Invited to serve, emboldened by faith

(IFI National Lay Summit 2018 Statement)

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)

We are 144 siblings in Jesus Christ, called on for the 2nd National Lay Summit of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, held in the Dioceses of Iloilo and Guimaras. We come from the mandated organizations of IFI – Youth of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Women of the Philippine Independent Church and Laymen of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente – celebrating our oneness as laity of our Church and as children of God.

From May 17 to 20, 2018, we learned the issues that have pushed God’s creation to near-oblivion, pressed many peoples to live in the constancy of both suffering and struggle. Through worship, fellowship, forum and immersion, we gathered stories that challenged us to act in compassion and solidarity. We learned that Christianity has gone astray; ignoring the Lord’s commissioning for the faithful to love our neighbor and for all people to steward what the Lord creates. We, the Church, must then repent for the ignorance and inaction through lives that heal the brokenness we ourselves have made.

Rediscovering the revolutionary and nationalist heritage of the Church and acknowledging the passions emanating from the world, we realized that the membership of the IFI – lay and ordained – must be channels of God’s peace, voices of prophetic witness, and bodies expressing living faith. “He Said, ‘Come,’ You Are Called to Serve,” this gathering proclaims; and, indeed, we affirm the enduring invitation of our Loving God to serve today’s anawim. We are invited to use our divine gifts in praise of God’s power, working towards God’s Reign here and now.

As a body of believers united in witness, we commit ourselves to work with the Church. Here are our commitments and appeals:

Consolidate our ranks to join the clergy and bishops in key calls of our Church.

• for the dropping of the fabricated charges against YIFI chaplain and Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales

• for the faithful to contribute in the rehabilitation efforts of the National Cathedral leading up to her golden anniversary

• for the resumption of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines

• for the State to put a halt to militarism, preferring peace, education and dialogue instead of conflict and militarization

• for the State to vigilantly guard our sovereignty and democracy, which our foreparents had envisioned and fought for

• for the faithful to stay engaged with the realities of the people, not passive to these or resigned to mere virtual activism

• for the faithful to uphold the gifts of diversity and dignity

• for the Church to join ecumenical and interfaith efforts at the defense of human life and dignity, the stewardship of God’s Creation and the establishment of a reign of justice and peace

Organize ourselves so we may better embody the universal love of our Creator God.

• for platforms similar to the NLS and formations similar to the National Lay Council in the regional and diocesan levels

• for the establishment of ministries for children, especially those in unconventional families, in conflict with the law and in other vulnerable backgrounds

• for Church ministries that engage young people, especially students, young professionals and workers

• for the Church, both as structures and communities, to welcome and integrate differently abled individuals

• for fellowships and safe spaces where women and LGBTIQ+ individuals are empowered and accompanied

• for the sectors to practice inclusiveness, and reform documents and practices that distance various minorities from Church participation

• for the sectors to amend parts of their constitutions and by-laws that go against one another

• for all other sectors to join the celebration of the 50 years of the YIFI in 2019, taking inspiration from its identity as a Christian, nationalist, progressive movement

Mobilize our fellow lay to accompany the vulnerable in their pursuit of abundant life.

• for an end to Church repression, which has brought harassment and death to many Church workers, including our own

• for the repeal of TRAIN Law and rejection of legislations that make life harder for the least in society

• for wise, equitable and sustainable use of land, through measures such as the cessation of destructive mining, and the enactment of genuine agrarian reform and agricultural development

• for the stoppage of aggression based on land-grabbing

• for the respect of ancestral domains and indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination

• for environmental justice, so we may preserve the natural resources, achieve sustainable ecotourism and nurture biodiversity for future generations

• for changes in the labor sector, such as the abolishing of gender-based inequalities, cheap labor, contractualization and provincial wage, among other unjust conditions

• for more ministries immersing the faithful with indigenous peoples nationwide, addressing the needs of migrants and their families, and responding to the need for care in jails and prisons

Educate the lay so we may ably express Aglipayan spirituality.

• for the Church to develop lay theologians

• for continuing education for the lay, including on the Declaration of Faith and Articles of Religion, human rights and official statements

• for venues where the laity can talk about religion, faith and spirituality

• for programs that develop the membership’s Bible literacy, and the culture of prayer and solidarity

• for the Church to embrace and maximize new technologies for the propagation of the Gospel, reaching out also to faithful outside the Philippines

• for programs addressing issues in gender justice and sexuality, especially violence against women and children, gender-based aggression and HIV and AIDS

• for the Church to develop a toolkit containing IFI documents for the purpose of educating both members and nonmembers on the Church

We enjoin our siblings in the IFI to work with us to achieve a Church filled with the fullness of the Lord and compelled by our Sustainer’s love to help the least among us.

We praise you O Lord for the fellowship of Your servants –
With one another to rejoice our victories in the ministry,
With the least among Your children to see the challenge to which You send us.

Gather us under Your wings like a hen; inspire us with Your example –
As, in Your name, we journey for the Church to be edified,
As, with Your invitation, we build up a world of peace and justice.

Amen.