Friday, June 12, 2020

Freedom and Social Justice

Today is June 12. We celebrate the Philippine Independence Day. The church plays a crucial role in achieving that ideals of freedom not only from colonizers but freedom from the bondage of the present social sins. The world is broken as injustice, abuse and inequalities has tainted all of us. This brokenness has enslaved our society and the church has tried to resist and free our society from these social ills. The church, led by its pastors and church workers, is still struggling for our freedom from these social ills.

One of the church workers active in the work of the church is Rev. Edgar de Jesus. He is the current President of the NAFAUM. I had a quick chat with Pastor Edgar today. He was inviting me to the upcoming Zoom Webinar on June 22 entitled "Leading the Church in the time of Pandemic." This has been a series of ongoing discussions which is a very timely topic as the world goes through a major change in its daily activities including the church. The way how church activities like mission work, outreach, conferences and the regular worship service is being affected such as the church sacraments of baptism, Holy Communion and even the rituals of wedding and burial have to be drastically change. It has create confusion, chaos, debates and unanswered questions. People can no longer have the Lord's Supper because of the quarantine. People can not gather in worship so will they be allowed to celebrate the Lord's Supper online? If gatherings are not allowed, then how can public declarations of the couple's love be done during their dream wedding. Will it be done online? Even the annual conferences, which is the major and crucial activity in the church have to be postponed. How can deliberations on church concerns be done including the reading of appointments? And this has domino effect on the length of stay of the administrative pastors and the District Superintendents and even the episcopacy. But the crucial concern is how can the church perform now its mission in the society? The forum will focus on how the pandemic affected the programs of the church in promoting social justice. Have we all just paused our work as Christians because of the health concern? Will Jesus have stopped ministering to the poor and oppressed because there was a curfew and quarantine? I am excited about this online event. This webinar will be able to provide insight and guidance to how the church will move forward in its life even as we anticipate major changes in the United Methodist Church. Pastor Edgar will moderate this event.

I met Pastor Edgar when I was in seminary. He was assigned to me as my mentor when I was an intern in Hurdle Mills United Methodist Church in North Carolina. It was one of my best time as a young Pastor. He took time to guide me on the ministry of the Pastor not only as a preacher but as a community leader. He made sure that I understood that the church is not confined in the four corners of the building and thus the work of the Pastor does not end in the worship service but includes community service. He took me to home visits as well as to community events and activities. Although I was more interested with the different Southern food recipes in every event we attended, I was slowly learning that collaborating with other faith groups and participating in the daily life of the community is part of the mission work of the church. Resisting the social ills in the community also means showing love to all people, especially those who are often neglected. Visiting the sick and bringing food to the shut-ins is not less significant to providing work opportunity to the unemployed and assisting migrants get documented. As Christians, we are called to be leaders... leading the church towards freedom.

Join the forum. Register in advance for the NAFAUM Leadership Webinar:…/tZEsd--opz8vGdG1LrDf-RvvZoB9v_334…

Monday, May 25, 2020

A PK's Quarantine Birthday

My daughter is a PK. It is my youngest daughter's third birthday.

The whole month of May, up until the birthday of my daughter, I was confined to meeting people only in the hospital and those I meet in the online meetings and communications. One of them was our first online meeting with the PKs last May 12. 'Cher Lhyne, Amen, Soc, Joyce, 'Te Gladz and Bhin were there for this historic event. I was so blessed to be with these wonderful children of God.

A PK has unique experiences that only fellow PK can understand. This PK (Pastor's Kids) group was my core support group when I was in Quezon City almost 10 years ago. Our PK group had been a blessing not only to me but to many other people as well because they understand that more than being a PK, they are God's children. Recognizing that you are God's child means a lot. This group has been able to reach out to other younger PKs providing support, guidance and friendship. We were able to help poor PKs go to school. We raised funds together to send help to victims of calamities and disaster. We have prayed, had fellowship with other PKs and led worship services too. We also played and had fun. We also love to travel together and visit places. We have shared many special occasions - birthdays, graduations, weddings, baptism - and many other celebrations together over the years. We have fostered a relationship for a lifetime that we hope others will experience as well. I hope my daughter, also a PK, will grow up and find a PK tribe that will be her friends and celebrate with her special occasions and her birthdays in the future. 

I was able to come home to and join my family after more than 2 months of Covid19 response and quarantine. Nothing will separate us from celebrating special events like this. Just like what James 1:17 said,"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change."

Birthdays are gifts from God. Birthdays should be celebrated. We did. It was a quarantine themed-birthday party. Of course, a Princess cake was in order. But we did not have visitors. It was just us in the house and the family living in the compound, and those are the only people that matter. Family and friends who care for you and love you. It is always special to spend momentous occasions with people dear to your heart.

It was a wonderful day full of fun and happiness. It was a also a great day to remember how God loves us as his children. 

It is always a blessing to spend time with the children of God.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Faith Response in the Time of Covid19

I work in Southern Isabela Medical Center. I had the privelege of working with several hardworking and dedicated Methodist healthworkers. One of them is the Chief Nurse of our hospital, Ma'am Jennifer Manuel.

Mam Jen is from San Gabriel. She was raised in a United Methodist family. She started working as a nurse in the LGU hospital then moved to work with the DOH retained hospital.

When the Covid19 outbreak began, I was tasked to activate the Incident Command System of the hospital. Mam Jen is one of the key personnel that helped our hospital organize the necessary teams and units that will implement the Covid19 response of our hospital. Even though most of the people were overtaken by fear, she willingly worked. It was evident that he faith was the driving force for her to do her work. On the first week, we had to scramble and work fast to identify the physical resource we had and the complementing human resource to man the Covid19 areas.

Isolation Covid19 rooms had to be convereted from ordinary ward rooms. We also had to pull out our nurses and healthworkers then assign them to each respective isolations rooms. Mam Jen was very patient in planning and organizing the needed restructuring of our hospital services even if we had to work overtime. Her faith is obviously making her calm and composed in this time of crisis. That week, she would come early everyday and did not take any weekend off to make sure the hospital is Covid19 ready. The hospital was able to effeciently use our resources and open our services to help many PUIs and Covid19 patients.

It is very inspiring to see a fellow healthworker work passionately and becoming the hands and feet of Jesus in this world. Healing miracles still do happen. Mam Jen illustrates to us how one's chosen profession can be our ministry as a faithful child of God.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Judge and Health Advocate

I was invited by Judge Benjamin Turgano, the President of the Wesleyan University - Philippines, to give an academic lecture on HIV and AIDS as part of their 74th Anniversary Celebration.

Judge Turgano is a Pastor's Kid. I was introduced to him by my father and had that connection with him as a fellow PK. Since then, I have several opportunities to work with him in the different ministries of the church. One very important event was when he was the Central Conference lay leader and they were organizing a Quadrennial Plan for the Philippine Central conference back in 2012. I asked Judge Turgano if I can be part of that very important event in the life of the church even as an observer. He made sure I was invited as part of the health sector.

During that important planning event, we were able to outline the key health ministries that needs to be the focus of the church. We identified an interagency task force to implement a Central Conference wide health program. They asked me to spearhead that interagency group. As a young and idealistic health minister, I shared with Judge Turgano my thoughts about what the church can do to have effective and efficient in health ministries. I was inspired and challenged by his words that keeps me going even to this day. I can still hear him say to me, "what's keeping you from pursuing your proposed health ministries of the church?" I told him my worries and he said, "you got the support that you need." Indeed, since then, health ministries are always on agenda in the Central Conference matters. Judge Turgano was very supportive of the plan and he adopted and pushed for the scaling-up of the "Local Church as a Health Ministry Oupost" program.

The HIV program was one of the advocacy programs we recognized to be an important local church ministry that should be adopted by churches at that time. Immediately, Judge Turgano coordinated with different church agencies including the BCED and the BOWW to scale-up a national HIV awareness program among churches.

Several years later, Judge Turgano is still one of the church's most supportive leader in promoting church health programs especially in raising HIV awareness in the community.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Four Things to Know about Vesper Service in North QC District

We were looking for a Vesper Service in the North Quezon City District. I know of several big churches in the area but I am not sure which one has a Vesper Service. So here are four things to know about Vesper Services in QCPACE:
  1. We used to attend the Vesper Service in Lagro UMC and we were planning to attend that. As we were on our way avoiding traffic along SM Fairview, we were informed that Lagro UMC have moved the schedule earlier at 4PM, so we missed it already. The schedule would not be suitable for many who has 6:00 PM as the preferred time but it may work for others. Anyway, it was still early 6 PM so my family was trying to find a nearby church in the area. 
  2. Leave for church early. I tried driving around the city but traffic was terrible with all the MRT construction along Commonwealth Ave. I even got stuck along Zabarte trying to get to Deparo UMC. i had to turn around anticipating that I won't make it to 6:30 to any Vesper service if I stay in that road. 
  3. By God's grace, we received a text that Fairview Park UMC has Vesper at 6:30 PM. I turned around back to Commonwealth Ave. The church may not be along the main highways but it is really accessible. If you commute, you just drop at FCM along Fairview Road and take a tricycle that will bring you to the church. If you are driving from the South, it is easy to follow the church signs. From Commonwealth Ave take a left at Regalado Avenue with the Caltex Station as your marker. Turn right at Dahlia St. when you see Jollibee at the corner. Take another left in Lila St. with the Petron Gas station as your marker. And you will see the sign going to the Fairview Park UMC around 100 meters later.
  4. Church service starts on time. Don't be late.

For those who prefers to worship at night. Here is a place to go in Quezon City. The people called United Methodist in this church are very warm and welcoming.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Three Things to Love about Child Friendly Worship Services in Isabela

I have always advocated for the inclusion of children in the worship service. The worship is not exclusive for adults only. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14 NIV) That is why I love attending worship services in Isabela because they are intentional in being inclusive of children. Here are three things I love about our Child-Friendly Worship Services:

  1. One of the Methodist tradition I appreciate is allowing the children to take part in the Lord's Supper. In fact, children are called first to take the Holy Communion before the adults. 
  2. Another thing that I truly appreciate is the participation of the children in the litrugy. These churches make sure that during the worship service, the kids are part of the Litrugy with their participation in the lighting of candles and opening of the Bible. These seems a small task but this ritual is very formative and sends a strong message on the role of children in worship. I especially admire churches that have included children and junior youth in the choir.
  3. Another thing that I love about churches is the importance given to the growth and development of children. While there is Sunday School, it is important to have a dedicated time for children during worship even with a simple prayer time for them. The churches here in Isabela have Children's moments for teaching kids about the Lectionary Readings at least once a month or have a prayer time for chldren alternatively. 

Santiago Central United Methodist Church is one of the churches in Isabela that has continued this practice of allowing kids to take part in the Lord's Supper and giving them a space in worship. If you want to bring your kids during the First Sunday of the Month for Holy Communion, they have 2 worship services in the morning (7 AM and 9 AM) and another Vesper Service in the afternoon at 6 PM.

Santiago Central UMC is located along Abuag St in downtown Santiago City.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

3 Things to Know about Wesleyan Heritage in Surigao City

There is no United Methodist Church in Surigao City. Do not worry. You will still not miss your worship service when you visit this region. There are many Protestant churches in this area that shares a Wesleyan heritage with the United Methodist Church. So here are three things to remember about our Wesleyan heritage:

  1. We share a lot of common things with other faith denominations that share our Wesleyan heritage. That includes the liturgy, the hymns, and even the church architecture all feels familiar. You won't feel like a stranger when you visit other denominations that share our heritage. 
  2. The closest church with a Wesleyan heritage is the United Church of Chirst in the Philippines that shares a rich history with the United Methodist Church in the Philippines. In fact, they have close historical ties with the Methodist Church and the United Bretheren as part of the merging churches that formed the UCCP in 1948. 
  3. We can participate in their sacrament of Holy Communion. When we were in Surigao, we had our worship service with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines as we also celebrated the marriage of my brother in the same church. The co-celebrant of the communion was shared between the clergy of the UMC and the UCCP. As our Wesleyan heriate, the table of the Lord is open for all those who believe in Christ as divine Lord and Savior. The worship service was such a blessing. It helped that the congregation was very helpful and welcoming too.

The UCCP in Surigao is a big church with the first floor serving as a school with multipurpose classrooms. The second floor is the sanctuary which is beautifully designed to host more than a hundred worshippers.

The United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Surigao is located along Narciso St., Downtown Surigao City.