Sankofa #8

Sankofa #8

I am aware that some of you were not at the MUC Annual General Meeting on Sunday, 15th August 2022. Bob, the Chair of the congregation invited me to say a few words. I spoke from my heart. Here is what I shared.

Thank You

First thing I want to say is THANK YOU. 

Thank you for inviting me to minister amongst you. Thank you for accepting me. I know some of you have found my accent difficult. And at times I have mispronounced certain words. One of you has commented on my diction. I am aware of my imperfections. 

Thank you especially to my ministry team colleagues, Emma and Moses, including Megan who has now retired, for accepting me into the team. We haven’t agreed with each other all the time. And I think that’s good and healthy.


A friend asked me recently, “Has your honeymoon ended?” He wasn’t asking about my honeymoon with my wife. I replied, “What honeymoon?”

I came in February 2021 and Claire suddenly left in April 2021.

I know some of you were angry, shocked, disappointed, and had many questions when Claire left us suddenly. Thank you for your willingness to grieve together and trust in my leadership. We have learned together to let go and move on. I know that’s what Claire would want of us.

What You See

I have been with you now for one year, five months and 14 days. Who is counting? Right?

At my 50th birthday celebration a church council member said: “I have known Swee Ann since he came amongst us, six years ago. What you see is what you get.”

What you see is what you get. I thank her for that compliment. And I hope you will also affirm that when I leave you. With God’s help I seek to be the same person – within and without.

A few months after I arrived, a member whom I knew before I arrived at MUC said, “You might not be the minister some of us want, but you are the minister we need.” I know she wasn’t trying to insult me with that statement.

One last thing

Ruth told me that before I came, Claire said to her: “If you think I am direct, wait till Swee Ann comes.” Claire knows me. 

I have been a minister of the Uniting Church for over 30 years. I only found my voice about 10 years ago.

I have learned to name what I see. 

I have learned to lean into uncomfortable conversations. 

I have learned to speak truth to power.

I have learned not to accept bullying or bad behaviour. 

I have learned not to tolerate sexism, ablism, racism, agism and any other ‘ism’ that dehumanises and demeans others. 

I am also sensitive to whose voice we preference, and whose voice is silent. I am more into questions than providing answers. I believe in conversations, and we need to for more of them. If you disagree with someone, go to him or her and have those uncomfortable conversations. Don’t make me your messenger. I don’t wish to be triangulated. 

I have reminded us that we are a diverse congregation and need to learn to embrace our differences. I have challenged us to be less tribal and more generous with our hospitality and our assumptions.

I know in the process I have made some people unhappy, uncomfortable, and maybe even angry. Thank you for accepting and welcoming me into MUC. Let’s continue to journey together.

… in the meantime, blessed be.

Rev Swee Ann Koh

17th August 2022