Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Everyone!

Performed at the 62nd Easter Sunrise Service of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines held at the Liwasang Aurora of the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Message from the NCCP Chairperson

Coke and the Cross: An Easter Message*

It is said that Coca Cola has the most globally recognizable commercial logo. Coke’s advertisers capitalize on that by associating images and messages to it to sell its product. Logos and symbols through recognition and association have come to possess effective influences on people.

The three great faiths of the world have their own powerful symbol – Christianity has the Cross, Judaism has the Star of David, and Islam has the Crescent. Our Roman Catholics brethren have the Crucifix celebrating the Crucified Christ. Protestants have the empty Cross celebrating the Resurrected Christ.

Be that as it may it seems people may have personalized views of the cross on utilitarian reasons. We know Peter Cushing, I mean Count Dracula of the movies is horrified by it. A cross tattooed on the powerful bicep of an NBA player… does it help bring down more rebounds? Or a public display of faith? Makes me wonder… More commonly a cross is worn as a pendant, an adornment on a necklace. This has somewhat elicited the acerbic comment that we are supposed to be cross “bearers” and not cross “wearers.” I also wonder about that…

Seriously now… while the cross is also viewed as an instrument of death, it does not represent the end of Christ. Jesus died on a cross but rose again from the dead. That is the significance of the empty cross! The resurrected Christ lives and continues to live in us to empower us to work in partnership with God in bringing about God’s eternal plan.

This partnership began when we trusted the claims of Christ that he died for our sins on the cross, and he rose again so that we too may live forever. We were saved by the grace he extended to us and by our faith response. We must be reminded that “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

Through Christ we are a “new creation,” ministers of reconciliation, that “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ…” (II Corinthians 5:17-19) We are to partner with God to help transform this torn, hurting, unjust, oppressive world into a realm of freedom, well-being, and justice.

If Coke claims to be the “real thing” and you go buy and drink it, how does the “real meaning” of the empty cross influence you? Happy Easter!

Bishop Nathanael P. Lazaro
NCCP Chairperson

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) will hold its 62nd Easter Sunrise Service on April 24, 2011, at the Liwasang Aurora of the Quezon City Memorial Circle.  Click here for the area map.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Philippine Mining Situation: Liberalization under the Aquino Administration and the Peoples' Struggles

Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE), Defend Patrimony! Alliance and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) published the Mining Situation and Struggle in the Philippines to provide the status of the Mining Liberalization and its impacts in the perspectives of the people's movement.  This document presents the continuing people's resistance and campaigns to protect their communities, fight for their rights, and the defense of the nation's patrimony against imperialist mining plunder.

Limited copies available at the NCCP Databank.  For copies please call the Office of the General Administration at (632) 929-3745 or send us a message on our Facebook Page.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Churches as Havens and Sanctuaries for Human Rights

Quezon City, April 7, 2011: Around 60 participants including members of the clergy, church workers, and human rights advocates, came together for the Unity Forum on Churches as Havens and Sanctuaries for Human Rights to reflect on the churches’ role in the context of the human rights situation under the present administration. The said activity was sponsored by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP). 

The one day unity forum involved speakers who helped set the agenda. Mr. Jigs Clamor, Secretary General of KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, started the day by providing the human rights situation. He said that the human rights situation in the country remains bleak as violations continue under the present dispensation. Clamor shared that there are already 42 victims of extrajudicial killings and 5 victims of enforced disappearance since President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III took office. 

Clamor was followed by the moving testimonies of Dr. Edith Burgos, chair of Desaparecidos and mother of missing activist, Jonas Burgos; Mr. Jonathan Sta. Rosa, of the Ecumenical Mission for Peace and Development (EMPD) and brother of slain UMC pastor Isaias Sta. Rosa; and Mr. Raymond Manalo of Hustisya, who along with his brother were abducted and tortured but eventually managed to escape from their captors after 18 months in captivity from the military. All of them underscored the importance of the churches' role in upholding and defending human rights. Dr. Burgos even stated that the parable of the Good Samaritan is a good example of being in solidarity with human rights victims. 

After the testimonies, Fr. Rex RB. Reyes, Jr., General Secretary of NCCP gave a Biblico-theological Reflection. Echoing Dr. Burgos' illustration of the Good Samaritan in the churches' role for human rights work, Fr. Reyes stated that “churches as sanctuaries and havens for human rights victims is the statement of the Ecumenical Movement that where and when vulnerable people are assaulted, robbed of their rights, killed or left wounded, we shall not pass by.” 

In the afternoon, Mr. Tadz Ifurong, Head of Services of KARAPATAN, gave an orientation on human rights. He was followed (by) Mr. Mervin Toquero, Assistant Program Secretary of Faith, Witness and Service of the NCCP, who shared about the Council's human rights work. 

After listening to the presentations, the participants, who came from different churches and organizations, broke up into small groups to share their reflections and to come up with recommendations on how churches can mobilize its resources toward human rights advocacy and to support HR victims and their families. 

The participants realized that while the complex issue of human rights was discussed and presented in a comprehensive manner, the one-day event just scratched the surface of the issue. The participants were encouraged to begin the process of thinking about the challenges presented and to continue their analyses within their own churches and organizations. They acknowledged that understanding the human rights situation in the country is very much required in order to enable the churches to strengthen their witnessing and solidarity. They affirmed that education, both in churches' leadership bodies and to the grassroots membership should be done. They also saw the need for continuing advocacy and lobbying and the need for networking. They all committed to following the example of the “Good Samaritan” to be human rights defenders and they will work hard so that they can open up their churches and organizations to be sanctuaries for victims and families of human rights violations. 

The activity ended through a symbolic closing worship headed by Dr. Rommel Linatoc, Program Secretary of the Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations, also of the NCCP.

Article and photos by Mervin Toquero, Assistant Program Secretary of the Program Unit on Faith Witness and Service of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines


Message for Cordillera Day 2011

Update as of April 16, 2011

The NCCP General Secretary notice a glaring error in his message and noted that the 3rd to the last paragraph should read:

"Then the elders will dance.  It is the dance in rhythm with nature.  They sway elegantly as the pine trees.  They bend lightly then stand firm like the majestic golden grain on the stairway to heaven.  The dance celebrating community and harmony with the land and ancestors is a declaration to uphold for all time all that is noble and just."

Our apologies for the error.

The Library staff

“Let the mountains bring prosperity to the people, and the little hills bring righteousness.”  (Psalm 72:3)
Time will come, and now is, when our children will ask what we mean by the annual observance of Cordillera Day.
Then their elders will tell of the unceasing chant for peace.  They will speak of the women and men who guarded the mountains and rivers for our sake; of the reverence to land and life that went beyond the commerce of human  beings; of the painstaking weaving of the tapestry of unity amidst systematic and furious attempts to break that unity; and of them, some in the prime of their youth, who shed their blood in defiance of principalities whose designs eventually meant death to a race.  They will speak of the past not so much for its grandeur but to pass on the tradition of vigilance against any desecration.  As stewards of creation, they shall make certain that the resources on the mountains and under it are to be used sparingly for the prosperity of the people of the Cordillera and of this country.
Then the children will ask their elders if such a cause is worth preserving in these days.
Then their elders will dance.  It is the dance in rhythm with nature.  They sway elegantly as the pine trees they bending lightly than stand firm like the majestic golden grain on the stairway to heaven, hearts pumping to the solemn beat of the gong.  The dance celebrating community and harmony with the land is a declaration to uphold for all time all that is noble and just.
To chant and dance is to declare the legitimacy of the right to dignity; free from the distraction of money and power in exchange for land and identity; and, strong in the resolve to be counted worthy descendants of a race who held fast to the inviolability of land and life.
To chant and dance is to affirm the prosperity that the mountains bring.  May it be so for generations to come.
General Secretary
April 11, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Ecumenism 101

A letter from the Ecumenical Education and Nurture Program Secretary:

Dear Ecumenical Friends,

Grace and Peace!

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines will be holding its annual Summer Internship Program (SIP). The SIP is an intensive immersion program of experiential ecumenical learning of the NCCP. It links seminarians of NCCP-related theological formation institutions with community-based development-oriented programs. It seeks to provide venues for theological action-reflection, expression of ecumenical commitment and sharpening of mission perspectives. 

SIP is a program originally intended for seminarians. The program consists of three phases: 

First phase: general orientation, and inputs
Second phase: Immersion from April 16-May 10
Third phase: Processing of experiences

We would like to announce that we are opening to the public the First Phase of the program which will be composed of different inputs that can be a learning experience also for ecumenical networks other than the seminarians. This will be held on April 13-15, 2011 at the Conference Room A of The Bishop La Verne D. Mercado Ecumenical Center, NCCP.

The first phase will be made up of inputs on: History of Philippine Ecumenical Movement, An Overview on Ecumenical Theologies, The Context of our Ministry (input on National Situation and workshop on Church and Society, Input/Workshop on Doing Biblico-Theological Reflection, and Input/Workshop on Community Organizing.

There will be a registration fee of Php 1,000.00 to cover the cost of food for three days. 

We would like to invite you or members of your organization to attend this three day live out seminar and have a meaningful Ecumenical Education experience.

Should you have any queries, you may call 926-9760 and look for Marge or Cheekai.

Attached is the seminar flyer.

Thank you and God bless,

Ms. Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana
Program Secretary
Program Unit on Ecumenical Education and Nurture

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Message of Thanks from the NCCP General Secretary

April 1, 2011 

TO: All Participants to the Ecumenical Prayer Service in Solidarity with the People of Japan

Dear All: 

Warmest greetings from NCCP. 

We would like to express our most sincere thanks for the very successful and solemn ecumenical prayer service we held yesterday for the people of Japan. Your participation made a great impact on the success of the liturgy: 
  • Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music through Dr. Francisco F. Feliciano
  • College of Social Work, University of the Philippines
  • College of Music, University of the Philippines
  • Episcopal Church in the Philippines through The Most Rev. Edward P. Malecdan, Prime Bishop and The Rt. Rev. Dixie Taclobao, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines
  • Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas through its General Superintendent, Bishop Nathanael P. Lazaro
  • Iglesia Filipina Independiente
  • United Methodist Church
  • United Church of Christ in the Philippines Igreja de Cristo
  • Metropolitan Community Church of Quezon City
  • Missionary Sisters of St. Columba
  • Ecumenical Bishop’s Forum
  • Kasimbayan
  • Peace For Life
  • Citizens Disaster Relief Center
  • KAMP
  • Migrante International – Japan and Nagoya
  • FOCOLARE Youth
  • Church of the Risen Lord, UP
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief
  • KPACIO, Inc.
  • ASI
  • Rev. Tomas Maddela
  • Mr. Tolyts Sosmena
  • Ms. Benny Mendoza
  • Bro. Lendehl Sallidao
  • And the hard working staff of the NCCP and many others.

We are very happy to inform you that the total amount from the special offering collected during the worship which will be sent to the National Christian Council of Japan for the people of Japan is Php11,952.35. In addition to the special offering, the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF) also gave Php20,000.00. 

Again, we praise and thank God for a very meaningful gathering and corporate prayers for others. 
Very sincerely yours, 

General Secretary