Bishop Lito Tangonan’s Episcopal Address to Annual Conference Sessions
A FUTURE WITH HOPE:
A GROWING, EXPANDING AND SUSTAINING (AGES) CHURCH
A GREETING WITH HOPE
GOD’S HEART-WARMING GREETINGS WITH HOPE OF GRACE AND KERUSSEIN SHALOM TO ALL OF YOU, WONDERFUL FELLOW UNITED METHODISTS, FRIENDS AND ECUMENICAL PARTNERS IN THE LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST!
A PRAYER WITH HOPE
May the most precious name of the Almighty God be glorified in our Holy Conferencing as a Church and as an Annual Conference officially tasked with vast duties and responsibilities. We, therefore, ask for the invigorating power and illuminating presence of the Holy Spirit to lead us in one accord with a glowing sense of love and unity, hoping and praying that this Regular Session that we are holding now will truly give the highest honor and glory to the Most High – the Over-All Head of the Church and the Over-All Presiding Officer.
A THANKSGIVING WITH HOPE
My utmost thanks with hope to the Lord for giving me this golden opportunity to lead and serve the United Methodist Church, especially the Manila Episcopal Area where I was duly assigned by the Philippines Central Conference before the adjournment of its 19th Regular Session last November 18-22. I would like to convey also my deepest appreciation and thanksgiving to former Bishop, Rev. Dr. Solito K. Toquero, for giving me the chance to become a part of the MEA Cabinet as District Superintendent of the Quezon City District – Philippines Annual Conference East from June 1, 2001 to November 2008. I’ve learned a lot from that long period of leadership and service. Glory to God in the highest for having a very substantial, wonderful and meaningful experience in my past journey as District Superintendent that gave me the priceless preparation for the next ladder of servant leadership and ministry.
AN EPISCOPAL ADDRESS WITH HOPE
By virtue of being “Called and Empowered to Lead and Serve,” allow me to present to this august body my first Episcopal Address for your in-depth reflection and for your favorable acceptance, adoption and intensive implementation.
This Episcopal Address with Hope is deeply rooted in the Quadrennial Thrust Theme of The United Methodist Church, to wit: “A Future with Hope.” With an “Open Door,” “Open Mind,” and “Open Heart” passion of dedication and commitment, we are, indeed, mandated to religiously uphold our common mission of “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
This Episcopal Address with Hope with a deep holistic concern of the total life and leadership, management and administration, ministries and projects towards “A Growing, Expanding and Sustaining (AGES) Church that is actively Transforming, Enhancing, Advocating and Ministering (TEAM) to the Community and the World.”
This Episcopal Address with Hope provides also the avenue of concretely responding to the very timely concerns of The United Methodist Church, namely:
A. THE SEVEN (7) VISION PATHWAYS
1. Develop new congregations.
2. Teach the Wesleyan model of forming disciples of Jesus Christ.
3. Strengthen clergy and lay leadership.
4. Reach and transform the lives of the new generations of children.
5. Eliminate poverty in community with the poor.
6. Expand our Evangelism Ministries.
7. Transform existing congregations.
B. FOUR FOCUS AREAS
1. Leadership Development. Developing Principled Christian Leaders for the Church and the World.
2. Church Growth. New places for New People and Renewing Existing Congregations.
3. Ministry with the Poor. Engaging in Ministry with the Poor.
4. Global Health. Stamping Out Killer Diseases of Poverty by Improving Health Globally.
C. THREE (3) SIMPLE RULES OF JOHN WESLEY.
1. DO NO HARM.
2. DO GOOD.
3. STAY IN LOVE WITH GOD.
SOME SCRIPTURAL CONCERNS WITH HOPE
With hope, in our collective journey as a Church, let us always be guided by some scriptural concerns as follows:
“I know your plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33, KJV)
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23, NIV)
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtain wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords; strengthen your stakes.” (Isaiah 54:2, KJV)
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19, NIV)
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)
“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:4-8, NIV)
“I LOOK UPON THE WORLD AS MY PARISH.” (John Wesley)
“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all times the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can.” (John Wesley)
COMPREHENSIVE CHURCH ACTION PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS (CCAPP)
“Do Map, Send now Leaders, Care and be Trusted” (DSLCT) has been my ministerial life slogan and banner through servant leadership in the Lord’s multifarious holistic ministries. We need to have a CCAPP in all levels of the Church life and total operation (Annual Conference, District, Local Church, Mission Church, Church School, etc). The following are my proposals:
1. Development of the Over-all Master Action Plan (DO MAP) of the Church of which the following are being laid down through strategic visioning and planning: its short, medium and long range vision and mission statement; its core values and Christian philosophy; its strategic goals, priorities and objectives on the comprehensive action programs and temporal property that includes sustainability of financial resources.
2. Spiritual Enhancement Network Drive for Nurture, Outreach and Witness (SEND NOW) on the following areas:
2.1. Spirituality Program for In-depth Renewal and Intensive Transformation (SPIRIT) based on the Biblical and Wesleyan Methodist Spirituality, Covenant Discipleship and Shared Church Workers-Lay Partnership Servant Ministry.
2.2. Strengthening Team-partnership and Expanding Program (STEP) for the Local Churches and Mission Churches; Church/Charge, District, Annual and Central Conferences; Nurture, Outreach, Witness and Specialized Ministries; Church Organizations (United Methodist Church Workers’ Fellowship, United Methodist Clergy Spouses’ Association, United Methodist Preachers’ Kids Association, United Methodist Women’s Society of Christian Service, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Young Adult Fellowship, United Methodist Youth Fellowship, United Methodist Elderly Fellowship, etc.); Church Schools and Church-Related Institutions (Day Care, Preparatory and Kindergarten, Elementary, High School, College, University, Seminary, Hospital, Cooperative and Foundation).
2.3. Servants’ Training for Evangelism and Mission (STEM) by applying the theological concept of “priesthood of all believers” through intensive integrated continuing education and training programs that will “Enhance, Encourage, Empower, Equip, Enable and Enlist” (6Es) the lay people to become active, effective and productive God’s instruments for social transformation and for building new faith communities.
2.4. Systematizing Church Operational Planting Effort (SCOPE) as a missionary program of establishing United Methodist Mission Point(s) in every town of every Province who doesn’t have yet an organized United Methodist Congregation. Every Local Church within the District of an Annual Conference of the Episcopal Area must have an established United Methodist Mission Point(s).
2.5. Spearheading Program for Active Cell Empowerment (SPACE) as a Wesleyan Discipleship Church Growth Program of organizing, nurturing and equipping the membership of the Local Churches and Mission Churches into several weekly Bible Study Cell Groups with trained lay leaders.
2.6. Spearheading Worldwide Initiative Mission (SWIM) as a worldwide Church partnership network program for the Filipino Migrants and their Families in the Philippines.
3. Leadership Enhancement and Administrative Development with Emphasis on Responsible Servanthood (LEADERS).
3.1. Laity Enhancement Academy and Development (LEAD) as a continuing education program for the Church Lay Officers, Leaders and Speakers.
3.2. Leaders’ Enhancing Administrative Development for Expanded Responsibilities and Sustained Holistic-Innovative Program (LEADERSHIP) as a continuing education program for the Clergy and Deaconesses.
4. Church Advocates and Relational Emphasis (CARE).
4.1. Church Recruitment Operation Program (CROP) for Full-Time Ministry.
4.2. Church Assistance for Seminarians and Harrisians (CASH).
4.3. Church Connectional Holistic Concerns (ChurCHCon) on the following:
4.3.1. Church Program and Pensions for the Retired Church Workers.
4.3.2. Church Workers’ Tenure of Appointment.
4.3.3. Church Workers’ Benefits (SSS, Phil-Health, Health Care, Pag-ibig, Housing, etc.) and Standardized Financial Support.
4.3.4. Church Legal Empowerment Assistance and Referral (CLEAR) programs for Church members in need of legal assistance and job opportunities.
4.3.5. Church School Association.
4.3.6. Church Preparedness for its Affiliated Autonomous Structure.
4.4. Church Advocacy Program and Solidarity (CAPS) on Church and Society concerns through community immersions, multi-media technology ministries, ecumenical solidarity and other creative approaches. The establishment of the UMC Social Action Center (UMC-SAC) is urgently needed for Disaster Preparedness, Relief Operation and other Church-Related Outreach Ministries based on the UMC Social Creed and Social Principles.
5. Trusteeship of Records, Updated Statistics, Temporal and Economic Development (TRUSTED).
5.1. Trusteeship Operation Projects (TOP) on Church Membership Records and Updated Statistical Records, Historical s, Communication and Publications, Transparent and Audited Financial Reports/Records and Operational Management and Administration, and Legal Documents on Acquired Church Properties.
5.2. Temporal Revitalization and Economic Action Development (TREAD) projects on acquired Church Properties for Multi-Purpose Camp Sites or Spiritual Retreat Centers, Cooperative Development Centers, Schools, Publishing House, Book Stores, s Library, Retired Church Workers’ Retirement Homes, Cemeteries, etc. These are some of the possible long range projects needed for spiritual-educational formation program, mission work initiatives, and for other sustainable income-generating purposes.
Along with our concerted effort to concretize this Episcopal Address towards A FUTURE WITH HOPE: A GROWING, EXPANDING AND SUSTAINING (AGES) CHURCH that is actively Transforming, Enhancing, Advocating and Ministering (TEAM) to the Community and the World, these SURE SPICE Core Values will somehow contribute a big impact as being considered as foundational guidelines in Church parlance of operational management, administration and leadership:
Spirituality, theological guidelines, doctrines and social holiness/creed/principles;
Unity, team-building and partnership;
Responsibility, transformational servant leadership and service;
Exemplary ecumenical witness, outreach-mission and nurture-discipleship;
Stewardship, tithing, sustainability, self-reliance and stability;
Progressive holistic growth (qualitatively and quantitatively);
Integrity, character, credibility, discipline, honesty, transparency and consistency;
Commitment and dedication;
Excellence and professionalism coupled with competence and efficiency.
ACCOMPLISHMENT AND FUTURE PLANS AND PROGRAMS:
To carry out our vision, mission and goals, the following are the
specific programs and ministries:
1. MEA Moral Force
The MEA Moral Force was created in response to the call of Chief
Justice Reynato S. Puno for the churches and other groups to step
forward and act as “moral forces” in redirecting the destiny of our
nation suffering from moral decadence. One of its objectives is to act
as the body that will help and support our churches analyze the current
situation of the nation in terms of its economic, political and social
situation by issuing pastoral statements and prophetic announcements.
Right after the meeting, the Office of the Bishop had a circular letter
dated Jan. 19, 2009 addressed to all MEA district superintendents to
conduct issue awareness building at their respective districts and
annual conferences using the United Methodist Social Creed and the
Social Principles as point of reference.
In the last meeting of the MEA Moral Force held on Feb. 16, 2009, it was agreed that the body will not only tackle and discuss issue on good governance but all issues affecting the lives of our people and our nation.
As a concrete response, we have organized a MEA-WIDE MORAL FORCE
LAUNCHING to be held at the Central United Methodist Church on April 6,
2009. The activity will start from 9 am to 12 noon. We are fortunate
that Chief Justice Puno accepted our invitation to be the Keynote
Speaker during this activity. We are expecting about 500 participants
coming from the 11 MEA Annual Conferences, UMC agencies, church-related
institutions, members of the National Council of Churches in the
Philippines, Philippine Bible Society and other religious institutions.
To prepare our District Superintendents and other key persons coming from the lay organizations and church related institutions and agencies, we have scheduled a MEA MORAL FORCE FACILITATOR’S TRAINING on June 14-16, 2009. The activity will be held at Tagaytay Mission Camp in Tagaytay City.
2. MEA COMMUNICATION PLAN
The Manila Episcopal Area is setting up a tri-media program (print, broadcast and on-line) to cater to the needs of our constituents specially in the local churches and in the grassroots. One of its objectives is to strengthen the churches and promote the Methodist faith as a relevant and potent force in our society. The following communication components will be set up:
2.1 Newsletter - MEALAB (Manila Episcopal Area: Alay-Liwanag, Alay-Buhay Para sa Iglesia at Sambayanan) MEALAB is the official publication of the Manila Episcopal Area. The maiden issue will be out by the end of March 2009. The Editorial staff will compose of able lay people who volunteered to help MEA implement this project. Members of the Editorial Board will come from among our district superintendents and lay people with expertise in this endeavor. We are also tapping the expertise of Mr. Crispulo Icban of the Manila Bulletin to be our Editorial Consultant.
2. 2 Radio Program. The Radio Ministry program will be implemented in coordination with NIMPP care of Rev. Marie-Sol Villalon and Rev. Homer Refuerzo, who handles the radio program ministry. We are planning to have a weekly one hour session for the possibility of buying block time. We are already contacting DZAS.
2.3 Website. The present website will be activated and updated on a weekly basis. The consultation for this concern is on-going. We are encouraging our members to think digital.
2.4 Trainings/Seminars. A Basic Computer and Internet Seminar-Workshop for Church Workers will be provided as part of the continuing education of our pastors, deaconesses and lay members. The first WRITER’S WORKSHOP will be held on July 16-19, 2009 at Tagaytay Mission Camp. The workshop will tackle news writing, feature writing and editing.
2.5 PALM – Pulpit and Living Ministries. The PALM ministry will publish the best sermons, original songs/compositions, original poems etc. coming from our pastors, deaconesses and lay members.
3. MEA Cabinet Expanded Strategic Planning Workshop. The Manila Episcopal Office is planning to hold its strategic planning on June 11-13, 2009 at Tagaytay Mission Camp. Participants to the expanded strategic planning will comprise of district superintendents, conference lay leaders, chairpersons of BOOM, CDS and heads of UMC board and agencies. They will help lay down the vision, mission, and goals of the Manila Episcopal Area for the next quadrennium with the banner theme: A Future with Hope.
4. KAMALIG is a relief project of MEA in close coordination with the Asuncion Perez Memorial, Inc. through Ms. Merlinda Sebastian. The project aims to enhance the year-round program of collection of relief goods in order to enlist meaningful participation of our local churches, districts and annual conferences in their respective communities. Churches and individuals are encouraged to donate or offer the following: canned goods, cash, clothes, blankets, mats, mosquito nets, slippers, school supplies, school bags, toothbrush, toothpaste, bar soap, bath soap, rice and others.
5. PREACHER’S KID ASSOCIATION
The revival of the Preachers Kid (PK) is now being spearheaded by Ms. Riva Tabelisma. The birth of a new annual conference and the rebirth of the Preachers’ Kids Association are memorable events unfolding before our eyes as an Episcopal Area. The PK is an organization of the children and grandchildren of preachers and deaconesses. It is the counterpart of the clergy spouses whose main goal is to connect and help each other in becoming extension of our parents’ ministries. Ms. Tabelisma will be going around during the Annual Conference Sessions promoting PK. Your encouragement to your children and grandchildren to join PKs activities will be the best support you can give to this ministry.
6. HEALING AND WHOLENESS MINISTRY
A consultation with Rev. David Sablan, Jr. and his team were done on January 22, 2009. The team is teaching ministry of forgiveness, emotional healing, physical healing, how to pray for the sick, healing the human spirit and many others. In the circular letters disseminated to the District Superintendents dated Jan. 22, 2009, we have requested the DS’es to create a healing and wholeness ministry program in their respective district and annual conferences. Rev. Sablan is willing to conduct healing activities and seminars to the churches as per request. You may contact him at Block 32 Lot 2 Phase 2 Tierra Nevada-El Pueblo, Bgy. San Franscisco Gen. Trias, Cavite.
7. CAMPUS MINISTRY PROGRAM
The revival of the Campus Ministry Program is being spearheaded by Rev. Alex Saclayan. The purpose of which is to establish a United Methodist spiritual formation program in Philippine campuses starting at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines main campus and its branches. It would also establish a UMC social services program. This project is in partnership with The First United Methodist Church of Wabash, Indiana, Inc. and the Quezon City Philippines Annual Conference East. The Campus Ministry program is also in coordination with the UMYF through its National President, Ms. Earlie Pasion.
8. LAKBAY MISSION STYLE VACATION CHURCH SCHOOL
Target communities for possible opening of mission projects. All districts and annual conferences clergy, deaconesses will be involved and will conduct the said project.
9. DAY-CARE/LIVELIHOOD PROJECT in all Annual Conferences in coordination with Ms. Jeanette Cruz-Nacpil.
10. Episcopal Visit in Pampanga
The Episcopal Visit was conducted in Pampanga on Feb. 16-17, 2009 together with the 3 District Superintendents of QCPACE and PACE, Rev. Rolando Martinez, Rev. Hilario Carolino and Rev. Horacio Sison respectively. They visited local churches, mission churches and church-related schools and institutions from the two districts of Pampanga Philippines Annual Conference.
11. Prophetic Call. The Office of the Bishop of the Manila Episcopal Area will continue its prophetic ministry by issuing pastoral statements and prophetic announcements. This is part of our faithful work of advocacy for social responsibility and accountability as declared in the UMC Social Creed and Social Principles. Thus we have issued two pastoral letters: First Pastoral Letter was in support of Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno dated Jan. 16, 2009 and the second was the Pastoral Statement on the Revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plan dated Feb. 20, 2009.
12. Adopt/Support Mission Churches.
To be true to our mission thrust of “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World,” the Manila Episcopal Area is adopting and sponsoring the following mission churches:
a. Pampanga and West Middle Philippines
Annual Conferences will adopt and sponsor Palawan, Calamianes group of
islands, Coron, Culion, Busuanga and Linapakan. The 2 Annual
Conferences will provide financial support to the 3 DSes of Palawan as
well as human resources.
b. Philippines Annual Conference East and Bulacan Philippines Annual Conference – help and support Southern Tagalog Provisional Philippines Annual Conference East
c. Quezon City Philippines Annual Conference East – will help and support Oriental Mindoro and Marinduque.
d. Philippines Annual Conference – will help and support Batangas, Southwest Philippines Annual Conference, Dubai and Abu Dabi.
e. Middle Philippines Annual Conference East – Aurora Mission District, Aurora Province
13. PREPARATION FOR MEA GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION – August 2010
a. MEA-WIDE PK’s Gathering
b. MEA-WIDE CHRISTMAS INSTITUTE
c. MEA-WIDE CHURCH WORKERS CONVOCATION
d. MEA-Clergy Spouses Association Assembly
e. MEA-WIDE LAY ACADEMY
f. MEA-Fund Raising Campaign
g. MEA DIRECTORY
I could not personally do the enormous tasks laid down before us. But these tasks can only be accomplished in partnership with God and through your help and support.
Through our programs and projects, we wish to accomplish for the next quadrennium our vision and mission thrust of “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.” Through the help and support of all our constituents, we can make these things happen. There would be struggles, pains and brokenness, but if all of us are one with each other and one in our ministry, we could make a difference and the Holy Spirit will bless us with “A Future With Hope.”
To God be the Glory!
BISHOP LITO CABACUNGAN TANGONAN
Manila Episcopal Area