Having gone through civil war following the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia is racing against time to rebuild itself as a nation. In recent years, it is trying to end its dependence on foreign aid. The country’s economic potential and natural resources is drawing foreign investments, especially from China and Vietnam. Tourism is also booming with about two million tourists every year since 2007. With economic progress, unfortunately, materialism, liberalism and human trafficking are evils creeping into Cambodia society. Cambodia needs the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our vision is to see the Anglican Church of Cambodia become a self-propagating, self-governing and self-supporting Anglican Diocese that will faithfully witness for Christ until He returns.
We aim to realize this vision through four key areas of focus:
1. Faithful preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and demonstration of God’s transforming power through meeting felt needs.
2. Raising up local pastoral and lay leadership in the churches.
3. Modeling Anglican practice of worship, witness and fellowship.
4. Building bonds of care and accountability as a family of Anglican churches.
By the grace of God, in April 1992, King Sihanouk acceded to the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow the Anglican Church to minister throughout the Kingdom of Cambodia. In 1993, the Bishop of Singapore, the Right Rev Dr Moses Tay, appointed the Rev Dr John Benson to be the first Dean of Cambodia. The first Anglican Church, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ Our Peace (CCOP) with English-speaking and Khmer-speaking congregations was started that year in Phnom Penh with the Rev Donald Cormack as the first Vicar.
The Rev Mok Wai Mung and his late wife Mee Hwa succeeded Rev Cormack in 1996, and begun pioneering new Khmer-speaking outreaches and church plants, mostly in the rural countryside. The Chinese-speaking Church of the Good Shepherd was started by the Rev Chai Lip Vui in 1999 to reach out to ethnic Chinese Cambodians in Phnom Penh.
To date, the Anglican Church of Cambodia (ACC) has grown into a communion of 10 Anglican congregations and 9 preaching points in Phnom Penh and five rural provinces, worshipping Jesus in Khmer, English and Chinese.
In the year 2000, Deaconess Bessie Lee of St Andrew’s Cathedral pioneered Project Khmer Hope (PKH), a training centre in Kampong Speu Province, to equip young Cambodians with skills in hospitality and provide healthcare to the rural community. PKH has since diversified into Industrial Skills Training, and in 2013, launched another training centre in the remote Aoral district.
The Anglican Church of Cambodia entered a new phase in July 2007 when Archbishop John Chew appointed the Rev Tit Hieng, a Cambodian convert and ordained clergyman, as the Vicar of CCOP and Chairman of the newly formed Anglican Church of Cambodia Provisional Council. This marked a significant formative step towards the formation of the future Diocese of Cambodia.
1. Infrastructure Redevelopment of CCOP
With most of our rural churches having upgraded their worship and ministry facilities, the current major infrastructure project is the redevelopment of the Church of Christ Our Peace (CCOP), our flagship parish in Phnom Penh. This pre-1975, 2-storey colonial villa has several structural defects and is prone to flooding and leakage during the rainy season. The church and its ministries have outgrown the present building. The planned 8-storey building will house a 300-seat Sanctuary, a Multi-purpose Hall, an Administrative Centre for the Anglican Church of Cambodia, an Education Centre and a Guest House. The total cost is S$4 million of which we have raised S$2.2 million (as at April 2015). The goal is to have the funds in hand by October 2015 so that construction can commence in January 2016.
2. Rural Church Clusters
Cambodian rural churches typically number below 30 people in size because of low population density and scarce resources. In order to build unity and enhance sustainability, our strategy is to extend individual village churches into clusters of 3-5 village churches in each province for mutual support and sharing of resources. Our rural churches in Svay Rieng, Kampong Speu and Pursat are steadily becoming such clusters.
3. Teaching English as a Ministry
One key outreach strategy to reach Cambodians and Asian expatriates is through the teaching of English. This ministry is currently decentralized to the various churches in order to respond better to opportunities, needs and capacity in the field. We need native-speaker English teachers who can live and minister in urban and rural environments, who can also train up local teachers to seize this opportunity.
4. Third City Church in Phnom Penh
As the city of Phnom Penh develops, more people and businesses are moving into new housing and commercial sectors in New Phnom Penh, near the Airport, west of the Old City. Opportunities abound to reach local residents, factory workers and university students from rural provinces, as well as expatriates attracted to the lower cost of living. We are praying and planning to plant the Third City Church when the Lord brings together the right team, resources and opportunity.
5. Chinese Ministry
With more than 600,000 ethnic Chinese residing in Cambodia, there are plenty of opportunities to reach out to them through English, Mandarin and computer literacy classes, medical outreach and family life ministries.