Orchard Road Presbyterian Church (ORPC) began as a congregation comprising Scottish sailors and soldiers. The first service was conducted on 26th October 1856 by Rev Thomas McKenzie Fraser at the London Missionary Society’s chapel at the junction of North Bridge Road and Bras Basah Road. Services then were attended by an average of around 65 worshippers. On 6th May 1875 the church was granted the land where our church currently stands. The foundation stone of the church was laid on 1st August 1877. In November 1878 services moved to the new building. There were only 42 men and women on the Church Membership Roll on that day.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 80 youths and 150 children, respectively.