Philippines College of Bishops voice support for Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace

Photo by Maidstone Mulenga, Council of Bishops

Bishops Leo Soriano, Ciriaco Francisco, Rudy Juan and Pedro Torio take a break during the Philippines College of Bishops meeting in Bulacan, Philippines last week.

By Maidstone Mulenga*

BULACAN, PHILIPPINES  —  The Philippines College of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has voiced support for legislation that will be sent to the 2020 General Conference regarding Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation.

During their meeting last week in Bonga Menor Bustos, Bulacan, the Filipino bishops discussed the key plans that have been submitted to the General Conference regarding the issue of homosexuality.

The three active bishops and the retired bishops agreed that the Protocol provided the better way forward to end the impasse on ordination of gays and lesbians and conducting of same-gender weddings in UMC churches.

The proposal calls for letting traditionalist churches and annual conference to separate from the UMC with their properties. They would also get $25 million in church funds once their denomination has been organized.

The legislation on the protocol was released as the Philippines College of Bishops was meeting.

The active bishops — Bishops Pedro M. Torio Jr. of the Baguio Area; Ciriaco Quintanay Francisco of the Manila Area; and Rodolfo A. Juan of the Davao Area —  said they supported the Protocol because of the following points:
  1. Global Representation:  The Protocol changed the fundamentals by adding representation from four continents since there were representatives from the Philippines, Eurasia, Africa and North America during all stages of the Protocol discussions.
  2. COB Leadership support:  The Protocol has support of both the incoming and outgoing presidents of the Council of Bishops; . and the incoming president designate was a leader in the mediation team that produced the protocol.
  3. Church membership representation: The mediation team had clergy, lay and episcopal leadership participation throughout the discussions.
  4. Graceful and amicable separation:  The Protocol offers an amicable way of separation without the contentious nature of the last few General Conferences.
  5. Voice for all:  The Protocol opens the door to conferences and churches on any levels to vote; the voice of every church, annual conference, central conference will be respected and honored.
The Protocol will be part of the discussions when the Philippine delegates to the 2020 General Conference meet February 13-14.
After the two-day college meeting, the bishops celebrated the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Wesleyan University-Philippines, a United Methodist Church-related institution in Cabanatuan City.
During the celebration, retired Bishop Daniel C. Arichea was the guest preacher. He stressed the importance of putting the Lord first in all the efforts for the university.

*The Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga is the Director of Communications for the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church