THE OBISPO MAXIMO’S ADDRESS TO THE SIMULTANEOUS COMMISSIONS MEETING

OM’S ADDRESS TO THE SIMULTANEOUS COMMISSIONS MEETING [Commission on Liturgy and Music, Commission on Mission and Evangelism AND Commission on Education and Ministry]
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
April 23-25, 2018, IFI Conference Center
Manila

May I say a blessed and grace-filled morning to all of you here assembled, and, at the outset, welcome everybody to this activity, greet everyone peace, which is the greeting of the resurrected Lord, and convey the best wishes from the whole Church spread out in forty-seven dioceses all over the country and overseas, and from the organized congregations in the countries, with special mention, of UK, UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore. Since this activity is much publicized in the social media, I am confident that the thoughts and prayers of our congregations all over the IFI are with us in this special gathering that will last for three days starting today. Their prayers and best wishes, I know, will certainly sustain us in our work in this gathering and will buoy our spirits up in pursuing the tasks which are expected from us to accomplish.

This activity is generally intended to bring together the newly appointed members of the commissions for formal meeting in order to orient commission members, put in place the individual commission’s plan of work or program of activities and other related matters for the triennium, and organize commission-members for effective work of the concerned commissions. The meeting is a large part of the on-going preparatory efforts of the Obispado Maximo for an inter-commission meeting to be convened in a later time within the framework of the WEM Program Component and for the advance scheduling of future meetings and activities of the commissions.

The action of the September 2017 Execom Meeting to compartmentalize the stresses of the National Program – TYRP implementation has factored the holding of this particular simultaneous meetings of the commissions. We all knew that the National Program has four [4] major program components. Per action of the Execom, the year 2018 has been designated to highlight the stress of WEM Program Component. It means that for this year, we shall be doing much of our work’s focus and attention on WEM program areas. It does not mean however that we shall not be implementing other program areas. On the contrary we shall continue to execute them and encourage our local churches to pursue and implement the corollary programs embodied in the whole National Program, but much of the stress, much of the emphasis, much of the energy are however zeroed in to push and implement activities within the WEM Program Component of the National Program [TYRP].

To achieve this intention and purposes, this activity is designed to showcase and demonstrate the following characteristics: [a] it features both the common and separate activities of the individual commissions; [b] it brings focus on the continuing exposition of the TYRP in general and on the WEM Framework in particular and in providing methodology in basic program planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation to aid the commissions; [c] it highlights orientation on the canonical work of the individual commission and on program particularization of TYRP and on organizing commission-members for effective work of their corresponding commissions; and [d] it expects to come up with concrete outputs such as the Plan of Work/Program of Activities for the Triennium, Appropriate Resolutions for the Execom and other Organs of the Church, and Communique on the Meeting and on Commissions’ Work/Ministry to articulate the supposed vision and priorities of each commission. The document bearing the whole Programme of Activities found in our kit for this activity spells out this characteristics.

So therefore in this activity we bring to gather together members of the three [3] individual national commissions in consonance to the earlier official actions of the Church. These three [3] big commissions are the following: [a] The National Commission on Liturgy and Music [CLM] which is actually the fusion of the two [2] separate Commissions on Liturgy and on Church Music]; [b] The National Commission on Mission and Evangelism [COME] that serves to cover the Committee on Christian Steward and other committees related to the task of missionary expansion, church planting and congregational development; and [3] The National Commission on Education and Ministry [CEM] which serves as umbrella for the following committees: Committee on Christian Education and Nurture [CCEN], Committee on Theological Education and Ordained Ministry [CTEOM], Committee on IFI Schools [CIFIS], Committee on Lay Ministry [COLM], and Committee on Chaplaincies [COC]. Kindly see the separate documents listing the members of the individual commission and their corresponding committees. We however apologize for the discrepancy in identifying and in bringing in some other members of CEM particularly. This discrepancy is factored by our limited operational funds and by our misapprehension of the available office documents. But we can easily remedy these oversights later on as we proceed to embark a relentless pursuit of the church’s next courses of actions which is the logical step after this historic gathering, all intended to accomplish all the corollary mandates and tasks of the National Program – TYRP.

For all of us to achieve a crystal understanding of the specific objectives of this particular gathering, may I reiterate today the expectations we had articulated when we convened the other big commissions at the earlier stage of our incumbency in order to set the stage for our faithful compliance to realize our National Program. Like the joint gathering of the Execom, CBF and COPP in June 2017, our gathering starting today is directed [a] to unite the hearts and minds of the members of leadership bodies on the triennial theme and the corresponding program thrusts, priorities, and strategies contained in the General Assembly-approved national comprehensive program; [b] to identify the lines of communication, the areas of coordination and complementation, and the specific focus of each commission in order to foster harmonious working relations between and among the commissions and the sectors, establishing a functional collective leadership with the Obispo Maximo at the lead; and [c] to review and have a fuller grasp of the responsibilities, tasks and functions of the individual commissions as mandated by the Constitution and Canons of the Church and to map out a doable and workable plan for the triennium based on TYRP.

These specific objectives are expected to put in place what the Obispo Maximo had said during his Inaugural Address concerning the essentials of teamwork in pursuing our corporate mission and ministry as a Church committed to provide our people and church members a kind of servant leadership that may bring the IFI become truthful and faithful to its calling and vocation. But more so, these specific objectives intend to forge among the members of the national leadership bodies of the Church the unity of understanding on our church’s works and direction, and the mindset that all our efforts would lead to translate our programs and activities into services and ministries to people committed to our charge. Through this gathering and with its given-objectives, we desire to bring the Church closer to its vision within this incumbency to “think, and move and act as one body” pursuing our corporate mission that embodies our “being, doing and becoming a Church.”

And so in this gathering, we task the members of the three (3) commissions to unite and demonstrate a consciousness that will augur well for the mission of our beloved IFI, particularly in addressing concerns embodied in the TYRP beginning with its methodology down to the action plan designed for the applicable period under the general goals. This is apart of course from the marching orders specifically given to the individual commission. Example, for CLM, we hope that among its many tasks, it could put in place the holding of a National Choir Festival at the end of the first triennium that will cap the preliminaries from the diocesan and regional levels. For COME, we expect that it places the renewed stewardship campaign as principal and the coming out for doable blueprint and timetable for intensive church planting, missionary expansion and congregation development in the whole Church. For CEM, we hope that it puts premium emphasis on putting order of our schools, vocation campaign, developing variegated forms of lay and ordained ministries and the production of catechetical materials for children, youth and adults.

We expect that each commission sees their place in addressing these concerns and in coming up specific items out of these methodology and actions that are really doable within the jurisdiction of their respective mandate, supporting the whole program and pushing intensely its implementation through the office of the Obispo Maximo. We hope to bind ourselves with what we intend to do and to accomplish for this triennium by putting all these together in a package of proposals through the Plenary Session to be presided over by the General Secretary for the appropriate actions of the Execom at its next meeting in June 2018.

As what we said last June 2017, we likewise ask this gathering to remember and take note that the impetus in designing the National Program under the banner of the TYRP is to further intensify our missionary call to serve God and country by strengthening the bond of our unity and calling upon God to sustain us in this journey. We have to bear in mind that in pursuing this desire, we place before us some guideposts in carrying out the thrusts and priorities in the exercise of our mission and ministry. These are guideposts actually that will indicate our collective engagement with the following works: [a] the work on worship, education, and ministry for strengthening the membership’s (clergy and lay alike) knowledge in and conviction to IFI history and teachings; [b] the work on stewardship and resources development in supporting the work of the church at all levels; [c] the work on social services and witness for responding to the needs of the IFI’s membership (clergy and lay), and of the organizations of marginalized sectors that the IFI relates with; and [d] the work on concordat and international ecumenical work for strengthening solidarity relations with other churches and faith-based institutions.

We implore God’s intervention as we pursue these works, invoking God’s Spirit to empower us. We believe that these works shall thrust us into deeper degree of living out and demonstrating the selfless servanthood that we are all called into by the Lord Jesus by virtue of our baptism. By this, we need more God’s intervention, his abiding presence and sustaining grace. We believe that these works shall implicate us as leaders of the Church to continuously trust in the God of our Lord Jesus whom we implore to endow us with his grace to renew the church for faithful witness.

But in saying this however comes also our recognition that this will not all really be accomplished easily and conveniently. By mobilizing these three commissions and others we had earlier convened and few more that we shall convene later on, demonstrate our conviction that we uphold the value and importance of these working national bodies. But if there is one area in the life and work of the Church that is being constantly ignored – sadly from top level down to the local level, that is the organizing and mobilization of the various working bodies of the Church – the commissions and their units in the national level and the corresponding committees and their units in the diocesan and parish levels. The intrinsic value and practical importance of these canonical bodies are often disregarded and minimized, resulting to some confusions and conflict in the operational management of the Church. It is very apparent that the national church is guilty of such malpractice, and this guilt is being duplicated several times in the diocesan and parish levels, bringing about a massive defect in the IFI.

We commit therefore the leadership of the Obispado Maximo to be more aware of this weakness and to be of firmed resolve to rectify this situation. Despite the limited resources that we have as a Church, we shall still continue to strive to persistently mobilize these national bodies – being canonical bodies serving as both think tanks and implementing arms – in order to assist the Obispo Maximo and the Execom dispense their functions and reach out the corporate vision, even in the midst of our consistent efforts to enhance our financial capability and to become as well as responsible stewards of the church funds in order to underwrite our corporate work, faithful to the clarion call of the Nagcarlan Document “to put our financial resources for optimum use in the service of the church’s mission.”

As already popularized, we understand the nature of our work at the Obispado Maximo as to midwife the development of our local churches and the mobilization of the national organs of the Church towards the vigorous and persistent pursuit of our National Program. We commit the collective energy of the Obispado Maximo to bring these works into reality and into the level of our congregations. Being at the lead, we in the Obispado Maximo shall strive to mobilize the resources of our faith and the logistics of our Church towards this common direction. We shall focus our task of overseeing in ensuring that all these will bring us towards greater faithfulness to our mission, involving baptized members of the Church to engage with mission and exercise stewardship of their gifts responsibly. We shall all aim to have the general membership of this Church claim ownership of our National Program. This is in fact the reason why the bulk of our commitment to pursue this vision is to go around the dioceses, repackage our national program, and undertake efforts to unify our national lay organizations and the various commissions of the Church. At the moment, we are in the thick of these efforts to really accomplish our objectives, riding on the momentum established in previous incumbencies from which we have taken off with our current work and continuing journey.

In that said June 2017 activity I closed the OM’s Address to the Inter-Commission Meeting with a reference to the former Archbishop of Cantebury, The Most Revd William Carey, the principal primate of the Church of England and head of the Anglican Communion, who at one time made the statement that the basic function of church leadership is to ensure that the church is not lost with its direction as it moves through ahead. He likened his office that of a skipper of a ship who only held a telescope when the ship courses through the oceans and seas. And this is so with the office of the Obispo Maximo – at least for six years – as regards to the implementation of the National Program or TYRP. We assure everybody in this gathering that we shall be holding that invisible telescope so that we shall not lost track with our direction in pursing our corporate mission, and that we shall take on board both clergy [men and women] and lay [youth, women and men] through the national bodies of this Church in charting our direction and that with high hopes arrive on land in fulfilling the expectations and goals placed upon us by the TYRP.

May the Lord God bless us in this undertaking and may his grace continue to renew and empower us to do our works for his purpose. May it be our prayer then that the Lord God go before us in all our doings with his most gracious favor and encourage us with his continual help that all our works shall begin, continue and end in him, glorifying his holy Name and edifying his holy Church.

Thank you, more power and may God bless us all.

 

+ RHEE 
Obispo Maximo
23 April 2018

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