Our History
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1 Woodlands St 83, Singapore 738488

WOODLANDS EFC - OUR HISTORY


Brief History
Our church had its early beginnings in 1958 as a group of Christian students called "The King's Youth Group". Later we were called Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church (BTEFC) and our church was located in King Albert Park.

In late 1996, we tendered successfully for a piece of land in Woodlands and construction of our new church building began in 1997. On 14 March 1999, we held our first worship service in "The Rock" - the name that we have affectionately given to our new building. Psalm 62:2 says, "He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken."

Our church is now called Woodlands Evangelical Free Church (WEFC). Rev Lee Twee Kim was our lead pastor from our inception until 2005, when Rev Kenny Fam took the helm as our Senior Pastor.


Detailed History

Origins: King's Youth Group (1958)
Two teachers, a brother and a sister, witnessed to their students in their respective schools so as to start a nucleus of Christians who could reach out to their students for Christ. Miss Margaret Khoo (Mrs Beng) reported:

It was in September 1958, after the Government had put a stop to religious instruction in schools, that God placed before us the vision of a mission field in our vicinity. After much prayer an introductory gathering was held. We met at 85 King's Road and this proved very encouraging.

Margaret's brother, Mr Henry Khoo organised a committee to parent the group. Since the Group consisted mainly of students who were meeting at 85, King's Road, house of the Khoos, they began to call themselves, "The King's Youth Group".

During this time Mr Henry Khoo was studying at the Singapore Bible College (then known as Singapore Theological Seminary). He invited a few of his college mates to help in the work. Thus a regular Friday meeting was introduced in September 1958.

The Group grew in number and, in July 1959, with the introduction of a 6-day schooling week, the meetings were changed to Saturday afternoons. When they finally changed the meetings to Sunday mornings, the group increased more greatly. They had to use the hall, verandah, garage and dining hall of the house. Not long after they were forced to look for a bigger place. God wonderfully arranged for them to use the Nanyang Kindergarten premises, just across the road.


Growth: Affiliation with the Evangelical Free Church (1959)
For the next two years the group kept growing. By this time, the committee felt it was time they organized themselves into a church. Realising that it would be advantageous for the Group to be affiliated with an established denomination, the committee explored a few possibilities.

In late 1960, Rev. R.F. McMurray, a missionary from the Evangelical Free Church of America, was introduced to the Group. After having studied the distinctives of the Evangelical Free Church and knowing that the group would be in good hands, the committee agreed to affiliate themselves with the Evangelical Free Church. The King's Youth Group joined the family of the Evangelical Free Church on 1st January 1961.


Search: A Place to Call Home
Rev. McMurray started a half-an hour worship service after the Sunday School. This went on for six months.

The worship service had to be discontinued because the time and place were not suitable. At the same time the group experienced some difficulties with the Nanyang Kindergarten Administrators. Mr Henry Khoo said, "Our days at the kindergarten were numbered." We realised that it was important for a suitable place to be found to ensure the group's survival.

The hunt for a building thus began. At every opportunity, the group looked out for vacant buildings in the Bukit Timah area even when distributing tracts. The situation was urgent. The Christians exercised the privilege they had as children of God. They prayed to their heavenly Father about the matter.

After a few disappointments, God graciously led the Group to a Government-owned house. One of the teams who were distributing tracts at Kilburn Estate (now Yarwood Avenue) spotted an unkempt house. On investigation, the team found that the building had a big hall and 11 rooms. Rev. MacMurray made enquiries and finally signed the lease to rent the building.

The church members moved in as soon as the lease was signed to cut the lalang which were about four feet high and which surrounded the building. The ladies applied all their strength to clean the rooms.

On Sunday 6th May 1962, about 120 people victoriously gathered at 8 Yarwood Avenue to dedicate the building to God. By this time, God had already sent another missionary, Rev. Ben Sawatsky and his family, to edify the group.


New Home: Yarwood (1961-67)
As soon as the King's Youth Group moved in to 8, Yarwood Avenue, it changed its name to Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church. More meetings were added to the church programme. They included Sunday morning worship, a song service and a mid-week prayer meeting. And after a few months the Youth Fellowship was started. The first baptismal service was held on 13th January 1963 at the Pasir Ris beach. Seven people were baptised. And on 3rd February 1963, the first 14 members were accepted.

When Rev. McMurray and his family left in August 1962 for Canada for furlough, the work of the church was handed to Rev. Sawatsky. In late 1963, two Elders, one deacon, and one deaconess were elected to form the first Church Board. Together with the Church Board Rev. Sawatsky produced the Constitution and made arrangements to register the church with the Registry of Societies, Singapore. In September 1964 Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church became an approved society in Singapore.


Moving Again
At 8 Yarwood Avenue the church grew again. Those who joined were students, most of who were contacts through the Youth for Christ clubs. The Youth Fellowship saw a regular attendance of about fifty young people.

When the lease was due for renewal in 1967, the church's application for renewal was rejected and the church was asked to vacate the place as soon as the lease expired.

The hunt for a new building began all over again. Right up to the last day of the lease we could not find a suitable home. The church was compelled to borrow space from the Singapore Bible College for a spell.

The hunt for a building continued unabated. It was rather discouraging as the church could not afford to buy its own building and the Building Fund was low. However, God saw to it that we were taken good care of.

According to God's timing and out of the love of Christians in America, money was provided to the Evangelical Free Churches in Singapore and Malaysia to borrow against for the purchase of a building. By this time Rev. Carlson had become involved in the work of the church.

 

Our Second Home: King Albert Park (1969-99)
The church unfailingly employed all means to look for a suitable building. An advertisement in the newspapers caught the eye of a member. It was about the sale of a bungalow on a piece of land of 22,000 sq.ft, situated on the outskirts of a residential area in the Bukit Timah area.

The property at 12B, King Albert Park in the midst of a housing estate was finally bought in late 1969. About half of the cost was borrowed from the Evangelical Free Church Revolving Fund. The rest of the money was raised through loans from members and friends of the church.

Renovations were made so as to prepare the premises for church activities. The first meeting conducted in the new building was on 4th January 1970. It took quite a while for the church to settle in.

It was only on 11th November 1970 that the new building was dedicated to God. Rev. Wesley Gustafson, the Evangelical Free Church of America's Mission's Secretary was the honoured guest at the dedication service. The fellowship dinner was attended by representatives from all the Evangelical Free Churches in Singapore. It was another milestone in BTEFC's history.

From 1978 until 1994 we had permission to use 12-B King Albert Park for church activities. When we were told in 1994 that we have to stop all church activities at our King Albert Park property we started to look for another place. The few available places were either too small for our use or beyond our ability to pay. We tried unsuccessfully to tender for HDB land in Jurong West. After much prayer and discussions, we decided in 1996 to tender for a piece of land in the new Woodlands housing estate. God was gracious and answered our prayers by awarding us the tender. Construction began soon after, with the target date of occupation in April 1999.


Our New Home: Woodlands (March 1999 - Present)
By God's grace, construction at the Woodlands site went as planned with no major delays or accidents. In fact, we were able to move into The Rock (the name of the building) one month ahead of schedule. 14 March 1999 will forever be remembered as a special day in the history of Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church, for it is testimony to God's faithfulness to us throughout the many years of uncertainty. This day also marked the change of our church name to Woodlands Evangelical Free Church, to more aptly reflect not just the location of the building, but also the new focus of our ministry. And this is where we are right now: at the doorstep of a new life and ministry at Woodlands.


Prime Movers
The people who had been instrumental in the setting up and growth of the church were initially missionaries sent by The Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). They were: Rev Fred McMurray, Rev Ben Sawatsky, Rev Al Tunberg, and Rev Richard Carlson. From 1975 until 2005, BTEFC now WEFC was led by our senior pastor Rev Lee Twee Kim. From 2005 to 2016, Rev Kenny Fam took the helm as our lead pastor.

 

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