The Brethren movement arrived in Singapore with Philip Robinson (founder of Robinson and Company), and a few others in the 1860s. Robinson had converted to Christianity at the early age of 14 and was brought up in the Plymouth Brethren tradition, which was a return to the New Testament manner of gathering in close-knit fellowship groups. The movement also eschewed ordained leadership in favour of relying upon the Holy Spirit for the necessary ministerial gifts amongst the assembly, and emphasised purity of doctrine.
Robinson and his wife Elisa were a devout couple. In 1864, they and a few like-minded Christians rented a room at Bencoolen Street, intending that in these humble premises (called the “Mission Room”), believers could meet for worship and the gospel could be preached. This was the beginning of the Brethren movement in Singapore.
Two years later the Mission Room had become too small to house the increased number of believers, and so Bethesda Chapel was built at Bras Basah Road to house the assembly. God richly blessed the pioneering work of this congregation and within the next six months, a further extension had to be added to seat more people. From here, the work of the Brethren spread to Neil Road and Upper Serangoon Road, where several new assemblies, including Chinese speaking ones, began to meet regularly.
We trace the origins of our assembly at Yio Chu Kang Chapel back to 1953, when the elders of Bethesda Hall felt it was time for believers living in Upper Serangoon and Yio Chu Kang districts to meet together for Sunday worship. Over the next few decades, as the Lord blessed us with increased numbers, our assembly was housed at several different premises until 1978, when we moved to our present location at 242 Yio Chu Kang Road.
Today our church community is made up of more than 350 people of all ages, part of God’s family from all walks of life. As an intentional disciple-making Brethren church, our faith and practices are rooted in God’s Word given in the Bible, and our passion and purpose is to make disciples of Christ.