St. Peter's Church celebrated her Golden Jubilee in October 1997. The church started with 15 members in 1947 to 250 in 1987 and 760 in 2000.She has a present membership of 900.
The introduction of Church renewal was at a camp in 1975 when Rev. Peter Young was invited by Rev. Lim Cheng Ean (now Bishop) to speak on the Holy Spirit. In 1985, Rev. Andrew Phang (now Archdeacon) and some of the leaders were touched by the Holy Spirit. He was succeeded by Rev. Ng Moon Hing who continued to move with the Holy Spirit. Anointed preachers were invited for revival meetings and family camps. Within a few years the majority of the leaders were spirit-filled.
Church membership and Sunday attendance began to take off in 1993-94. The revival has led to greater efforts into evangelism and pre-evangelism activities. Every programme of the church was directed to our friends and relatives. Parents Day lunch was held in the restaurant. During the Christmas season, all the neighbours were invited to attend the Open House at the church with a tea-party followed by a lively concert. Carolling teams only visited homes if they were prepared to invite friends as well. The Christmas Eve Dinner became too big to be held at the church as at least half of the 50 tables consist of guests. Evangelistic dinner meetings were held in both English and Chinese. Well-known evangelists such as Rev. Oh Beng Khee were invited. The church and her members were prepared to invest time and money to sow the seeds of the gospel.
The children and youth ministries were also given equal prominence. The teachers were sent for training and returned with innovative ideas to present the gospel in a more interesting manner. Several special programmes were organised such as parties, concerts, art contests and games to attract children and young people.
Health talks and screening for cancer and heart disease were arranged by the sisters in addition to cooking competitions and flower-arrangement classes. Tuition classes were started. Other social action activities included distribution of food to the squatters nearby and visits to orang asli kampungs and new villages. An education fund was started. The church took active part in the World Vision 30-Hour Famine and raised nearly RM100,000 in the 4 years it took part. We provided the spiritual food to the handicapped who were looked after by Daybreak for their socioeconomic needs. A Food Fair in 1994 was organised which raised RM34,000 and was donated to Daybreak in the form of a van. Our church was also one of the active supporters of the New Horizons Society for the slow-learning children. On the 1st January 2001, a Food Fair was held to raise fund for the Ray of Hope centre - a centre for children with learning disabilities from age 6 - 14. This centre is situated in Buntong next to St. Augustine's Church. The ROH centre is a joint project of St. Peter's and St. Augustine. RM200,000 was raised at the two Food Fairs in 2001 and 2003 respectively. A second centre of the ROH was launched in 2004 for those of age 14 - 19.
The church participated in many of the combined activities with other churches including mass evangelistic crusades at public halls and even at the stadium. Our active participation and cordial relationships with other churches of various denominations not only led to sharing of resources but also a greater appreciation of a church from a traditional denomination.
For the first time, overseas mission trips to South China and Sumatra were made by the church in 1992. We also send the first short term missionary of the OM Doulos ship. A mission fund was started with an initial target of RM25,000 per year and later increased to RM125,000 in 2005. Mission fests and mission months were organised to highlight the importance of mission. Constant mission trips both locally and abroad are being made annually. The recent mission trips to Thailand, Cambodia, Medan and our Asli kampungs have made meaningful impacts and impressions to our people and those whom we ministered to.
Missionaries & Workers
The church has placed an emphasis on training her members as missionaries and workers for the harvest field. We had sent out
- Rev. Vincent Lau ( former Vicar of St.Gabriel's, Kuala Lumpur but now in Raphah Ministries),
- Rev. Ng Peng Yoon (former Priest of Good Shephard Church, Johor Bahru but now studying in Dallas USA),
- Rev. Jeremiah Lee (Priest of Church of Epiphany, Kuantan),
- Elisabeth Ng Foong Chan (Mission Worker in Senegal through SIM),
- Soong Hoe Pin (Priest in All Saints' Church Taiping),
- Albert Tang (Priest in Church of Our Redeemer Butterworth)
- Julih Aew (Deaconess in St Mark's Church Butterworth).
There are also 7Chinese workers in the Chinese villages and 4 Asli workers in Asli kampungs.
By 1992 the average Sunday attendance was about 133, an increase of 20% over 5 years. In 1993, a decision was made to separate the English and Chinese language congregations, although the Chinese-speaking members, being mainly the older and less educated people, were rather apprehensive. The English congregation began to grow first as we were then able to attract jmore people, especially non-Chinese, who were not keen to attend bilingual services. Over the new few years, the children and youth ministries were also separated into the language streams. MacGavran's observation that people worship best in their heart language proved to be true as the total attendance was much higher than before. Just two years after the change, the average Sunday attendance rose to 213 (140 in the English and 73 in the Chinese services) an increase of 60%.
In 1994, a daughter church, Christ Church was started in Gunung Rapat, a southern suburb of Ipoh and in 1997 another preaching point, Gereja Hallelujah began in the northern area of the city. The church supported Rev. Ng in his efforts to run the AVM (Anglican Village Ministries) from 1993. Over the next 5 years, the number of evangelists has risen to 7, covering 8 new villages where many poor Chinese still live. Soon after, a regular Sunday service was started in Mambang Di-Awan, near Kampar followed by Cold Stream and Air Kuning.A BM congregation was started in St Peter's in 1995, a Mandarin service in 1999, and an extra English service in 2001.
In the middle of 1994, a Bahasa Malaysia (BM) fellowship was started with the help of a Chinese teacher who had served for 13 years in BM work in Sabah. By January 1995, a full BM service was started with a few USM students from Sarawak and several families from the Police Field Force. Several members from the English congregation offered to help in preaching and stayed with the BM service regularly for two years. During this period, a number of attending rose from 25 to 62. In 1996, a group of Orang Asli Christians, holding a cheque for RM20,000 donated by the Penang Medical Fellowship, approached us to start another church in Gopeng to cover 6 villages. This ministry has gradually extended to 13 villages, to as far as Teluk Intan and Slim River. The BM ministry is a good example of how God begins to open doors as we boldly step out in faith into a new ministry even when we did not feel equipped for the task. God has also provided workers at the opportune time. In the last two years, 85 people were baptised and 98 were confirmed. Now the BM services covers all the Asli kampungs.
While our emphasis was on building up people, the church building began to feel the pressure of space from the increasing numbers and ministries. In 1993 a new extension was added to the ground floor and in 1997, the hall upstairs was extended to increase the seating capacity from 200 to 400. The church leaders were of one mind that they would look for the financing from their own members. Again God is always faithful. In 1995, while most of the leaders were at the prayer mountain in Korea, an unexpected visit by a wealthy Christian businessman (non-Anglican) in the middle of the heat wave prompted him to cover all the expenses of air-conditioning the church hall, a sum of RM33,000! In 1997, two unsolicited donations of RM100,000 were given to the building fund!
By 1998, the total Sunday attendance in the 3 congregations in the main church and the 4 daughter churches have risen to nearly 580. Now in 2005, the total Sunday attendence is about 700. This number does not include those at the weekly meetings at the 20 preaching points in the village and kampungs, and Christ Church which is a Missionary District in 2004 and Gereja Charis Cold Stream which is given to St Andrew's Bidor.
Initially, with only one full-time seminary trained pastor, much of the pastoral and teaching ministries have to be shouldered by lay people, which is certainly the biblical pattern. To equip them, a number of Christian education classes were started. Basic Christianity lessons were provided for those who intend to be baptised. Classes of doctrines and bible knowledge, as well as practical topics like prayer, worship and counselling were taught at three different levels to cater to Christians of varying maturity. The most senior class follow the ICI University syllabus leading to college degree and is attended by members from other churches as well. Special seminars on Life in the Spirit, spiritual gifts, evangelism and how to pray for healing were organised. Even classes on understanding other religions especially on Islam were arranged. Different classes were held for the youths and children. Now with a few theologically trained workers we have launched the Theological Education by Extension courses in Ipoh. A few have graduated with certificates.
Prayer are emphasised, not only at the weekly prayer meetings, but also in the home-cells and during or after services. Special healing meetings were introduced too..
As the church gets bigger, pastoral and discipling needs are difficult to be met. Although the church had home meetings before they tend to be Bible study groups. In 1994, we decided to adopt the home cell system. Several leaders attended seminars in K.L. and Singapore and began to revamp the home cells. Starting from 2 cells, one in English and one in Chinese, the number of home cells has grown to 34, distributed by geographical areas. The youth cells have not caught on and we have yet to start with the children. In 1997, the teams from Our Saviour's Church from Singapore were invited to condcut a Home Cell Conference in both English and Chinese which was open to other churches in Ipoh. Much of the leadership training was done in-house, using resource materials from FSBC and OSC.
Topics covered at home cells focus on practical life-related issues such as family relationships, handling of money, work, character and emotions. General issues such as AIDS and environment were also dealt with. The home cell system is not only true to the New Testament but also provides a comprehensive Christan lifestyle that falls into several arenas such as the celebration for rejoicing, congregation for fellowship, and the cell for personal contacts, and reaching out to the community. The four aims of Edification, Evangelism, Equipping and Expansion of leadership provide ample opportunities for all members to be involved. The cell agenda follow the 4 W's, that is Welcome, Worship, Word and Works. As we are still transitioning into the cell church system, the concept is yet to be fully developed. At present about 70% of the adult members are active in the home cells. The Alpha Course has taken off ground in 2002. It has successfully reached out to many people. We are now doing it in English and Chinese with the Adults and the youth.
The annual giving has risen from RM11,000 in 1977 to RM77,000 in 1987, to RM230,000 in 1997, and to RM500,000 in 2004 which is the highest in the Lower North Archdeaconary. During the last 10 years we have sent six members to the seminary and twenty others for short term Bible training.