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St. Thomas's Cathedral Kuching

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150 Years of The Anglican Church In Borneo

05. INTRODUCTION

The first Anglican missionary, the Revd. Francis Thomas McDougall, priest and doctor (who later became the first Bishop of the Diocese) came to Sarawak on 29th June 1848 ( St. Peter’s Day) leading a group of missionaries from England.

The present Church compound, which was an area of jungle covered hill behind the old town was given to the Church by the Rajah and on 25th August 1849 this site Dr. McDougall began the erection of a fine wooden church capable of holding  250 persons. On 22nd August 1851 Bishop Wilson of Calcutta (within whose jurisdiction Kuching then lay) consecrated this Church to the glory of God and in honour of St. Thomas, the Apostle.

The foundation stone for the present Cathedral was laid on 15th October 1953 by H.R.H. the Duchess of Kent and the building was completed by May the following year. The Consecration of the Cathedral took place on 9th June 1956 at the hand of Bishop Nigel Cornwall.

They were led by thirty-year-old surgeon and priest, Francis Thomas McDougall, with his wife Harriette, and another clergyman, William Bodham Wright. The group was sent at the invitation of Rajah James Brooke, by an organisation called The Borneo Church Mission Institution, and later fully supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), and subsequently with some assistance from the Church Missionary Society.

McDougall and his team began their missionary work at a house near the waterfront, where the present Court House is situated. They then moved inland to the east of Kuching town, which McDougall called: “Church Hill”, and “College Hill”. They served the small community of James Brooke’s Officers and town people, by starting a clinic and school. From thence, the Church expanded With the expansion of the Brooke’s regime to other parts of Sarawak.

From the work of the two priests, and others who followed, after them, the Anglican Church and the teachings of Christianity have developed to what it is now: 24 Parishes, over 100 Chapels, 75 priests, and about 120,000 worshipers. The McDougalls and Wrights have planted the “original seeds” (or what traditional Iban farmers would called “padi pun”) in 1848. Now those seeds have yielded bountiful harvests.

’150 Years later…our foundation and heritage’

In 1998, 150 years after the first landing of the Anglican missionaries, the Diocese of Kuching has organised a comprehensive programme of celebrations to commemorate the historic occasion. This book is part of the celebrations. It is considered timely to place on records the Church’s past achievements as a reflection of our foundation and heritage. This is important. As we strive to develop our Church we should not forget our roots, as they are sources of our identity, tradition, and strength. The book is therefore, a book of records, a book of explanation; and a book in which members of the Anglican Church can identify themselves as part of this historic movement, and be justifiably proud of it. But most of all, the book should be understood as a testimony of the active work of God in our midst.

Material for this book came from the Diocesan Archives and Diocesan Office, as well as, responses from Parish priests and personal communications. Time was a constraining factor in the book’s preparation. The Editorial Committee was only formed late last year. Original indepth research was therefore, not possible. Apart from the brief Parish surveys and archival source, the material for the book’s compilation come from secondary sources such as :  Brian Taylor’s (1983) The Anglican Church in Borneo 1848 – 1962; and Graham Saunder’s (1992) Bishops and Brookes; (see other references in the List of Reference at the back), which are duly acknowledged. Visits were also made to some to some parishes with the view of taking photographs and talking with parish members on various aspects of their history.

We are grateful and feel privileged to have our Bishop, who not only gave his blessings and support to this project, but also agreed to contribute to the Preface and Epilogue. Bishop Made, in the Preface rightly pointed out that : “It would not be possible to include all information, articles and pictures, in a book like this.” In this regard the Editorial Committee solicit the reader’s indulgence for any shortcomings in this book, and duly apologizes for inadvertently omitting materials which the reader may regard as relevant.

 

Daily Services in The Cathedral

Morning Services   6.15 a.m. Except on Wednesday
  6.30 a.m. Wednesday
Holy Communion   6.30 a.m. Except on Wednesday
  5.30 p.m. Wednesday
Evening Services   4.00 p.m. Except on Wed. and Sat.
  5.00 p.m. Wednesday
Sunday Services   6.45 a.m. Holy Communion in English
  8.15 a.m. Solemn Liturgy in English*
  10:00 a.m. Holy Communion in Chinese
  5:30 p.m. Evensong in English with Sermon and Holy Communion
  • In Bahasa Malaysia on 2nd & 4th Sunday of the month at the Parish Hall.
  • In Iban on 1st & 3rd Sunday of the month at the Parish Hall.

Parish Office Hours

Monday to Friday   8.30 a.m - 12.30 p.m
2.00p.m - 4.30p.m
Saturday   8.30 a.m - 12.30 p.m
Sundays and Public Holidays   Closed
Prayer Meetings   Lay Staff (every Monday) 9.00 a.m - 9.30 a.m
  Clergy (every Friday ) 9.00 a.m - 10.00 a.m

Infant Baptism

  • In English : 1st Sunday of the month
  • In Iban : 3rd Sunday of the month
  • In Chinese : 4th Sunday of the month