Filipinos to come home for a mission

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Filipino United Methodists living outside their homeland are invited to return for a mission in 2018.

With the help of a local committee, the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists is hosting the homecoming, set for Jan. 3-6 at Central United Methodist Church in Manila, Philippines.

Those invited to attend include Filipino United Methodists living in North America, the Pacific Islands, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America and all over Asia.

The convocation’s coordinators are Aquilino “Pong” Javier, who has lived in the U.S. for 46 years, and Jennifer Ferariza-Meneses and the Rev. Reuel Javier, who head the local team.

In its 30 years of existence, the Filipino-American association — known as NAFAUM — has built an organization that regroups every two years in a convocation to stir and refresh the mind and heart, said Aquilino Javier, who has served as president of the association.

Convocations have been held all over the United States to reach out to Filipinos who long to reconnect to their Filipino way. The 15th biennial convocation was held in Illinois, where the association observed the 100th anniversary of Filipino Methodism in America.

Javier said the 16th convocation would showcase the wisdom, strong will and creativity of Filipinos in the Philippines.

The convocation’s name, BalikBayanihan2018, comes from the word "Balikbayan" which means coming home and reconnecting. "Bayanihan," which is pronounced as "buy-uh-nee-hun," is a Filipino word derived from the word "bayan," meaning town, nation or community in general.

"Bayanihan," also known as community spirit, is a core essence of the Filipino culture. It is helping out one’s neighbor as a community and doing a task together, thus lessening the workload and making the job easier. 

Mission is the undergirding reason for BalikBayanihan2018. The convocation will follow the theology of mission for The United Methodist Church, which is based on Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission. 

"We understand that we do mission because our God is a missionary God, a sending God,” the NAFAUM concept paper stated. “We will engage in theology and practice of mission in the Philippine context. Attending BalikBayanihan2018 could give a foretaste of what the Philippines has to offer when 2024 General Conference comes to the Philippines."

Ferariza-Meneses said that the local team is very excited to welcome “our balikbayan brothers and sisters” to the Manila event.

“The whole Philippines Central Conference —  bishops' offices, program agencies, institutions, seminaries — are very much involved in the preparation for pre-convocation events, such as activities for volunteers-in-mission, Christmas Institute, alumni gatherings and community visits and services," she said.

According to the coordinators, Filipino-Americans will lead volunteers-in-mission from the U.S. to visit and support mission projects identified by the host episcopal area, with assistance from the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

Goals set by participants at the homecoming event, as stated in the NAFAUM concept paper, include:

  • Learning why The United Methodist Church in the Philippines is thriving and growing and discovering what core values drive this growth;
  • Hearing the aspirations of Filipinos, to feel their energy and sense their inner joy and peace that makes their witness in church and society vibrant and robust;
  • Joining in mission projects with co-workers who are already in the field for the eradication of poverty and oppressive systems and social injustices inflicted on the Filipino people and their land;
  • Engaging in conversation with seasoned messengers of the Word who speak from the heart and experience;
  • Sharing in repentance for the lack of systemic partnership between Filipinos in diaspora and the homeland.

The three coordinators said they hope a large number of Filipinos from other countries will come to the Manila gathering.  

"This convocation would be historical, the first time to happen in Manila, not only for purposes of NAFAUM's homecoming, but for the UMC in the Philippines to share its continuing work for mission, discipleship, evangelism and social justice," Ferariza-Meneses said.

"It is hoped that this event can be a beginning or continuation of a beautiful friendship and relationship of Christians separated by a vast ocean. NAFAUM and their counterparts in the Philippines can truly be a vehicle for unity and cooperation," Aquilino Javier added.

Online Registration for the convocation can be accessed on the NAFAUM website. Early registration ends after Aug. 31. Later registration will cost an additional $20. A menu of ministry opportunities that registrants can participate in or support can be found on the registration page. 

For more information, please send queries via email:

Jennifer Ferariza Meneses ([email protected])

The Rev. Reuel Javier ([email protected])

Aquilino "Pong" Javier ([email protected])

Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]To get more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests

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