Brief History of All Saints Memorial Chapel (S) Ltd

Bethel Presbyterian Church inherited a 8,355 sq meter plot of land at Poh Huat Road. The freehold land was allocated by the colonial government in 1885 to the Presbyterian Church of England for building a chapel in Hougang and for use as a burial site.

In 1965, at the early stage of our nation building, the government started to promote cremation and began to close down public burial grounds.

On September 10, 1969, the Land Authority issued a 2-week notice to take back this plot of land. This was vigorously resisted and finally the Land Authority gave permission for the building of a Memorial Chapel cum Columbarium on the site to commemorate our forbears.

Bethel Presbyterian Church announced its initiative to build a Memorial Chapel on April 12, 1971. Rev Dr F K Balchin of the Singapore Presbytery of the Synod of Singapore and Malaysia was invited to conduct two seminars on Christian cremation on September 26 and October 28 of the same year. The initiative was supported by the major denominations, namely the Presbyterian, Anglican and Methodist churches as well as leaders of independent churches.

A pioneering committee was set up to promote the project in 1974. Twenty one churches responded to Bethel's invitation to join the project and each contributed $10 per church member as membership fee. An architect was appointed to design and submit plans to the URA.

In June 1975, the URA approved our plans and construction work began in November. On December 12, 1975, Rev Dr F K Balchin laid the foundation stone at the ground breaking ceremony.

On Easter Sunday, April 10, 1977, a special service was held to commission the Columbarium and ashes were placed in the Columbarium for the first time.

The Dedication Service for All Saints Memorial Chapel was held on Easter Sunday, March 26, 1978. Rev Dr F K Balchin of the Presbyterian Church, Bishop Chew Ban It of the Anglican Church and Bishop Kao Jih Chung of the Methodist Church jointly dedicated the Chapel for the Lord's service. Elder Lim Choon Kee of Bethel unveiled the memorial plaque.

In 1982, four blocks of 2-storey columbarium cum offices were added to the Chapel. A second invitation for membership was launched. Eleven churches responded and each contributed $15 per church member as membership fee. Although the Chapel has a membership of only 32 churches, the Columbarium serves Christians from 439 churches whereby they commemorate their forbears.

After the dedication of the Chapel, late Rev Lee Huai Kwang led services every Sunday afternoon, ministering and witnessing to the family members of the rested saints. An annual combined memorial service has been held every Easter Sunday ; and since 1990 the service was followed by a fellowship dinner.

In 1981 Bethel Church established a preaching station at the Chapel. It grew to become a separate congregation in 1990, and subsequently an independent church in 1995. It was given permission to temporary use the Chapel for Sunday Services.

All Saints Memorial Chapel has significantly contributed to community social welfare. The ancillary hall was converted into a 30-bed nursing home called All Saints Home in 1986 to serve the old and sick. It was well received by the public and by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

In 1999, MOH proposed that we build a modern 179-bed Nursing Home at Tampines Street 44 to replace the Home in Hougang. The building and equipment cost amount to $9.9 million. The new Home at Tampines was officially opened by the Minister For National Development, Mr. Mah Bow Tan on November 4, 2001.

On January 20, 2000, we submitted an application to the URA to build five blocks of 2-storey columbarium on the site of the old Home at Hougang. This was turned down by the URA on the grounds that the site had been rezoned as a place of worship in 1998. Subsequent appeals were all unsuccessful.

Consequently, we decided to submit plans to rebuild the Hougang Home. Praise God, in September 10, 2001 and January 15, 2002, MOH and URA approved the plans. All Saints Home (Hougang) was completed in July 2004. The 3-storey Nursing Home has 144 beds. The Basement includes a Memorial Hall with four chambers totaling 9050 niches. The building and equipment cost amount to $7.5 million. It is a double blessing that the Home and the Columbarium extension could be built together to serve the public. President S R Nathan unveiled the memorial plaque on the March 11, 2005.

Although the plot of land in Hougang was originally given to Bethel Church as a burial ground, Bethel was able to respond to the needs and challenges of our generation with the establishment of All Saints Memorial Chapel and God has enabled her to bear fruit.

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