Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand & Vietnam
Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok, the Primate of the Province of South East Asia (left) installs the Rt. Rev. Rennis Ponniah as the ninth bishop of Singapore.
(Photo: Diocese of Singapore)
By Jonathan wong
Singapore – A SUDDEN THUNDERSTORM could not dampen the spirits of the 2,500 people who gathered to witness the installation of the Rt Rev. Rennis Ponniah as the ninth Bishop of Singapore. The Bishop-designate knocked three times on the closed doors of St Andrew’s Cathedral at the beginning of the service. When the doors were opened, so were the heavens.
The Anglican Diocese of Singapore consists of not only 26 Anglican parishes in the populous (5-million-strong) city-state of Singapore but also six deaneries throughout six other Asian countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
On Oct. 20th seven archbishops and 22 bishops representing numerous provinces of the Anglican Communion took part in the service. The crowd was so great that many had to watch the proceedings on video screens in spill-over areas scattered all around the Cathedral grounds. Two hundred choristers, chancellors and clergy processed during the first hymn, Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun, an apt selection, considering the highly international gathering.
The Most Rev. Datuk Bolly Lapok, the Primate of the Church of the Province of South East Asia, officiated. (He himself had only been installed as Primate last February.) In his sermon, Archbishop Bolly Lapok offered advice and encouragement to Bishop Rennis, pointing out that he was taking on a role that was going to be “manifold and as bewilderingly complex as Singapore is.” The Archbishop told him that the diversity of the Singapore diocese would mean that the different constituents would want their bishop to play different roles, but he was urged to remember that his main role was to be the overseer of the flock.
Quoting the Church Father Irenaeus, he said, “The bishop can serve as a focus of unity only inasmuch as he himself is faithful to the tradition of the truth divinely given. Only thus can he hold the freedom and integrity of mind, to resist the pressures to conform to the spirit of the present age.”
‘Not a prize to be won but
a cup to be drunk’
In a testimony printed in the service booklet, Bishop Rennis wrote, “I know that being a Diocesan Bishop is not a prize to be won but a cup to be drunk,” alluding to the cup that Jesus prayed about in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 20:22). He further elaborated in a thanksgiving greeting he made at the end of the service, saying,
“So as I drink this cup, it is a commitment to lead God’s people in the way of the Cross. God has a cup for all of us. It may be formidable, but He invites us to drink it with faith, trusting Him that as we drink it, that it will be a cup of blessing for others, and for ourselves.”
In 2005 Bishop Rennis, who is 57, was consecrated as the Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Singapore. He and his wife Amir Caldwell have four children, ranging in age from 17 to 26. TAP
–The Rev. Jonathan Wong, who attended the installation, was ordained in the Diocese of Singapore. He is the priest-in-charge at Christ the King Anglican Church (ANiC) in Toronto.