Report to the Coordinating Council
Central United Methodist Church
February 25-26, 2005
Expanding Our Mission
Solito K. Toquero
Bishop, Manila Episcopal Area
1. New Mandate, New Mission Initiative
God be praised for the new mandate I received through the Central Conference by reelecting me for a second term! Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We will double our efforts this new quadrennium in expanding our mission work among towns and barangays not yet reached by The United Methodist Church in the Manila Episcopal Area. We will also strengthen every local church to do new mission initiative in neighboring towns and barangays by training ministers, deaconesses and lay people as a mission team. Our goal for this quadrennium in our new mission initiative is for every local church to establish one new local church in a town or barangay where there is no United Methodist Church in four years’ time.
2. Establishing Prayer Rooms and Prayer Groups in Every Local Church
The Early Church was empowered by the Holy Spirit after a ten-day prayer meeting. The promise of Jesus for the one-hundred and twenty disciples to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Lk 24:49) in order to receive His power and be Jesus’ witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), is still true today. The 2004 Book of Discipline provides that the local church through the Charge Conference may elect annually a Prayer Advocacy Coordinator to coordinate its prayer ministry (Par. 254, p. 162). We will see to it that every local church shall have a prayer advocacy coordinator, a prayer room and an organized prayer group to help the minister in the prayer ministry of the congregation. The MEA Cabinet has opened an e-mail address on prayer, firstname.lastname@example.org. D.S. Dave Sablan is our prayer coordinator. We want to recover early Methodism’s emphasis on prayer and follow Jesus’ life of prayer (Mk 1:35; 6:45-46; Lk 6:12; 11:1ff.).
3. Stewardship of Time, Talent, Possessions and Environment
I believe in the necessity of educating our people on the biblical principles and practices of stewardship in order to become good stewards. We can only succeed in our mission initiative if our people are faithful stewards of their time, talent, possessions and the environment. The Great Commission and the Great Commandments are for every believer. We have to use our time, talent and possessions in making disciples of all nations, and obey the commandment to love. We have to care for the environment if we are to live a healthy and harmonious life with all of God’s creation. Tithing as a biblical and systematic way of sharing our money and possessions should be taught to, and practiced by every United Methodist. BulPAC and some districts (South Nueva Ecija and Laguna-Quezon), have been successful in using the tithe as an apportionment. They are meeting their financial needs and still have enough to support their mission work. We urge and encourage other districts and conferences to do the same. God blesses faithful stewards! There is joy and fulfillment in sharing God’s blesssings for the mission of the Church.
4. Developing our Assets and Institutions for Mission
Our conferences and districts have assets and educational institutions that have not been fully tapped and developed in order to generate income and resources for mission and outreach. We envision this quadrennium to tap the resources (human and material) of our institutions, for mission work and support. We also plan to develop idle properties to become income-generating within the quadrennium. We have enough experts in various fields to help us put up a development plan to transform these properties for mission, outreach and service.
5. Mission and Works of Justice
Our concept of mission includes works of justice for the poor and the oppressed. Each local church can also have a Church and Society Coordinator. He or she will coordinate the local church’s ministry to the poor. The local church meets their needs, advocates for their rights, and helps them organize, lobby, etc, as mandated by our Social Principles. Local churches can tap the expertise and facilities of KKFI, Asuncion Perez and MCRD in ministering to the poor. We have established new local churches among the poor by organizing and mobilizing them, and helping them put up livelihood projects and cooperatives. This method can be duplicated in many places.
6. Mission to OFWs and other Ethnic Goups
We have started our ministry to OFW’s and their families (land-base and sea-base). We plan to expand this ministry to other local churches in the provinces. We will train ministers and other church workers for this specialized ministry, especially chaplains for seafarers. We will tap the expertise of ecumenical organizations in Europe and Asia for the training of our church workers. We will also minister to other ethnic Filipinos in the mountains, not only among the Aetas (we have been ministering to them and training them for many years already) but also other tribal people. Part of our plan is to open work among the Chinese and Indian businessmen/women in Metro Manila and other places where there is a substantial Chinese and Indian community. We hope that by the end of the quadrennium we shall have reached all the ethnic groups within the Manila Episcopal Area and shall have established work among the Chinese and Indian communities.
7. Leadership Development and Continuing Education of Church Workers
We will do our best to recruit and train potential leaders from the local church to the conference level among the clergy and the laity and develop them to be leaders of our churches and institutions. We urge and encourage our church workers to attend seminars and workshops offered by our seminaries and universities for continuing education, or enroll in a short course for such purpose. Those able to do graduate and doctoral studies, we encourage them to do so. We will try to find scholarship for them. We will conduct seminars and convocations in cooperation and coordination with our institutions to help our church workers upgrade their knowledge and skills in ministry.
8. Church Workers’ Health and Welfare
Our church workers should be whole in body, mind and spirit if they are to be effective ministers of the Gospel. It is our goal in this quadrennium that a health care program/insurance for all full-time church workers be established. And that pension benefits be increased not only for our Central Conference pensioners but also for annual conference beneficiaries. We also urge our annual conferences to put up retirement homes for our retired church workers. Or our conferences, districts and local churches can build homes for our church workers in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity. This can be done especially for church workers who still have many years to serve. When they retire, they have a home ready for them, already paid for.
9. The Future of Philippine Methodism
More than a century has passed since the first American missionaries came to our shores and proclaimed the Good News of Salvation to our people. Methodism has taken roots with American flavor all these years. We thank God for this! We, however, are still a part of the American Church until this day. The Philippine Central Conference in its last session in November 2004 decided to accept the petition of nine annual conferences for an affiliated autonomous relationship with the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. Seven annual conferences had their petitions nullified on mere technicality. They are to perfect their petitions for an affiliated autonomous relationship with the General Conference this coming Adjourned Session of the Philippine Central Conference to be held next year. Only two annual conferences have not made a decision, BulPAC and PamPAC. I believe that an overwhelming majority of our conferences have made their decision. It is only a matter of time when these petitions reach the General Conference for an enabling act for us to decide our future, once and for all. Change is risky and traumatic. But it is inevitable. We have to make preparations for such eventuality. It took thirty-two years for Puerto Rico UMC to become an affiliated autonomous church. Their petition was received by the General Conference in 1972 and was granted only in 1992. They were given a twelve-year transition period and finally granted affiliated autonomous relationship during the 2004 General Conference. Let us pray and make preparations for our future. Let us unite in this venture. Let the dreams and aspirations of our foreparents of the faith be realized in our own time. Let us be God’s instruments in fulfilling this vision. May your will be done, O God! May it be so, Lord Jesus! Amen and Amen!