Friday, June 3, 2011

A Pastoral Statement of Conviction and Concern

I am reposting this as this has been e-mailed and posted in other social networks.

this is posted for the information of the concerned laity and clergy of the Lord's United Methodist Church connected to this page.


The People of The United Methodist Church
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

A Church that would not let nobody left behind out of a living experience of “love that will not let us go” lavishly manifested by a merciful God who does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9) and in Christ receive eternal life (John 3:16).

Bishop Lito Cabacungan Tangonan, a sinner saved by grace and fellow-servant with Jesus Christ appointed to a covenant ministry with all those who have obtained a faith of equal standing through the righteousness of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1).

God’s shalom and agape, justice and freedom in Jesus Christ!

To the people called Methodists, Father John Wesley bequeathed this sacred charge -

When at the Methodist Conference it was asked, “What may we reasonably believe to be God’s design in raising up the Preachers called Methodists,” the answer was, “To reform the nation, particularly the church, and to spread scriptural holiness over the land” (Minutes of Several Conversations Q.3, in The Works of John Wesley, Vol. 8; Ed. T. Jackson, Baker, 1978, p.299).

The charge serves as a light unto our path as we journey on to perfection, and a master plan for trail blazing the highways and byways of God’s world, our parish!

With God’s grace, I diligently kept the faith and faithfully fulfilled this sacred charge to the best of my God-given abilities.

With many of you and our friends in the ecumenical and inter-faith movement, I shared some ministry-enriching moments in the parliament of the streets in pursuit of social, political and economic reforms and spiritual transformation of our land.

With many of you, today I share some ministry-threatening moments in the chambers of the church as a consequence of our crusade to eradicate corruption that has silently strayed within our gates and has cast dark shadows over what we all believed as unblemished legacy of some of our senior leaders in The United Methodist Church in the Philippines.

My colleagues in the Philippines Central Conference-College of Bishops (PCC-COB) including these senior leaders have endorsed some dubious complaints against me for supervisory response process and following some token efforts by the supervisory team, submitted said complaints to the PCC-COB designated counsel for the church who hurriedly filed charges against me before the Philippines Central Conference-Committee on Investigation (PCC-COI), a committee hurriedly organized in a hurriedly called Philippines Central Conference Coordinating Council (PCC-CoCo) Meeting on December 05, 2009 held at the conference room of The UMC Headquarters, UN Avenue, Ermita, Manila.

On June 16, 2011, the PCC-COI dismissed the first Judicial Complaint and confirmed the same on July 16, 2011 to clarify the Committee’s response denying the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the Counsel for the Church.

On February 3, 2011, the PCC-COI dismissed the second Judicial Complaint: “Disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church”.

Thereafter, my colleagues in the PCC-COB successively endorsed five more similar malicious complaints against me and each time surreptitiously promulgated corresponding illegal Orders of Suspensions. All complaints were not seriously pursued by the PCC-COB but they relentlessly implemented all five illegal Orders of Suspensions of sixty days each, one after another. Moreover, aside from the December 06, 2009 to January 19, 2010 (as enumerated below item No. 1) illegal suspension and the very recently another sixty days illegal Order of Suspension (as enumerated below item No. 9) issued on May 17, 2011 by The UMC Council of Bishops (UMC-COB) Executive Committee, I have now a total of 420 days illegal suspension from the unending illegal Orders of Suspensions illegally done by the PCC-COB. For your perusal, you may critically and analytically read between the lines of the following enumerated factual data:

60 days illegal suspension beginning December 06, 2009 but it was reset to January 20, 2010 to March 23, 2010
Another 60 days illegal suspension: May 25, 2010 to July 23, 2010
Another 60 days illegal suspension: July 24, 2010 to September 21, 2010
Another 60 days illegal suspension: September 22, 2010 to November 20, 2010
Another 60 days illegal suspension: November 21, 2010 to January 19, 2011
Attempted illegal issuance of indefinite suspension by the PCC-COB dated December 14, 2010
Another 60 days illegal suspension: January 20, 2011 to March 20, 2011
Another 60 days illegal suspension: March 20, 2011 to May 18, 2011
Another 60 days illegal suspension effective May 19, 2011

I cannot think of any treatment as cruel as this that can be perpetrated by covenant colleagues against their own brother in the fellowship of the ordained. Some friends call it exclusion perpetua as apparently it was meant to exclude me from the covenant ministry forever. It literally means killing me softly with perpetual illegal suspension.

The PCC-COB did all this in utter desecration of the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church, specifically, violation of the Fair Process system of the Church; and in blatant disrespect and disregard of the Philippines Central Conference-Committee on Episcopacy (PCC-COE) entreaty for the PCC-COB to stop suspending me, which suspensions they reported as promulgated in violation of the Disciplinary requirements (Par. 413.3a, The UMC 2008 Book of Discipline) on COB-COE ‘CONSULTATION’ by the PCC-COB, in the official PCC-COE reports to the PCC-CoCo of August 2010 and February 2011. Given the opportunity to write the PCC-COE Chairperson, Rev. Marie Sol Sioco-Villalon asking her some pertinent inquiries, she told me courageously in her response letter dated April 02, 2011, to wit: “In the absence of a consultation, the COB proceeded with their decision to suspend you on the same date, March 14, 2011. The resolution says that the COB had a consultation with the Committee on Episcopacy. We are sorry to say that that is not true. There was no consultation that took place.”

The appointment of an Interim Bishop in the person of Retired Bishop Daniel C. Arichea, Jr. by the PCC-COB and The UMC-COB is again a gross violation of The UMC 2008 Book of Discipline under Par. 407. The PCC-COE, MEA Cabinet and the Committee on Episcopacy of every annual conference of the Manila Episcopal Area were never properly consulted.

The PCC-COB was able to convince The UMC-COB to lodge a complaint against me on disobedience and as per request again by the PCC-COB, The UMC-COB Executive Committee illegally decided to illegally suspend me for a period of sixty days effective May 19, 2011. They acted also as the one who will be conducting the supervisory hearing. I brought these “...pertinent questions...” to the attention of the President of The UMC-COB (Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster) thru email dated May 20, 2011, to wit: “1) Is it necessary or is that the utmost Christian way or Methodist way to handle the situation that you need to file first a complaint against me before we sit and talk and pray together? 2) Is it proper, fair and disciplinary that the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops of which you are the President is the one who will conduct the supervisory process? 3) Where can we find in The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church about the absolute power, authority and jurisdiction of the Council of Bishops or its Executive Committee over processing a complaint against a fellow bishop including affirmation or approval/issuance of suspension? 4) Is it because that the PCC College of Bishops requested the Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops to illegally suspend me for another 60 days that you illegally suspended me? I would like to tell you again, I am sorry to say that I cannot find any single provision from The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church from page one to the last page that you have that absolute power, authority and jurisdiction to do that. 5) Do you think the unstoppable filling of complaints against me and the unending issuance of illegal suspensions are the right solutions to the problems?”

The PCC-COB harassment wouldn’t stop. This day (26 May 2011) I received a letter from the Secretary General of the General Council for Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church (UMC-GCFA) informing me, thus –

“We received notification today from the Philippines Central Conference College of Bishops, dated May 16, 2011, that you have voluntary withdrawn from membership in the United Methodist Church and have united with another denomination…”

I vehemently deny such false information and strongly condemn the PCC-COB for such an irresponsible and immoral act of vilification and backbiting a colleague in the covenant ministry.

As the proper Church agency charged with “the review of the work, character and official administration of the bishops under ¶524.3 of The UMC 2008 Book of Discipline,” I referred the GCFA letter to the PCC-COE for action and have requested its Chairperson, Rev. Marie Sol Sioco-Villalon to please convey to the honorable Secretary General of GCFA, Appadurai Moses Rathan Kumar, my disagreement with his decision, finding the same to be arbitrary, capricious and whimsical.

Further, that I was surprised and dismayed that he made his conclusion without verifying the facts given to him by the PCC-COB, and without giving me the chance to clear the matters first. This is contrary to the tradition and practice of The United Methodist Church which gives premium to due process.

Finally, that I categorically state, for the record, that I am still a member, an ordained clergy, and elected bishop of The United Methodist Church, and that I adhere to its Order and Discipline. My adherence to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church is the very reason why I objected to the acts of the Philippine Central Conference College of Bishops (PCC-COB) and The United Methodist Church Council of Bishops (UMC-COB) which were contrary to the letter and spirit of The 2008 UMC Book of Discipline. In dealing with my case, both the PCC-COB and The UMC- COB violated the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church.

Our brothers and sisters in the Nueva Ecija and Aurora Philippines Annual Conference have experienced this same kind of injustice from the Interim Bishop and the PCC-COB/UMC-COB hence, on their own, collectively decided to be freed and proclaim their indigenous autonomy and independence from The United Methodist Church last May 07, 2011. As they continue to respect me as a spiritual leader whom they elected as Bishop, I accepted their invitation to witness the proclamation event.

My personal conviction is that they remain as Methodist brothers and sisters in need of loving and caring and shepherding which I am duty-bound to do as the Interim Bishop and colleagues in the PCC-COB and UMC-COB refuse to do so.

If by this act, my colleagues in the covenant ministry find me subversive, then. let it be known that Here I Stand - a subversive for Christ as I cannot in conscience be as cold and indifferent and unconcerned with the plight of the least of ours and Christ’s brothers and sisters in The United Methodist Church.

I cannot in conscience allow anybody to be misled by thinking that the Bishops of The United Methodist Church are infallible in their pronouncements and actions for this is the very evil Martin Luther and the reformers thwarted during their time which resulted in the birth of the Protestant movement.

If by this act, my colleagues in the covenant ministry accuse me that I have voluntary withdrawn from membership in the United Methodist Church and have united with another denomination, then let it be known that out of constraint of conscience Here I stand – a subversive for Christ, and a revolutionist with John Wesley, saying –

“If you ask on what principle I acted, it was this: ‘A desire to be a Christian; and a conviction that whatever I judge conducive thereto that I am bound to do; wherever I judge I can best answer this end, thither it is my duty to go... seeing I have now no parish of my own, nor probably ever shall. Whom then shall I hear, God or man? I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that His blessing attends it.”

Let us be reminded that “God’s divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.” (2 Peter 1:2-11)

In closing, while looking, praying, living and doing towards “A Future with Hope” in order to accomplish our common mission of “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World” and our beloved church, let us keep on trusting the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and likewise entrusting everything to Him. His countless time and immeasurable space for the right consummation of His time and space will give us therefore the opportune time and space for the history of Methodism throughout the whole world particularly in the Philippines to speak of/for itself to reveal and declare to us His purpose driven will for the good and betterment and expansion of His Universal Body. Hayaan nating lalong mahinog ang panahon mula sa bawat panahon ng bawat karanasan natin bilang Iglesyang patuloy na tinatawag at isinusugo ng Dios, at ang kasaysayan nito ang makapagsasabi at makapagpapahayag kung saan nga tayo dapat papunta, at kung papaano tayo pupunta, at kung kailan tayo makararating sa dapat puntahan, at kung kailan ito ganap na mangyayari. Ang kalooban ng Dios ay di masasagkaan ninuman, yan ay katulad ng maagos na tubig sa ilog o karagatan. Di ba ang Iglesya ay laging bukas sa pagbabago? Di ba halos lahat ng tumakbo sa pagka-obispo sa ating Iglesya kasama ang mga napagkalooban ng pagkakataon na maging Obispo ay nagsasabing sila’y para sa autonomy ng ating Iglesya? Di ba ang usaping autonomy sa ating Iglesya ay napakatagal na at sa katunayan sa buong Asya, ang UMC sa Pilipinas ang bukod tanging nakakonekta pa sa UMC USA? Alam ng karamihan ang aking paninindigan hinggil sa usaping ito at puwede ninyong basahin muli ang aking mga ulat sa PCC-CoCo at Episcopal Addresses sa bawat sesyon ng lahat ng annual conferences ng MEA. Gabayan, palakasin at tulungan nawa tayo ng Dios na mapagmahal, mapagmalasakit, mapagligtas, makatarungan at mapagpalaya!

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Resident Bishop
Manila Episcopal Area
Philippines Central Conference
The United Methodist Church

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