A Historic Visit

By Eric Cherry

See update from 8/30 (below)

For the first time since the 1960's the UU Church of the Philippines (UUCP) will be paid a visit by the Unitarian Universalist Association’s President. From August 26 – September 2, 2010, Reverend Peter Morales will visit with a dozen UU congregations/groups, touring the Visayas and Luzon regions of the island nation. Accepting a gracious invitation by UUCP President Reverend Rebecca Sienes, Rev. Morales’s journey will include visits with 2 UU congregations in Manila, and 10 on the island of Negros which is the home to 26 UU congregations in total. While on Negros he will be the keynote speaker for a unique ecumenical and interfaith conference hosted by the UUCP and will meet with the Dean of the Theological School at Silliman University, where future UU leaders may receive training. On Sunday, August 29th he will be leading worship at the Cansay-an/Aquino UU church which is partnered with the UU Congregation of Castine, ME. Unitarian Universalism found a home in the Philippines through the ministry of Rev. Toribio Quimada during the 1950s. Rev. Quimada adopted Universalism after discovering he shared its message of God’s universal love. In 1989, after years of support for the rights of the farmers and peasants who were the members of the congregations he led, Rev. Quimada was martyred by those who feared his commitment to these principles. Today, the UU Church of the Philippines continues to pursue a ministry of Love and Justice for all, led by Rev. Rebecca Sienes who is the daughter of Rev. Quimada. In early 2009, copies of “Maglipay Universalist: A History of the UU Church of the Philippines,” by Rev. Fred Muir, were mailed to UU ministers serving congregations as an invitation to share the story of our brothers and sisters in the Philippines with their parishioners. That mailing also included information about an important opportunity to support the economic sustainability of the UU Church of the Philippines through the BUILD program – which envisions the creation of a dormitory for university women in Dumaguete. At this year’s General Assembly in Minneapolis, a successful raffle was held for the BUILD program, generating interest in the program as well as in congregational partnership. Proceeds of the raffle, totaling almost $3,000, will go towards the construction of the women’s dormitory. Raffle winner Reverend Roger Jones, of the UU Society of Sacramento, was awarded with a UU Partner Church Council pilgrimage trip to visit the UUCP in March 2011. Your congregation can learn more about the history of the UU Church of the Philippines with this slideshow (PDF), or by visiting the UUCP’s website; you can also learn more about the BUILD project. If your congregation hasn’t had a chance to learn more about our partnerships in the Philippines, please consider doing so following Rev. Morales’ visit later this month! Update 8/30:
Photos of Peter Morales in the Philippines
The UUA President Rev. Peter Morales and Mrs. Phylis Morales arrived in Dumaguetye City on the 27th of August and were received by the UUCP President and Staff with garlands of flowers. In the morning, Rev. Morales met with the Silliman University Divinity School Dean and Faculty. They discussed opportunities for collaborative programs in the future, such as education for UU Students to take degree courses in theology at the Divinity School and receiving UU professors from the United States as guest faculty. The President met with the Executive Committee of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU), which was coincidentally gathered in Dumaguete City, and discussed the importance of support for the ICUU. On August 28th at 9:00am the President spoke at the UUCP to a gathering of about fifty, coming from different Christian denominations and professions. The president engaged the gathering with a dialogue that came alive with questions, remarks, and commendations etc. At lunch the President was joined by the EC members of the ICUU, who traveled to visit congregations south of the Island, and saw the UUCP Mango Plantation with 217 mango trees near to bearing fruit, which will bring income to the UUCP for its ministry, as well as the UUPCC Pioneer project in the Community Capacity Building program (a Water project that brought pure drinking water to the Whole Community). Rev. and Mrs. Morales attended Sunday Service at the Aquino congregation and were welcome by the children of the UU School. After the worship service, the President engaged in conversation with the Members and there were many who asked questions; the president was glad to respond to them all. The interaction was very healthy and helpful for the President to gain deeper knowledge about the UUs in the Philippines and their concerns. On the 30th the President, with his wife, were taken to four congregations: Nataban congregation (the birth place of Unitarian Universalism in the Philippines), Ulay-Cabiguhan congregation (partnered with San Mateo, California), Benejiwan congregation, and Bagongsilang. During these visits the President learned a lot about the geographical locations of the congregations on Negros Island and their remoteness to cities and basic facilities for the public. They experienced the beauty of the countryside that undoubtedly brought inspiration. The President is expected to visit two more congregations today, and in the evening, will meet with UU Leaders for a discussion about the future of the UUCP. With all good wishes, Nihal Attanayake

About the Author

Eric Cherry

Eric was the Director of the UUA’s International Office since August 2007. Prior to this Eric served for 12 years as a parish minister with UU congregations in Burlington, Iowa and N. Easton, Massachusetts. Eric has long been involved in the UU Partner Church movement, serving as the English...

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