Methodist Church

Philippines United Methodists elect two new bishops, A third is re-elected

MANILA – United Methodists in the Philippines have elected two new bishops and re-elected a third while celebrating their 100th anniversary as an annual conference of The United Methodist Church.

The Rev Rodolfo Alfonso Juan was chosen on the seventh ballot, while the Rev Lito Cabacungan Tangonan was elected in the 11th round of voting. Their four-year terms begin on Jan 1, 2009.

Bishop Leo Soriano was re-elected on the 22nd ballot early in the morning hours of Nov 24, 2008.

The elections were held during the United Methodist Philippines Central Conference session in Manila from Nov 19-24, 2008, with 496 delegates equally divided between clergy and laity. US Bishop Warner Brown Jr of the Denver Area presided over the proceedings.

Following the episcopal elections, Bishop Juan was assigned to the Baguio Episcopal Area, replacing Bishop Benjamin Justo. Bishop Tangonan will oversee the Manila Episcopal Area, replacing Bishop Solito Toquero. Bishop Soriano was reassigned to the Davao Episcopal Area.

Bishop Juan, 47, currently is on special appointment as Chaplain of the Armed Forces of the Philippines at a base in Fort Bonifacio. He was born in Baggao, Cagayan, and is married to Lurleen Lapuz, an optometrist. They have two children, Rudolph James, 14, and Pearl, seven months.

Bishop Tangonan, 51, the District Superintendent of Quezon City District of the Philippines Annual Conference East, is from San Mateo, Isabela. His wife, Jeanne Grace Domingo, is the internal auditor for Wesleyan University in the Philippines. They have one child, Kerussein Shalom, 18.

Meanwhile, Mr Justice Reynato Puno, a United Methodist who is the Chief Justice of the Philippines Supreme Court, used the backdrop of the conference to call for urgent action to address human rights violations in the Philippines.

He has questioned the roles of the Filipino Government and military in hundreds of deaths and abductions in the Philippines. Many of the victims have been church workers who support the poor. “Telling the truth requires courage,” he said.
United Methodist News Service


‘Wandering generation’ looks for connections

ORLANDO (Florida) – The fact that many Americans have little idea what “church” means or what happens there was a recurrent theme at the 2008 United Methodist School of Congregational Development.

The point was underscored by sociological data and pastoral experience, but more attention was given to ways of responding creatively to the challenge than to decrying the concern.

Lack of knowledge of “church” is most acute among those under 35, prompting one pastor and author to focus her presentation on that population.

The Rev Carol Howard Merritt is Co-Pastor of Western Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, and author of the 2007 book Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation. She is herself a young adult and describes her generation as “wandering” when it comes to connections to God and systems of meaning.

“We have a huge opportunity with the wandering generation,” she told 300 people gathered in Orlando recently at an annual event focused on church development. She was linked by satellite to another 150 at a similar event in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“What young adults are looking for is right there in our congregations,” said the Rev Merritt.

However, church-as-usual to those over 40 may not be recognised by young adults as a place of caring or a repository of answers to life’s questions.

Contemporary young adults, according to the Rev Merritt, do not need the church in its present form, but they do need a church interested in relationships and connections rather than programmes. At its best, she said, the “church is a place where they can form connections – with God, the world and each other”.

Based on media presentations of religion, many young adults do not know that “Christianity is not the Republican Party, its leader is not Pat Robertson, and its message is not what you hear on Fox News,” the Rev Merritt said.

“We need to think about ‘church’ a little differently,” she said, picking up motifs from her book which uses “tribal church” as a metaphor for those who band together on a spiritual journey. The emphasis is on relationships.

She invited her United Methodist colleagues to look at some of the realities of life for young adults today. “Yes, we may be used to getting what we want, but there is a great shortage for young adults when it comes to medical care, housing, community and other basics that are needed to make connections,” she said. – United Methodist News Service.

Elliott Wright is the Information Officer of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.