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U.S. Filipino group joins criticism of killings in the Philippines

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Aquilino “Pong” Javier
July 29, 2005

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 conferences.

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 keynote speaker.

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, the association’s Web site.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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