Philippines Location Map
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Partnerships and An Invitation
Our Presbytery’s friendships with partner churches in Thailand, Papua (Indonesia), Papua New Guinea, South Korea and the Philippines (North Luzon and South Luzon Jurisdictions) are important to us and they continue to develop in various ways.
Several years ago, following growth in the area around Manila, the Middle Luzon Jurisdiction was established and the Bishops invited the Presbytery of South Australia into partnership.
During May 2013, five of us from the Urban Mission Network, Christa & Phil Megaw (Blackwood UC), Graham Brice (Pilgrim UC), John and Christine Secombe (Morialta UC) responded to an itinerary developed by the Bishops. Over 5 days we visited grassroots programs and projects where the United Church of Christ in the Philippines is active in working with local people, supporting and empowering them in their daily struggles.
We discovered that the Philippines is a beautiful country. The people are friendly and hospitable, and the urban poor are amazingly resilient and hopeful. However, housing, education, unemployment, under-employment, and widespread poverty remain critical issues. Harassment of ministers and community leaders, coupled with the risk of extra-judicial killing, means that they risk their lives when they speak up for their people.
Our tour of exposure and immersion has set us wondering how the SA Presbytery might respond to the Bishops’ invitation. We are beginning to explore and investigate what a partnership of mutual sharing might mean, what form/shape a partnership could take, and where are the synergies between the programs and projects of the Middle Luzon Jurisdiction of the UCCP and the congregations and Presbytery of the Uniting Church in South Australia.
This is very much in the developmental phase and we are taking it slowly.
Please continue praying for the people of the Philippines and for ourselves as we discern the most effective way to progress the invitation from the Bishops of the UCCP Middle Luzon District.
Bishop Reuel Marigza, General Secretary of the UCCP (right) with gifted crosses decorated by members of the UAICC.Back to top ^
Theological Education at ETS
Rev Josie Calixto, a minister of the UCCP-NLJ, and lecturer at ETS, writes:
"The UCCP is concerned to develop future workers for the church; as a response to the increasing number of seminary students, the church decided to establish its own seminary school, the Ecumenical Theological Seminary (ETS), which is located in Baguio city.
ETS commenced in 1996 and at first consisted of accommodation rented from the North Luzon Jurisdiction office of the UCCP. Due to recent increases in student numbers, our students often have to squeeze themselves into small rooms. Since ETS was not the only institution that rented from UCCP-NLJ, accommodation was shared with other groups, and everyone was rather cramped. To address this issue, and with the help of our church members and partners locally and abroad, we started to build a new school building several years ago. Though it is still not fully constructed, we are using it."
Photo of Rev. Luna & Rev. Perla Dingayen
Luna is the principal of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and Perla plays an important role in worship and music leadership.Back to top ^
Philippines Mission Visit 2015
There has been a formal partnership agreement in place between the North Luzon UCCP and the UCSA since the early 1990s. During the 24 years it has been a close partnership of mutuality, advocacy, theological insights and friendship and our visit was an opportunity to renegotiate and (further) renew the Partnership and fulfil a specific component of the 2007 Agreement:
- To encourage and facilitate exchange visits between our two churches in the form of exposure programs, study trips, guest lectureships, internships, and co-worker-in-mission / volunteer in mission programs.
Further, at the SA Presbytery and Synod meeting in November 2013, it was agreed that the UCSA develop a new partnership with the UCCP - Middle Luzon Jurisdiction. There have been specific projects funded by the UCSA since then to support building this relationship, and the trip provided us with an opportunity to see first hand the achievements of our efforts. It was also an opportunity for the International Mission Officer to obtain greater particulars regarding the expectations and measurable outcomes as the final part of the due diligence in forming a formal partnership with the Middle Luzon UCCP.
Read the full report: UCCP 2015 Partnership Visit Report (171 kb PDF)
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Our Philippines Trip 2012
In February 2012, ten people travelled from the Uniting Church in South Australia to the Philippines to meet with members of our partner church – the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). The group from SA was comprised of Will and Nicole Hall, Christa Megaw and seven young people from Westbourne Park and Burnside Uniting Churches.
In Manila, we were met by Rev. Andy Tiver, a Uniting Church minister, originally from Naracoorte, who is living in Baguio City with his family and helping to coordinate the Uniting World Development Program in the North Luzon area. Andy works closely with Verhil, an indigenous pastor, liaising with the indigenous communities in the north. Andy and Verhil coordinated our trip. Together with four young people from the Philippines, they travelled with us for the ten days we were visiting the Philippines.
While in Manila, we visited Smoky Mountain, the rubbish dump where 1,700 families live, each with five or more children. Amongst the rubbish, there is a UCCP preschool. At present a German young man from a partner church is teaching there – previously a young woman from the UCA was volunteering there. This was the group's first encounter with poverty and it was a confronting experience. However, despite the filth and poor living conditions, we could also see the people's resourcefulness and resilience.
We drove by jeepney and bus to Baguio City, where we stayed in the UCCP – North Luzon Peace Centre. This is situated next to ETS (Ecumenical Theological Seminary.) One evening, we enjoyed a cultural night, dancing and singing with indigenous people from the Cordillero region. The Indigenous Peoples Institute, which was established jointly between the North Luzon Jurisdiction of the UCCP and ETS, is based here in Baguio City. The UCA in SA has committed to fund this program June 2011- June 2013. This program trains church workers in peace building skills, community organisation and the integration of Gospel and Culture. This program is also continuing to be vital in networking with other ecumenical partners and supporting the struggle of indigenous people.
We travelled out into the mountains to a community called Batanes. One of the most moving times of the trip was spent with this community at night, worshipping together with all ages in their simple church. The electricity failed and so together we sang and shared our experiences by candlelight. We slept that night on the floor of one of their homes. I think we were all so tired that the hardness of the floor hardly mattered.
This was a trip full of challenging experiences which has impacted all of us. We look forward to continuing to journey with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and standing with them in their joys and struggles.
Download here the above video for viewing in Small Groups or CongregationsBack to top ^
For the Philippines, we are hoping that
By a minister of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines
One day the homeless people who were forcefully driven to leave and eventually lost their lands in exchange for foreign companies will be given land that they can call their own. And that they no longer live and sleep under the trees and on the streets but will have a house where they can lay their heads.
For the many beggars whose only means of survival is the little kindness from passersby, we are looking forward to a day when they could eat nutritious meals three times a day.
For the children who are force to work just to help augment the family'needs, we are dreaming that one day we will see them playing around with joy in their eyes and not a tears of sadness for the heavy work.
For the children who lost their fathers and mothers who lost their husbands in their desire to help working for the establishment of peace and justice, we are hoping that one day justice will be given not only for the dead but also for the living who are in great pain.
We hope that one day, all children and young people in the Philippines will have the chance to have access to education.
For our government officials who promised to help advance the economic and political stability of the nation we hope that one day, they will not only utter a word that disguise their own agenda, but become a compassionate catalyst for a better world.
For our soldiers, we hope that one day, they will use their hearts and compassion to deal with people and not to resort to their guns to inflict pain to the innocent victims.
For our judges and lawyers we hope that one day they will realize their call by giving fair trial to all, to rescue the victims and not to acquit or take side with the perpetrators so that justice will prevail.
These are our hopes and these are our dreams.Back to top ^