CH310-Christianity in Malaysia-Helen

Report
CHRISTIANITY IN
MALAYSIA
A Denominational History
West Malaysia & East Malaysia
A multi-racial / multi-cultural / multi-religion country
Size: 329,750 sq. km (approx. US State of New Mexico)
Peninsular Malaysia (11 States in West Malaysia) &
Sabah / Sarawak (2 States in East Malaysia)
POLITICS / RELIGION
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Independence from British rule (1957). Sabah & Sarawak joined to form
Malaysia (1963) & withdrawal of Singapore. Politically powerful rulers &
Malays (Bumiputeras) influence in education, economic, religious life.
Sunni Islam – official religion in (WM) but Islam a minority in EM. Majority
Muslim population: 58% (Christians 9.1%). Others: Buddhism (22%),
Hinduism (5%), other Traditional ethnic religion (6%).
Overall, Malaysia is a peaceful nation. Government constitutional provision
of religious freedom. Not legal to proselytize Muslims. Islamic resurgence:
major efforts (govt. benefits/privileges) given to new Muslim converts from
ethnic groups & Chinese.
Persecution index: 47th in the world.
COSMOPOLITAN
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Indigenous people: Bumiputeras (58%), Chinese (26%), Indian (7.2%),
Others (6.5%) - expats & 1.7 million migrants (mostly illegal).
ECONOMY: A nation blessed with abundance of natural resources. Vigorous
growth since Independence from colonial powers (1957). The 1990s saw large scale
industralization (oil, mining, agriculture, logging & technology) & multi-national corps. /
foreign investments (esp. Japanese) transformed country.
Prosperity of nation attracted increasing flow of immigrant neighbors (Philippines,
Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India) makeup 10% workforce.
CHRISTIANITY IN MALAYSIA
A Brief Overview (2000 census)
• MISSION VISION: The Missions vision of the Churches in
Malaysia has continually increase. Over 800 serve with 26
agencies in countries around the world.
• Malaysian Christians: 9.1% of total population (28 million) of country.
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Majority of Christians live in East Malaysia.
• Major Christian denominations: Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists,
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Methodists, Anglicans, Presbyterian, Brethrens, Pentecostals / Charismatics,
Assembly of God, non-denominational churches,
& independent charismatic churches.
Well established under able & dynamic church
leadership in both West & East Malaysia.
Bible colleges/seminaries/ Apostolic centres
located in both WM & EM.
A Brief Overview (cont.)
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After Portuguese conquest of Malacca in 1511, it became the centre for evangelization.
Used as major base by Francis Xavier.
Dutch conquest (1641) displaced Catholic influence until 1700s. Catholic missionary /
priests from Siam (Thailand) set up a regional major seminary in Penang Island (1810).
19th century: Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Brethren churches - ministry to overseas
Chinese & Indian migrants.
Catholic & Anglican missionaries under “Rajah” James Brooke in Sarawak (East
Malaysia).
Methodist influence (1885) – English education/strong ties built with Foochow
settlements in Sitiawan (Perak state) & Sibu (Sarawak state).
In 1928, Australian Borneo Evangelical Mission work in EM resulted in the birth of
Borneo Evangelical Mission / “Sidang Injil Borneo” (SIB) – it became the largest
indigenous church in Malaysia today.
By 1970s Christianity, denominationally & ethnically diverse and church leadership firmly
national. By 2000, Christians comprised approx. 9% population of both WM and EM.
Ministry of St Francis Xavier in Malacca
(one of the 7 original founder members with Ignatius Loyola)
• St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) – first Jesuit missionary to Malacca. He establish it as
the major centre and important evangelical base.
• Extend ministry to Christian Portuguese.
• Churches and schools (primary & secondary) in both WM & EM named after him.
• Regarded as one of the greatest missionaries of Christian history in Malaysia.
STANDING BEAUTIES OF TODAY
Malaysia’s oldest historic church in Malacca founded by St. Francis Xavier.
Catholic priests from Siam (Thailand) set up
a regional major Seminary in Penang Island (1810).
An Outline History of Christianity in Malaysia
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Early Christian presence (7th century) traced back to Nestorians (Persian &
Nestorian traders) in Malacca prior to Portuguese conquest in 1511.
British acquire Penang Island (1786) & Malacca (1795) from the Dutch
(1641).
Catholic leadership remained, but divided between Portuguese and French.
Open Brethren ministry dates from 1860 and Methodist from 1885.
Presbyterianism grew through Chinese churches in Johore and expatriate
congregations in Penang, Ipoh, and Kuala Lumpur.
North American & Ceylonese Pentecostal missionaries had been active
since 1935. Experience of Pentecostalism (larger influence) through the
Charismatic Movement esp. in 1970s.
Migration, an important factor in church growth. Many were Christians.
Tamil migrants to Malaysia include Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans,
Methodists. Mar Thomas & Syrian Orthodox churches were established in
1930s following increased migration from Kerala Coast of India.
In Sabah, the Basel Mission (1882) outreach to migrant Hakka Chinese.
Sitiawan and Sibu – many strong Chinese Methodist Centres established.
THE LUTHERAN CHURCH OF MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE
Core Belief of LCMS
Lutheran missionary work among Chinese (1950s).
Establish strong relationships with all Lutheran Councils/Churches worldwide
Today, 27 Lutheran congregations in Malaysia and 8 in Singapore.
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Origins / History
Communist takeover in China (1949). Many Chinese / Chinese missionaries/mission
agencies forced to leave China. During the Malayan ‘Emergency,’ British government
actively encouraged churches & missionary societies to send them to Malaysia.
Mission to Urban & Rural Chinese (1958): Missionaries came from America, Germany &
Hong Kong. From (1954 – 1974) period of local leadership training / development of church,
medical, educational training (Bible Institute / English) provided in New Villages & cities.
A Joint Committee for Lutheran Union formed in 1963.
Presently, LCMS has come to the era of second-generation Lutheran Christians.
Emphasis change: from villages to city work.
LCMS provides facilities for lay training, seminary theological training. Close relationship
and Affiliation with renowned Trinity College & Singapore Bible College.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
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Oldest denomination having arrived with Portuguese conquest of Malacca (1511).
Late 18th century, French priests/sisters made a significant contribution, esp. training local priests.
From 1970s, RCC in Malaysia came entirely under local priests / leadership.
After Vatican II - in the 1960s, great changes / influence increased in the Malaysian RCC.
Today, it is the largest denom. in Malaysia comprising over half the Christian population.
BRIEF HISTORY:
Portuguese Church in Malacca (1511-1795). Led by Alfonso de Albuquerque, Portuguese motivation:
political, military & economic considerations (LUCRATIVE SPICE TRADE) besides religion. Malacca (the
Straits of Malacca, a very important strategic trade route) raised by Pope Paul IV in Rome, to a
suffragan see (deputy diocese) under Goa (1558).
Arrivals of new missionary orders: Blackfriars (1554), Greyfriars (1582), Augustinians (1587).
From 1590, Dutch and English arrived. Suppression under Dutch rule (1641-1703). Dutch
Presbyterianism prevailed but Catholicism remained strong. By 1712 many Protestants adopted Dutch
names. Then, Dutch interests (economic / religious) turned to Java, Batavia.
Arrival of Francis Light in Penang (signing of Treaty of Pangkor) marked British presence & Christianity
in the Straits Settlements (1786-1874). Catholic services/parishes flourished in Penang.
The British government encouraged China missionaries of all denominations (esp. Catholics) to
evangelize the thousands of Chinese immigrants. Two European powers (Portuguese & French) led
Catholic missions to reach Chinese, Indians, Eurasians & local tribes.
French Catholic missionaries came from Thailand founded a large Catholic community in Kuala Kedah
state (with the support of its Sultan ‘ruler’) in WM. Roman Catholicism spread to Perak, Selangor,
Negri Sembilan, Johore - major states in WM.
Establishment of Catholic schools & Catholic Action (Lay Apostolate) Organisations (eg; Society of St
Vincent de Paul/ The Legion of Mary/Cathedral of the Assumption in Penang).
1945-1970: TOWARD A MALAYSIAN ANGLICAN CHURCH
After the Japanese Occupation & return of British: Proven Asian priests were strong
pastors / leaders. In the Diocese: mutual suffering, crisis, experiences brought a true
multi-racial spirit / services in all Anglican churches.
CORE BELIEFS:
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A fresh reflection for Asian clergy role and training; Initiated moves for new interracial church committees / inter-racial worship services. Abolished Chaplaincy system
to Parishes (Parochial Church Council setup) in 1947 with 3 major racial Rep. Groups
(European, Indians & Chinese).
By 1953: dramatic increase in Missionary expansion; many new churches & Chinese
churches established (indigenous & self-supporting); Medical clinics, home visits,
grants for medical / educational work in the New Villages; renewed relationship of
Anglican churches & colonial state.
Unity of Diocese: an important witness in the face of political / racial differences when
Malaysia and Singapore split (1965).
Pioneered Seminaries in major States; development of missionary districts & parishes
(focus on worship / Diocesan events).
Special outreach efforts: Missions strategy & ushering a new era in indigenisation of
Anglicanism as a Church for Malaysians.
THE EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE (ELCMS)
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The core belief of the ELC in Malaysia (formed in 1964) – to uphold a holistic ministry to meet
spiritual and all needs of members. For in Malaysia, 60% Indians (promise of work drew thousands from
South India) are in industrial and manual labor force. Promise of work attracted thousands from South
India, including Lutheran Christians. Today, over 12 Indian congregations of thousands of Lutherans.
BRIEF HISTORY
German missionaries, Leipzig Evangelical Lutheran Mission, South India, made regular visits to
Malaysia from 1877. Rev. Hermann Matthes and Ruger (2 German missionaries) served short tenures
in Penang. Arrival of Indian Rev. Devavaram (1923) - Official setup ‘Northern Circle.’
ELCMS formally established in 1963, (developed from missionary work in the 18th century). Associated
with ecumenical & Lutheran bodies locally and internationally, (Federation of Evangelical Lutheran
Churches of Malaysia & Singapore).
Autonomy and Development of 2 main independent Centres (1922): Penang “Northern Circle’ & Kuala
Lumpur ‘Southern Circle’ with overseas Mission Board sent Indian pastors.
Maintain relationships with Leipzig Evangelical Mission and the Tamil Lutheran Church in India.
American Lutheran missionary presence (1954), established ministry work (evangelistic, medical,
educational missions) in major Malaysian states. Overall participation of the UCLA missionaries
together with Church of Sweden Mission led to a period of spectacular change & development.
Birth of the Church of Sweden Mission and the Formation of the ELC of Malaysia: 1961-1965.
By 1959, Lutheran English schools, Lutheran Women’s Fellowship, Evangelistic band, active Youth
Fellowship, Sunday Schools, theological training centres were established.
Compare and contrast
Percentage of religions in Malaysia
Different Denominations
Christians Denom.
Affil.%
,000
Ann.Gr.
Protestant
46
3.00
668
+3.3%
Independent
15
1.21
269
+5.6%
Anglican
1
0.81
180
+1.4%
Catholic
1
2.86
636
-0.3%
Orthodox
1
0.01
2
+0.8%
Marginal
7
0.03
7
+5.6%
1.29
287
n.a.
Unaffiliated
Churches in Malaysia (Different Denominations)
Churches
MegaBloc Cong.
Members
Affiliates
Catholic
C
147
336,508
636,000
Independent [10]
I
911
108,888
230,000
Methodist
P
1,150
90,000
210,000
Anglican
A
350
104,651
180,000
Ev Ch of Borneo SIB
P
601
62,738
150,000
Seventh-day Adventist
P
232
39,421
70,000
Basel Christian
P
115
26,374
48,000
Assemblies of God
P
201
27,820
37,000
Chr Brethren
P
140
5,500
11,000
Lutheran Ch in M & S
P
35
3,378
7,500
Jehovah's Witnesses
M
46
2,046
4,600
Elim Pentecostal
P
4
400
720
Other denoms [50]
1,086
94,500
176,400
Total Christians [71]
5,018
902,000
1,761,000
MULTI-RACIAL MALAYSIAN WORSHIPPERS
• Rise of Pentecostalism movement in churches (major
cities/towns) in both East and West Malaysia since 1970s.
A GLIMPSE OF MALAYSIAN CHURCHES
St Paul’s Church in Penang
(West Malaysia)
A Church in Sarawak (East Malaysia)
ANGLICAN CHURCH (East Malaysia)
The oldest Catholic church in
West Malaysia (Perak state)
A METHODIST CHURCH
(EAST MALAYSIA)
ST JOSEPH CATHEDRAL IN PENANG
(WEST MALAYSIA)
THE LUTHERAN ZION CHURCH, KUALA
LUMPUR (WEST MALAYSIA)
THE SACRED HEART CATHEDRAL,
KOTA KINABALU (EAST MALAYSIA)
A METHODIST CHURCH
(WEST MALAYSIA)

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