|U.S. Filipino group joins criticism of killings in the Philippines|
July 29, 2005
Aquilino “Pong” Javier
By United Methodist News Service
An organization of Filipino-American United Methodists has joined
with groups condemning the recent killings of a Protestant pastor and
others working with the poor in the Philippines.
The National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists also
commended the “prophetic stance” on that situation taken by the Rev.
Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of Global
Ministries, United Methodist Bishop Solito K. Toquero of Manila, and
Bishop Elmer Bolocon of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
They called for a full and fair investigation of the May 12 murder of
the Rev. Edison Lapuz, among others.
The action came as more than 500 participants gathered at the association’s July 10-14 meeting in Las Vegas.
Meeting every two years to elect leaders and chart its ministry, the
association re-elected Aquilino “Pong” Javier of the Northern Illinois
Annual (regional) Conference, a layman and a director of United
Methodist Communications, as president.
The killings and human rights violations that have occurred under the
government of Filipino President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo prompted the
National Council of Churches in the Philippines to invite 13 Protestant
bishops and representatives of the World Council of Churches and the
Christian Conference of Asia to a July 15-20 fact-finding mission. The
delegation included the Rev. Steven Sprecher of Lake Oswego, Ore., a
director of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.
The World Council delegation and local Protestant church leaders said
they found out that besides outright killings, human rights violations
included intimidation by the military, illegal detention and the torture
of peasants working on farms for rich landlords.
In other action related to the Philippines, the association decided
to join in the centennial celebration in 2007 of Union Theological
Seminary, where most Filipino clergy in the United States received basic
seminary training. Activities will include a mission trip coordinated
by the association to coincide with the yearlong observance. The Rev.
Romeo Del Rosario, the seminary’s newly elected president, was Bible
study leader for the Las Vegas meeting.
Association members also plan to commemorate the centennial in 2007
of Mary Johnston Hospital and College of Nursing, another product of
United Methodist mission work in the Philippines.
United Methodists in the Philippines are considering whether to
become an autonomous denomination, and the caucus decided to support
whatever action church members there take. Such action could include a
new and transformed relationship between the general church connection
and its central conference in the Philippines, which comprises 21 annual
In the United States, the Filipino association has established a
church growth and development plan called “Paglago” (Growth). In Las
Vegas, it launched the plan’s endowment fund campaign, which received at
least $101, 000 in cash and pledges—an amount that has never been
raised before within the community, according to Javier. Discussions are
under way for the plan and the fund campaign to relate with the United
Methodist Church Foundation.
Evening events in Las Vegas drew close to a thousand people at the
University United Methodist Church, where the convocation was held. The
church hosts a fast-growing Filipino-American membership of 200, led by
the Rev. Julian Miguel. Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Phoenix Area
preached at an evening service attended by both the members of the
congregation and convocation participants.
The Rev. Eleazar Fernandez, a professor of constructive theology at
United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities and an ordained pastor of
the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, was the meeting’s
Kyung Za Yim, president of the Women’s Division, Board of Global
Ministries, served as the inaugural lecturer for a new convocation
feature called the Leadership Institute. Other denominational agencies
and commissions cosponsored the institute with financial contributions
and personnel time.
More information about the convocation will be posted at www.nafaum.com, the association’s Web site.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com
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