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A Chronology of Events on the Crisis that has Gripped the UCCP

This document is a raw material from Dr. Noriel Capulong as the author of the article. I am posting this for everyone to think about, and assess whatever truths and fallacies within it.

Anybody can come and bring in your opinion, your assessment of the events and processes mentioned here in the light of our Constitution and By-Laws and of course our Bible as our guide. 

Leave your comments in the comment box just below the end of this article.

 

Nov. 8, 2013–  Super Typhoon Yolanda hit the city of Tacloban along with other areas in Eastern Visayas. Forced the closure of establishments in the city including UCCP Bethany Hospital, a tertiary, hospital of choice servicing the whole of region 8 (Leyte, Samar, Biliran). 2013 was then its 95th year of operation and preparing already for its centennial celebration in 2018.

Local volunteers and workers immediately began cleaning up the debris left in the premises of the hospital. First floor was flooded, windows and roof were damaged but no structural damage detected.

Doctors without Borders (Medicins sans Frontiers or MSF) set up its own tent hospital in the premises of Bethany and offered to fix and replace the damaged roofing and offered help also, even some valuable equipment to get the hospital reopened. It attended to numerous patients who were victims of Typhoon Yolanda from various parts of the region.

Then DOH Undersecretary Paulina Ubial visited the hospital premises and urged the hospital officials to reopen as soon as possible due to the serious health and humanitarian situation in the area as a result of the devastating typhoon. She offered hospital equipment for whatever was damaged or destroyed in the typhoon. She offered to reassign medical personnel including doctors and nurses if Bethany’s own could no longer report for work. If ever immediate finance is needed, she urged the hospital officials to charge the bills of all patients they treat to PhilHealth and DOH will help facilitate. Dr. Ubial received no response.

May 2014 – UCCP General Assembly in Legaspi City. In response to the strong resolution of the delegation from Leyte, an action was unanimously approved by the GA, “To task the National Executive Council (NEC) to expedite the rehabilitation  and reopening of Bethany Hospital as soon as possible.”

Oct. 4, 2014 – NEC decided to declare total closure of Bethany Hospital. The reason advanced was the claimed serious financial losses of the hospital which prevents it from paying off its payables to its employees and other obligations.

NEC also made another action recommending to the National Council, To engage the services of an auditing firm for a financial audit of Bethany Hospital, Tacloban to determine the financial losses of Bethany, as a result of Typhoon Yolanda.

This means the NEC declared total closure of Bethany Hospital without any clear and external audit based determination of the financial condition of the hospital.

(As of Jan. 21, 2018, the court of tax appeals has thrown out or dismissed the BIR’s tax assessment and demand letter on UCCP Bethany Hospital in Tacloban to the amount of P7M due to BIR’s failure to prove that UCCP Bethany Hospital was trying to evade paying taxes.)

October 27-29, 2014– National Council Meeting in Maasin, Leyte.

  • The NC voted to affirm the above recommendations of the NEC.
  • The NEC also recommended to the National Council for approval the expansion of the duties of the National Treasurer to be the one in charge of overseeing the major program undertakings of the church: Human Resource Development, Finance, and Property Development. This is part of his proposed 20-year Stewardship program. So as not to appear taking over the constitutional role of the Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development, it also stated that these functions will be carried out in coordination with the CSRD.
  • The National Council also approved this recommendation of the NEC along with many others.

Not long after, the main edifices of Bethany Hospital were demolished without any prior authorization from the National Council. The NC action only gave the approval for the closure but not to the demolition of the building.

August 20-22, 2015

  • National Council in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte, approved the recommendation of the NEC to create a UCCP Realty Co. and a UCCP Holding Company.
  • The Reality Company will be in charge of investing or leasing the properties of the church.
  • The Holding Company will be in charge of taking control and ownership of prime properties of the church as a stock, for-profit corporation.

 

March18, 2016

  • UCCP entered into a 40 year lease contract with Gaisano Metro Retail Corp. for a Mall to be built in the area of the Bethany Hospital. (CSRD policy for leasing properties is 20 years only).
  • The contract was sealed with the first payment of advance rental of P7, 350,000 in spite of the strong letter of concern from the CSRD members and another letter from the chair of the CSRD.
  • Total payment of advance rental amounted to P 75.9M. Details of payments and releases will be presented later.

October 21, 2016

Faith and Order Commission met to respond to the issues raised concerning the creation of the Realty and Holding Companies.

 

October 25, 2016

Faith and Order Commission sent an urgent letter of Concern to the Council of Bishops expressing alarm over the creeping corporatization of the UCCP Properties and the church losing control over their own properties. They also recommended an alternative means of development of church properties involving a more constitutionally based tripartite participation of the local church, conference and national office in the planning and implementation of every property development project. The point is, we can develop our church properties without having to violate the constitution and by-laws of our church.

It took time for the Council of Bishops to call for a dialogue meeting with the FOC.

February 28, 2017 – The NEC registered for incorporation at the Securities and Exchange Commission the new entity,  United Shalom Medical Center in Tacloban City without any approval from the National Council nor the General Assembly. This is supposed to take the place and functions of the demolished Bethany Hospital.

June 12, 2017 –Finally, the FOC had a dialogue with the Council of Bishops on the issue of church property development. No resolution was arrived at after the whole morning and afternoon meeting. The bishops strongly justified the ongoing corporatization of church properties but promised to respond to the alternative proposal of the FOC in the development of church properties. They never came out with a response.

October 25, 2017–Chairman of the Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development, Atty. Levi Ugsad sent an open letter to Gen. Sec. Reuel Marigza questioning the Gaisano lease contract and the impending joint venture agreement with Vistaland over the Malate lot near Shalom Center both of which had been cited for violation of the church policy on property development.

November 18, 2017-The Faith and Order Commission had a special meeting held at Silliman University Church and discussed the current issues emanating from the actions of the national leaders regarding property development and the question of constitutionality as well as theological viability of their plans and directions of their policies and the ethical implications on the life and organization of the church. In light of the dominant atmosphere of secularization and corporatization seemingly gripping the majority of church workers and officers of the church, the commission felt that there is a need for more theological coherence and biblical re-awakening in approaching the issues that were arrived at.

November 21, 2017

The Faith and Order Commission issued its official statement unanimously approved by the members, “The End Does Not Justify the Means.” (available on the Pagmata file). It attempted to view the issue of property development as essentially a theological and ethical issue that requires the serious attention of every church member. It cited the growing contradiction between what a church as UCCP ought to be and what appears to be happening recently which tend to distort the very image of the church as the body of the servant Christ. It presented a more biblical understanding of land and property and how it is supposed to be taken cared of and  used by those entrusted  with it as a Trust Asset being missionary-religious properties. It also presented a number of recommendations most of which restate the original recommendations made in the earlier letter of concern sent to the Council of Bishops a year earlier.

The official FOC statement was blocked from the UCCP website and prevented from being seen by most of the UCCP constituents. It was then that the website group Pagmata UCCP (Wake Up UCCP!) was born, initiated by members of the Chapel of the Evangel Fellowship in Dumaguete  City. Aside from providing a venue for the posting of the FOC statement and other articles, it exposed the questionable issues surrounding the matters of the Bethany closure and demolition and the contract with Gaisano for the building of a mall as well as the impending contract with Vistaland for the construction of a 42 story twin tower condominium on the Malate lot near Shalom Center. Both contracts and their terms remain undisclosed to the church members as of this time.

December 4-5, 2017
Special National Council Meeting was convened by the General Secretary at the UCCP Shalom Center for the purpose of approving the proposed joint venture contract with Vistaland for the building of a twin tower condominium at the Malate lot near Shalom Center. Both the chairs of the Faith and Order Commission and that of the Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development questioned the proposed contract, the actual provisions were not even shared to the delegates. The CSRD chair questioned the proposal on grounds that it did not follow the required procedures as provided in the Church Policies and Guidelines on Property Development- no prior project or Feasibility Study, no public bidding, no environmental impact study, no risk analysis. Original land title could not even be presented to determine in whose name is the title registered.

The Special National Council voted to approve the proposed contract with Vistaland even though the contract was never seen nor scrutinized by the delegates, its risks and liabilities were never discussed, only the proposed benefits were highlighted. Meanwhile, the Pagmata UCCP group held a candlelight prayer vigil at their chapel grounds to pray for the meeting.

January 9, 2018
Two members of the Faith and Order Commission, chair Noriel Capulong and member Everett Mendoza filed a complaint with the National Commission on Discipline and Conflict Resolution. Among others, it calls for the nullification of the contract entered into with Metro Gaisano for the building of a mall in the area that was once Bethany Hospital Compound, the dissolution of the board of the newly created United Shalom Medical Center which is claimed to be the restored Bethany Hospital. It also prayed for the nullification of the action of the National Council giving the National Treasurer the power to oversee the Finance, property development and the human resource programs of the church for being unconstitutional. It also prayed for the issuance of an injunction to prevent the officers from proceeding to sign the contract with Vistaland for the construction of a twin tower condominium in the Malate lot area.

January 12, 2018 – NEC, by virtue of the approval given by the NC authorized the General Secretary to sign the contract with Vistaland for a joint venture agreement to build a twin tower condominium in the area adjoining Shalom Hotel in the corner of Luis Guerrero and Malvar Sts. In the same meeting of the NEC, they claimed to have met also as National Council which then proceeded to proclaim a series of new amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws of the UCCP which were never presented on the floor of the General Assembly and were never presented to the conferences for ratification. One highly questionable provision inserted in the new amendments refers to the matter of dissolution: “Par. 11 of the 2018 Amended Articles of Incorporation of the UCCP states: That in the event of dissolution, the assets of the organization shall be distributed to another accredited NGO/Foundation organized for similar purpose/s, or to the State for purpose/s or would be distributed by a competent court of justice to another NGO/Foundation to be used in such manner as in the judgment of said court.” (As amended by NC action, UCCP West Triangle Cathedral, Quezon City, January 12, 2018)

The officers went on to register these series of amendments before the SEC where it was approved. These actions were never reported on the floor of the last UCCP General Assembly, last May 2018. It was not included in the minutes of NEC or NC meetings submitted to the GA last May. This illegal action of the NEC is now the subject of a resolution filed at the RTC of Davao City praying among other things for the nullification of such amendments.

January 19-20, 2018
The newly born Pagmata UCCP group held its first Summit in Dumaguete City. It was attended by more than 100 participants from various churches in the Visayas and Mindanao and a few from Luzon. It heard inputs on the issues regarding the Bethany Hospital closure and subsequent demolition and leasing of property to Metro Gaisano Malls, the Vistaland condominium project at the Malate property. The participants also heard an initial analysis of the state of finances of the UCCP based on the earlier financial reports of the National Treasurer. The participants then went into small group discussion for further planning and organizing of regional movements for the education of more UCCP members and pastors.

Other regional Pagmata Summits led by Dr. Everett Mendoza were held in different cities in the Visayas and Mindanao Areas (Davao, Tacloban, Cabadbaran, Cagayan, Dipolog, Ipil, Masbate. Shorter Fora were held in Dumaguete City church, Mabinay, churches in North Negros, Lapulapu City, and finally only last Nov. 29, 2018 at the Ellinwood Malate Church. Meantime, the followers of Pagmata has climbed to almost seven thousand viewers and members. More fora are being scheduled in different places even in Luzon. In most of these regional fora and summits there were always attempts by representatives of the national officers to discourage, intimidate, coerce if not outrightly prevent the local hosts from proceeding with the event. There were threats of disciplinary action on pastors who would join the growing movement. Incoming ministerial students were pressured not to enroll at the Divinity School. Those who still proceeded were threatened with cancellation of their scholarship support.

March 3, 2018-First hearing of the complaint filed by Noriel Capulong and Everett Mendoza was held at the Shalom Hotel in Malate. The respondents, led by the General Secretary, Bp. Reuel Marigza thru their counsel, Atty. Edre Olalia immediately moved for the dismissal of the complaint on grounds of technicality. The motion, however, was not entertained. After a day-long hearing, focusing yet on preliminaries the next session was set for April 14, 2018, also at the Shalom Hotel.

April 14, 2018-The second hearing of the complaint was held at the Shalom Hotel. The NCDCR suggested some form of amicable settlement which the complainants rejected. The NCDCR then suggested another form of resolving the case, through a mediation process. Both parties agreed to a three-member team of mediators who are respected and are in good standing in the church. They are to be facilitated by a trained professional mediator. The complainants suggested the name of national scientist Dr. Angel Alcala. The respondents suggested the name of Dr. Jurgenne H. Primavera. The NCDCR suggested the name of Dr. William Padolina. The three are all well known and respected scientists and members in good standing. The professional mediator contacted and who agreed was Ms. Marides Virola Gardiola. The complainants requested that the first mediation session be held in Dumaguete since they have been doing all the traveling and spending for the past two sessions. The NCDCR agreed and the first mediation session was set on May 15, 2018 in Dumaguete City.

May 15, 2018– First Mediation session in Dumaguete City. But none of the respondents came. They asked instead to talk to the Mediators via a skype connection, saying that they are too busy to leave their offices. The mediators talked separately to both the complainants and the respondents, the latter, through skype connection. Among the recommendation arrived at by the mediators after this meeting was for the General Assembly which will be held soon, the following week, be directed by the NCDCR to not discuss or take action for approval or confirmation all matters or issues related to property development. This is so that any GA decision will not render moot and academic any possible resolution that may be arrived at by the mediation session. The NCDCR accepted such recommendation of the Mediators and issued a directive to the officers of the GA to refrain from discussing or taking any action on any matter related to property development which includes the case of the Bethany-Gaisano contract and the case of the Vistaland condominium project. The NCDCR also directed all parties to refrain from engaging in rallies, demonstrations and public forum in the vicinity of the GA. At the same time, it also issued a status quo order to the respondents to prevent any activity related to the Vistaland and Gaisano construction contract.

May 23-27-11th General Assembly of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. The GA observed the order of the NCDCR not to act on any matter pertaining to property development. Thus the contracts with Vistaland and Gaisano were not confirmed. There was however an attempt in the opening session, during the report of the Review Committee, tasked with reviewing the actions of the previous GA in 2014 in Legaspi, to invalidate the motion that was unanimously approved then, that of tasking the NEC to rehabilitate and reopen the Bethany Hospital as soon as possible. The attempt was based on an argument that such motion passed during the last GA was invalid because the movant, the chair of the FOC) was not a voting member of the assembly. It was a brazen attempt to erase any trace of a serious historic blunder committed at Bethany. There was a long impassioned debate on the issue. Finally, the assembly approved the report of the review committee without their suggested corrections.

June 14, 2018-The next mediation session was held at the Shalom Hotel in Malate. This time, only Bp. Reuel Marigza (the former Gen Sec) attended. The two other respondents, Larry Milan, and Pio Baconga did not show up even though they just attended a meeting of all the commissions the day before in the same venue. Earlier, the NCDCR, adopting the recommendation of the Mediation team had issued a directive, ordering the National Treasurer to submit a status report on the Finances received from Gaisano and Vistaland together with the list of their releases. The national treasurer however submitted only the financial status regarding the advance rentals paid by Gaisano amounting to P75.9M with the list also of releases from such an amount.

The following are the list of receipts and releases of the Gaisano rental fund.  After receiving an initial amount of  P 7, 350,000 other subsequent payments came as follows:

May 27, 2016 ………..5,150,000.00
June 20, 2016 ………10,000,000.00
August 25, 2016 …..53,400,000.00

A total amount of advance rental paid by Gaisano was  P 75, 900, 000.

The following releases were then made:

RELEASES

UIHM – Demolition/clearing expenses                                12,500,000.00
Investment – UCCP Shalom (Haran), 6% interest, 5 years    7,000,000.00
Investment – UCCP Shalom (Cebu), 5% interest, 5 years    10,000,000.00
Investment – VCMC, 6% interest, 5 years                            6,000,000.00
Investment – ECLOF, 6.5% interest, 3 years                       10,000,000.00
Loan payment to DBP (VCMC loan)                                    10,276,111.11
General Assembly 2018                                                      2,000,000.00
Return of interfund borrowing                                           16,899,992.00
Union Christian College (Lot purchase)                                2,500,000.00
Total                                                                                                          P77,176,103.11
BALANCE                                                                                                     (1,276,103.11)

The balance after releases actually produced a more than 1M deficit with the biggest release used to pay up the advances or borrowings taken from the Restricted Fund made up of the Endowment Funds for Church Workers benefit, Retirement and Scholarships, etc.

These matters were not fully discussed during the Mediation because of the absence of the national treasurer. The complainants expressed their deep frustration at the attitude and seemingly cavalier and uncaring response of the respondents. Discussion of issues again focused on both the Bethany and Vistaland cases as well as the matters of the stewardship program of the church now under the direct supervision of the national treasurer. After a whole morning and whole afternoon discussion that often times became heated it was clear the former Gen Sec was banking on their own interpretation of the CBL which he believes has granted equal powers and authority to the National Council, making it a co-equal decision-making body of the General Assembly. That is why for him, the action of the NC is enough for the contract with Vistaland to be executed to its full completion without requiring any confirmation from the GA. This, even if there is a status quo order from the NCDCR. Near the end of the discussion, he gave a little concession when he said that he will try to make the NEC reconsider its decision giving overseer powers to the NT over the matters of finance, property development, and human resource development.

August 1-The next Mediation Session again took place at Shalom Hotel. This time, the new Gen Sec. Bp. Melzar Labuntog was present along with two of the respondents, NT Larry Milan and former Chair of the GA Pio Baconga. Later, the new chair of the General Assembly, Mr. Keith Quebral came and joined the process. The mediators reviewed the progress made by the process so far along with some consensus made in the previous sessions.

Again the complainants brought up the main issues of the Bethany and Vistaland contracts and reiterated the need for the documents to be presented, the signed contracts, the land titles and the original deed of donation of the Malate property. At first, the respondents, Larry Millan, Pio Baconga together with Bp. Labuntog joined their voices and with hands raised insisted that there was yet no contract signed with Vistaland. Confronted however with the record of the minutes of January 12, 2018, NEC meeting they admitted that what was signed was a contract for a Joint Venture Agreement with Vistaland. It was made clear that the invitation to submit proposals to develop the area was confined only to few “reliable” developers and did not go through a public process of bidding as required by church policy and guidelines.  The respondents were also confronted with reports of actual activity in the Malate lot in question pointing out to them the fact that a perimeter fence with the promotional ads and logo of Vistaland is now put up in the whole area and that agents of Vistaland are now soliciting potential unit buyers for the condominium. Respondent Millan explained that Vistaland is only in the stage of promotion but not yet in the stage of preselling.

They were reminded of the prevailing status quo order from the NCDCR to which they did not anymore answer. It was also made clear that there was no consultation made with the local stakeholders (LCSMC and Ellinwood Church) in the area in the decision made for the development of the Malate lot area. The session ended with little consensus such as the need to really revise the processes of decision making which have become confusing for the church and the need for more transparency and feedback system in policy making as well as in the matter of transforming the use of the property from religious-educational to commercial purposes. But the main concerns of the complainants as to the questionable, illegal status of the Gaisano and Vistaland deals were not actually resolved. The lead mediator said that it will now be up to the NCDCR if the mediation process will still be continued. The Mediation team came up with some recommendations to the NCDCR which the NCDCR approved and it then issued a directive.

August 21, 2018-NCDCR issued an order directing both parties to extend the Mediation process subject to the agreement of both parties as recommended by the Mediation Team and to provide the commission copies of the documents pertaining to the contract with the Vistaland Joint Venture Agreement and for the respondents to observe the Status Quo with regard to the Vistaland project.

August 31-Sept. 1, 2018 -Pagmata UCCP National Convention, in Dumaguete, with 100 plus, more national in scope with participants coming from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, with more new members added.  Seven participants came from NESTCON. With reports on the latest developments, analysis of events. Planning for a regional organization. 4R Movement launched under the Banal na Bubong ng Dios.

November 5, 2018-The petitioners Capulong and Mendoza received copies of an Omnibus Motion filed by the respondents thru their lawyer Atty. Edre Olalia petitioning the NCDCR to

  1. Lift the status quo order on the Vistaland project
  2. Withdraw the NCDCR order for the Vistaland contract to be submitted to the NCDCR.
  3. To declare the termination of the Mediation process
  4. To cite the petitioners Capulong and Mendoza in contempt and for disciplinary measures to be imposed on them.

Both Rev. Capulong and Rev. Mendoza issued separate replies to the NCDCR on their own without resorting to the help of their lawyers in observance of the fact that since the Mediation period is not yet officially terminated, lawyers should remain out of the picture and should not intervene.

November 2018-Some local churches began receiving notices from their respective conference ministers of an impending plan to visit all the churches for an evaluation of their programs, registration, and finances as well as an inventory of their properties.

November 2018-Bp. Melzar Labuntog sent a letter to the president of Philippine Christian University informing the latter of the plan to develop the property occupied by the Union Elementary School and the need for the property to be vacated by December 31, 2018, and the school to be relocated to the main campus in Taft Ave.

November 24, 2018 –Ellinwood Malate church held a meeting of concerned members regarding the issue of the impending demolition of the UES. They later issued a statement of concern calling on the church officials to reconsider their plans regarding the UES property.

November 29, 2018-Rev. Noriel Capulong filed a complaint before the prosecutor at the Quezon City Hall of Justice,  a criminal complaint against Bp. Melzar Labuntog, Mr. Larry Millan for violation of the Corporation Code Sec. 74, for their failure to provide access and the right to examine the requested documents of the church. The complaint contains the demand for 17 documents which the respondents have refused to provide copies to the complainant.

Later on the same day of Nov. 29, the team of Rev. Noriel Capulong, Dr. Everett Mendoza, and Ms. Jean Espino went to Ellinwood Malate Church and led in a forum hosted by the church regarding church property development with special attention to the ongoing controversy regarding the impending demolition of the Union Elementary School.

December 4, 2018 –A group of alumni, faculty and students and friends of the Union Elementary School held a picket rally in front of the school demanding that the school be not demolished and that its educational mission be made to continue to in the same location.

More activities, forums and educational gatherings are being planned for the sake of the informing and equipping more of the UCCP constituents regarding the issues surrounding the property development schemes of the national leadership.

================
Later developments

Acts 5:33-39

Prepared by Rev. Noriel C. Capulong
Dec. 14, 2018

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0

Analysis and Response to the Crisis of the UCCP

UCCP is in a virtual state of siege.  A silent creeping “palace coup” has installed an administration that combines a
corporatist system of management and a militarist command structure.  NEC officials, past and present, are complicit to it.

The traditional church government prescribed in the UCCP Constitution & By-Laws has been effectively sidelined.  Formal constitutional and legal processes, including national elections, are disregarded or maintained but only in form.

This is the reality behind the approval of the Gaisano lease and the Vistaland joint venture and the recently concluded national elections at the General Assembly.

The cases filed at the NCDCR (Capulong & Mendoza vs. Marigza, Millan, et. al on the cancellation of the Vistaland deal and the UCCP Davao City vs. NEC on the nullification of the amendments to the CBL) and the election protest are but manifestations of an on-going resistance to the coup.  The Administration forces are on full alert to suppress all opposition movements and actions.

We stand on a moral and spiritual high ground in an arena which is essentially moral, theological and spiritual – that’s indisputable.  But they are correct in their estimation that there is a political aspect in this.  In a political confrontation, might not right, rules.  Thus, we need to take stock of what we have in the political equation.

While they control the strategic heights of the system, opportunities to gain advantage on the ground are open to us.  On the ground are the local churches and their members, most of them suffering from years of exploitation and neglect, both by Government and the Church.  Theologically and politically, this is our mission field … and field of struggle.

A solid mass of informed, enthusiastic and organized local churches can be galvanized to redirect the Church towards a recovery of her historic Reformed faith and restoration of her traditional church order as it is so declared in the UCCP Constitution and By-Laws sans its subsequent amendments.

But not only our heritage of faith is at stake but also the mission properties that the Church has inherited from the Protestant missions.  Bethany Hospital was wiped out of the map and soon forgotten.  The mission lot in Malate dedicated to theological and Christian education will be lost to a high-rise condominium.

The unamended Constitution is a document derived from Basis of Union and to the founding Constitution of 1949.  Thereafter, it suffered from amendments that (1) created the National Executive Council and later made the Board of Trustees consistent with the corporate powers of a business corporation; (2) effectively abolished local church autonomy while strengthening the hands of Bishops over Conference Ministers and the latter over Church Workers.

The main task before us is to spread the truth among members in the local churches, motivate, organize and guide them towards concrete actions to achieve our goals.  This is the mission of the 4-R’s movement and its organizational expression, the Fellowship (Balaang Bobong sa Dios?).

Our Identity as a Church

Who are we and what do we aim to achieve?  We are UCCP members engaged in a huge undertaking to reform UCCP to restore its authenticity and relevance following the 4 R’s Principles:  Reclaim – Restore – Rebuild – Revive.

RECLAIM – The past years, even before the 2018 GA, UCCP has shown signs of drifting away from the principles that brought together 5 Protestant Churches into an organic union.  This trend was formally declared in the recent NCDCR opinion that the Basis of Union has been effectively abrogated upon the approval and adoption of the UCCP Constitution.

This is a betrayal of a trust.  It is essential to the life of the Church to remain theologically and institutionally connected to its roots and historic traditions.

RESTORE – Local church autonomy is the foundational principle of the life, ministry and mission of the Church.  However, a creeping hierarchical church order is gradually eroding the rights and prerogatives of local churches and has been institutionalized by the amendments to the CBL and approved at the 2018 GA.

The restoration of this principle is imperative for the re-empowerment of local churches to realize their theologically-based and constitutionally-mandated functions and duties.

REBUILD – UCCP’s original church order has suffered violence and disfigurement by administration particularly over the last two quadrennia.  Rebuilding the structures and processes of the Church based on its historic traditions would provide the institutional environment required for her recovery.

REVIVE – Given the right institutional environment a concerted, organized and orderly push at the local church level would lead the UCCP on the way to a truthful and more revitalized life, ministry and mission.

 

A Fellowship Concept

 Balaang Bobong Sa Dios, “Sacred Household of God”: A Fellowship of local churches committed to the goals of the 4-R’s Movement.

The Fellowship is not an alternative UCCP Conference nor an autonomous segment of it but an inter-conferential sharing fellowship of local churches and congregations. Their programs and activities are expressions of the principle of local church autonomy in conformity to the UCCP CBL.

Component Programs:

  1. Paglab-as sa Pakigsaad– Theological, Liturgical, Spiritual Renewal: lay leaders’ theological education, church leadership and creative liturgy based on UCCP’s traditional teachings, practices and mission programs. (Chap. 24: Joshua’s Shechem convocation.)
  2. Bahin ni Levi” – Program for the material support in the form of monthly subsidy of church workers in the Fellowship through a church tithe (not individual) to be administered by a committee of lay deacons. (Hebrew law of tithing.)
  3. Parasan sa Dios” – Local church property development, esp. livelihood projects and enterprise. The aim is to raise the members’ standard of living and support for the Church and community.  Start-up support may come from state or private agency funding (Jesus feeding of the 5,000.)

Where do we start? We start with who we are as UCCP, which is a Refomed evangelical church.  Her basic organizational principle of fellowship is local autonomy.  So we start the 4-R’s movement in the local churches in fellowship with one another.

The goal is to make the Fellowship a transforming presence in UCCP in all aspects of her life, ministry and mission.  So, the so-called wider judicatories are not our direct targets of engagement, but change at the top would be the consequence of the transformation of the local churches through the Fellowship.

New Testament Model:  the beginning, growth and expansion of the church – the word church, ekklesia, means those who are called out of the world to form a community for a special vocation (1 Pet. 2:9).  Within the koinonia of the church is a circle of members called apostles, those who are sent forth to spread the gospel to every corner of the world (Matt. 28:18-20).

The apostolic circle was the core and center of gravity of the early church without which the church would have been assimilated into the ancient religions of the Empire or crushed by her persecutors.  Hence, the formation of the apostolic core of the church was conceived as part of the divine plan for the realization of her vocation.

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Church with Apostolic Core

 

Through Pagmata, UCCP may retrace this history towards the formation of the Fellowship.  Some UCCP members are being called out from her general membership to lead a movement and form a fellowship within the koinonia of the Church, who are dedicated to reform UCCP to restore her authentic identify and calling.

Eventually, the boundary between the Church and the Fellowship would become porous and transparent but without losing the distinction – analogical to a sanctified world and the kingdom of God.

The Fellowship will continue to be a movement within the UCCP animating her common life, her work and her mission in the world as a church of Jesus Christ. In a real sense, the Fellowship follows the priesthood identity and role of the church within a wayward UCCP.

As a Fellowship, everything that we do in life is anchored in God and Jesus is our anchor.  Our worship, common life and witness in the world are meant to reflect life in the kingdom of God.  This is our being.

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Fellowship Identity and Calling

 

Social advocacy is part of Christian discipleship (Luke 4:12-18), but not its be-all and end-all.  The same is true with worship and the common life.  Neither one alone should consume life in the Fellowship but the three nourishing one another (John 10:10: “I came that you may have life, abundant life.”)


ORGANIZING WORK:

The principle of “from small to big, from few to many.”

Contacts – contact persons in local church from Pagmata data base.

Core Groups – 3-5 contact persons to form a core group in the local church.

Local Church Chapter – 3-5 core groups comprising 25% of members to form a Local Church Chapter.

Provincial Chapter – Local Church Chapters comprising 25% of local churches to form a Provincial Chapter.

REGIONAL FELLOWSHIP –  3-5 Provincial Chapters.


Methodology
(not necessarily in the order presented)

Background investigation (BI) of prospective core group members.

Study-Reflection of 4-R’s documents in core group discussions.

Planning and evaluation

General orientation-seminar open to all local church members.

Invitation to join the local fellowship.

Sharing and fellowship gatherings.


Activities

Regular Fellowship meetings with Bible Study, prayer, sharing news and concerns.

Local and Provincial observance of significant dates, personal, church, national.

Reproduction and sharing of reading/study materials.

Humanitarian, socio-economic and livelihood projects.

Inter-church visitation & lakbay-aral.

 

OPERATIONAL SYSTEM – Connecting the parts to the whole:  The HUB

  • Monitoring
  • Communication
  • Sharing of information & resources
  • Concerted actions
  • Fellowship

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Central Hub

 

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Regional Hub

 

Analysis and Response to the Crisis-Provincial Hub

 

Inside the HUB

  • Liaison
  • Communication
  • Education
  • Expansion
  • Resource Generation
  • Events Coordination

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The UCCP in CRISIS-A Crisis of Truth

An Alternative Narrative Presented by Rev. Everett Mendoza, a Former FOC member

“And you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you FREE.”

– Jesus Christ “The TRUTH is the whole;
the WHOLE is the truth”-Friedrich Hegel, German Philosopher


The Challenge of Property Development
Reconfiguring the Constitution & By-Laws for Corporate Development.

Property development is a constitutional mandate: Article VII, Section 24. Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development. There shall be a Commission on Stewardship and Resource Development.”

“Its duties and functions consist of formulating and proposing for the approval of the General Assembly or National Council policies, programs and projects for:

a. Christian Stewardship
b. Human Resource Development
c. Investment and Property Development.”

Article 5, Section 21 of the By-Laws states: “The Commission shall establish comprehensive and nationwide property and resource development programs to generate income for the support of the Church.”

Article VII, Section 22. The UCCP Resource Development Foundation. (By-Laws)

a.  “The Church shall organize and establish a non-stock, non-profit foundation, which shall be wholly-owned and controlled by the UCCP. The foundation shall serve as the holding company of the Church and shall manage its investment ventures.”

Serving as Implementing Rules and Regulation, the GA passed a Policy Guideline for the development of real estate properties of the Church.

[Show Policy Statement]

Why has the Church failed to develop her properties aside from the successful initiatives of Conferences (example: South Bicol Conference, UCCP Dumaguete)?

Official Narrative: Lack of finance capital and expertise.

Then came super typhoon Yolanda.

The Bethany Hospital Case:  Located in Tacloban City, it occupies a 4-hectare lot donated by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Mission to serve the church’s healing ministry in Eastern Visayas.  It would have been 100 years old this year but for its closure and demolition in 2015.  It was on a prime real estate right in the heart of the city.

Why was Bethany Hospital closed and demolished?  It was established as a mission hospital which has served the people of Eastern Visayas for 95 years.

This is the official narrative:

The Official Narrative:  the reason for its closure is overdetermined by several factors: (1) it was facing financial bankruptcy at the time of the Yolanda disaster; (2) the damage was so severe that it was beyond rehabilitation; (3) there was a labor problem when the hospital had no means to recover.

Alternative narrative based on the actual investigation by Pagmata.  [Show  chronology of events.]

Less than a year after the closure, the CSRD learned about an offer by Gaisano to lease half of the property (2 has.) for the construction of a mall.  The negotiation had been completed by the National Treasurer, approved by NEC and the contract due to be signed.  Surprised, he wrote the other members of the Commission about it.  [Show letter of CSRD chair.]

Despite CSDR’s objections and suggestions, NEC ordered the signing of the lease contract.  Subsequently, Gaisano gave UCCP 12.5 million pesos for the total demolition of Bethany Hospital.  All employees, except one (finance officer), were terminated at the cost of close to 30 million pesos taken from the advance rental.

In addition, the new administration formed the United Shalom Medical Center, Inc. with a paid-up capital of 12.5 million pesos, also taken from the advance rental.  The supposed medical center is but a small laboratory and diagnostic center with equipment salvaged from the demolished hospital.

Theological reflection:  There are two points of view regarding the use of church properties.  One sees church property as corporate CAPITAL to generate profit.  The other sees it as a challenge to do mission following the UCCP’s three-fold ministry: founding local churches, building hospitals and establishing schools; a fourth – livelihood programs to enhance people’s capacity for self-reliance as well as to support the church.

The Malate lot that the missionaries left the Church for theological and Christian education will suffer the same fate – the triumph of the greed of capital over the evangelical mandate of the church.  Vistaland is touted to solve all of UCCP’s financial woes.  But any business venture is subject to the vagaries of the economy.  But one thing is sure, a 42-storey condominium may earn UCCP a hefty sum but it won’t ever be used for the mission of the Church.  From now on, when we look at a church property, think CAPITAL.

Why is the FOC involved in the issue of property development?  Because it’s a duty and function according to the CBL.  Sec. 22 of Art. VII says, “The Faith and Order Commission shall (a) establish norms and standards of doctrine, order, and discipline in the church; and (b) conduct studies and reflections with local churches and other sectors of the Church, taking into account their sentiments and views on important issues of church and public life.”

Acting on its constitutional mandate, the FOC wrote a position paper, “The End Does Not Justify the Means” and sought a dialogue with the Council of Bishops.  The FOC also submitted a paper, “ A Non-Corporate Approach to Property Development” consistent with the faith-mission of UCCP and the CBL.  The FOC didn’t get a response to the proposal.

It’s a standard corporate practice that a percentage of gross income is allocated to administrative expenses, say 10%.  This goes to bonuses and allowances of directors and top officials and refurbishing of offices.  Try visiting the luxurious offices of the UCCP General Secretary and National Treasurer now.  The money used came from the WMS, the same source for lavish food and venue of meetings and high-end vehicles of Bishops.

There are several examples of successful non-corporate development by local churches, Conferences, and institutions.  It’s not true that the Church can’t engage in enterprises while remaining a non-stock, non-profit corporation.  Incomes are plowed back for programs that support her institutional life since no dividends are distributed to shareholders.  Churches are protected under the Corporation Code of the Philippines.

Stock corporations are not organized for the purpose of supporting programs.  That’s what foundations and non-stock corporations are, like the UCCP.  Thus, the CBL says, “… to generate income for the support of the Church.” A business corporation is organized for profit essentially for further investments.  Dividends for the stockholders come last.

 

The Truth Will Set You Free-Corporate Model of a Church

In October 2017 Vistaland representatives met with the NEC, One Management Board, and CSRD with a proposal to construct a 42-storey condominium on a Malate mission lot.  CSRD chair suggested to open the project to other parties within the month of November.

The deadline passed without any other offer.  No public announcements were made, no formal letters of invitation sent to anyone, just verbal reports that no qualified bidders came forward. In a special meeting on Dec. 4, 2017, the National Council approved the Vistaland joint venture with the vote of 63-3-6.  The three who voted no was the chair of the FOC, the delegate from Cebu Conference and another from Masbate Conference.

At the NC meeting, no Vistaland representative appeared nor was there any formal offer presented nor a draft contract.  All that the NC saw was a powerpoint presentation by the National Treasurer on Vistaland logo.  There was no debate since the opposition by the FOC chair and the CSRD chair was abruptly stopped.  Legally, what was approved was binding to UCCP but not to Vistaland.

Thereafter, FOC Chair Dr. Capulong and member Rev. Mendoza filed a complaint at the NCDCR questioning the Vistaland deal for gross violation of the CBL and failure to do due diligence and without any project studies, such as feasibility study, market analysis, risk analysis, business plan, etc.  Currently, the case is under mediation.

However, converting church properties into capital is not smooth sailing because this was not the intention of the Church’s founders and the early pioneers of the Protestant faith in the country.  UCCP’s constitutional and legal framework is not environment-friendly to capitalist economics:  Capital1             capital2

Therefore, the CBL must be modified to be compliant to corporate management!

The major step was to empower the national officers to have unrestrained control of church properties.  First, was an amendment to make the national treasurer, Corporate Treasurer.  He then proposed, in addition to being treasurer, to make himself czar in the Church’s finance and investments, property development and human resource, approved by NEC.

The second step was an amendment making the NEC the  Church’s Board of Trustees with the authority and powers corresponding to the Board of Directors in the Corporation Code of the Philippines.  This was how they corrected the infirmities in the Gaisano deal to pave the way to the joint venture agreement with Vistaland.

The third step to amend the CBL completes the “palace coup” – turn the collegial relationship between Bishops and Conference Ministers and between CMs and church workers into a hierarchical order. Bishops now exercise a heavy hand on Conference Ministers and CMs over church workers.  The ministry becomes a means of control by the central authority.

Administrative oversight in a hierarchical order affects the assignment of pastors to local churches, ordination and licensing and election of Bishops and Conference Ministers.  Pastors depend on loyalty to the CM rather than faithful service to the congregation to get the more juicy church assignments.  CMs vie for the Bishop’s favor and Bishops compete among themselves to be crowned the next GS.

Finally, the CBL was amended to require the approval of the General Secretary in the development of local church/Conference properties.  By this amendment, all church properties are now considered corporate property.  To further enhance centralized control of the local churches, their programs are required to conform with the national program and have the approval of the General Secretary.

Compliant officials and ex-officials receive awards in kinds, such as laptops and wristwatches and seats in the boards of the various church institutions.  This is normal corporate practice – the giving of material incentives to high-performing employees; hence, nothing wrong with it in the mind of the national leadership.

Theological reflection: Centralization of the church’s material resources and a hierarchical mode of governance go together.  The founders and pioneers of UCCP installed a built-in mechanism to counter this kind of development: a combined Presbyterian and congregational form of government that places the locus of the ministry and mission of the church in the local congregation.

This ecclesiological principle is enshrined the CBL as LOCAL CHURCH AUTONOMY which is inviolable.  By the exercise of local church autonomy and consistent with the CBL, local churches alone can check the excesses and abuse of power by church authorities.  The UCCP church order itself is her defense.  This is why the national leadership has devised all means and trickery to manipulate changing the CBL.

The right of members through their local churches to check and correct an authoritarian, erring and irresponsible leadership is guaranteed by the UCCP Constitution and By-Laws sans the perversions of the 2015 amendments to the By-Laws.

The Constitutional provision on local church autonomy is derived from the Reformation ecclesiology (doctrine of the church) which states, thus: “Where the Word is rightly preached and the Sacraments administered rightly, there indeed is the church.”  It opposes the Catholic ecclesiology which states that “where the bishop is, there is the church.”

The preaching of the Word and the administration of Sacraments and, to add the common life of the church, are realized in the Local Church.  The Conference is but the ecumenical expression of the unity of local churches, while the General Assembly is the national expression of this unity.  Apart from the local churches, the Conference and the General Assembly have no ecclesial reality.

In the biblical times, the ascendancy of kings in Israel was the root cause of its corruption and downfall. It was only during the Exile in Babylon when the Lord took away their kings, their land and their treasures that the people realized God’s call from the very beginning: “but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites” (Exo. 19:6).

The church is heir to this call:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”  (1 Pet. 2:9).  The same is the UCCP’s inheritance.  The national leadership’s pursuit of profit and the corruption of the CBL will be her downfall.

To borrow the language of business, the Church should invest in people to become servants of the gospel – to develop committed and competent church workers, to equip the lay to do the work of the church, to engage in service institutions and enterprises that help the poor within the church and in the community, which is the foundation of peace, justice and prosperity in society.

UCCP needs redemption.  To ordinary church members – the non-bishops, non-CMs, non-ordained – may find the task too heavy a burden to carry. But the church is not a kingdom or a business empire.  It consists of local churches.  The CBL declares that the locus of the ministry and mission of the church is the local church.  Let’s just do our work, serve the Lord with gladness in fellowship with one another.  


ANALYSIS AND RESPONSE TO THE CRISIS

UCCP is in a virtual state of siege.  A silent creeping “palace coup” has installed an administration that combines a corporatist system of management and a militarist command structure.  NEC officials, past and present, are complicit to it.

The traditional church government prescribed in the UCCP Constitution & By-Laws has been effectively sidelined.  Formal constitutional and legal processes, including national elections, are disregarded or maintained but only in form.

This is the reality behind the approval of the Gaisano lease and the Vistaland joint venture and the recently concluded national elections at the General Assembly.

The cases filed at the NCDCR (Capulong & Mendoza vs. Marigza, Millan, et. al on the cancellation of the Vistaland deal and the UCCP Davao City vs. NEC on the nullification of the amendments to the CBL) and the election protest are but manifestations of an ongoing resistance to the coup.  The Administration forces are on full alert to suppress all opposition movements and actions.

But not only our heritage of faith is at stake but also the mission properties that the Church has inherited from the Protestant missions.  Bethany Hospital was wiped out of the map and soon forgotten.  The mission lot in Malate dedicated to theological and Christian education will be lost to a high-rise condominium.

The unamended Constitution is a document derived from the Basis of Union and to the founding Constitution of 1949.  Thereafter, it suffered from amendments that (1) created the National Executive Council and later made the Board of Trustees consistent with the corporate powers of a business corporation; (2) effectively abolished local church autonomy while strengthening the hands of Bishops over Conference Ministers and the latter over Church Workers.

The main task before us is to spread the truth among members in the local churches, motivate, organize and guide them towards concrete actions to achieve our goals.  This is the mission of the 4-R’s movement and its organizational expression, the Fellowship (Balaang Bobong sa Dios?).

Our Identity as a Church

Who are we and what do we aim to achieve?  We are UCCP members engaged in a huge undertaking to reform UCCP to restore its authenticity and relevance following the 4 R’s Principles:  Reclaim – Restore – Rebuild – Revive.

RECLAIMING, RESTORING, REBUILDING, REVIVING UCCP MOVEMENT: An Inter-Conferential Fellowship of UCCP Local Churches.

Program Thrusts:

RECLAIM – The past years, even before the 2018 GA, UCCP has shown signs of drifting away from the principles that brought together 5 Protestant Churches into an organic union.  This trend was formally declared in the recent NCDCR opinion that the Basis of Union has been effectively abrogated upon the approval and adoption of the UCCP Constitution.

RESTORE – Local church autonomy is the foundational principle of the life, ministry and mission of the Church.  However, a creeping hierarchical church order is gradually eroding the rights and prerogatives of local churches and has been institutionalized by the amendments to the CBL and approved at the 2018 GA.  Restoration aims at re-empowering of local churches to realize its constitutionally mandated functions and duties.

REBUILD – UCCP’s original church order has suffered violence and disfigurement by administration particularly over the last two quadrennia.  Rebuilding the structures and processes of the Church based on its historic template would provide the institutional environment required to pursue its theological and spiritual goals.

REVIVE –Given the right institutional environment a concerted, organized and orderly push at the local church level would lead the UCCP on the way to a more revitalized life, ministry and mission.

COMPONENT PROGRAMS:

  1. “Paglab-as sa Pakigsaad” – Theological, Liturgical, Spiritual Renewal: lay leaders’ theological education, church leadership and creative liturgy based on UCCP’s traditional teachings, practices and mission programs. (Joshua 24: the Shechem convocation.)
  2. “Bahin ni Levi” – Program for the material support of church workers of the Fellowship through a church tithe (not individual) to be administered by a committee of lay deacons. For example, the WMS 9% share of the National Office as basic source (Hebrew law of tithing in the Deuteronomic law.)
  3. “Parasan sa Dios” – Local church property development and enterprise to enhance economic capacity of member families and community.  In the rural economy, majority are poor but they make a few very rich – traders, loan sharks, STL operators, drug lords.  Starting sources: corporate social funds and church funding agencies.  (Miracle of Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000.)

A Fellowship Concept

Balaang Bobong Sa Dios, “Sacred Household of God”: A Fellowship of local churches committed to the goals of the 4-R’s Movement.

The Fellowship is not an alternative UCCP Conference nor an autonomous segment of it but an inter-conferential sharing fellowship of local churches and congregations. Their programs and activities are expressions of the principle of local church autonomy in conformity to the UCCP CBL.

Component Programs:

1. “Paglab-as sa Pakigsaad” – Theological, Liturgical, Spiritual Renewal: lay leaders’ theological education, church leadership and creative liturgy based on UCCP’s traditional teachings, practices and mission programs. (Chap. 24: Joshua’s Shechem convocation.)

2. “Bahin ni Levi” – Program for the material support in the form of monthly subsidy of church workers in the Fellowship through a church tithe (not individual) to be administered by a committee of lay deacons. (Hebrew law of tithing.)

3. “Parasan sa Dios” – Local church property development, esp. livelihood projects and enterprise. The aim is to raise the members’ standard of living and support for the Church and community.  Start-up support may come from state or private agency funding (Jesus feeding of the 5,000.)

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Concerns Over the UCCP Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-Laws

The Congregational Perspective for Church Governance

  • Matthew 18: 18-20
  • God is Sovereign; Christ is Head of the Church
  • Direct Relationship with God and with one another; flat organization;
  • Authority of leadership by consent of the Congregation;
  • Free, independent and self-sufficient Church;
  • Diversity in unity; fellowship
  • Authority is given to Christ’s gathered people;
  • Agreement of the Gathered People (or unity in the righteousness of Christ);
  • Authority and autonomy of the Gathered People;
  • Vicinage, Confederacy or Federal;
  • Locally developed programs customized to local demands with the effect of empowered and distributed learning and knowledge in the membership.


The Basis of Union & 1949 Articles of Incorporation

  • Christ centered unity
  • Autonomy to Local Churches
  • Limited or nominal role of Bishops
  • Call of Pastors exclusive right of the Local Church
  • Properties held by institutions and churches with option to keep or transfer property to the UCCP
  • No end or dissolution is envisioned in the Church
  • The General Assembly (GA) is the highest policy making body


Kahangulan Sa Gahum

Bishops in the UCCP are creating a Roman hierarchy and are accumulating powers, betraying the Reformation and the Basis of Union:

1.Amendments making the Bishops in the National Council the Policy Making Body as well as the Executive Authority over the UCCP;

2.The Executive Council is now controlled by the Bishops;

3.With the General Secretary as head of National Council and the Executive Committee, the UCCP has now a Supreme Pontiff;

4.Discipline over clergy taken away from the NCDCR into the hands of the CM and Bishops via the Magna Carta of Church Workers;

5.Subjection of the Conferences to the Bishops;

6.The CM has now powers similar to the Bishops;

7.Bishops and CM’s have now Roman type of control over the pastors away from the Local Churches.


Fake Autonomy

The following amendments have castrated the Local Church of its autonomy:

1.Restriction of involvement in wider mission work (By-Laws Art III Sec. 27i);

2.Subjection of pastoral call to the assignment rule of the Settlements Committee (By-Laws Art II Sec 10a; and the transfer of procedures for the call of Church Workers away from the Local Church to the Settlements Committee By-Laws Art II Sec 10d);

3.Subjection of the Local Church to the stipulations of the Magna Carta of Church workers (Amended Constitution Art V Sec. 8d);

4.Subjection of the Local Church to the program thrusts of the General Assembly (By-Laws Art III, Sec 2c);

5.Subjection of Local Church property decisions to the General Secretary (By-Laws Art III, Sec. 24d).

6.Demanding idolatry by requiring allegiance and subscription to the Statement of Faith and By-Laws of the Church (By-Laws Art III Sec. 27a).


Legislation of Faith and Idolatry

The following amendments are forcing the Local Church to follow the dictates of idolatrous doctrines:

1.Demanding idolatry by requiring allegiance and subscription to the Statement of Faith(SOF) and By-Laws of the Church (By-Laws Art III Sec. 27a).

2.That one is to subscribe to the Statement of Faith, is to make an understanding of the faith into a law.

3.The combined effect of all the amendments is to glorify episcopal and clergy power being cast  over the people of Christ.


Castrated General Assembly

  • Amendments to the Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-Laws are no longer brought to the General Assembly for ratification, because the power of the National Council to do so is just as good (Art X Sec 1).
  • Fake ratification at the Conferences. Ratification at the Conference is nothing of the sort expected in a ratification process. It is bereft of information as not all the amendments are discussed.  Often, no ratification actually takes place and the membership are totally ignorant of the changes being made.
  • The changes in the Articles of Incorporation, Constitution and By-Laws are now concocted by the leadership in the National Council. One should note that the majority of the amendments introduced are now coming from the National Council.
  • Art V Sec 29 declaring the National Council as the Board of Trustees of the Church to comply with law, means it is now the National Council not the General Assembly as the true “highest policy making body” of the UCCP.


The Expanded Powers of the Bishops

  • In the Basis of Union the Bishops were “administrative officers in their respective areas; and shall have joint general oversight over the entire Church; each one, more specifically, over a jurisdiction…”
  • Today, however, the Bishops have the following powers: 1. Pastor of pastors; 2. To have administrative oversight over the Conference Ministers; 3. They are now the majority in the Executive Council; 4. They constitute the inner sanctum of the National Council; 5.  They are also the officers of the UCCP Resource Development Foundation

Note:  They are copying from Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.  They are starting to think like Roman Pontiffs (a little short of making themselves as gods and lords of the UCCP).  The Pastor of pastors is Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd.


The Expanded Powers of the General Secretary

  • In the Basis of Union the General Secretary did not have specific powers directly associated with the Office; suggesting that there was no hierarchy, the General Secretary was just the presiding officer of a collegial body.
  • Today, the General Secretary has the following powers: 1) Spiritual leader; 2) Executive Officer; 3) Spokesperson; 4) Head of the National Secretariat; 5) Custodian of land titles, minutes and all other important documents of the Church; 5) Presiding officer of the Council of Bishops; 6) Corporate Secretary of the Church; 7) Apparent head of the Board of Trustees of the UCCP Resource Development foundation (Art V Sec. 12, Sec. 22).
  • This makes the General Secretary the Pope of the UCCP as the


Subjection of the Clergy to the UCCP Papacy via the Magna Carta of Church Workers

  • While Magna Cartas declare freedom, the Magna Carta of Church Workers declare the rule of the Bishops over the Clergy;
  • The Clergy is now subject to the discipline of the Conference Minister and the Bishops.
  • It seems that only expulsion proceedings will be brought to the NCDCR. In the meantime, a pastor could arbitrarily remain suspended. It is not clear here if the discipline and suspension can be done while the pastor is still connected to a Local Church; in which case it should only be the Local Church who can initiate a complaint against their Pastor.


The Expanded Powers of the Conference Minister

  • In the Basis of Union the power of the Conference Moderator was only one: “who shall be the Administrative Officer of the Conference”… “receive petitions from…Church Councils”
  • Today: 1) Spiritual Leader; 2) Shepherd of the flock; 3) Chief Executive of the Conference; 4) administrative overseer of church workers (Art IV Sec 8) 5) power to admonish and suspend Church workers (Art II Sec 6);
  • However, these powers are now subordinate to the the GA as the CM is now the planner “who has to be consistent with the directions and orientation of the General Assembly (actually National Council).”
  • Instead of the Conference serving the Local Churches, the Conference and the Conference Minister is now a servant of the Bishops.
  • While the powers of the Conference Minister is increased, he is subordinate to the episcopal hierarchy. (Art V Sec 28g).

Note:  These expansion of powers was done through amendments during the Magugpo, Tagum, National Council.


Abandonment of Christ Centered Unity

  • The NCDCR has ruled that the Basis Union is no longer the basis for unity in the UCCP; it said, “The truth of the matter is the current Constitution has replaced or has taken over the Basis of Union as the legal and valid document to preserve and maintain the unity of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.”
  • What is the fundamental declaration of the Basis of Union that is abandoned by this NCDCR ruling?
  • The common declaration of the uniting denominations that “We do preserve all the heritage of faith brought into the Union by each of the constituent Churches and hereby declare our common faith and message: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, our Lord and Savior”.


Betrayal of the Churches and the Basis of Union

The UCCP Bishops have betrayed the uniting Churches and the Basis of Union (BU).  The BU has promised and guaranteed the following:

1.Preservation of the heritage of faith.  Today it is being homogenized;

2.Autonomy of the Local Churches and the keeping of traditions by the uniting denominations. Now, instead the “wider mission” (WM) has arrogated upon itself rulership over the local churches and have made itself the “higher mission” (HM) by isolating the local churches from its work;

3.The BU has promised the use of Church properties for the basic missions of the denominations; instead HM has diverted properties from the mission to for-profit institutions to acquire pecuniary gains for the benefit of the Bishops and the clergy.

4.The BU and the 1950 Executive Committee promised that the call of pastors shall rest on the autonomy of the Local Church; now it is made to rest in the assignment authority of the Settlements Committee.


Conversion of the UCCP Protestant Polity into Episcopalian-Roman-Babylonian Polity

  • It was an insult to have the delegates of the Local Churches of Davao City expelled from Conference proceedings in front of two bishops, the Bishop of the Jurisdiction and the General Secretary no less; this is a show of episcopal power over the Local Churches in the area of historical Congregational Church development.
  • There were no apologies. The Conference obstructed justice by refusing to submit the minutes of the Conference proceedings to the Faith and Order Commission (FOC).
  • Based on the CBL, the UCCP is no longer Protestant, it is already Roman and Babylonian. Bishops are wearing purple characteristic of English and Roman imperial churches. Pastors are starting to adopt Roman Catholic practices, some even suggesting adoption of the forehead ash marking practice of the Roman Catholic Church.


Dissolution Envisioned by the Bishops

Articles of Incorporation Paragraph No. 11 (Amended by NC Action, UCCP West Triangle Cathedral, Quezon City, Jan 12, 2018):  “In the event of a dissolution, the assets of the organization shall go to an accredited NGO/Foundation…”

The Corporation Code do not require that Churches will have a limited corporate life.  The law recognizes that Churches can operate in perpetuity.

The Bishops however have contemplated the dissolution of the Church and preferring to transfer properties to an “accredited NGO or Foundation” instead of returning the properties and denominational legacies to the Local Churches; for it does not follow that the Local Churches will be dissolved in the event of the dissolution of the UCCP.


Non-Legally Binding Constitution

  • The Constitutions developed by the Church were not submitted to the SEC, therefore, the Constitutions are null and void;
  • Only the By-Laws were submitted, therefore, only the By-Laws matter legally.
  • With the By-Laws the General Secretary, the 15 Trustees become the policy making and executive group of the UCCP. The Local Churches, the Conferences and the General Assembly have been rendered of no consequence to the actions of the Bishops.