By Ps Alby Yip
I am sure you would have heard of the good news. The government has completed its review of the land pricing mechanism relating to the use of land for places of worship. We thank God for our government who are actively supportive and cognizant of the value of what faith can contribute to the well-being of society. We thank God more so that faith can be practised openly and freely in Singapore.
Many have asked how the review impacted Zion Bishan. Here is the gist of the review. Previously, for fresh plots of land released for the building of churches, churches will have to decide on a price that they can best afford, submit a bid with that price, and the highest bidder will be awarded the land. This form of blind bidding will naturally be competitive and push the price of land increasingly higher.
It will have a downward effect on churches whose existing lease is expiring and due for renewal, like Zion Bishan. The cost of renewal of the land lease is tagged to the prevailing cost of a fresh plot of land—the market rate. Our last estimate in 2021 is about 12 million dollars. Cognizant of this, the government has made the bidding of fresh plots of land to be open bidding. They will announce, based on their set parameters, what price each plot costs.
Interested churches will put in a bid and will be drawn by lot. This “set price bidding” will curtail the cost of land from increasing and therefore stabilize the price for both fresh plots of land and renewal of land lease. Like in our land lease, the government will use the same set of parameters to determine the cost of our land lease renewal and offer to us. Perhaps, you will have a burning question by now.
No, we don’t know the price, as yet. We are awaiting the authorities to inform us. But we need not just wait blindly. We can pray for Session to have the wisdom to make the right decision, one that is in the best interest of Zion Bishan. Above all, we must pray to the Lord of Grace for His provision of not just the most optimal price or the monies but also for the opportunities to reach out and the privilege to partner with God in His salvation plan for humankind.
The government’s announcement is indeed good news. But the greatest news is yet to come. No, it is not about the actual amount. It is the news, or rather, the sight of Christ’s Return in glory. The lease renewal is not about the existence of Zion Bishan. It is about the expansion of God’s Kingdom, from our hearts, to the community, the nation and to the utter ends of the earth, until That Day of the Lord Jesus’ Return. May He find us faithful and ready!