For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.
– Matthew 18:20

Our purpose is to Glorify God through the Empowering of the Holy Spirit by Fulfilling the Great Commission to disciple the nations who will Follow the Great Commandment to love God and people.

History of GEFC

Geylang EFC was formed through the merger of 2 EFC churches: Emmanuel House (“EH”) and Peninsula Evangelical Free Church.

Emmanuel House

EH began as a component church of four (later 3) Emmanuel churches then meeting as one church in the Singapore Bible College (SBC) from 1970-72. These were: Emmanuel Evangelical Church (EEC) retaining a majority of the members; Emmanuel Chapel moving to a terrace house in Queenstown; Emmanuel Christian Fellowship (later called Covenant EFC) with 17 members, and EH. It (EH) moved to Jalan Novena Selatan, where it grew from 30+ to 60+ worshippers. With space constraints and the noise inconvenience to neighbours, it decided to look for bigger premises. In 1980, it leased a meeting hall in the Kampong Java Road YWCA facility, which also housed a kindergarten, several squash courts and a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. Rumour had it that sermons there were “finger-licking good”! The young church also sent out its first missionary couple, Kim Tok and Dolly, to India in 1978.

EH had to contend with several more moves in its journey towards being an independent and growing church. In 1988, the lease ended due to re-development plans for the KK Hospital. EH then moved to EEC premises at 307 Pasir Panjang Road, having its service in the late afternoon. At this time, Kim Tok returned from India and became its Associate Pastor for an interim period of 2 years. Soon EH made a decision to move to 721 Bukit Timah Road, the premises of Covenant EFC, using the afternoon slot.

In 1990, Rev Kenny Fam was appointed pastor of EH. As it grew, the church continued its search for better facilities and timings for its congregation. In 1996, leaders from Peninsula EFC met with leaders from EH and commenced talks on a possible merger and its modalities. Despite some apprehension, God’s peace led both parties and the first combined service was held in the Methodist Girls’ School auditorium.

Peninsula EFC

PEFC arose out of the ashes of major leadership issues between the church leaders of a mainstream denomination and its congregation located in the Orchard Road area. Despite mediation efforts even by national church leaders, it was unfortunately a deadlock outcome with no resolution. Many members were disenchanted with the situation and many left the church. To provide a conducive environment for worship, a section of the members left to begin a separate worship service.

This inaugural service was held on 11 Oct 1987 in the ballroom of the Peninsula Hotel (hence its name). The fellowship was initially without a pastor, but the lay leaders felt they had to hold the congregation together for the sake of many who were hurt by the separation. Besides the worship service, Sunday School and youth groups were started in the adjacent “bar” of the hotel. After more than a year of its formation, it was recognised that the church had to be held accountable to a larger body other than its own leaders. Hence, it explored the various denominations to be affiliated to. The EFC denomination seemed the most suitable: it shared a common theological statement of faith, each EFC church could maintain its (own) independence, and yet, the church was accountable to an established denomination. After a number of warm meetings with the EFCS leaders, the denomination accepted its application.

So, on 26 Feb 1989, the name was changed to Peninsula Evangelical Free Church. Over the years, it moved from Peninsula Hotel to a quaint little chapter at Dempsey Road (Ebenezer Chapel, now occupied by The White Rabbit restaurant) for a more conducive environment and space. As the church grew further, it later moved to the auditorium of the newly completed Methodist Girls’ School at Blackmore Road.

Geylang Evangelical Free Church

GEFC EH and PEFC were similar in size with similar goals – to find a permanent home and settle down. In 1996, by God’s grace, the EEC umbrella sold its property at 721 Bukit Timah Road for a good price. The sales proceeds were shared with its 3 churches, including EH. With these funds, God opened doors for EH, together with Youth For Christ, to jointly purchase a piece of land at Lorong 27A Geylang with the plan to develop a building to house the work and ministries of both entities. Seeing the ministry opportunities and general similarity between the churches, EH extended a gracious invitation to PEFC to consider a “partnership” so that combined, they could do far greater ministry and a wider outreach work than as individual churches. Although the leaders of both churches already knew one another through their interaction at the national board, a series of “intense” meetings over the months gave them further resonance of a common shared vision, leadership style and ethos, church practices and ministries’ outreach.

Things moved quickly. In Oct 1996, both churches held a combined worship service at the Methodist Girls’ School for the congregations to “get to know” each other. A year later, the congregations merged to form “Geylang Evangelical Free Church”. Through this new name, the identities of both churches were “put” aside so that the “new” church can start afresh. 2 short years later, in 1999, the church moved to its new building at Geylang, named Emmanuel House. This name was a tribute to Emmanuel House’s (the church) humble beginnings at Jalan Novena Selatan. GEFC’s entire 55% share of the development costs (YFC’s share is 45%) was fully funded by way of the sales proceeds, members’ sacrificial giving as well as members’ non-interest bearing personal loans. Within a few short years, the personal loans were all paid off. Praise be to God!

EFC – The Denomination

Following Martin Luther’s 1517 Protestant Reformation in Germany, many parts of Europe adopted the Protestant form of Christianity as their State Church or National Church. In the century that followed, the Pietistic movement saw many followers who valued their personal relationship with God. As many State churches disallowed Christian gatherings outside of church premises, believers started to question their governance over one’s individual’s freedom to worship.

Believers who left the State churches began organizing their own “Free” churches – “Free” because they were not under the authority of the State and each church had the freedom to worship according to her convictions derived from Scripture.

These European “free” churches were found primary in Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Following the Scandinavian migration of believers in the 19th century, the Evangelical Free Church crossed over to America, giving rise to the Swedish Evangelical Free Church there in 1884. Separately, the Norwegian and Danish churches founded the Norwegian-Danish Evangelical Free Church. The word “Evangelical” was added to show their doctrinal position as Bible believing followers, accepting the authority and accuracy of the Bible.

The Swedish and Danish-Norwegian fellowships merged in 1950, giving birth to the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA). In the late 1950s, it commissioned missionaries to the Far East which birthed the story of EFC in Singapore.

The earliest EFCA missionaries were Revered Arthur Linquist and his wife, Annie who came in 1957. Followed by Reverend Richard Frederick McMurray and his wife Dorothy in 1960 followed by Revered Benjamin Sawatsky and his wife Muriel. Through a series of God ordained events, the 1st EFC church in Singapore, Bethany Evangelical Free Church was established in 1961 and her inaugural meeting was held at 133 Fidelio Street. On the other side of Singapore at Yarwood Avenue at Bukit Timah (and later to King Albert Park), in 1964, a non denominational group organized themselves to form Bukit Timah Evangelical Free Church (now known as Woodlands EFC).

Notwithstanding its short history in Singapore, the EFC denomination is now recognised as a mainline denomination locally with an umbrella of churches, and continues to grow.