So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
— Romans 10:17 (KJV)
FERC is an Evangelical church. We stand on the Holy Scriptures as contained in the Holy Bible. It is our highest authority. The King James Version of the Holy Bible is used in all official church worship services and meetings.
FERC is a Reformed Church. We stand on the heritage of the 16th Century Reformation. We preach that we are saved by the sovereign and particular grace of God alone which enables us to come to faith in Jesus Christ. We declare that Jesus Christ is King and Lord over all, and that all glory belongs to God alone.
We are thankful to God for providing us with our own premises at 652 Yio Chu Kang Road, Singapore. It is a building with a ground floor (housing the church office, pantry, and carpark/fellowship area), an upper floor (housing the church sanctuary), a mezzanine floor (housing the church library and an open space used for meetings and classes), and two basements (used for worship services, meetings, and classes). We have been worshipping here on Sundays since 1994.
Church prayer meetings are held at least twice a month (usually on Fridays). Covenant Instruction (also known as Sunday School) is conducted for both adults and young people on most Sundays. There are also cell-groups that meet to study God’s Word over the course of the week. FERC has a Young People's Ministry comprising the Kingdom Seekers (for ages 13 to 18), the Kingdom Seekers Seniors (which caters to those in post-secondary education and those serving their National Service), and the Young Working Adults Ministry (providing a platform for fellowship and exhortation for those just entering the work-force).
FERC holds several activities on an annual basis. Gospel Meetings are held on Good Friday and Christmas every year. The annual church camp (usually held in June) serves as an important avenue of spiritual refreshment and fellowship amongst members and regular worshippers. The Reformation Day Conference (usually held in late October) is organized as a platform to commemorate and propagate the truths of God’s great work in the 16th Century Reformation.
What we believe is summarised in three historical Reformed creeds:
These creeds have been the confessions of the Reformed Churches all over the world since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
Reformed Church, like any faithful Christian Church, adheres to all the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith. We believe in the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe that Jesus is very God and very Man. We believe that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We believe the Bible to be our sole authority, and that it is inspired by God and is therefore without error.
On top of this, a Reformed Church emphasizes the teaching of God’s sovereignty. We teach that God is sovereign in all that He plans and does.
He spoke, and all things came into existence. By His power and wisdom, He continues to uphold and govern the world, and directs it according to His good purpose. He also rules over all creatures, including man, angels and the Devil so that all of their activities serve the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that man is dead spiritually. Because of this spiritual deadness, we have no power at all to exercise any faith in God. On the contrary, we constantly resist and oppose the things of God. Without God and resisting God, we have no hope of eternal life. But instead of leaving the whole world to perish in sin, God has chosen a people from eternity to be saved through the death of Jesus Christ. He regenerates their hearts through the Holy Spirit and gives them faith to believe in His Son. God continues this saving work until they finally arrive at His presence in heaven.
We confess therefore that our salvation from beginning to end is a work of God’s sovereign grace. To God be the Glory alone!
FERC had its beginnings in 1962 in Monk’s Hill Secondary School, a public school in Singapore. A teacher, Mr Goh Seng Fong, organised daily bible study sessions for his students there.
As the group grew, it was brought under the wing of the Youth for Christ (“YFC”) movement and became formally known as Monk’s Hill YFC. Its members were mostly teenage students with non-Christian upbringings who had to struggle with opposition to their newfound Christian faith.
Mr Goh continued to lead the group through the 1960s. In 1965, he came under the mentorship of the late Reverend Timothy Tow, Pastor of Life Bible-Presbyterian Church (“Life BP”). Mr Goh decided to enter the Ministry and started to attend classes at Far Eastern Bible College (“FEBC”). Many of the members of the group also attended Sunday worship services at Life BP and were baptised there.
During this period, the group experienced its first split. Some of its members decided to join Reverend Cliff Hunnicutt and form Harvester Baptist Church. The group’s remaining members grew closer to Life BP and departed from the YFC movement. They soon became known as the Gospel Letters and Tract Department (“GLTD”) of Life BP under the counsel of Reverend Tow.
In September 1972, Mr Goh went to the United States for full-time theological training at a Baptist college there. In his absence, the leadership of GLTD fell to Brother Johnson See and the late Brother Lau Chin Kwee.
In the mid-1970s, the group saw another split. Some saw the need to reorganise formally into an independent church under the ministry of Mr Goh when he returned to Singapore but some wanted to remain in the Bible-Presbyterian movement (“BP movement”). Those who wanted to remain with the BP movement remained with Life BP while the remnants of GLTD decided to go on to form an independent church.
In 1975, GLTD was first introduced to the Reformed Faith. Two ministers from the Protestant Reformed Churches of America (“PRCA”), Professor Homer Hoeksema and Reverend Cornelius Hanko came to Singapore and were introduced to the GLTD by Brother Ong Keng Ho. They conducted lectures for the group and also left some copies of Reformed literature with them.
Mr Goh (now Reverend Goh, a Missionary Pastor sent by a Baptist Church in the United States) returned to Singapore in 1976. By then, the GLTD group had moved into its first premises in a rented unit at River Valley Road and had started conducting its own worship services there on Sundays. The group had also started studying literature on the Reformed Faith, with Brother Chin Kwee conducting classes on the Heidelberg Catechism for the group. Reverend Goh’s return saw yet another split in the group as there were doctrinal differences between the Reformed Faith and Reverend Goh’s Baptist persuasion. Some of the group decided to leave in mid-1977 to join Reverend Goh to form Emmanuel Baptist Church in Singapore.
In 1978, Brother Chin Kwee started his training for the ministry at FEBC. During this time, the group also formally requested for help from the PRCA. The PRCA acceded in 1980 and sent its first Missionary, Pastor Arie den Hartog, to minister to the group which had by then been reconstituted as the Gospel Letters and Tracts Society (“GLTS”). The GLTS also started studying the Three Forms of Unity (comprising the Canons of Dordt, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Belgic Confession) with a view to subscribing to these creeds as a church.
In August 1980, Brother Chin Kwee went to the United States to pursue full-time studies at the PRCA Seminary.
In 1981, after a thorough study of the Three Forms of Unity, the GLTS elected and ordained its first Church Session, comprising Elders Tan Boon Kwang, Tang Kok Leong, Teo Hwee Meng, Ong Keng Ho, and Johnson See, as well as Deacons Leong Fai Chong, James Tay, and Siew Chee Seng, with Reverend Arie den Hartog as their Missionary Pastor. The Evangelical Reformed Church of Singapore (“ERCS”) was formally instituted as a church on 24 January 1982, with its first worship premises at 356J River Valley Road. Brother Chin Kwee (“Pastor Lau”) returned from his theological training shortly after the institution of the ERCS and was ordained as the first local Pastor of the ERCS on 5 September 1982.
With the growth of membership in the ERCS, a move was made to start a second congregation. On 9 September 1986, Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church (“CERC”) was inaugurated. Pastor Jaikishin Mahtani (who was sent by the ERCS for theological training at the PRCA Seminary in 1983) became the first Pastor of CERC. With the formation of CERC, the ERCS amended its constitution and changed its name to the First Evangelical Reformed Church (“FERC”). The name ‘ERCS’ was used as the name of the denomination formed by FERC and CERC – the Evangelical Reformed Churches in Singapore. Both FERC and CERC remained independent churches, but convened a central council known as the ERCS Classis, which comprised representatives from both churches.
Pastor Mahtani left to serve in the PRCA in 1991 and sometime during this period, Pastor den Hartog also returned to the United States. The PRCA then sent its first Minister-on-Loan, Pastor Jason Kortering, to minister in the ERCS in 1992. He served in the ERCS until 2002. With Pastor Kortering’s return to the PRCA, Pastor den Hartog accepted the call as Minister-on-Loan in 2002 and served in that capacity in the ERCS until 2005.
CERC ordained its second local Pastor, the late Pastor Cheah Fook Meng in 1997. He had been sent for theological training in the PRCA Seminary in 1993.
Besides Pastors Lau and Cheah, two other brothers from the ERCS were trained in the PRCA Seminary. Brother Paul Goh was trained there from 1999 to 2003. He later served as Pastor of CERC following the home-going of Pastor Cheah in 2005. Brother Dennis Lee left to train in the PRCA Seminary in 2001. He remained with the PRCA following the Divorce and Remarriage Controversy (described briefly below) which led to the dissolution of the ERCS in 2007.
As early as the 1980s, the ERCS was faced with the question of whether Scripture permitted the remarriage of an innocent party who had divorced on the ground of adultery. Due to a lack of elders in office to conduct a proper study, the business of answering this question was delayed till 1999 when then-Elder Paul Goh submitted a study paper on ‘Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible’ to the ERCS Classis.
What followed was more than half a decade of study into this issue. The study committee on this issue consisted of Elders Siew Chee Seng, Wee Gim Theng, Loh Peng Kee, and was chaired by Pastor Cheah. It made no conclusion, but delivered a complete academic survey of the different positions. Two camps formed within the ERCS, with one camp deeming remarriage of an innocent party a scripturally permissible position, and the other camp deeming it tantamount to adultery. CERC adopted the position against remarriage and FERC adopted the position which allowed for the remarriage of an innocent party (see Matthew 19:1-12). In June 2007, the ERCS Classis decided that the ERCS as a denomination would cease to exist, formalising the split between the two churches.
During this period, the Lord brought Pastor Cheah home to glory on 30 August 2005 following a brief struggle with dengue haemorrhagic fever. He had served as Pastor of CERC for eight years.
During this period, Pastor Lau also requested to transfer his membership to CERC due to his differences with FERC’s position on this issue. He preached his last sermon as Pastor of FERC on 30 April 2006. He was taken home to glory seven years later on 24 March 2013 following a long struggle with familial amyloid polyneuropathy – a rare genetic disorder that required a heart and liver transplant. He had been the Pastor of FERC for twenty-four years.
From 2006 to 2011, FERC was without a resident Pastor. The Lord provided many ministers from other churches of like-minded faith to aid FERC during this time. Amongst them were:
Today, by the grace of God, FERC has its own Pastor and church premises. We seek to use all that God has given us, including the lessons from our past, to be a vibrant witness for Him in this part of the world. To God be the Glory Alone!