The Early Days


God laid the foundation for the Tamil Methodist Church in Singapore when in 1884, the South Indian Annual Conference appointed William F Oldham as a Missionary to Singapore. Oldham, accompanied by Rev and Mrs James Thoburn, arrived in Singapore on 7 Feb 1885, to pioneer the Methodist work here. A Tamil speaking Englishman, William Oldham had a strong yearning to bring the Gospel to the Indians in Singapore. In September 1885, with his fluency in Tamil, Oldham began holding regular Sunday services in the prisons for the incarcerated Tamil prisoners. By the end of 1886, regular Sunday and weekday services were being held in Tamil.

In 1887, a Tamil preacher, C W Underwood, was recruited from Jaffna, Ceylon, to work with the Tamil people. The Tamil Methodist Church was thus established with Underwood as her pastor. This then became the second Methodist Church in Singapore. Rev Underwood was instrumental in starting the Tamil Boys School in 1885 and Tamil Girls’ School (now known as Methodist Girls’ School) in 1887.

By 1889, the congregation grew too large for its chapel and moved to Short Street. In 1912, the Epworth League (now known as the Methodist Youth Fellowship) was established. The church embarked on a program of financial selfsufficiency and launched its building fund in 1915 towards its efforts to build a church on a piece of land in Short Street. In 1925, the foundation stone for the new church was laid by Bishop Titus Lowe.