SEEKING UNITY IN CHRIST
8-9 December 1967
Four days of October 1967, the 24th through 27th may be regarded as red-letter days in the religious history of the Philippines. On those days, significant pares were added to the chapter on mission and Christian unity, when 38 representatives from the Methodist Church in the Philippines, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the Division of World Mission of the Methodist Church (U.S.), and the Division of World Mission of the Evangelical United Brethren Church (U.S.) met to discuss cooperation and unity between the two major Protestant Churches in the Philippines.
The consultation was inspired by the decision to unite on the part of two of the Churches in the United States, which are related to the two Philippine Churches. It was recognized that the union of the two American Churches into the United Methodist Church will have far-reaching implication for their continuing participation in Christian mission in the Philippines, including the relationship of two Philippine Churches to each other. Both the Methodist Church in the Philippines and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines will now be related to the continuing missionary effort of the new United Methodist Church in the U.S.
The first two days, October 24th and 25th were spent in two consultative groups meeting separately; representatives of The Methodist Church and the deputation from the Division of World Mission of the Methodist Church (U.S.) in one group; and United Church representatives and the deputation from the Division of World Mission of the EUB Church (U.S.) in the other. The following two days, October 26th and 27th were spent in the joint consultation. Most of those who participated believed that it was a fruitful consultation which was brought about by the prayers of the intercession of many, and by the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The most effective way to report the result of the consultation is to present the Joint Communique, prepared by Bishop Jose L. Valencia and myself, together with the opening and closing statements I was requested to make.
A JOINT COMMUNIQUE
8-9 December 1967
We rejoice in the arrival of the era of Church unity, particularly in the union recently consummated between the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church in the United States, creating the new Church, The United Methodist Church. We, their respective counterparts in the Philippines, The Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ, are grateful to God for this development and feel drawn more closely together than ever before.
We recognize the great responsibility that this union has brought to the two Churches in the Philippines that are related to those uniting Churches, particularly as it related to our task of mission in this country.
Realizing the full implications of the church union creating The United Methodist Church, The Methodist Church in the Philippines and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines are ready to consider changing partners of relationship—both with the United Methodist Church and between themselves.
For the purpose of considering those matters of relationship and partnership in mission, a joint consultation was held on October 26 and 27, 1967, in the headquarters of the National Council of Churches in Quezon City and the Conference Room of Philippine Christian College in Manila, gathering together leaders from both Churches and leaders from the Boards of Missions of the two uniting American Churches. In the joint consultation, there was a most cordial atmosphere, frank and open sharing of ideas and concerns, and the genuine desire to learn from each other. We have been amazed at the wonderful results that have come from this conversation. Realizing our human limitations, we can only contribute the success of our common effort to the leading of the Holy Spirit and the inspiration given by the coming into being of The United Methodist Church, for which we thank God.
We are happy to report to our constituencies and churches the findings of the joint consultation, which give the general direction our two Churches will take in the future:
1. A Consultation between the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the Methodist Church in the Philippines, together with representatives from the boards of missions of the Methodist Church and of the Evangelical United Brethren Church was held in Manila on October 26 and 27, 1967.
2. The purpose of the Consultation was to explore the implication of the forthcoming union of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church for the relationships of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the Methodist Church to the Board of Missions of the United Methodist Church, and for the relationships between the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and The Methodist Church in the Philippines.
The Consultation discussed the present lines of relationships:
A. between The Methodist Church in the Philippines and the Board of Missions of The Methodist Church in the United States of America; and
B. between the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the five cooperating Churches through their mission boards, with a view to finding ways of improving or adjusting the existing set-up as a result of the changes brought about by the union of the Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist Church.
The Consultation established the need for more adequate liaison between the two churches in the Philippines; it recommends to the United Church Methodist of Christ in the Philippines and to The Methodist Church in the Philippines the establishment of an Interchurch Council, which is described as follows:
a. There shall be a liaison agency for consultation between the United Church of Christ in the
Philippines and The Methodist Church in the Philippines.
b. The name of the liaison agency shall be the Interchurch Council
c. The Interchurch Council shall be composed of 24 members, with 12 members selected by
each Church; it is suggested that each church include three, women in its delegation.
d. The Interchurch shall be an instrument of consultation and recommendation concerning:
1. basic policy, financing, property, and personnel relating to the cooperative work in which the two churches are already engaged.
2. new areas of cooperative work as a continuing effort to promote partnership in mission.
e. In transmitting the deliberation of the Interchurch Council to the two churches for
consideration and action, copies will be transmitted also to the Philippine Interboard Office
and to the World Division of the Board of Missions of the United Methodist Church, for purpose of information.
f. It shall have the following officers: two co-chairman, and two co-secretaries.
g. It shall have a steering committee consisting of the two co-chairmen, the two co-secretaries,
and three others.
h. The tenure of membership is to be graduated in such a way that one-half of the total
membership shall be elected every two years.
i. It shall meet at least twice a year, one of which meetings shall be the annual meeting; special
meetings may be called by the steering committee.
j. It shall be convened for organization purpose by Bishop Benjamin I. Guansing not later than
the last week of February.
The Consultation discussed the need for more adequate care of the missionaries in the two churches and recommends to the Philippine Interboard Office and the World Division of the Board of Missions, in consultation with the Churches, the setting up of an interchurch missionary office to consider such matters as joint missionary maintenance, language study and orientation.
The Consultation discussed firmly and openly the ways in which the two churches handle finance and property. The Methodists expressed the conviction and the intention that any existing Evangelical United Brethren property shall be under the control of and for the use of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Moreover, where legal problems of transfer are involved. The Philippine Methodist conference will be glad to help in every way possible to achieve this end. The United Church of Christ representative welcomed these sentiments, with appreciation.
It is our common hope that both of our Churches in the Philippines will rejoice in this development and will pray for God’s richest blessings on our growing unity and enlarging partnership in mission in this part of the world.
BISHOP JOSE L. VALENCIA
The Methodist Church
BISHOP ENRIQUE C. SOBREPENA
United Church of Christ in the Philippines
October 27, 1967
ATTESTED BY MEMBERS OF THE JOINT CONSULTATION:
THE METHODIST CHURCH
Bishop Jose L. Valencia
Bishop Benjamin I. Guansing
Bishop D.D. Alejandro
Mr. Pedro S. Angeles
Rev. Benjamin Asis
Rev. Gregorio Bailen
Mr. Froilan B. Calata
Rev. Byron Clark
Rev. Cornelio M. Ferrer, Jr.
Mr. E.G. Gacutan
Mr. Francisco Gaspar
UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE PHILIPPINES
Bishop Juan I. Pia
Bishop Enrique C. Sobrepena
Bishop Onofre Fonceca
Bishop Marciano C. Evangelista
Mr. Ludovico S. Agulto
Dr. Cristina C. Albano
Rev. Samuel G. Catli
Dr. Cipriano Navarro
Rev. Noel D. Osborn
Mr. Faustino P. Quiocho
Rev. Cirilo A. Rigos
Dr. Norwood B. Tye