We are youth and women from the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) member churches and its associate members upon whose bodies are inscribed the scars and stripes of marginalization and discrimination inflicted by a culture and a system that is caught in the dehumanizing grip of patriarchy.
We are youth and women arrested by the liberating spirit of the Liberator God and have embarked on the long and arduous journey toward freedom not only for ourselves but for our people, our country and our world as well. At this juncture of our journey we find ourselves in the company of co-sojourners at the Youth and Women Pre-Assembly Forum at the Bishop La Verne D. Mercado Ecumenical Center of the NCCP on November 18 and 19, 2011.
In this life-affirming gathering where gifts and graces were shared, we experienced what we had long realized that youth and women have common hopes and dreams for a friendlier tomorrow; and that commonality must be strengthened if we are to “hold high the tapestry of justice and peace in a broken world.”
The Youth and Women Pre-Assembly Forum was a time of celebration as loud “Alleluias” were raised for….
- unlike the women of ease whom the Prophet Isaiah challenged, there are youth and women today who are keenly aware of the life-denying forces in society and are deeply involved in the birthing of a community of empowered persons who will not lay prostrate before the Baals of insatiable greed;
- in the changing climes of the movement for change, a great number of youth and women have patiently and persistently accompanied the continuing people’s struggle for just and lasting peace;
- the many youth and women, who, in times past, had selflessly offered their lives as defenders of the needy, the poor, and the afflicted that the abundant life as promised by God would be a lived reality.
The Youth and Women Pre-Assembly Forum was a time of mourning as well where whimpers of “Kyrie Eleison” were heard because of….
- a painful realization that gender inequity is still very much a part of our lives in spite of the years long battle against it;
- the token listening and lip service that we receive from the powerful “Pharaohs” of our day who are threatened by creative resistance astir in the ranks of the exploited;
- the seeming lack of political will on the part of our church leaders to translate approved recommendations of previous NCCP Conventions that would ensure equal representation for the constituents of the Council;
- the inadequacy, if not absence, of substantial efforts by the present dispensation to right the wrong and to set this country on the road toward genuine development – an inadequacy that profoundly impacts the lives of youth and women.
Fuelled by our compelling desire to deepen the bonds of unity so that, together, we might raise even louder our collective voice for justice and peace….
- We reiterate our recommendations put forward at the 22nd NCCP General Convention especially that which makes mandatory the equal representation of women, youth, and clergy in all decision-making bodies of the NCCP;
- We pray for greater propensity on the part of our church leaders to be sensitive to the issues of youth and women which, are in fact, the issues of the whole church by enfleshing the Church’s theology of inclusivity with “meaning-full” programmatic expressions;
- We challenge ourselves to engage in creative criticism and self-criticism in order to unearth our weaknesses (to correct these) and our potentials (to nurture these) so that we may more meaningfully participate in the movement for transformation;
- We call on the administration of President Benigno Aquino III to be attuned to the voices from the underside and derive its mandate from those who fervently desire and indefatigably work for genuine change.
We pose these challenges even as we acknowledge that the God whose will is for the liberation of our people continues to weave the tapestry of justice and peace with us.
This statement was unanimously approved by the delegates of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines 23rd Convention held at Philippine Rice Research Institute in Batac, Ilocos Norte on November 24, 2011.