Interfaith Community Events: An ‘Engine Room’ Experience
By: Natalie H.
I have been volunteering in the Geylang Serai grassroots events for the past few years – and when I was given the opportunity to serve on the IRCC team in church, it felt like God engineered a rainbow connection. The pot of gold was no doubt the opportunity to be able to experience the ‘engine room’ of Heart of God Church.
You may ask – so what exactly is IRCC?
Let’s break down the acronym – IRCC stands for Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circles. In a nutshell, they are interfaith platforms formed in every constituency to promote racial and religious harmony in Singapore. They serve as important bridges between various religious, ethnic and community groups; and leaders from these groups would come together to join the IRCC network to build friendship and trust.
Heart of God Church is a part of the Geylang Serai IRCC and has been actively involved in organising and participating in many interfaith and inter-ethnic themed activities since!
Some events where I had the chance to be involved were the Joint Blood Donation Drives, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Flag Day and the New Year Countdown in Heart of God Church last year. With each event, I saw how our volunteers sprang into action with one heart to make the event successful.
During the NKF Flag Day, I recall we had volunteers across various demographics in church – from students to full-time working adults. Donned in bright shirts and even brighter smiles, everyone set out with a single-minded pursuit to raise funds for a good cause—individuals struggling with kidney health—and having much fun doing so with our friends from Khalid Mosque. We might have come from different places, but everyone was moving towards the common goal of making the event successful.
At the IRCC New Year Countdown event, I was given the opportunity to be the emcee for one of the segments. It was a significant event to celebrate a fruitful year of collaborations and usher in a brand new year with our friends in the community.
To be honest, I was really nervous when I first heard about my role as emcee. I even dreamt of myself fainting on stage halfway! That would have been epic…ly disastrous. However, when we were doing sound checks, Pastor Garrett saw me and intentionally stopped to have a word. In that short conversation, he affirmed me and told me that I would do a great job – and that was even before I could sputter the words ‘mike test’ into the microphone. I am so grateful to be placed under a leadership which constantly looked out for people even in the midst of a busy event.
I have emceed for grassroots events over the years but have never done it in Church! It showed me how our Pastors and leaders truly believe in us and are even willing to take a bet with entrusting important responsibilities to newer people to encourage, employ and empower them. I felt so believed in. In the end, the segment I emceed for was a great success!
The culture set by the leadership also manifests itself in the behaviour of HOGC members. There was one segment that night where various religious leaders were invited to the stage for a joint prayer. One of the religious leaders had entered the auditorium late and was rushing towards the stage while fumbling with his outerwear. A young usher standing by the side was quick to notice and stepped forth to help him before gently and calmly ushering him towards the stage. It was such a mature act which helped the religious leader ease into the setting.
Through that very same event, I also experienced first-hand the intensity behind “running a service” and the power of teams! Due to unforeseen circumstances, there was a big change to the order of events which required the entire sequence to be flipped around – and this happened just five minutes before the start! I remember there was a quick huddle at a corner downstage – after some paper flips, quick scrolls of thumbs and a flurry of gestures – everyone responded to the unexpected changes with a can-do spirit and jumped into action. There was such an atmosphere of faith!
This was only possible because Heart of God Church has been built on a strong foundation with a unique HOGC DNA imparted from generation to generation. Everyone was there to make everyone else successful. There was something to be caught simply by observing the ways of working in the team – warm and others-centred while not losing professionalism and excellence.
I’m so proud to be a HOGC member and am thankful to be placed under a leadership which teaches us to build bridges with our communities. It is truly a privilege to be found loving and serving God in this place.