Lectionary Selection: Luke 12:49-56
Prayers for the Philippines:
Our land is bleeding, O God, as well as your people. We raise to you our pains and laments!
Extractive industries continue to expose the veins of the earth, mine its wealth, plunder its resources, destroy its ecosystem, and displace the indigenous peoples. Those who resist are often silenced. The Philippines has now topped others countries in the numbers of people killed in defense of land and the environment. Pile of dead bodies, especially indigenous people and environmental defenders, continue to rise. God, hear our cries.
Beyond natural calamities and poverty, the war on drugs and counter-insurgency campaign have already claimed the lives of many, especially the poor and the marginalized sectors of our society. In recent weeks, a surge of killings happened on the island of Negros, and perpetrators continue their killing spree with impunity. Hear our cries, O God.
Help us, just and loving God, to see the signs of your presence in the midst of our troubled society. Remind us that violent reaction is the usual default of the power wielders and social division is a reality when the good news is preached to the disenfranchised.
In the hours of trial empower and sustain us with your steadfast love, dear God, so we can continue to hold on to what is right, and let your spirit guide us to faithfulness. Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from the Philippines:
71st Anniversary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)
Last May 25, 2019, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) celebrated its 71st Anniversary with the theme: “Celebrate our Vibrant Unity at 71st and Moving Towards UCCP’s 75th, our Diamond Jubilee.” The main speaker for the event was Bishop Erme R. Camba, former General Secretary of the UCCP. Union Theological Seminary acted as host and provided a venue for the event. More than three thousand people attended the event, with many coming from afar to attend the great celebration. Guests from ecumenical bodies and partner churches were also present to give their greetings. The atmosphere was festive: It was a day of thanksgiving, celebration, and a call for unity, especially in light of the present challenges to church unity. This unity cannot be taken for granted. It must be nurtured for the church to remain healthy and strong, if the church is to carry out its mission. More than calling for unity, the anniversary provided an occasion for the church to renew and reaffirm its commitment to God’s mission in these challenging times.
SONA, Killings, and Impunity in Negros Island
As has been the tradition of UTS, every year members of the seminary community join with other groups in the alternative SONA (State of the Nation Address) event, which happens parallel with the SONA of President Rodrigo R. Duterte. This year’s SONA was on July 22. This alternative SONA that the seminary participates provides an opportunity for people to voice their dreams and hopes for the nation and an opportunity to air their grievances. It is also an opportunity to call the current national administration to be accountable to the interest of the common people. This is especially poignant in light of the recent spate of killings and impunity in the land.
In a span of ten days, 21 people on the island of Negros were killed by armed men. Negros has been dubbed as a “killing field.” On July 23, 2019, after a court hearing, Atty. Anthony Trinidad was gunned down while in his car in a broad daylight by two motorcycle-riding assailants. Two days later, on July 25, another killing happened. Two employees of the Department of Education, Arthur Bayawa and Aldane Bayawa, were killed. Then on July 27, four more persons were killed. This bloodshed is being attributed to the implementation of “pseudo martial law” to suppress insurgency, illegal drugs, and other lawless violence in the area.
Along with other religious bodies, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines issued a statement condemning the killings and calling for the end of the bloodshed.
Prayer and Mission Moment by Eleazar Fernandez
Mission Partners in the Philippines:
- Dansalan College Foundation
- Northern Christian College
- Silliman University
- Southern Christian College
- Union Theological Seminary
- United Church of Christ in the Philippines
More information on the Philippines: https://www.globalministries.org/philippines
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in the Philippines:
Eleazar Fernandez serves with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.