Bishop Dr. Yap Kim Hao, former general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) passes away in Singapore on 16 November.
Bishop Kim Hao served CCA as general secretary from 1973 to 1985. He was elected the general secretary of CCA for a first four-year term at the Singapore assembly in 1973 and re-elected for second and third terms at the Penang (1977) and Bangalore (1981) assemblies.
Born in Ipoh, Malaysia in 1929, Yap Kim Hao was consecrated the first Asian bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore and Malaysia in 1968.
Dr. Mathews George Chunakara, General Secretary of the CCA in a condolence message stated that Bishop Kim Hao left a remarkable legacy in Asian ecumenical movement through his dedicated and tireless work for the churches and the Asian ecumenical movement.
“His vision and passion for enabling the churches in Asia to be true witnesses of Christ amidst Asia’s pluralistic religious, diverse cultural contexts and complex political contexts through CCA’s various initiatives in the 1970s’ and 1980’s helped CCA to be positioned as the prime leader of the Asian ecumenical movement”, said Mathews George Chunakara.
Recollecting the contributions of Bishop Yap Kim Hao, one of his predecessors who laboured for building up CCA as a credible regional ecumenical organisation, the CCA General Secretary added, “Bishop Yap Kim Hao was instrumental in initiating several innovative programmes and projects of CCA for more than a decade, including the inter-religious dialogue, humanitarian aid assistance to the war-torn Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, health and healing, and ecumenical youth leadership development training”.
“Bishop Kim Hao’s commitment to respect for other religions and cultures in Asia’s pluralistic religious context was evident even after his official retirement from the church and ecumenical organisations. His strong passion for the marginalized and vulnerable was demonstrated through his deep involvement in inter-faith activities; his support and pastoral care for the migrant workers, sex workers, the physically handicapped, and people with HIV/AIDS”, noted Mathews George Chunakara.
In recognition of his contributions, Bishop Kim Hao was presented with several awards, including an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Baker University where he earned his first degree; a Distinguished Alumni Award by Boston University School of Theology; and the Order of Jerusalem Medal presented to him by the World Methodist Council.
In 2014, the Yale-NUS College, Singapore’s first liberal arts college established the Yap Kim Hao Professorship in Comparative Religious Studies with an aim to enhance the academic study of multiple religious beliefs, practices, and experiences.
Bishop Kim Hao is survived by his wife and four children. His funeral will take place on 21 November in Singapore.
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