Manila Episcopal Area

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

First Meeting of Global Body Outside United States

WASHINGTON – Bishops of The United Methodist Church will celebrate the rapid growth of the church in Africa when they meet in Mozambique Nov.1-6.

Nearly 80 bishops from the United States , Europe, Africa, and the Philippines are expected to attend the meeting. It will be the first time United Methodist bishops will meet as a group outside the territorial United States .

“By our very presence here, we are embodying the global nature of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Janice Riggle Huie of Houston, president of the Council of Bishops.

Most recent estimates show there are more than 2.2 million United Methodists meeting in 6,000 places of worship across Africa . Worldwide, there are an estimated 11 million United Methodists, with nearly 8 million in the United States .

“ Africa is at the forefront of ministry. We can learn much from our brothers and sisters in Africa ,” Huie said. “In the midst of chaos, violence, disease and heart-wrenching conditions, the cry of the people is ‘Lord, I want to be a Christian.’

“In many areas, the church provides the only access to health care. In many communities, our United Methodist schools are training Africa ’s future teachers, business entrepreneurs and governmental leaders,” Huie said.

Bishop João Somane Machado of Mozambique is hosting the meeting. He is the leader of more than 46,000 United Methodists in Mozambique . The council’s headquarters for the meeting will be Avenida Hotel in Maputo , Mozambique ’s capital.

In addition to their planned business sessions, the bishops are scheduled to visit and worship in churches in the country, participate in an off-site event celebrating the cultures of the country, and learn first-hand of the denomination’s missions in Mozambique .

Preaching, worship, and bible study during the meeting will be led by African bishops.

The United Methodist Church has a long history of service in Africa . Missionaries first began work in Africa during the 1830s. Now, there are United Methodist ministries, including schools, universities, clinics, and hospitals, in at least 14 African countries. Worldwide, there are United Methodist ministries in 120 countries, according to the church’s global mission agency.

One of the church’s universities, Africa University in Zimbabwe , has become a leader in preparing teachers, agricultural experts, economists and governmental leaders.

The newly elected president of Liberia , Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is an active United Methodist.//UMCOM

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bishop's Statement on the Brutal Slaying of Bishop Alberto Ramento

October 8, 2006

Listen, you rulers of Israel! You are supposed to be concerned about justice, yet you hate what is good and you love what is evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones. You eat my people up. You strip off their skin, break their bones and chop them up like meat for the pot. The time is coming when you will cry out to the Lord, but he will not answer you. He will not listen to your prayers, for you have done evil.
Micah 3:1-4

Until when shall our prophets be killed? Until when shall injustice prevail in our land?

We are deeply saddened by the brutal slaying of another prophet of God in the person of Bishop Alberto Ramento of the Philippine Independent Church last October 3, 2006 at San Sebastian Parish in Tarlac City. We deeply mourn the loss of a man whose strong faith conviction was to serve the least of God’s people. As bishop of the United Methodist Church – Manila Episcopal Area, I condemn in the strongest possible term this barbaric and treacherous act.

The Philippine National Police’s easy dismissal of the case as robbery with homicide is deplorable. Too much doubt has already been cast on this theory from the start since the good Bishop, as prophet of our time, has been known to be an outspoken critic of corrupt government policies and a staunch advocate of human rights, peace and justice. His life was lived in solidarity with the most marginalized sector of this society. He was well loved by farmers and workers. He denounced corruption and fought for good governance. He opposed and actively campaigned against human rights violations and extra-judicial killings. Surely, this prophet has earned the ire of the powers-that-be. How can his death be easily dismissed as a simple case of robbery? And lo, can his timeless principle of genuine servant leadership with which he lived be stolen from him? His passion for truth, justice and peace is his treasure. The people in authorities whom he criticized for abuse of power robbed his life for they feel threatened by his prophetic stance and they can only envy him for his stature.

The wave of killings exposes the incapacity of state agencies to protect the people from being murdered even in the safest confines of the homes, or as in the case of Bishop Ramento, in the sacred grounds of the church. Extra-judicial and political killings continue amidst the reverberating call of the people to stop the killings. For many of the victims and their families, justice remains elusive.

Sacred lives have been sacrificed. Many of our prophet’s blood now watered the grounds on which we stand. But the people have never been cowed. Many continue to tread the same path where our prophets have trod. We are hopeful that truth and righteousness shall one day prevail. The God of peace and justice shall execute justice and those who killed God’s prophets shall face the wrath of God’s judgment.

In the spirit of solidarity, I join Bishop Ramento’s family, the Philippine Independent Church and the Ecumenical community in calling for a genuine and thorough investigation of the case with the aim of bringing the perpetrators to justice. Considering that the local authorities responsible for the investigation are engaged in elaborate efforts to frame up common robbers and cover up the real perpetrators, I join the families, friends and co-workers of all victims of extra-judicial killings in calling on the United Nations and other international bodies to conduct independent investigation on the cases.

Bishop Alberto Ramento’s legacy of servant leadership and genuine love for the people will be forever etched in the hearts, minds and beings of the people whom he served. It will inspire many seeds to bear the golden grains of peace, justice and genuine liberation.

“We hold governments responsible for the protection of the rights of the people . . ."
(The Political Community, UMC Social Principles)

Manila Episcopal Area

Monday, October 02, 2006


HARRISON, Pa. (UMNS) -- Two new postage stamps in the Philippines honor a 100-year-old Methodist hospital and its founder.

Bishop Solito K. Toquero, president of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, told a Sept. 19-21 meeting of the agency that the Philippine government created the stamps to express appreciation for the Mary Johnston Hospital in Tondo, Manila.

The commission, which serves as the official archival and historical center for the denomination, learned that one stamp features a historical picture of the hospital with its founder, Dr. Rebecca Parish, a Methodist Episcopal missionary. The other stamp pictures the current hospital, the hospital seal and surgeons performing an operation.

"It's the only United Methodist hospital in the Philippines and is in an extremely poor section where there are many gangs and victims of gang warfare," Toquero said. "The Methodist Episcopal Church sent Rebecca Parish, a medical doctor at the beginning of the 20th century, and here she started a small clinic."

With the needs of the population, the clinic expanded into a hospital and today serves an indigenous population and the poor, among others. Toquero said the hospital is still supported by Methodist churches in the Tondo area, as well as the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. He said the hospital is known throughout the country for its training of medical doctors, a cancer center, and community education and outreach.
In other business, the commission:
Announced it would work with United Methodist Communications to redesign and restructure the organization's Web site ( The site houses 283 documents, and during some months more than 100,000 people visit it.

Recognized the Rev. Robert J. Williams, who began his tenure as the new chief executive officer of the agency in January. The commission is served by four full-time staff and seven part-time Drew University students.

Heard archival reports from Europe, the Philippines, Africa and all the United States jurisdictions.
Society marks milestones
The Historical Society, an affiliate organization of the Madison, N.J.,-based commission, met following the commission meeting.

The society celebrated the 50th anniversary of full clergy rights for women in the denomination. The group awarded the Rev. Pat Thompson of the Troy Conference a distinguished service award for her book, Courageous Past, Bold Future.

The book took on a life of its own beginning with a quest to publish the stories of the first women clergy in the denomination and the first women of color to obtain clergy status, according to Thompson.

"It became a labor of love because I kept turning up new information, which added to the book. A lot of the women of color were the only women of color in their conferences," she said.

"There were also a handful of Methodist Protestant women who had been ordained during the 1939 merger and who had their orders recognized as part of that agreement. Those clergywomen are often overlooked in our history and were the real pioneers in an atmosphere that didn't want women in the pulpit," she said.

The stories of the women all contained pain and struggle, according to Thompson.
"We now have 21 women bishops, but it's still difficult for women of color. We've never elected a Native American or an Asian woman bishop. ... It's the women who need to take the lead in addressing these issues."

In other business, the Historical Society:
Celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first African-American congregation to leave the Central Jurisdiction to become part of a previously all-white Methodist annual conference.
Awarded Robert Bray the Saddleburg Selection Award for his book, Peter Cartwright: Legendary Frontier Preacher. The award goes to an author who has published a book about United Methodist history, people or polity that is accessible to lay persons but also scholarly in nature.
Heard presentations that took participants on a historical journey through the history of inclusiveness in the denomination.
Announced that the next open meeting will be July 20-22 at the National 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Md. United Methodists will celebrate the Charles Wesley tercentenary at the event.By Kelly C. Martini*
*Martini is a freelance journalist residing in the Philadelphia area.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759