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Presbyterian Church in Malaysia

The Presbyterian Church in Malaysia or GPM (Malay: Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia) is a Christian church in Malaysia. Established as an independent synod in 1974, it currently has approximately 7,000 members in 100 congregations nationwide.[1]

Presbyterian Church in Malaysia
Presbyterian Church in Malaysia.png
Logo of the Presbyterian Church in Malaysia
ModeratorRev. Chua Hua Peng
AssociationsWARC, CWM, CCM, CFM, CCA, WCC
Primary schools2

The current Moderator of the GPM is the Rev. Chua Hua Peng.



The Presbyterian Church in Malaysia today is the result of the convergence of two parallel historical developments that shares common roots but diverged early in work and emphasis - the English-speaking Synod of the English Presbytery and the Chinese-speaking Singapore Presbyterian Synod.[2]

Early developmentsEdit

The earliest contact with the Presbyterianism was through the Dutch control of the Portuguese Malacca in 1641. The staunchly Reformed Protestant Dutch banned the practice of Roman Catholicism in Malacca and converted all existing churches in Malacca for Dutch Reformed use. The main church used was the old St. Paul's Church (renamed as the Bovenkerk by the Dutch) built by the Portuguese in 1521 as the Nosa Senhora (Portuguese: Our Lady of the Hill) chapel on the summit of St. Paul's Hill.

Construction of a new church started in 1741 to replace the ageing Bovenkerk and was completed in 1753. This church reflects distinctive Dutch Presbyterian traditions within its interior architecture [3] and continues to be used for Christian worship today.

When control of Malacca passed on to the British as a result of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, the church was re-consecrated according to the rites of the Church of England by the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta in 1838 and renamed Christ Church.[4]

Pioneering workEdit

Many early missionaries from the London Missionary Society (LMS) such as William Milne who arrived in Malacca in 1815 were from Presbyterian or Reformed backgrounds and many LMS missionaries assisted in the providing spiritual nurture to the Scots community in Penang and Singapore along with chaplains of the East India Company who conducted worship for Church of England members.

One of the early missionaries was Benjamin Keasberry of the LMS who arrived in Singapore in 1839 while en route to China. Seeing the potential of Malay language work, he opted to stay in Singapore engaging the noted teacher, Munshi Abdullah, to assist him in improving his Malay linguistic skills.[5] He started Malay language services in the LMS Chapel at Bras Basah and in 1843 acquired a piece of land in Kampong Bencoolen to build the Malay Mission Chapel. The chapel became popularly known as Gereja Keasberry or "Keasberry's Church" [6] This eventually became the Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church when the English Presbyterian Mission bought over the property from the LMS.[7]

With the departure of LMS missionaries to China after the Treaty of Nanking in 1847 with the notable exception of Keasberry, the local Scottish communities took steps to call their own ministers. This led to the arrival of Charles Moir in Penang in 1851 followed by Thomas McKenzie Fraser in Singapore in 1856. The Orchard Road Presbyterian Church in Singapore was established in 1856 to minister to the expatriates.

The expatriate churchesEdit

The Chinese missionEdit

Ministering to the Chinese diasporaEdit

Both Moir and Fraser attempted to extend work beyond the expatriate communities. Moir resigned in 1857 without much success although the congregation in Penang remains functioning, at times, for extended periods without a minister. Fraser successfully recruited an ethnic Chinese catechist from south Fujian, Tan See Boo, who was later ordained an elder in 1864. Unfortunately, Tan left on 1866 to join the Brethren.[8]

In 1881, the Orchard Road congregation finally succeeded in obtaining a full-time missionary to the Chinese. The Rev. J.A.B. Cook, who was fluent in the Swatow and Southern Fujian dialects arrived in Singapore in November 1881. The English Presbyterian Mission under the supervision of the Cook organised the first Chinese congregation in Bukit Timah. It was the arrival of Cook that was eventually chosen to mark the founding of the present Presbyterian Churches of Malaysia and Singapore.[8]

Mission expansion to MalayaEdit

In 1886, Cook expanded the mission to the southern tip of Malaya in Johor Baru to minister to the Teochew Chinese community. This work was supported by a prominent Johor businessman and the son-in-law of Keasberry, James Meldrum, who helped obtain a land grant for the church building from Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor who was a former student of Keasberry.[9] Work was expanded to Muar in 1892 with the Rev. Liau Thian Ek as the first pastor.

Work in Penang continued abreast especially after the arrival of William Murray in 1892 who helped put Penang's congregation on a more solid footing. Pastoral responsibility of Penang's St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church eventually extended beyond Penang to Province Wellesley, Kedah, northern Perak, southern Thailand and North Sumatera.[8]


In 1884, Cook wrote that a presbytery had been formed with him as the moderator and three Chinese elders. In January 1901, Cook convened a meeting of ministers and elders of the Chinese mission and the Singapore Presbyterian Synod was formed.[10][11]

Beliefs and practicesEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Council of Churches of Malaysia: Members - Presbyterian Church in Malaysia Archived 1 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Malaysia - About Our Work - Presbyterian Mission Agency".
  3. ^ Hunt, Robert; Lee Kam Hing; John Roxborogh (1992). Christianity in Malaysia - A Denominational History. Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications. ISBN 978-967-978-407-7.
  4. ^ S., Batumalai (2007). A Bicentenary History of the Anglican Church of the Diocese of West Malaysia. Malaysia: S. Batumalai.
  5. ^ Sng, Bobby E.K. (2003). In His Good Time: The Story of the Church in Singapore 1819–2002 (3rd ed. ed.). Singapore: Bible Society of Singapore. p. 337. ISBN 981-220-286-2
  6. ^ Buckley, Charles Burton (1965). An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore 1819-1867. Singapore: University of Malaya Press. pp. 320–322. ASIN B0016C71S0.
  7. ^ "History of the Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church". Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  8. ^ a b c Hunt, John; Lee Kam Hing; John Roxborogh (1992). Christianity in Malaysia - A Denominational History. Kuala Lumpur: Pelanduk Publications. pp. 75–106. ISBN 978-967-978-407-7.
  9. ^ "Church History". Gereja Presbyterian Holy Light. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  10. ^ "History (1901)". Presbyterian Church in Malaysia. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  11. ^ "History of PCS". Presbyterian Church in Singapore. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2011.
  12. ^ a b Fasse, Christoph. "Address data base of Reformed churches and institutions".
  13. ^ Fasse, Christoph. "Address data base of Reformed churches and institutions".

External linksEdit