- Singapore continues to play an important role in the development of the Protestant community in Southeast ASIA due to its history as a British colony, its present role as an economic powerhouse, and its extremely pluralistic religious community. Most of the population is of Chinese heritage, divided between Buddhists and followers of traditional Chinese religions. Malays (about 12 percent) are primarily Muslims. There is also an Asian Indian community who are Hindus. The Netherlands Reformed Church was brought to the region in the 17th century after the Dutch conquest of Malaysia, but Protestantism remained largely the preserve of European settlers prior to the 19th century.The London Missionary Society (LMS) began an outreach in the area, using Malacca as a base of operations, in 1814. They were on the scene almost immediately when Sir Thomas Raffles (1781-1826) founded a trading post on Singapore in 1819. Over the next decades, the LMS, joined by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, worked among the population evangelizing and setting up Western-style schools.Thus, the first generation of Protestant work was primarily in Presbyterian hands, and eventually the work was united into what is today the Presbyterian Church in Singapore.The Church of England sent a priest to Singapore in 1826 to serve the needs of British settlers, but did not begin to reach out to the native population until the 1850s, when missionaries with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts arrived. The Plymouth Brethren arrived in 1856 and the Methodists in 1885, the only other groups to establish work in the 19th centuryThrough the 20th century, a host of different groups have found their way to Singapore. Pente-costalism, brought by the Assemblies of God, has joined the Anglicans, Methodists, and Presbyterians as among the five largest Protestant bodies on the island. The Baptists have about 10,000 members, divided between the Singapore Baptist Convention and the Faith Community Baptist Church.The older and larger Singapore churches are members of the National Council of Churches, Singapore, which is affiliated with the World Council of Churches. Many of the newer and more conservative churches are affiliated with the Evangelical Fellowship of Singapore, which is associated with the World Evangelical Alliance. Like Hong Kong, Singapore has become an important center for missionary activity in the region and a number of parachurch organizations have used regional headquarters on the island as a launching pad for missionary outreach to nearby countries.Further reading:■ Theodore R. Doraisamy, ed., Forever Beginning: One Hundred Years of Methodism in Singapore, 2 vols. (Singapore: Methodist Church in Singapore, 1985)■ Robert McLeish Greer, A History of the Presbyterian Church in Singapore (Singapore: Malaya Publishing House, 1956)■ Singapore Church Directory (Singapore: Singapore Every Home Crusade, issued annually): Bobby E. K. Sng, In His Good Time: The Story of the Church in Singapore, 1819-1992 (Singapore: Graduates' Christian Fellowship, 1993).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.