Sunday, February 19, 2012

Cradle of faith at Hillview

In today's Sunday Times, it was reported that the Eastern Orthodox Church had appointed a new bishop, Fr Konstatinos Tsilis, to look after the growing Orthodox Church population in Singapore.

I had known that the Orthodox Church had been using rented premises from the Roman Catholics somewhere in Serangoon, but what surprised me was finding out that a 2nd congregation existed right here at Hillview Avenue.
The Russin Orthodox Church at Jalan Dermawan, Hillview.
So I did a google and found out that they are established at Jalan Dermawan. And something else more interesting, they are located by the haunted Hillview Mansion that I had blog about earlier!  Well, if any paranormal hunters visiting the Mansion need an exorcist quick, they are in luck! just kidding.

In fact, you may be surprised to learn that Princess Elizabeth Estate and Hillview were the roots of some established churches in Singapore.

In the very early 1950s, a group of Finnish Missionaries were evicted from China by the Communists. They came to Singapore and were given a shophouse at Princess Elizabeth Estate by the SIT to establish a 'church' for their missionary activities. Just to clarify for non christians reading this, a 'church' does not necessarily mean a building.

I do not know of this Finnish Missionary group myself, being too young then, but my mother remembers this group of ang mohs who went around singing and preaching. They always appeared happy and willing to converse. My mom remembers they could speak Chinese though not the Teochew or Cantonese which most PEE residents spoke.

This is just based on hearsay but I heard that their success was also their downfall as some colonial 'powers that be' did not see their activities based in SIT shophouses as proper. Their lease was not renewed and they moved out of PEE. They were said to have gone to Tiong Bahru where eventually they helped set up a church there (Zion Road Free Gospel Church).

                  Missionary persecutions even in Singapore.

Another church that started out of PEE was formed by a group of friends.
One of them being my ex-classmate Tay Buan Tiong. Buan Tiong was in PEES and his mother ran the yong tau foo stall at the  school tuckshop. We both went to the same secondary school but he later transferred to another technical school during secondary two.
At this technical secondary school, Buan Tiong and some friends became fervent christians and started proselyting. They went around PEE with their bibles trying to get people to hear their message of salvation and succeeded in gathering a large congregation. I believe that they met for worship at a house somewhere also at Jalan Dermawan. Hmm, holy hills?

If I am correct,  this church which they started is now the World Revival Prayer Fellowship, a Pentecostal church, located in Aljunied. Another of my ex-classmate, Kenny Chee, is currently the senior pastor at this church. Kenny and his wife Jenny were also ex-residents of P.E. Estate.


  1. Hi James, Thanks for showing us where that orthodox church is. Yes you are right about the WRPF church. It began when the Dunearn Sec Tech Sch students that experienced God behind the school's laboratories came under the covering and guidance of a Castrol chief accountant by the name of A.M. Mathews. We met at his home in No 14, Jalan Dermawan (Indonesian word for love, charity). The "church" was located there for about two to three years before it moved. -your ex-classmate Kenny Chee



    Church website:
    Personal blogsite:

  2. I remember reading a book some time during the 70's aboiut a group of Finnish missionries who came from China. One of them was named Hilja Nikkanen. Here is a link that mentions that name.

  3. Thank you bluecool for the link.
    The blog in the link belongs to Rev Kenny Chee, whom I mentioned above as my classmate at PEES and pastor at World Revival.