On this day in history, on 9 July 1963, the leaders of Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak signed the Malaysia Agreement to establish the Federation of Malaysia, which was formed shortly after on 16 September. However, less than 2 years later, on 9 August 1965, Singapore became a sovereign, independent nation. The rest, as they say, is history.

Today is Synod Sunday, and its purpose is to foster unity and encourage communication among the Presbyterian churches in Singapore. This year’s theme is on the unity of the church, looking at Jesus’ prayer for the church in Jn. 17:20-23, in line with our church and camp theme, “One in Christ,” from Eph. 4:1-16.

Indeed, unity on different fronts continues to be of utmost importance, be it on a national level, or a spiritual level, amongst churches as the body of Christ. Why is this so?

Firstly, it displays cohesiveness and solidarity. The people that form a group that are united reflect that sense of togetherness, agreement of feeling and action, common interests, and mutual support. Where a church is united, we would see leaders and members supporting and encouraging one another, there would be synergy in decision-making, as well as a deep sense of community and relationships.

Secondly, it shows focus, direction and purpose. A group that is united would be seen to move as one towards a common goal, to fulfill its vision and mission, and to have wisdom and foresight towards the future for themselves and others. As a church, this would mean being clear of our God-given role and to pursue passionately all of God’s plans. Leaders would seek and serve God’s will for the church and beyond.

Lastly, it reflects the values and nature of the group, namely what it stands for, and what sustains it. In the church, our common identity stems from the person and work of Jesus Christ, where we seek to be united in, through and for Him. It also is a reminder that disunity can cause disrepute and disrespect, particularly if a church is divided, it often stumbles and hurts not only its own members, but affects how the world looks at us as Christians.

May we as a church always pray for and strive towards unity in Christ, as Paul prays in Rom. 15.5-6,

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.