Clergy, seminarians, and lay leaders came out to the streets in their clerical vestments to celebrate Creation and express their opposition to the 174 Dumaguete Reclamation Project through an ecumenical sunrise service on October 9 at the Rizal Boulevard of Dumaguete City.
“Hiniusang Ampo alang sa Kinaiyahan” (Joint Prayer for the Environment) – an Ecumenical Sunrise Service for Creation, was the coming together of leaders from three large church bodies in Negros Oriental – the Roman Catholic (RC) Diocese of Dumagute; the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) – Negros District Conference; and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) – Diocese of Negros Oriental & Siquijor. The churches have all previously forged their individual church statements Opposing the 174 Dumaguete Reclamation and now brought their unified voice to the streets.
The liturgical celebration was aimed at celebrating God’s creation but at the same time, gave the opportunity for a communal act of confession for the faults and sins done against the environment. Meanwhile, during the general intercessions, the church leaders expressed sincere prayers for the Dumaguete City local government to stop the implementation of the reclamation project because of the irreversible destruction it will cause to the environment and the fisherfolk communities within Dumaguete City and the nearby towns. The symbols of water, fire, and flowers were used in the creative liturgy to symbolize the splendor and balance of God’s Creation and to reaffirm a commitment to protect and defend against all attempts to deface and destroy.
The historical gesture of unity between these three large church bodies in Negros Oriental included Bishop Julito Cortes of the Roman Catholic Church; Bishop Allan Caparro of the Iglesia Filipino Independiente; and Bishop Ebenezer Camino with Conference Minister Rev. Marlen Villaflor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. They were accompanied by their respective clergy leaders throughout Negros Oriental. Seminarians from the St. Joseph Seminary College led by its Rector, Rev. Fr. Geremvit Truno, Professors from the Silliman University Divinity School headed by the Dean, Rev. Dr. Jeaneth Harris-Faller, and ministers from the Silliman University Church, Rev. Leny Igot-Jovita, acting Administrative Pastor, and Rev. Wella Hoyle-De Rosas, minister for Youth and Campus Chaplaincy, also showed their support the ecumenical sunrise service.