St Andrew's Church
The First Girls' School
| St Andrew's
1856 WAS A TURNING
POINT FOR THE ANGLICAN CHURCH IN SINGAPORE.
It was the year when it began the all important task of changing
from being a British Christian community to a church that would
seriously take the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to Asians who
were flocking to Singapore seeking a livelihood.
In March, the Bishop of Calcutta had laid the foundation stone of
a new church building, intended to replace the first St Andrew’s
Church building that was demolished.
The inscription placed below the stone read as follows:
The first English Church of Singapore, commenced A. D. 1834 and
consecrated A. D. 1838, having become dilapidated, this first
stone of a new and more commodious edifice, dedicated to the
worship of Almighty God according to the rites and discipline of
the Church of England, under the name of St. Andrew, was laid by
the Right Rev. Daniel Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Calcutta and
Metropolitan, on the 4th day of March, 1856, in the 24th year of
ON PENTECOST SUNDAY
that same year, REV. WILLIAM T. HUMPHREY, then the Resident
Chaplain, preached a sermon in St Andrew’s Church and challenged
the congregation to support a mission to the general local
population. He was burdened by the spiritual needs of the
inhabitants of Singapore and saw how the majority of the Chinese
and Tamil speaking inhabitants were being neglected.
“……. we continue to have many
enquirers, whom we have every reason to believe to be sincere in
desiring to enter the fold of Christ. Thus we cannot stop even if
we would. We cannot withhold our attention from those who so
pleasingly require it; so that the congregation of St Andrew’s
must, in spite of itself, become a missionary congregation – a
centre of diffusing to others the light and comfort and peace of
the knowledge of Christ and Him crucified.” Extract of Rev
Rev. Humphrey’s sermon galvanised
the congregation of St. Andrew’s Church to launch its own mission
to Asians and on 25th June 1856, the St. Andrew’s Church Mission
was born. Subscriptions and donations were collected and
catechists were engaged to take the gospel to the Asians living in
Singapore. Rev Humphrey’s Chaplaincy ended in 1858 but the work of
the Mission continued.
In 1881, St. Andrew’s Church was made the Cathedral church of the
then newly established Diocese of Singapore, Labuan and Sarawak. A
diocese over such a large area was quite unmanageable, and in
1909, Singapore was made a separate diocese, with Bishop Charles
J. Ferguson-Davie as the first Bishop of the Diocese.
The legacy of the St Andrew’s Church Mission continues through
both the Cathedral and all the parishes established in the
of Singapore during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Today, the
Diocese of Singapore includes the deaneries of Cambodia,
Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
There are 27 parishes in Singapore (as at Jan 2012).
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ANDREW'S CHURCH MISSION
The first catechist who arrived
was a Tamil, Peter Tychicus from Madras. The early catechists
working in the Chinese mission included Yan Quey, Ing-See, Sim Kam
Tong, Phoah Sin See, Tye- Kim, Chok Loi-Fat, Tan Chong-Keng,
Kan-King and others. They also started schools; the Chinese boys’
school which started in 1862 became the fore-runner of the present
St. Andrew’s School.
The work of the mission was significantly enhanced in 1872 when
Rev William Gomes, was appointed the Superintendent of the SAC
Mission. Gomes had considerable ministry experience obtained in
Ceylon and Sarawak.
“Catechist” is not a common word today. It was used to refer to
native Christians who could teach and explain the gospel in their
In 1873, the government granted the Mission, land at Stamford Road
(later the site of the National Library). A Mission Chapel was
built. Services were conducted in English, Malay, Tamil and
Chinese. The Gospel went out in a variety of languages - HAKKA,
CANTONESE, HOKKIEN, TEOCHEW, HYLAM, TAMIL AND MALAY. On week days,
it was the site of a school. The Mission Chapel was a hive of
activity for 60 years until the site was acquired by the
government in 1938. From these humble beginnings, the groundwork
was laid for the subsequent vernacular work of the Anglican
REV WILLIAM GOMES
Superintendent of the St
Andrew’s Church Mission 1872-1902
REV WILLIAM GOMES ARRIVED IN
1872 AND WAS APPOINTED SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SACM, UNTIL HIS DEATH
IN 1902. He was a Sinhalese,
born in Ceylon in 1827 and from young, was inspired to spend the
rest of his life in the service of God. He was sent to Sarawak
where he laboured among the Dyaks and Malays for 15 years.
Gomes was fluent as a preacher in Tamil, Malay, Dyak and he
subsequently succeeded in learning Hokkien. He translated portions
of the Anglican Prayer Book as well as selected hymns into Malay
and Romanized Hokkien.
Gomes realised that the team had to be conversant in a particular
language or dialect. He recruited suitable candidates and trained
them with sufficient biblical knowledge to teach others.
Gomes was a true pioneer and his ministry became the springboard
for the later development of the Anglican church.
CHOK LOI FAT
was a catechist who came from China.
Prior to Singapore, he had worked with a German missionary in and
This is an extract of his report after the first 2 months of
working in Singapore…..
“ During these 2 months, the
greatest part of my time has been occupied in preaching from house
to house, in shops, at plantations, in coolies’ dwelling and
sawyers’ sheds etc. ….. The accustomed places of my visits have
been in Singapore town, Kampong Glam, Rochore, the dock in New
Harbour, Sandy point..… The most favourable time for teaching the
workmen and coolies is at noon from 12 to 1 while they are resting
from their work……I went out every day, the Sabbaths excepted, to
distribute tracts and to preach the good tidings of salvation in
On Thursday evenings, I have a meeting for prayer and preaching in
my house….. The usual attendance is 10 to 15. On Tuesday evenings,
the Cathechumens are instructed by me; their number is at present
7. On Saturdays, I prepare my sermons for the Sabbath. The usual
attendance at Divine Service in my house on Sundays is 19 at 9am
and 15 at 7pm. The number of tracts which I have distributed
during these two months to those who can read Chinese is 105. ”
reported in 1863 a conversation he had with non believers
concerning the “ash” which is painted on foreheads with the vain
hope of obtaining the forgiveness of their sins...
Peter: What do you think of the ash ?
Non-believer: I believe that I will receive the remission of my
sins and heaven if I use it with strong faith.
Peter: What if I killed you and took your money and then use the
holy ash and paint it on my body; for even if God pleases to send
me to Hell, he could not because here is the holy ash. I firmly
believe that I shall have forgiveness of this sin and heaven
without hindrance through this ash… What would you think and say
about this ?
Peter reported that some did not know what answer to give and four
of them asked him how they could obtain pardon from God.
TAN CHONG KENG
who worked in the Geylang branch of the St Andrew’s Chinese
Mission reported in his journal ……
“The Geylang Chapel is surrounded by several Chinese shops, to
which I have often paid visit, my object being to spread the
Gospel among those who live in them. They seem willing to listen,
but refuse to attend the services in the Chapel. Their remarks to
me generally run thus “After we have been fully supplied with the
riches of this world, then we shall become the followers of
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THE STATUS OF WOMEN
IN 19TH CENTURY SINGAPORE WAS DEPLORABLE.
In the 1860s, Chinese males outnumbered females by fourteen to
one. Among the Indians, it was eight to one. It was common for
baby girls to be abandoned, young girls to be denied education,
older girls to be confined to the house and many others to be
The Singapore Free Press, 8th December 1863 reported a complaint -
“I have seen many of these recent arrivals – what are they?
Chiefly girls from 13 to 16 years of age, either lured to
Singapore by the glowing accounts of fortunes to be here acquired,
or brought by their keepers – but in either case when they land
here they are neither more or less than slaves to be bought and
THIS PLIGHT OF YOUNG
GIRLS CHALLENGED THE CHRISTIAN CONSCIENCE.
In 1842, Mrs Samuel Dyer started a school in a rented shop-house
in North Bridge
Road. This was a boarding school which gave
unwanted girls an opportunity to be educated without charging any
fees. When Sophia Cooke, a British missionary arrived from England
in 1853, she took charge of the school. There were 20 pupils then.
One of the first things that Miss Cooke did was to learn Malay and
for the next 42 years, she devoted all her efforts and time to the
school, giving her best to raising the level of education of the
girls in the school. This was the Chinese Girls’ School (CGS),
better known as Miss Cooke’s School.
There were lessons in Scripture and great emphasis was placed on
providing a Christian foundation. From an early age, the girls
learned the meaning of Christian service. In the 1860s, two day
schools were started for women and children. One was run entirely
by girls from CGS and the other was held in the home of a former
pupil. Here, they put into practice all the things they had
learnt. The school was so recognized for developing young women of
good character and virtue that CGS was reputed the “training home
for Christian wives”.
CGS moved to Sophia Road, opposite Government House in 1861. The
Church of England Zenana Missionary Society took over the
management of the school in 1900 and 49 years later, it was
re-named St Margaret’s School. Today, St Margaret’s carries on the
good work of Miss Cooke in grooming young women in the virtues of
charity, patience and devotion.
While Sophia Cooke is best remembered for her work with the
school, her ministry branched out to many areas. Her collaborative
work with others led to what later became the Bible Society and
the Young Women’s Christian Association. She conducted Bible
classes for women, and later, extended it to Chinese immigrant
men, sailors, for whom a rest house was set up in South Bridge
Road, policemen and soldiers.
She confided to a friend “I am so thankful our loving Lord will
use one so weak, the least of all. Will you ask that I may be more
completely consecrated to His service and live only for His
glory?” Bobby Sng’s book “In His Good Time” describes her as one
of the Anglican Church’s greatest gift to the church in Singapore.
THE DIOCESE OF
SINGAPORE CARRIES ON ITS MISSION IN EDUCATION AND SHAPING YOUNG
LIVES IN SINGAPORE.
Anglican High School (Upper Changi Rd)
Christ Church Secondary School (Woodlands Dr 17)
St Andrew’s Junior College (St Andrew’s Village, Francis Thomas
St Andrew’s Secondary School (St Andrew’s Village, Francis Thomas
St Andrew’s Primary School (St Andrew’s Village, Francis Thomas
St Hilda’s Secondary School (Tampines St 82)
St Hilda’s Primary School (Tampines St 82)
St Margaret’s Secondary School (Farrer Rd)
St Margaret’s Primary School (Sophia Rd / Wilkie Rd)
Kindergartens, Child-care and Student-care Centres
Ascension Kindergarten (St Andrew’s Village, Francis Thomas Dr)
Ascension Kindercare (Potong Pasir Ave 1)
Christ Church Kindergarten (Dorset Rd)
Commonwealth Student Care Centre (Commonwealth Dr)
Five Stones Playschool (Strathmore Ave)
Good News Community Service Centre (Commonwealth Dr)
Heartfriends Before and After School Care (Dover Rd)
Kiddy Ark Childcare & Development Centre (Tampines St 71)
Pasir Ris Family Service Centre (Pasir Ris Dr 1)
Praiseland Childcare and Learning Centre (Yishun Ave 4)
Queenstown Good Shepherd Kindergarten (Dundee Road)
Sonshine Childcare Centre (Bt Batok St 21)
St. Andrew’s Cathedral Child Development Centre (Jurong West St
St. Hilda’s Kindergarten (Ceylon Rd)
St. James Church Kindergarten (Leedon Rd)
St. Paul’s Church Kindergarten (Upp Serangoon Rd)
St Andrew’s Village provides a unique educational opportunity.
Located at Francis Thomas Drive, it is the site of the three St
Andrew’s Schools (Primary, Secondary and Junior College) and
Ascension Kindergarten. Facilities include an Olympic-sized
swimming pool, a cultural centre, indoor basketball court, indoor
gymnasium and Centre for Excellence for Design and Technology. The
offices of the Diocese of Singapore and three Anglican churches,
namely, Chapel of the Resurrection, Chapel of the Holy Spirit and
Church of the Ascension are also located on this site.
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