Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Short Analysis of the Current UMC Situation in the Philippines

The current situation of the UMC in the Philippines has made people, both clergy and lay, give differing opinions. My task is to stepback, reflect their thoughts and hopefully clarify what is going on.

A lot of minds are in the opinion that the current situation stems from one big issue that brought forth several sub-issues. Another group is in the opinion that there are several different unrelated issues. But I say that there are indeed several issues but each issue affects the other. What does this imply?

This means, for the first group, it is just one great issue that when that great issue is resolved, the rest of the sub-issues are also solved. This also means, for the second group, that when one issue is resolved, only that issue is resolved but the other issues are not affected in any way. Both are wrong. Because, the current situation are a product of several inter-related issues, one issue that is resolved affects the others as well (either in good or bad ways.)

Now let me deal with the first issue. That is of the legal team of LT led by AFR and all those against it. (Let us just say there are two groups, for easy distinction.) The first group wants LT to face and possibly be tried for the alleged immorality he committed. He was put in suspension so a supposed unbiased investigation can be done. But of course we know what happened. He did not accede to the suspension for legal reasons. The legal team contended the suspension with several reasons among them are that due process was not done, lack of authority by the CollOB, among others. The first group wanted LT to be tried for ethical reasons. They wanted the bishop's questionable morality and dignity be clarified. For them, a spiritual leader that deals with spiritual matters should put first and foremost in his priority morality, ethics, religion and spirituality. They wanted to see LT practice the Christian virtues. The second group (legal), on the other hand, wanted justice to prevail. Justice in this sense means observation of the rules of order, proper procedure, and execution of the law to the letter. If these were not observed, then there is no case of immorality to be resolved and no suspensions should be done ab initio. (Just think about the case of the Alabang Boys or if you are old enough, you may still remember the OJ Simpson case.) In essence, it is dignity vs. technicality.

If the two differing groups look at the same issue in two different lenses, how can they reconcile the issue when they cannot even meet on the same ground? Ultimately, they will just end up talking without even communicating. And the issue will remain unresolved.

What about the other issues? Because there are consequences to each and everyones action, the actions of LT led to several other issues. One is the argument that the Council of Bishops are meddling with the Philippine internal affairs. (Just a note: please stop referring to the Council of Bishops as US meddling because the members there are not all from the US, we are doing the non-American members injustice.) Because of this argument, in a meeting in Nueva Ecija, a group declared independence from the "US-controlled UMC" (sic). Now the problem here is funny. The people present during the declaration apparently did not understand each other. A certain JFZ proudly reported that the declaration of independence is the birth of the Philippine Methodist Church. The SEC registration for this is allegedly on process. Even LT acknowledged that this Nueva Ecija group is not UMC. (Instead of PMC, the name reserved in SEC was IMP.) However, other people present during that declaration of independence has different views. For them, their participation was simply a statement of DESIRE to be independent. Not necessarily a secession or establishment of another church. This includes LT, despite being present their and acknowledging that another church was established there, claims that he is still UMC. The participants in the Nueva Ecija Declaration are confused if their actions established a new church or not. Regardless, the UMC respects their right if they want to leave or they want to stay. They only need to confirm and affirm to which is their loyalty.

I did not realize that this short analysis could be this long already... Of course there are other issues. Most importantly the WestMidPAC issue. That may warrant another article.... tbc...

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