Pray with the Philippines, June 23, 2024

Pray with the Philippines, June 23, 2024

Lectionary Selection:  Mark 4:35-41

Prayers for the Philippines

Dear God, we give thanks that you have sustained our communities over the years. We pray for the faith to trust you even when frightening challenges seem to blow our members off course and swamp our church programs.

We pray for the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in all its efforts, from its national strategic programs and advocacy struggles for peace and human rights to its regional schools and various local initiatives to revive and regrow congregations after the COVID-19 pandemic. We pray for our partnership with the UCCP, the accompaniment that we manifest through Global Ministries, and the many gifts our members have offered over the years to support UCCP projects, institutions, and rebuilding efforts after the many earthquakes and typhoons that threaten the Philippines.

We lift up the people of UCCP Umingan and all the local churches in the UCCP, the Disciples of Christ, and the United Church of Christ. Whatever challenges we face on our journey, increase our faith and revive our spirits whenever the way looks dim. Open our ears and hearts so we may be calmed by the continued assurance you offer to remain with us throughout life’s storms.

For this, we pray, Amen.

Mission Moment from the Philippines

Partnership with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines has weathered many storms. Since Disciples’ and UCC’s first relationships in the islands were fostered over a century ago, mutual support has been sustained not just through national UCCP accompaniment. Early Disciples’ engagement in northern provinces and Congregational engagement in the south continue today through the accompaniment of regional UCCP institutions, like Union Christian College in the northern city of San Fernando and Dansalan College in Mindanao.

Mutual support continues through Global Ministries’ partnership with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines through sustained relationships with various UCCP schools, seminaries, and community programs.

Through Global Ministries, Disciples and UCC members sustain relationships with various UCCP schools and seminaries, community programs, middle jurisdictions, and local churches with endowments, scholarships, special project funding, and disaster assistance. Many UCCP congregations have experiences similar to ours, with waning memberships, especially among young people, and community challenges like frequent natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic.

One local church in the Central Luzon Conference, UCCP Umingan, has had its share of concerns and challenges that tested its foundation as a faith community. During one period, the number of worshippers each Sunday went down to only seven, including the Pastor and family. Members stayed away, and youth and children’s ministries took a backseat. It was like the light on the path was at its dimmest. But even through these challenges, the God we all serve continues to lead the faith community toward authentic relationships and renewed service, enriching its spiritual resources above everything else. The congregation reaffirmed its commitment to build a stronger community rooted in God’s love and spurred by its obedience to God’s mission for the church.

This year, the Umingan Church anniversary celebration highlighted the church’s revival and sustained essential church ministries. Membership, which includes mainly 3rd and 4th-generation subsistence farmers, is at least 200. Children and youth ministries now take top priority. Youth go to camps and seminars initiated by wider church bodies. The church-related organization for women is being strengthened, and the organization of men is in its reorganizational stages. The church’s Sunday School classes (adults, youth, and children), temporarily suspended since the Covid pandemic, will soon be revived.

Meanwhile, neighborhood-based small groups have been formed that hold weekly Bible studies, prayers, and fellowship. UCCP Umingan is committed to growing as a faith community and will strive to carry out and be guided by the UCCP’s Strategic Plan and the Program Ministries Conceptual Program for Laity and Local Church Development. Global Ministries has accompanied the UCCP in supporting various local church development efforts, including one at Umingan called “Passing On The Torch—An Educational Support Project for Youth  Empowerment.”

We remain hopeful that local churches, big or small, can contribute to God’s work in this troubled world. Through faith, partnership sustains all our efforts to strengthen God’s church, even through difficult storms.

With contribution from Rev. Marma Urbano, Pastor, UCCP Umingan

Mission Partners in the Philippines

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