"By the year 2018, we envision a dynamic and vibrant church of caring, witnessing, and mission-oriented parishes"
- Parent Category: Dioceses
“Working together in faith to serve and preserve God’s creation,” Is the theme for this 1st annual Diocesan convention. (Ex. 17:8-13; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Lk. 16:1-13; Mt. 25:14-30). Through this theme I wish to address the issues of Division and that of the environment as we are tasked by God as his stewards to protect. In some of my Deanery Pre-convention remarks I did not mention God’s mission is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Whether we are in the new or continuing Diocese we are called to do the same mission, we are called to serve his people and to preserve his creation. That I think is not debatable. The question however, remain is, “how are we going to do that”? How do we accomplish that?
First, I think what our theme suggests is by “working together in faith.” What difference will that make? Big difference my friends. In Exodus 17:8-13, we see the importance of working together. Moses stands atop the high mountain with his arms outstretched in prayer so that the enemy down below might be defeated. As long as his arms are outstretched the battle goes well for the Israelites. But when fatigue sets in the arms and give way the tide of the battle turns. How did the leaders of the Israel respond to this? They lend Moses a hand. Exodus tells us Aaron and Hur each take an arm and allow Moses’ prayer to continue in spite of his weariness.
Aaron and Hur do what they can so that the great prayers of Moses can go on. Because they were there, because their efforts, the battle was won and the plan of God was advanced. We can apply this lesson from the scriptures to our efforts as we seek to serve and be good stewards of the gifts God has given us, all for the sake of advancing the Kingdom of God. For whenever we use our talents, and whenever we give our time for the work of the Church, we participate in the building of the Kingdom of God.
Like Aaron and Hur, when we lend a hand at Church, even though it might not seem like we are doing a whole lot, we are, in fact contributing to something much greater than ourselves. When we choose to help rather than to stand idle; to build up rather than to tear down; To participate rather than letting someone else do the work; we advance the mission of the Church, just as our forebears, those who came before us, those who are retired but still stand by us in many of our Church activities, they have taught us to do by their faith, their dedication, their commitment-their good stewardship of time and talent. St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 12:12-27, also expressed it very well as he described the working together of the different parts of the body in order to get the right and intended result. Everyone needs to do his/her part, but more than doing his or her part it is also very important that we do it together with other with our outmost devotion and commitment. So that if we are to serve our people we do it regardless as to who and where they are.
Secondly. I want to underscore our being stewards of God’s creation. As stewards we are given the charge to safeguard the material and human resources and using them responsibly; so is generous giving of time, talent, and treasure. But being a Christian steward means more. As Christian stewards, we receive God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with other, and return them with increase to the Lord. In other words, more than enjoying God’s creation we also have to be responsible and accountable for the gifts that God has entrusted to us. The lessons we get from Jesus parable on the unjust servant found in Luke 16:1-13 and the parable of the talent in Mat. 25¨14-30, are but some of the few reminders for all of us who are called to be stewards in God’s vineyard. And our recent experience here in Mindanao will tell much of our betrayal of that trust and our failures as God’s stewards. We come to this convention with a very challenging theme: Let us make that theme a reality in our live. And it is imperative that we must start now.
State of the Diocese:
There are so many things to be thankful for in the Diocese the past year. Blessings after blessings we have received from Him and from each other. Some of them we are not even aware of but definitely His abiding presence has been with us through the year and onward. Everything went smoothly in our operations; not-withstanding the challenges encountered that kept us alert ad led us to our various modest accomplishments, which could not have been possible without God’s bountiful grace and generosity. All praise and glory we give unto Him.
We are on our fourth year in the implementation of the ECP Vision 2018. Relative to this, the Diocese through our Christian Education Unit and Social Ministry Unit programs had assisted some of our LCUs by conducting congregational Development Seminars in the last two years. At the moment however, this activity has been temporarily suspended to give time to assess those LCUs that have undergone the seminar. To date for various reasons our accomplishment rate is only 33%, a little way below our target rate of 40% supposedly on the fourth year of our implementation. “I charge convention through the finance committee to review and assess our vision 2018 program and assist the various LCUs in coming out with deliberate plans, strategies to help ensure their accomplishment target” (1). Along this line, I also call on all our clergy together with their mission councils to come up with their local plans and strategies to effect vision 2018 in their respective LCUs.
In celebration and thanksgiving we shall bid each other goodbye as we look forward to our forthcoming division this tear. I do hope that this division will challenge us to for our best and work harder for the expansion of God’s kingdom. Let us continue to inspire and encourage one another, as well as to complement each other as we seek to serve God’s people in our respective jurisdiction.
Finally, may we also remember in our prayers all our partners who continue to journey with us and enable us to reach out to our various constituencies, particularly we would like to convey our deep appreciation to St. Lukes Medical Center, its board of trustees, their former chairman, Mr. Robert Kuan and their new chairman Mr. Frederick Dy, for their sustained commitment to support us in our Church buildings and rectories’’ needs. For the Australian Board of Mission (ABM) through their Director the Rev. John Dean for their generous support in our Christian Education and Evangelism Programs. This year we were recipient of 11 units of motor cycles and copies of Bibles that has been distributed to our clergy and LCUs. For the Diocese of North Central Philippines through Bishop Joel Pachao for their monetary assistance and all those who contributed in cash and kinds for the victims of typhoon Sendong. Relative to this the Diocese through our SMU and Brent Hospital and Colleges Inc., conducted a relief distribution to Iligan and Cagayan De Oro last 26 of December 2011. And for the Diocese of Olympia, through their bishop, The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel and for JB and Nancy whose visit paved the way to signing of a MOA between the EDSP ad DoO. As well as to all our ECP Dioceses and other partners who extended to us their moral support and prayers. “I charge Convention through the convention committee on greetings to convey to them our prayers and gratitude.”
Lastly, in behalf of the diocese and in your behalf, allow me to express our gratefulness and deep appreciation to the Parish of St. Phillip and St. James, through its Rector and Vestry, together with the staff of the Davao Episcopal Mission Center (DEMC), as well as the Deanery Clergy and people of Northeastern Mindanao and the Visayas. We are blessed for the fourth time this year, that this Parish has accepted the challenge to host our annual Convention. To the various Deaneries, LCUs, Diocesan Institutions and individuals for their donations in cash and in kinds to this convention. Sa inyong lahat Maraming-maraming Salamat po. May we have fruitful convention and be blessed by this experience. To God be praise and glory.
Let us pray:
Almighty God, you give us new life, new hope and new opportunities with each returning day, especially in this 41st Diocesan Convention: Help us to use these blessings to the best of our capacity in doing the work which we have to do; devoting ourselves wholly to your service, and putting our selfish interests aside to seek the welfare or our fellow human beings; for the sake of him who came among us as one who serve, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Rt. Rev. Danilo Bustamante
41st Annual Diocesan Convention
St. Phillip and St. James Parish, MacArthur Highway
Matina, Davao City
February 27- March 01, 2012