LIVING OUT THE SPIRITUALITY OF UNITY IN DIVERSITY: A SUMMARY REPORT
(CERTIFICATE COURSE ON CHRISTIAN UNITY AND INTERRELIGIOUS MINISTRY)
Rev. Jeric C. Cortado, SPMCI Acting Dean of Theology

In our first year of implementation, there were 16 enrolled and attended the series modular class sessions. Fourteen (14) of them are young leaders, one (1) of them is a Clergy Spouse, and the other one is a woman Sunday School Teacher of one of the United Methodist congregations under the Mindanao Philippines Annual Conference. The said program started by celebrating the WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY held last January 18-25, 2016 using the suggested liturgy of the WCC.

The FIRST MODULAR CLASS SESSION was held last January 27-29, 2016. The first topic entitled, “The Biblical and Theological Foundations of Ecumenism and Mission” lectured by Bishop Leo A. Soriano, retired Resident Bishop of the Davao Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church. The second topic was “The History of the Ecumenical Movement” taught by Rev. Jeric C. Cortado. We requested Ms. Earlie Pasion, the Publishing Coordinator of the Discipleship Resources-Philippines to share her knowledge on the third topic, “Ecumenical Student Movement and Campus Ministry”. “The Landscape of Ecumenism in the Philippines” which is the fourth topic was given by Prof. Framer Cristy P. Mella, President of the Southern Philippines Methodist Colleges, Inc. We also invited Rev. Fr. Hipolito Paracha, DCK, a Diocesan Clergy of the Roman Catholic Church – Diocese of Kidapawan to share his knowledge about “The Guiding Principles for the Quest of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships” which was the fifth topic during the first modular class session.

The SECOND MODULAR CLASS SESSION was held last February 18-19, 2016 which covers the following topics:

  1. “The Ecumenical Perspective on Church”
  2. “The Ecumenical Perspective on Mission and Evangelism”
  3. “The Ecumenical Perspective on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry”
  4. “The UMC Initiatives on Christian Unity and Interreligious Relations”

The THIRD MODULAR CLASS SESSION was held last March 15-16, 2016. We invited Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Davao – Roman Catholic Church to give the input on “INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE: THEORIES AND PRAXIS”. Datu Apolinar Bugcal Ambag Sr., the cultural bearer and tribal leader of the Menuvo-Bagobo Tribe, was our resource person for the second input of the third modular class session, “A DIALOGUE WITH THE CULTURAL BEARER AND TRADITIONAL LEADER OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE”.

The 16 students who completed all the requirements of this program were awarded the CERTIFICATE COURSE ON CHRISTIAN UNITY AND INTERRELIGIOUS MINISTRIES by the Southern Philippines Methodist Colleges Incorporated.

What I’ve learn from our students and participants during our assessments and conversations are the realization that “we could be the bridge of the unity of churches and faith community” (Wilma Dewig, an Indigenous People Youth); second, “the call to mission without ecumenical participation is nothing but stagnant” (Kenneth D. Base, SPMCI Fourth Year AB Theology Student); third, “it is our responsibility to continue the good works of Jesus Christ. Our mission is not for ourselves only but for everyone.” (Gladimei A. Labagan, a United Methodist Youth Fellowship Leader); and fourth, “the mission of the Church is the mission of God, to empower by organizing the people.” (Leonard E. Seno, Second Year AB Theology Student)

This program called us to live out the spirituality of unity in diversity, a kind of spirituality that is a life giving and other affirming. It is a spirituality that manifests the concreteness of love to one another and building confidence between and among communities while recognizing its unique existence. A United Methodist spirituality that is ready to learn one from another as well as to teach one another. Our unity as Christians and our constant dialogue and fellowship with other faith groups affirms that peace based on justice, human dignity and environmental justice is everybody’s concern regardless of our religion, ideology, and races. Amen.