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History

Orchard Road Presbyterian Church (ORPC) began as a congregation comprising Scottish sailors and soldiers. The first service was conducted on 26 th October 1856 by Rev Thomas McKenzie Fraser at the London Missionary Society’s chapel on Bras Basah Road. Services then were attended by an average of around 65 worshippers. Services moved to our current location when the main church building was erected in 1878.

ORPC building (on the right) at our current location during the 1950s
The ORPC Building (on the right) at our current location during the 1950's

During the first 100 years of ORPC’s existence, the congregation was made up mainly of European expatriates. The tight-knit community bonded in fellowship over Scottish country dances, dinners and fund-raising for London’s poor. The church also mourned together when many members were called home to the Lord during World War II.

Session and Board of ORPC in the 1950s
Session and Board of ORPC with Rev Robert M. Greer in the 1950s

Services ground to a halt during the Japanese occupation (1942-45) but were reinstated after the war. The 1950s and 60s was a period of new growth, during which several of our traditions were introduced. These include the carols and candlelight service on Christmas Eve and singing the Lord’s Prayer during morning service.

Christmas Eve carols and candlelight service in the 1980s
Christmas Eve carols and candlelight service in the 1980s, now an annual ORPC tradition

The care of young ones in the church took precedence for some years after the war: a new Sunday school hall was opened in 1953, and the babies got their first crèche in 1967. There were also Dutch and Welsh services for a short period. On Easter Sunday 1968, the first Chinese (mandarin-speaking) service was held at ORPC.

Sunday School Christmas Party in 1973
Sunday School Christmas Party in 1973

The 1970’s was a period when God guided ORPC through many changes. ORPC left the London North Presbytery in 1971 and came under the Presbyterian Church in Singapore-Malaysia. Two women were ordained as elders for the first time and the church grew by leaps and bounds as the Icthus youth fellowship flourished and the number of locals in the congregation increased. About half of the congregation were locals by the end of the 1970’s.

English Congregation in the 1980's
English Congregation in the 1980's

Besides the Chinese congregation, ORPC expanded to include an Indonesian congregation in 1976. The German Speaking Protestant Congregation in Singapore, an independent congregation associated
with ORPC, has also regularly worshiped in ORPC since 1978.

Pastors from each of the congregations with the Session Clerk in the 1980s
Pastors from each of the congregations with the Session Clerk in the 1980s

The entire ORPC building was fitted with air-conditioning by the end of the 1970’s and in the 1980’s the church began to look different as well: a massive extension project added an adjoining building which features the current Dunman Hall and Su Han Kuen Hall.

ORPC 1978 ORPC 2015
The ORPC building in 1978 and today

The 1990s was a period of further expansion for ORPC as we planted a branch church in Bukit Batok which has since become independent in 2013 and is now known as the Bukit Batok Presbyterian Church
(BBPC). Our Chinese congregation also gained independence in 2005 and is now known as Providence Presbyterian Church (PPC).

Bukit Batok branch church under construction in 1990s
Bukit Batok branch church under construction in 1990s

Today, the 1,000-strong ORPC English congregation worships at two Sunday services (9am and 6pm). A Youth Service and Sunday School for children are conducted in parallel with the main worship service at 9am and are attended by approximately 100 youths and 150 children, respectively.

2014 Easter Sunday service
English congregation at our 2014 Easter Sunday service

Chancel Choir Christmas 2014
The chancel choir singing at our 2014 Christmas Day service

Children in Sunday School Children in Sunday School
Children in Sunday School (above) and the youths leading the
adult congregation in worship during Youth Sunday (below)
Youth Sunday Youth Sunday

Church Camp 2015
Participants of ORPC's 2015 Church Camp held in Batam, Indonesia