First K-Dusun to be made Anglican bishop
Kota Kinabalu: Today (Friday), the Anglican Church in Sabah will consecrate the Venerable Canon Melter Jiki Tais, 44, as an Anglican bishop.
He makes history as the world’s first Kadazandusun to be made an Anglican bishop. It is a historic occasion for the Anglican Communion worldwide and especially so for Sabah.
The consecration will take place at a special service at All Saints’ Cathedral here at 5pm.
Archdeacon Moses Chin of the Anglican Church of Sabah said the Venerable Canon Melter’s appointment is to assist the current Bishop of the Anglican Church of Sabah, Bishop Datuk Albert Vun.
Prior to his latest appointment, he was the Archdeacon of the Central Archdeaconry with supervisory responsibilities for churches in the “centre” portion of Sabah, from Pitas to Penangah.
“With his new appointment, he will be in an even better position to train younger lay leaders, church workers and clergy to catch the same ‘fiery spirit’ that had propelled him throughout the State – caring for the afflicted, upgrading livelihood standards, encouraging education and providing spiritual guidance to those who needed it.
“He desires to develop the kampung churches to ‘parish status’ so that they are self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating (all within the larger body of the Anglican Diocese of Sabah),” Archdeacon Chin said.
He described the Venerable Canon Melter as “a small man with a big heart”.
Recalling an anecdote related by one church member, he said there was an occasion where, for a few consecutive weekends, church members in Keningau spent their time in the State capital, leaving only a “handful of the faithful” in church on Sunday.
“Standing barely five feet tall, he proclaimed from his pastor’s heart: ‘Even if only one of you comes to church, I will still be here to conduct service for you. Word on this spread round throughout the following week. The next Sunday, the church was reportedly full!” Archdeacon Chin said.
Born on June 12, 1965 at Kg Nangoh (Beluran District), he is the fourth child in a Christian family of nine children. He had his elementary education at SRJK Holy Cross, Kuala Sapi, his lower secondary education at SMK Beluran and upper secondary education at SMK Sandakan. He was a keen footballer at school.
He obtained his Diploma in Theology from the Malaysia Evangelical College in Miri, Sarawak, and later his Bachelor of Theology from the Malaysia Bible Seminary in Klang.
In the early 1980s, as a youth worker, he served in Sandakan and Tawau, ministering to the villagers who had migrated there. Following his ordination as a priest in 1993, he moved to Keningau and Tenom where he spent 10 years of missionary work. During this period, he exhibited great love for his people and passion for his work. He initiated six new churches in the kampung areas and helped organise their community life. In 2002, he left for England for further studies Subsequently, he worked in Lahad Datu for a short period before his posting to Telupid where he now serves.
In his interview with Archdeacon Chin, the Bishop-designate said life in his village in the 1960s was simple yet fun and filled with many challenges.
“Our parents were too busy working as subsistence farmers so we were left to our own devices. But together with the Sunday School teachers, they taught us to fear God and to respect all mankind.
“They instilled in us important qualities for a leader to possess in Malaysia’s multi-cultural society,” he recalled.
The Venerable Canon Melter remembered how he left Sabah for the first time to study Theology in Miri.
“Looking back, I realised God had prepared me for it. My years at the asrama (boarding school) at Kuala Sapi and Sandakan toughened me for those years away from home.
“To make matters worse, the courses in Miri and later in Klang were all in English. I was told only days before leaving that the lectures were not to be in Malay but in English. I got the shock of my life! God has His humorous way of teaching me humility,” he quipped.
The Venerable Canon Melter is blessed with a wife, Angeline Wong Moi Yin, a radiographer by training, and four children, Melvin, 15, Myra, 10, Marvin, 8, and Melody, 7.
The Bishop-elect speaks fluently in Labuk Kadazan (his mother tongue), Bahasa Malaysia, English and a bit of Chinese.
The musically inclined Bishop-designate still finds time to play the guitar (bass, rhythm and lead), drums and keyboard. Of late, it was reported that the villagers in Telupid have been enjoying his saxophone too.