The term 'brethren' means 'brothers' and was an early description of Christians in the First Century AD. The modern Brethren movement began in Great Britain in the early 19th century when individual Christians sought to return to the New Testament principles and practices of church life, with emphasis on the Scriptural doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, the authority of the Bible, and a personal faith in Jesus.
The Brethren work in Singapore was started in 1864 by an English merchant, Philip Robinson, who arrived here from Australia in 1857, and founded the well-known Robinsons Company. Since then the Brethren churches have grown throughout Singapore.
We began at the Mission House at 417 New Bridge Road, which was built in 1882 as a rest house for missionaries serving in this region. When missionaries were driven out of China between 1936 & 1948, countless servants of the Lord found the Mission House truly a place of refuge and rest.
For many years a small Sunday School work was carried on in the dining-room of the Mission House. In 1936, a nearby house at 155 Neil Road was rented to conduct Gospel meetings in English, Chinese and Malay. Miss Gladys Grigg, a missionary from the UK, occupied the Mission House until the fall of Singapore in the Second World War.
The meetings ceased with the Japanese occupation and were restarted in 1947 at the Mission House. That year also saw the beginnings of the Malay-speaking (Peranakan) assembly. These were hard pioneering years, supported also by Mr & Mrs Matt Finlay, missionaries from New Zealand who occupied the Mission House from January 1947 together with Miss Grigg. In the mid-60s, Miss Grigg and the Finlays returned to their home countries after over 30 years of missionary service. New Zealanders Campbell and Elaine McSkimming took over the missionary work from the Finlays. They eventually returned home in 1976. The leadership has since been in the hands of the local believers.
The 60s saw the flourishing of youth and children's work at Neil Road Gospel Hall. Three Sunday Schools which began in the districts of Tiong Bahru, Redhill and Nelson, were run in the Gospel Hall.
The English-speaking congregation was made up largely of young people below 20 years of age, and the Malay-speaking of the elderly.
Evidences of the youthful congregation were seen in the emergence of the 'Overcomers' youth group in the early 60s and the 'Bukit Ho Swee Mission' in the mid-60s.
The 70s saw the beginnings of house-churches. The church faced with the challenge of having to move out of its existing premises upon the expiry of its lease in November 1979, developed house-churches from 1974 - 1977 along the 'western corridor' of Singapore. Church members were also encouraged to move towards the western part of the island when they applied for their new homes.
Five house churches were started, namely Holland Road Chapel in 1974 (renamed Exodus, then Living Sanctuary), Dover and Angora in 1975, Gideon in 1977 and Living Hope in 1978. The house-churches used rented premises, or met in homes and in a property we purchased in Angora Close. During that period the total membership increased from 120 to nearly 400.
At the end of 1977, Grace Methodist Church offered for sale at $170,000 its parsonage at 3 Pasir Panjang Hill. The sale was finally completed in March 1979. In 1978, the decision had been taken to build a new church building, as the lease on the Mission House would expire on Nov 19, 1979. The total membership of the existing congregations was about 400, of which over 70% were students. The average age of the members was 22. The project tested the faith of the believers to trust God to provide the impossible sum of $1 million. Many fasted, prayed and gave sacrificially and experienced the blessings of the Lord. Between July and Oct 1982 the church building was completed and occupied by four chapels - New Bridge Road Chapel, Clementi, Exodus and Angora. The first two merged to become PPH Chapel, Exodus was re-named Living Sanctuary and Angora birthed Peace Chapel, a Chinese-speaking congregation. The Malay-speaking congregation (Peranakan) of about 40 senior citizens, also joined the church in later years.
It was no coincidence that the Mission House was built in July 1882, and the building of PPH Chapel was completed in July 1982, exactly 100 years to the month. Truly it has been the Lord's doing!
It testifies to the fact that the least among us can still be used by God for His glory. In spite of inexperience, of not being well-endowed with worldly possessions and wealth, God came into our midst and moved the mountains of impossibility, so that all may see and know that it is the Lord God Himself who has undertaken for us the impossible, and made all things possible.
THE THIRD GENERATION
100 years later...present PPHBC
To Him alone belongs the glory:
“Everything comes from you,
and we have given you
only what comes from your hand”
1 Chron. 29:14