A brief history of Jalan Imbi Chapel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Early assembly missionaries from Plymouth, England, arrived in Kuala Lumpur in 1891 and Bluff Road Gospel Hall was built in 1897. For the next twenty-five years the witness grew and the work was consolidated. Mr. and Mrs. T. R. Angus from Scotland were sterling examples of sacrificial service as they visited homes and believers were encouraged in their growth.
The next forty years commenced with the opening of Venning Road Gospel Hall in 1922. Local believers and overseas missionaries continued to consolidate the work. In 1931 Mr. David Angus joined his father to continue the service the hallmark of which was grace and humility. During the war years Mr. Angus and other missionaries suffered imprisonment at the hands of the Japanese invaders. He survived the horrors of prison with fortitude and emerged with a new understanding of the people in the country of mixed nationalities he had come to serve.
A Chinese Girls’ School was opened in 1893 and became the well known Bukit Bintang Girls’ School in 1930. Through the school many homes were opened to the gospel. Under the leadership of Miss Mary Glasgow and, later, Miss E. M. Cooke, the school grew in renown and over the years many thousands of girls came to know the Saviour. As the population of Kuala Lumpur spread out to its satellites the Bukit Bintang Boys’ School was built in 1957. The Petaling Jaya Gospel Hall was established in 1959. In 1962 the assembly site in Venning Road was appropriated by the government as the place to build the National Mosque and a site at Imbi Road close to the Girls’ School was offered in its place and while the new hall was being built the assembly met in the school. These were days of exciting growth and expansion both for the assembly and the schools. In 1968 the elders introduced a systematic study of God’s word and the teaching of the fundamental truths of the Christian faith after the Sunday remembrance meetings. This practice is continued to this day.
The Jalan Imbi Chapel (JIC) situated in the Golden Triangle of KL city centre was opened on 28th July 1962 with a 300-seat capacity. An auxiliary building across the large garden incorporated a library, recreation room and kitchen all connected to the main hall by sheltered walkways to form an L-shape and enclose the garden.
The 1970s and 1980s were years of expansion and extension work. Gifted servants of God were invited to teach the word and combined Easter conferences brought many of the Klang Valley assemblies together for quiet reflection and spiritual feasting. The seeds of growth of other assemblies were sown as families moved out of the centre of a vibrant and commercial Kuala Lumpar. These included assemblies meeting at Ampang, Melawati, Setapak, Bangsar, Taman Tun, Kajang and Cheras. JIC gave periodic support to these fledging and autonomous assemblies.
The Girls’ School was taken over, without compensation, by the government in 2001 and eventually closed and the building was demolished in 2002 as the very valuable ground was wanted for commercial development. This meant that there was a great need to create new space for the Sunday School and youth activities. Planning permission to build a four-storey extension to the Chapel was received in 2003 and work commenced in January 2004 and was completed earlier this year. On the 43rd anniversary of the move to Jalan Imbi the extension block was officially opened in July. The four floors provide space for a large multi-purpose hall and kitchen, administrative office, library and resource centre, nursery and children’s room, a self-contained guest apartment, a meeting place for the Chinese speaking assembly, a landscaped cafeteria and tea room and other various large meeting rooms, as well as an open-air recreation area on the roof.
The English-speaking assembly currently consists of over 250 members and their activities include the gospel, Bible reading conferences, ministry of the word and fellowship, all with a view to the up-building of the local church and the upholding of scripture in the practise of the New Testament patterns. There is also a Chinese-speaking assembly with around fifty members. The assembly at JIC invites any who visit, if you should be in Kuala Lumpur, to seek out the assembly for fellowship and asks for your prayers that they may be able to continue an active witness in the very centre of this major East-Asian city.