The British Military Administration took control of Malaya after the Japanese occupation in 1945 but there were several problems which confronted the administration. The most serious being the communist emergency. From their headquarters in the jungles of Malaya the communists attempted to destroy the government and the economy of the country.
The communists were obtaining most of their daily food supplies from the framers living on the fringes of the jungle and earning their living by growing fruits and vegetables and by rearing chickens, ducks, etc.
Between 1949-1952 the British Military Administration in an effort to deny food supplies to the communists rounded up about 570,000 people, mostly Chinese, living in the rural areas and placed them in detention camps in various parts of the country. These camps named New Villages were ringed with barbed wire fences and were guarded by British soldiers day and night. It was believed that some these new villagers were communist sympathizers. Many of those placed in the new villages were tin mine workers, rubber tappers and vegetable framers.
Dr Harry Haines, a missionary of the Methodist Church residing in Kuala Lumpur and who was associated with the British Administration in the plans for development of the new villages advised Miss Helen Loomis of the Women’s Division of Christian Service of the possibility of obtaining land for a community service project at the New Village in Ulu Klang.
An application for a piece of land at the New Village in Ulu Klang by Rev. Hubert Sone, secretary of the Council of Trustees Methodist Church, Malaya, was approved by the District Office of Kuala Lumpur on 25 July 1956.
The land approximately one point seven (1.7) acres was given as a lease for 30 years, subject to the payment of RM588.50 for premium and rent. On application for a second piece of land approximately one (1) acre, for a period of sixty (60) years, was approved for the use of the Women’s Division of Christian Service on April 1959. The payment of the premium was RM10/- and RM15/ for the annual rent.
Miss Helen Loomis of the Women’s Division of Christian Service was appointed as the Resident Missionary of Ulu Klang, to take charge of the project to establish a community center, which would be of benefit to men, women and children living at the New Village.
The aim of the Women’s Division of Christian Service was to provide a social service center for the New Village Community at Ulu Klang, and was an ambitious project for the social, religious and educational upliftment of the under-privileged persons.
A two-storey building constructed in 1957 included a large hall, two classrooms for the kindergarten and nursery classes, and a worker’s residence. A dedication and opening of the Community Center at the New Village, Ulu Klang, were held on October 23, 1957. Dr. Clara French, secretary for Southeast Asia of the Women’s Division of Christian Service, and Bishop H.B. Amstutz conducted the ceremonies related to the presentation and dedication of the Community Center. The Rev. Dr. Tracy Jones of the Methodist Church in the United States of America, pronounced the Benediction. Pastors of the Methodist Churches in Kuala Lumpur and representatives of the Women’s Society of Christian Services and Methodist Churches were present. The building costing RM60,000 was a gift from the Methodist Women in the United States of America.
The aim of the Methodist Community Center at Ulu Klang, was to provide a social service center for the New Village community, especially for women, girls, children and youth.
The programs organized by the Community Center included Kindergarten, nursery and Sunday school classes, a maternity and child and family planning clinic, a reading room and lending library, worship services on Sundays and recreational programs for youth. A staff of three teachers included Misses Betty Kwan and Shirley Lim, both graduates of Trinity Theological College, Singapore and Miss Beatrice Oswald.
Miss Helen Loomis was director of the Center. Gradually more programs were organized including tuition classes for over-aged girls, home visitation, some form of relief work and classes to teach the Malay Language.
In 1961, Mrs Evelyn Mercer, also a missionary of the Women’s Division of Christian Service, took charge of the Community Center. More staff was employed and an Advisory Board comprising Church and Community leaders helped with the development and management of the Center.
A General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service (W.S.C.S) comprising five Women’s Conference in Singapore and East and West Malaysia was formed in Singapore in 1964 with Mrs M.T. Fang as its first President. A Joint Committee for Women’s Work was subsequently formed to take responsibility for the administration and finances of the projects of the Women’s Society of Christian Service in Singapore and West Malaysia. The Methodist Community Center at Ulu Klang was the first administered by the Joint Committee for Women’s Work in Singapore.
In 1965 the administration and programs of the Community Center at Ulu Klang was assumed by the Selangor District of the Singapore Malaya Annual Conference with Mrs. Helen Tan as Chairman and Rev. Dennis Dutton as advisor.
Mr. Chan Tham Seng, a part-time student in social studies at the University of Malaya and a member of Wesley Church, Kuala Lumpur, was appointed as the Supervisor of the Community Center.
Mrs. Helen Tan served as Chairman of the Community Center Committee at Ulu Klang from 1965-1978 and gave valuable service to the Center. She resigned as Chairman in 1978.
The last Singapore-Malaya Annual Conference (SMAC) Women’s Society of Christian Service was held from 6th – 8th August 1976 at the Shellabear Hall in Malacca. In December 1976, two separate General Conference of the Methodist Churches in Singapore and Malaysia were established. The General Conference Women’s Society of Christian Service comprising of the five Women’s Conferences in East and West Malaysia held the first session at Kuala Lumpur in 1976.
A Joint Committee for Women’s Work for the three Women’s Societies of Christian Service Conferences in West Malaysia was formed at a meeting held at Wisma Methodist on 23 April and 24 April 1977, with representatives from the three W.S.C.S Conferences, the President of the General Conference W.S.C.S. and Bishop C.N. Fang.
It was agreed that to form sub-committees with the JCWW – a Finance and Administration Committee. The Finance Committee would take responsibility for receiving and transferring to the respective W.S.C.S Conference Work appropriations from the Board of Global Ministries in New York, for example, payments of pension to retired evangelistic workers, receiving rent from JCWW Properties, repayment from the Revolving Loan Fund and submitting to the Board of Global Ministries in New York, USA, requests for work appropriations.
The Administration Committee will have responsibility for the office, correspondence, supervision of property, and planning of meetings for the JCWW.
In 1978 the JCWW assumed responsibility for the administration and programs of the Methodist Community Center at Ulu Klang. Miss Flora Knight, the President of the General Conference WSCS was appointed as the Chairperson of the Methodist Community Center management committee with Bishop Fang as the Advisor.
Management Committee comprises the following:
20 years later (1957 – 1977), the character of the Community Center at Ulu Klang has changed rapidly due to changed in the development of the area. New housing estates and factories employing skilled and unskilled labor in large numbers had led to an increase in the multi-racial population. The Community Center was therefore faced with fast and challenging opportunities for service to the community through socio-economic, educational, religious, health training and counselling programs for women and children, youths, adults and senior citizens in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
In September 1978, Dr. Lois Miller, President of the Women’s Division of the Methodist Church in the U.S.A, Dr. Hank Lacey, Area Executive Secretary of the Board of Missions for the East Asia Area and two other members of the Board of Global Ministries visited the Community Center at Ulu Klang. They were met by members of the JCWW and together with Bishop C.N.Fang, Mr Siau Boon Chong, The Secretary of the Council of Trustees, Miss Flora R. Knight, Chairman of the JCWW and Rev. Yap of the Ampang Chinese Methodist Church, discussed the need for a further development of the Community Center and its programs. Dr. Lois Miller on behalf of the Women’s Division of Christian Service agreed to provide some financial support the development of the Center.
The first meeting to consider plans for the building of the Center for Women and Children was held at Wisma Methodist, Kuala Lumpur on Thursday 18th October 1984. Representatives from the three Conferences of the WSCS, and the churches attended the meeting. A building committee was appointed with Bishop C.N. Fang as Chairman, Miss Flora R. Knight as Secretary and Mr. John Ho as Honorary Architect. Dato’ Lim Hock Huat was appointed as Chairman of the building sub-committee. The JCWW assumed the responsibility for raising funds for the building.
This Center was to be a three-storey building and will provide adequate space and amenities for the various programs. The Ground Floor will be the Education Center with rooms for nursery and pre-school pupils, for Kindergarten classes and church youth activities. There will also be an office, a kitchen, a canteen, a caretaker’s residence and toilet block. The First floor will be the Program Center providing a hall, a library, staff rooms, toilets and washrooms. The Second Floor will be a hostel for working women and girls.
Plans for the building of the Center was approved after Dato’ Lim Hock Huat obtained the qualifying titles for the two lots of land from the Gombak District Office, Selangor. Date for the completion of the building was fixed for 15th July 1991. Cost of this building was estimated at RM800,000.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the Community Center was held on August 18th 1990 and Bishop Dennis C. Dutton officiated the event. The Methodist Center for Women and Children at Ulu Klang was completed and opened on 30th November 1991. The Opening and Dedication of the Center was held on 30th November 1991. The guest of honor was Yang Berhormat Dato’ Sri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, the Transport Minister of Malaysia. The plaque was unveiled by YB Dato’ Sri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Bishop Dr. Dennis C. Dutton.
The Tamil Methodist Church, Ulu Klang, The Korean Full Gospel Church, The Community of Praise and the Chinese Methodist Church, Ampang continue to rent the premises of the Community Center to carry out services and their church activities.
The Center now operated a Kindergarten, a Maternity and Child Clinic, Child Care program, a Hostel and a library. Members of the Women’s Division of Christian Service, the Board of Global Ministries, missionaries and leaders of the Methodist Churches from the U.S.A, England, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Sarawak and Singapore have visited the Methodist Center for Women and Children for information and understanding of it service projects to the community at Ulu Klang. These visits of the Methodist leaders from overseas and Methodists from Malaysia have helped to establish a happy relationship with Methodist organizations and promoted an encouraging role for the service projects to the people at Ulu Klang.