Singapore

Titus Chung becomes 10th bishop of Anglican Church in Singapore

He is installed in scaled-down but still impressive service before 100 people because of Covid-19 curbs

In a ceremony steeped in tradition, the Reverend Canon Titus Chung was installed as the new bishop of the Anglican Church in Singapore yesterday evening.

The 2½-hour-long service at St Andrew's Cathedral was a more muted affair this time, because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Just about 100 people - the maximum allowed under current social distancing rules - attended the ceremony, compared with the thousands who had showed up on past occasions.

However, more than 2,000 people closely followed the proceedings which were livestreamed on YouTube.

Politicians and leaders of other Christian denominations were present at the ceremony.

President Halimah Yacob and her husband Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee both attended, as did former president Tony Tan Keng Yam and his wife Mary, who are both Anglicans.

Others who were present at the cathedral included Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and Catholic Archbishop William Goh.

Bishop Chung, who is married with two children, will be the 10th bishop of Singapore.

The 55-year-old was previously priest-in-charge of St Andrew's Cathedral's Mandarin congregation and takes over as bishop from the Right Reverend Rennis Ponniah, 65, who retired in September.

Though yesterday's ceremony was scaled down, it was no less impressive, opening with a procession of Anglican clergy members from Singapore streaming into the nave decked out in resplendent robes.

The Right Reverend John Chew, who was the eighth Anglican bishop of Singapore, then led the consecration proceedings, praying over Bishop Chung with other bishops before passing to him his symbols of office: a Bible to guide him, a ring that signifies faith and a mitre, the bishop's headdress.

Subsequently, the installation portion of the service began with Bishop Chung exiting the sanctuary and other church leaders closing the entrance doors.

The bishop then had to knock on the door three times with his staff and wait for permission to be granted by the Church for him to enter, signalling acceptance from the Church.

When the doors were opened, the bishop was led to the cathedra, or bishop's throne, behind the altar, where Bishop Chew handed him the diocesan crosier, or bishop's staff, symbolic of the passing of leadership.

The newly installed bishop, who holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, was ordained as a priest in 1997 after graduating from Trinity Theological College.

He served as priest and subsequently vicar at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit from 1997 to 2005, before joining St Andrew's Cathedral in 2009.

He told The Straits Times after the service that he felt "the heavy weight of the responsibility" of his new role amid the coronavirus crisis.

The diocese, he said, would look into supporting the social, mental and psychological needs of both its flock and the wider community.

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