A Final Appeal for Reason, Faith and Loyalty
From FOC Member Rev. Everett Mendoza
REASON – The Marigza-led forces and the Pagmata-supported FOC are in a collision course. But the forthcoming GA won’t be the real showdown. Marigza, et. al. will have their way all the way down. A storm never experienced by the UCCP will take place AFTER the GA. On the one hand, while the Marigza administration has planned to make the Assembly but a celebration of its success and a coronation of a leadership that will insure the completion of what it has started, it is acting like Jesus’ parable of grown-ups playing on the streets like children totally unaware of signs in the clouds that portend a gathering storm. On the other hand, the opposition among UCCP members consider the GA as a calm before the storm and have prepared themselves for eventualities when it finally comes.
The NCDCR has read the situation rightly and proposed the mediation mode of resolving the conflict so as to avert an impending catastrophe. The mediation team didn’t miss the consequences of what was deemed inevitable and suggested a temporary exit: that the GA suspend approval of NC actions that first started the controversy, namely, property development projects, particularly the Gaisano and Vista Land and bring the issue to the table of mediation. Other related issues that arose later may be taken as supplementary matters in the course of the process.
Should the national leadership ignore the mediators’ suggestion, it will certainly accomplish its objectives for the Assembly, but it will be a pyrrhic victory. They will have their corporate property, but they will lose a united church. The thought that after the GA everything will go back to normal is pure wishful thinking. There won’t be any vindication for anyone, while the wound inflicted upon the Church will continue to fester for years to come.
FAITH – The FOC avers that from the perspective of the Christian faith, there is an inherent incompatibility and conflict in the co-existence of excess wealth in the hands of the few on one side, and of abysmal and massive poverty and deprivation of the many on the other. The life, ministry and message of Jesus testify to this social reality. No amount and manner of theological justification can soften the rough edges this biblical truth. Thus, the manner and means of developing church property should not reinforce such a social reality but, on the contrary, must show by concrete example how this disparity may be overcome. This is the proper work and mission of the church, which is opposite the logic of corporate capitalism that now permeates the organizational life of UCCP through the series of amendments to the CBL being considered for approval at the General Assembly. In short, the corporate design to develop UCCP properties is contrary to faith.
LOYALTY – What is at stake goes beyond the corporatization of the UCCP – both of its properties and in its church order. Refashioning the Church into the form of a business corporation is a total disfigurement of its historic identity. The introduction of an ecclesiastical hierarchy and the subordination of local churches to the Conference and the General Assembly are a betrayal of the fundamental principles of the Basis of Union that brought together the various denominations into one organic union – the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Continuity and sameness to our foundational identity are not only priceless but essential to our very being. The 2018 General Assembly is not just a link that connects us to the past to be followed by the next quadrennial meeting. By approving the actions undertaken by the NEC and the NC, this assembly will be a historic break that will usher UCCP to a new church order wherein economic pragmatism becomes the new supreme value replacing loyalty to its historic legacy.
Sisters and brothers, for love of the Church let’s stop this corporate madness. For faith’s sake, let’s resist the lure of corporate profit to solve our material problems but rather “deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow [Jesus].” Let God’s gift of reason pierce through falsehood, enticements and deceit that blind us to the truth. This moment is a historic juncture in the life of UCCP. It won’t come again.