The Church of England has been in mission through its chartered agency, the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG), since 1701, building a worldwide network of churches in the Anglican Communion. (1) Therefore, the early Anglican Church in Malaya began as the mission of the USPG whose missionaries came as Chaplains and their aim was primarily “to supply spiritual administration for the British Colonial Officials and civilians.” (2)
As early as 1884, there was a vibrant Anglican community in Teluk Anson. The town saw the arrival of migrant workers from India who came to work in the plantations and estates. Among them were Christians who met in their quarters for church services while the Europeans held their services in the bungalows of Planters. About 40 – 50 people met regularly to worship. This separation was seen unfavorably by the Indian workers and some gradually left to worship in the local Tamil Methodist Church which met at the Anglo Tamil School. (3)
One of the first Anglican Chaplains, Rev A Markham who was stationed in Ipoh (1884 – 1887) serviced the British community in Teluk Anson. The Court House building that was completed in 1893 became a Church on Sundays for services and since then there was a marked improvement in the attendance. It was reported that on
“New Year’s morning we were almost crowed out of the Court House. On this occasion the building was so tastefully decorated by the ladies of the congregation, that for the time being it appeared as a thing of beauty, – a quality which we do not as a rule associate with the interior of the Court of Justice.” (4)
According to the Rev. J.P. Parry, the Perak South Church Magazine which he edited in 1907 already spoke of a church community that was well established in Teluk Anson. (5) By late 1909 a plan for a new church building was already drawn up. However, a year later in November 1910 Rev Parry resigned due to poor health while on leave. An enthusiastic Superintendent Mr. H.J. Cooper took charge of the work since most of the money for the church building had already been raised by Mrs. Cooper. By February of 1911 several church members; Mr. M.J. Hooper, Mr. Campbell, Mrs. Smith and Captain and Mrs. Lamprey played prominent roles in the work of building the church. While the exterior of the building was completed by May 1911 there were insufficient funds to furnish it. The energetic Mrs. Cooper came to the rescue with a novel idea, a concert.
Unfortunately, Captain and Mrs. Lamprey were transferred out and before leaving donated a marble font which remains till today. This is similar to the one in St John’s, Ipoh. Subsequently, there was further delay in furnishing the church building due to the coronation of King George V on 22 June 1911. However, the church received a grant of 25 Pounds from the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (S.P.C.K.) while by this time the Parish had a new Chaplain Rev. H.C. Henham. Finally on Friday April 26, 1912 at 5.15 pm St Luke’s Church was consecrated.
Rev. Parry further reported that:
“The Little Church at Teluk Anson, though by no means a pretentious edifice is lacking in neither grace nor beauty, and the preparations for the consecration were as complete as could have been desired. Great credit is due to Messrs. Campbell, Hon. Secretary, Stevens and H.J. Cooper, the last mentioned not only supervised the structure, but also took a very practical part in the arrangement of the furniture. The Church presented a very pleasing appearance, when the West door was opened on Friday afternoon to admit the Bishop, the Chaplain and the lay representatives of the community. Mr. Kingston presided at the organ and the musical part of the service was effectively rendered by the choir. The Bishop preached a most practical and interesting sermon from the words in the Prologue of St John’s Gospel “of his fullness have all we received and grace for grace.” During the singing of the second hymn a collection was made to provide the Church with vessels for Holy Communion. The whole service was dignified and impressive.” (6)
The Straits Times on 1 May, 1912 had this report:
The Church of St Luke’ the Evangelist, Teluk Anson, was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Singapore on Friday last, at 5.15 p.m. The service was dignified and impressive. Mr. Kingston, the organist, assisted by an efficient choir, rendered the musical part of the service very effectively, and the Bishop gave an excellent address, in the course of which he referred to the debt which the whole Christian world owes to the Evangelist, the Physician, the Historian, and the Editor of our first Christian Hymns. (7)
St Luke’s Church was a small wooden church building with an architectural design consisting of nave and chancel with a high pitched roof and belfry with a bell all the way from England. The church was positioned in a central area surrounded by plenty of space and had a seating capacity for 60 people. (8)
According to a publication named the “Onlooker”, in an article entitled “New Churches in the Malay Peninsular”, Bishop Hose had suggested the plan to name St Luke’s Teluk Anson and three other churches in the Diocese after the Evangelists and Apostles in the order found in the Bible. The four Evangelists commemorated were in Singapore (St Matthew’s Church), Seremban (St Mark’s Church), Teluk Anson (St Luke’s Church) and Ipoh (St John’s Church). (9)
At the end of 1928 the Rev. Nigel Williams became the first Resident Priest in Teluk Anson. He lived in the new Parsonage and served St Luke’s Church and Sumatra.
St Luke’s Anglican Church underwent massive renovation in the year 2000 from the old wooden structure to a modern brick and mortar structure and was dedicated on 13th May 2001 by the then Bishop Tan Sri Dr. Lim Cheng Ean. In the year 2010 the old Church hall was rebuilt and the vicarage renovated and was dedicated on October 2010 by Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing.
1. Daniel O’Connor & others, Three Centuries of Mission – The United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel 1701 – 2000. 2000.
2. S. Batumalai, A Bicentenary History of the Anglican Church of the Diocese of West Malaysia (1805 – 2005) – In the Province of South East Asia. 2007, p 124
3. S. Batumalai, Op. cit., p 124
4. Singapore Diocesan Magazine, February Vol 1 No 2, 1911
5. Singapore Diocesan Magazine, August 1929
6. Singapore Diocesan Magazine, August 1929
7. The Straits Times, 1 May 1912, p 6
8. Singapore Diocesan Magazine, August 1929
9. Singapore Diocesan Magazine, August 1929