By Mike Brooks for ACNS
The closure of two UK-based mission associations is a further sign that Anglican Churches around the world are moving towards autonomy and self-sustainability.
The Borneo Mission Association (BMA) and the Singapore and West Malaysia Diocesan Association (SWMDA) – both founded over 100 years ago – have closed due to a declining membership and reduced activity.
By contrast, the churches they helped to establish are now fully indigenous, vibrant and self-supporting: a sign that the work that BMA and SWMDA set out to do has been accomplished.
'The churches in our province continue to flourish and grow in numbers. The Holy Spirit has brought us together to this place for the opportunity to celebrate the closure of BMA and SWMDA.... Their focus has been on the health and welfare of the people. Its harvest can now be seen.' Archbishop Lapok
Outstanding funds of BMA have been passed on to Us (formerly USPG) – to be used for the benefit of the church in Borneo. Us is an ideal home for the funds because it was Us that sent the first Anglican missionaries to Borneo.
Rachel Parry, Us Global Relations Director, said: ‘Many of these missionaries gave their lives and laid the foundations for an indigenous church in South East Asia.
‘Their dedication was incredible. They risked their lives, with many missionaries or members of their families losing their lives to tropical diseases.
‘Today, the churches in South East Asia are vibrant and self-supporting, and sending missionaries themselves.’
Rachel added: ‘The heart of Christianity is no longer in the global north. Instead, it is clear that our brothers and sisters in South East Asia have a great deal to teach churches in the UK about putting the gospel into practice.’
'You are the forerunners. You have run the race... Now it is our task.... We need to move forward, putting Jesus in first place. We must carry on with commitment, as you have shown.' Bishop Moon Hing
A church service to mark the closure of BMA and SWMDA was held at St John’s, Waterloo, on Saturday.
[Celebrant at the Eurcharist was the Most Revd Bolly Lapok, Archbishop of The Province of South East Asia and Bishop of Kuching, and the Rt Revd Ng Moon Hing, Bishop of West Malaysia, was preacher. Also in attendance were the Rt Revd Rennis Ponniah, Bishop of Singapore, and the Rt Revd Melter Jiki Tais, Bishop of Sabah, as well assistant bishops from the four dioceses.]
The atmosphere was one of celebration.
Mike Brooks is Communications Manager of Us (USPG)