the need of unity among the denominations. They had also promised before God that if God preserved their lives and let them safely out of the prison, they would together set up an integrated theological college, to nurture local talents and to promote unity of the church. The idea led to the setting up of the Singapore Trinity Theological College on 4/10/1948, situated at No 7, Mount Sophia. Bishop Hobart B. Amstutz of the Methodist Church became the first principal, Singapore-Malaya Presbyterian Church, Methodist Church and the Anglican Church became the founding partners of the TTC. During the 3 years and 8 months of Japanese rule, the Synod suffered great loss among its personel. Just in Malaya alone, Elders Tay Bun Peng, Tay Beng Guat and Lo Bun Gu of Muar Trinity Church were killed by the Japanese. In 14/1/1944, Rev. Tay Seck Tin returned to be with the Lord at the age of 73 years.


On 20/8/1945, the Japanese surrendered, leaving a lot of rebuilding works to be done. In 1947, Rev. Quek Keng Hoon started the movement of church independence. Two programmes, ie, nurturing of pastoral staff and economic independence were promoted for four years. The programmes were well supported by all churches. To fulfill the above objectives and programmes, the Synod bought 218 acres of coconut plantation in Pontian at the price of 220 dollars per acre. Elder Ng Kim Chuan was appointed as manager, and assisted by Mr. Koh Kiat Seng and Elder Tan Gim Pang. The coconut plantation became the source of finance for the Synod. However, due to constraints of finance, the Synod was forced to sell off parcels of land, resulting in only 116 acres left by 1975.


In 1948, the Synod became a member of Chinese Christian Church (The Church of Christ in China). The following year, after the communist took over China, the Synod was renamed Chinese Christian Church Singapore & Malaysia Synod (Church of Christ in China Singapore and Malaya Synod). From 1942 to 1950, the Synod continued to plant churches in the Malayan east coast of Dungun (1950), Wakaf Baru (1946), Gua Musang (1948) and Kemaman (1950). In 1951, the Synod formed the Northern Presbytery among the Churches in Kelantan and Terengganu.


In 1949, the Communist party of China gained power and formed the Peoples Republic of China. It had placed a lot of restrictions in its religious policy. One of the restrictions was on the preaching ministry of the local as well as foreign missionary in China. Missionaries were forced to move to various parts of South East Asia. Those who had retreated and transferred to Malaya included missionaries from the England Presbyterian Church and the Anglical Church, such as Rev. George Hood, Rev. John Henderson, Rev. Clabon Allen, Rev. Robert Elder, Rev. Donald Brookes, Rev. Eliot, Rev. Swanson, Miss Agnes Richards, Miss Joyce Lowell, Ps. Celia Downward, Miss I. L. Smith, Miss Yee Li Ai, Miss Ai, Miss Shi, Miss Liu An Ning. At the same time, Synod also maintained close link with the Taiwan Presbyterian Church, Which had sent ministers such as Rev. Tan Hock Seng, Rev. Chen Fu Sheng, Rev. Noah Chen, Rev. Chiu I Cheng to save in the Synod. During Rev. Noah Chen s term as the Synod s youth Executive Secretary in the God s, he published a youth fellowship handbook and wrote a youth theme song. Under his tiredless effort, many churches started their youth fellowship.


With the end of the Second World War, the British colonial government had to deal with the Malayan Communist Party, Which started opposing British government policy, it tried to form a government of its own. In order to demolish the communists, the Chinese were forced to move from their dwelling places and stayed in new villages. The Synod started to pay attention to the church planting works in the new villages. Several churches were planted in the new villages, including Ayer Hitam (1954), Pengerang (1960), Bekok (1951), Kahang (1954), Layang Layang (1952), Rengit (1953) and Kulai (1952).。


In 1960, Synod started the five years membership multiplying movement. Rev. Yap Kok Hu was the chairman and Rev. Hood the secretary. Rev. Lu Chun Chong from Taiwan was appointed to conduct many evangelistic rallies. Many urban churches were established during these times, such as Penang St. Andrew s Presbyterian Church(1962), Kuala Lumpur Logos Church(1963), Klang Presbyterian Church(1963), Ipoh St. Andrew s Presbyterian Church(1965), Melaka Presbyterian Church(1968) and Johor Baru Tebrau Presbyterian Church(1969).




On 11/4/1962, the South Malaya Presbytery was formed (It was renamed Southern Presbytery in 1972). The first moderator was Rev. Tshai Wei Feng. In the same year, the Northern Presbytery was formed, Rev. Tan Hao Chan was elected as the Moderator. From 1962, the Synod consisted of 3 presbyteries viz, Singapore Presbytery, North Malaya Presbytery and South Malaya Presbytery.


With the formation of Malaysia, the Synod s name was changed to Church of Christ in China Malaysia Synod. In 1966, the Synod became the 101th member of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches(WARC). In 1965,Singapore separated from Malaysia and became an independent sovereign nation. In 1968, Synod s name was again changed to Singapore Presbyterian Churches. The first constitution in Chinese was published in the same year, thus enabling the various Churches the same basis to follow in the area of administration, organization and belief. The English version of the constitution was published 10 years later in 1978. It was translated by Rev. Dr. Frank Balchin and proof read by Rev. Clabon Allen. In order to promote understanding and a sense of belonging to the Synod among the various Churches, the Synod had, since 1972, fixed the first Sunday of November as Presbyterian Church Sunday and through the pulpit ministry, promotes the members understanding of the history, organization structure, belief and theology of the Presbyterian Church.


Since the separation of Singapore and Malaysia in 1965,it has necessary that two synods be established, taking into consideration political, geographical and administration factors. The Synod discussed about this matter for three consecutive annual general meetings , e.g. from the 127th AGM(1971)to 129th AGM(1973)and in the 130th AGM in Singapore in 18/3/1974,it was resolved that with effect from 1/1/1975,there shall be two Presbyterian Church, one in Singapore and one in Malaysia. The delegates attending the AGM that year totaled 58 peoples and the resolution was supported by 44 people. The AGM also passed three other resolution ,Viz, 1. Financial Arrangement. In Malaysia, all income from properties in Malaysia and profits from sales of properties within Malaysia went to Malaysia Presbyterian Church. The same applied be that of properties in Singapore. As for cash in bank accounts and fixed deposits, this was distributed by the property committee to the two Synod, after cleaning all debts at as at 31/12/1974. 2. In order to maintain the Link between the two Synod, and to promote common ministries and cooperation, the two Synod, shall form a joint committee. The joint committee consisted of the moderators, clerks, Treasurers and two executive committee members(one minister and one elder)from each Synod. The chairman and the clerk of the joint committee shall be the moderator and clerk of the respective synod. The joint committee shall meet at least once a year. The joint committee shall form subcommittee on finance, mission, constitution ,English works and Literature works, and each subcommittee shall consist of four representative from each synod. 3. Representation in the Board of Governors of the Trinity Theological College this shall be represented by the respective moderator and two other representation from each synod . As for the Singapore Bible College, the board shall be represented by one representation from each synod. Since its establishment in 1881, the history of the Malaysia Presbyterian Church came to an end:31/12/1974,after a period of 93 years.


The third Presbytery for Western region was formed. Rev. Derek Kingston was elected as the Moderator.


From 1/1/1975, the earlier Synod officially became Presbyterian Church of Malaysia and Presbyterian Church of Singapore. In 27/1/1975, the Presbyterian Church of Malaysia held its first Annual General Assembly in the Kuala Lumpur St. Andrew s Presbyterian Church facility, there were some teething problems in the election of the first moderator. H owever Rev Ch ng Kiam Bio was finally elected as the first moderator of the Synod, and Elder Tay Kwang Teck was invited to be the synod legal advisor.


In 1976, a pastors welfare fund was established to provide gratuity and retirement fund for the pastoral staff. Before the separation, the theological fund totalled 30,000 dollars, half of which, together with interest, totaling 18453.20 dollars were returned by the Singapore Presbyterian Church to the Malaysia Presbyterian Church in 1977. With the seperation of the synod, finance had become a big task to be tackled. The Synod Treasurer, Eld. Lim Swee Cher, together with his other committees spent much time in tackling the problem. In the 3rd year of the Synod i e 1977, two important decisions which had great impact on the financial position of the Synod were made . i. To replant the Pontian Coconut plantation with oil palm, at the same time appoint Mr. Ong Fo Sheng as the property executive fully in charge of the property development Mr. Ong had qualified in Master in Agriculture from New Zealand. ii. Campaign to raise development fund of 500, 000 dollars.


Synod has planted a church in Kuantan, Pahang under direct supervision of Synod Exco known as Glorious Grace Presbyterian Church.


Portion of Pontian s coconut plantation (13 acre) was disposed off.


In January 1981, the Synod appointed Rev. Chew Cher Guan as the planning executive and Rev. Lee Ming An as women s work executive. It also rented an upper floor of a double story house (23-2A, Jln Soga) in Batu Pahat as the Synod Office.


In 1982, the Synod started a Love GPM campaign. At the same time it started Love GPM fund . This was because of the fund needed to plant Churches and to buy the GPM premises. The fund required every member to donate RM10 per year. The Synod planted Glory Presbyterian Preaching Station, in Taman Sri Skudai, Johor Bahru, and appointed Trinity Theological College graduate preacher Lim Kok Thai to serve there. The Synod in the same year also implemented the pastors s pension scheme. This was promoted by the pastors welfare committee, as the scheme is for all full pastoral staff to take past, as past of their retiring fund. Elder and Mrs Lim Choon Kee of the Singapore Bethel Presbyterian Church, out of their love for the Presbyterian Church in Malaysia and Singapore, donated 9 acres of orchard land in Masai, Johor to the Presbyterian church of Singapore and Malaysia and the Singapore Campus Crusade for Christ, for the purpose of expanding God s work.


In 1983, the Synod bought two blocks of 3 storey shophouse (11, 12 Jln Hijau) in Taman Bkt. Pasir in Batu Pahat at a price of RM640,000.00.The building became the first office building owned by the Synod, and all important documents were kept there.


On 15/4/1984,the Synod held a dedication and thanksgiving service for the bangalow house in Port Dickson. Other then the ministers and representatives from the presbyteries, others who attended the above service included the moderator of the Singapore Presbyterian Church and three ministers from the Taiwan Presbyterian Church (Rev. Tang Meng Zong, Rev. Hong Bo Zong, Rev. Wu He Long). The bangalow was bought with the donation of 200,000 HK. dollars from the Hong Kong Chinese Christian Church, 20, 000 from the Council for World Mission, RM9000 raised via the presentation by the Singapore evangelistic choir at the Batu Pahat Saving Grace Church. The total cost including renovation and extension was RM380,000. In the same year, the Synod started the Glory Church in Simpang Rengam, and oppointed Ps. See Teck Cheng (at that time, he was the preacher) to be the pastor there. The Synod also implemented the registration of the church as member of the Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia. On 11/11/1984, the Synod held the 10th anniversary celebration of GPM and 10th Annual General Assembly at the Batu Pahat Saving Grace Church. At that time, there were a total of 52 Churches and 5000 members under GPM (28 churches and 24 preaching stations), That was the first statistics done for the GPM after the separation in 1975. At the anniversarycelebration, pastoral workers serving the GPM more than 20 years and 10 years were given gold medals and silver medals respectively. The celebration was followed by reception (22 tables). As we approached the 21st Century, the Synod set the target for year 2000, ie. 100 churches and 10,000 members to be implemented by the member churches.


In 1985, the planning executive Rev. Chew Cher Guan retired. In Nov 1985, Mr. Zheng Rui Lian was appointed as property executive. In 1987, at the 13th Annual General Assembly, it was resolved that the next moderator should be elected one year earlier. This was to enable him to have sufficient preparation for the plans ahead of him.


Two commercial entitles known as PresbyCorp and Suveco were set up. Acquired property in Simpang Rengam for starting the 3rd Church Planting Project under Synod.


In 1988, the Synod formed a seven man committees (Rev. Joseph Ong, Elder Andrew Siew, Ps. Eng Chin Siew, Ps. Caleb Soo, Elder Lim Geok Sing, Elder Kok Chee Cheng) to explore the direction of evangelism and organizational Structure, and to submit a proposal to the Synod Exco the following year for their deliberation. On 14-18 Nor 1988, the Synod sent Rev. Yeoh Choon Leong, Ps. Eng Chin Siew, Elder Lee Xi Hong, Elder Ong Leng Kok to Kuching and Kota Kinabalu to explore the possibility of planting Churches there. This move resulted in the planting of the first Presbyterian Church in Sandakan. in Sabah. The Church was located in a double storey terrace house in Taman Indah, and was assisted by sister Teo Siew Luan. (This church was subsequently adopted and taken care of by the Melaka Presbyterian Church since 2001). The northern Presbytery in the same year ordained Teo Siew Hong as the first women minister.