The founding of the Anglican Church in Tawau was a result of Rev. Elton’s visit to Tawau in 1899. He had a vision of setting up a church and school there. His vision was realized in 1917 when Rev. T. C. Alexander from Sandakan started and opened the St. Patrick’s School and Church in Tawau and subsequently pastored by the priest and catechist sent from Sandakan.
In April 1927, Rev. Vun Nen Vun, who was the first local ordained priest was posted to Tawau to take charge of St. Patrick’s Church and school. He served until 1933. Two other local priests,
Rev. Chin Phui Yin and Rev. Sung Khi Fong served from 1931 - 1941.
During the 2nd World War and 5 years after the war, no priest was stationed in Tawau.
The church experienced great hardship and difficulties. We thank God for His providence in keeping those leaders and believers together.
Rev. Vun Nen Vun, served in St, Patrick’s Church a second time from 1951 - 1954, until the arrival of the first Australian CMS Missionary, the Rev. Walter Newmarch in 1953. He not only taught, nurtured and evangelized in Tawau and its outstation centers, but also extended his pastoral and missionary activities to Lahad Datu and Semporna. Under Rev. Newmarch’s 15 years leaderships, St. Patrick’s Church raised their own funds to build their own first permanent church which was consecrated in May, 1962 by Rt. Rev. Bishop James Wong C. L.,
which is our St. Patrick’s Church today.
During this period, the church and school ministries were growing and in 1957, St. Patrick’s School was handed over to Mr. Jim Power, a trained teacher from CMS. Teaching conditions at the school then, were difficult yet many students were impacted by the dedication of the teacher and many came to embrace the Christian faith and later became local church leaders.
After Rev. Newmarch’s departure in 1968, the church was led by Rev. Michael Corbett Jones, Rev. Simon Chin, Rev. Canon A. Putang and Rev. Alan McMahon until 1985. It was under Rev. Alan McMahon that the new rectory, mission house and the parish hall were built.
On December 28, 1985, Archdeacon Yong Ping Chung was inducted as rector of St. Patrick’s Church. He continued to build upon the good foundation and the progress that was made by all those who had labored before him. Under his incumbency, he established the Good Tidings Church in Kuhara and the Apas Mile 5 Outreach Center and he served until 1990.
By the end of 1992, church leaders corporately sensed the Lord's leading to be a Cell Church. A period of transition followed, where many of the program-based ministries were reorganized and integrated into cell groups. During his tenure from 1990-2005, Rev. Albert Vun challenged the church to be a mission-sending church by equipping members in areas of prayer and intercession, evangelism, healing, counseling and deliverance, as well as leadership training.
In 1995, with 5 separate services on Sundays at St. Patrick's Church, the growing congregations necessitated the building of a new worship premise to accommodate growth and expand equipping facilities of the church. By October 1997, the House of Prayer for All Nations with a seating capacity of 2500 was completed. What better way to praise and glorify God than to utilize it to conduct the first Sabah Worship Conference in November 1997.
When Rev. Albert Vun was installed as the Bishop of Sabah, his baton of leadership was passed on to Rev. Canon Chak Sen Fen in May 2006. Under Rev. Canon Chak’s leadership, church attendance continue to show a steady growth, with emphasis on discipleship training, consolidation and mission work.
By January 2010, Archdeacon John Yeo arrived to continue the leadership. He challenged the church to ‘greater faith and greater works’ as our Lord Jesus commissioned. Under his leadership, the Diocesan Faith Revival Conference was held at St. Patrick’s Church in May 2011 with an attendance of over 1750 full time participants. Mission continued to be emphasized as St. Patrick’s Church became the main centre for expanding the work to the regions south of Tawau such as potential areas in Kalimantan under Diocesan Strategy and Vision. On August 15, 2011, Archdeacon John Yeo was consecrated and appointed as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Sabah with wider responsibilities.
God has blessed us with six churches planted by St. Patrick’s Church, which have become autonomous, namely Good Tidings Church (Kuhara), St. Augustine’s Church (Merotai), Faith Christian Center (Sunway), and Church of Christ the Cornerstone (Tarakan, Indonesia), Church of the Holy Spirit (Kunak) and Church of Christ the Lamb of God (Bandar Sri Indah). Several outreach centres, two Playschools & Daycare Centres, a SPAA Academy and a Vision Schools at Bandar Sri Indah have been set up. More than 20 pastors and priests have been raised and trained to serve in various parishes within the Diocese. All these are made possible because of the Cell Group Structure, which enables the church to grow from a 700-strong congregation to today’s Sunday attendance of 3000 over a period of 19 years.
2012, as we celebrate the 95th Anniversary, let us thank God for His great providence, and let us join our hearts and voices together to declare our highest praise to our God for “Great is His Faithfulness” to us.
2016 – Year of Sending 2.0
2015 – Year of Sending
2014 – Year of Purpose
2013 – Year of Witness
2012 – Year of Giving
2011 – Year of Greater Faith
2010 – Year of Impact
2009 – A Year of Connecting
2008 – The Year of Transformation
2007 – The Year of Transformation
2006 – The Year of Abundant Life
2005 – The Year of Good Works
2004 – The Year of New Beginnings
2003 – The Year of Firm Foundation
2002 – The Year of Disciple Making
2001 – The Year of The Great Commission
2000 – The Year of Celebration
1999 – The Year of Breakthrough
1998 – Power, Love & Discipline
1997 – The Year of Prayer
1996 – The Year of Equipping
1995 – The Year of Fruitfulness
House of Prayer
'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'