Revive event lifts up servant leaders in the Philippines

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Key Points:

  • Revive 3 was held Nov. 23 at the newly inaugurated Wesleyan University-Philippines Chapel, one day before the meeting of the Philippines Central Conference.
  • The three current United Methodist bishops in the country delivered sermons on servant leadership during the revival.
  • Local church singers from the Middle Philippines and Quezon City Philippines East conferences formed a 300-voice choir.

Before three new bishops were elected in the Philippines, delegates to the special session of the Philippines Central Conference and other United Methodists gathered for song, dance, prayers and messages on servant leadership.  

The third Revive event, dubbed “Renew, Restore, Relive,” was specially designed for the Philippines conference to “guide the hearts, the heads and the hands of all our delegates in electing our three bishops,” said former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, the event’s lead organizer. A 40-day prayer vigil occurred before the event. 

Revive 3 was held Nov. 23 at the newly inaugurated Wesleyan University-Philippines Chapel in Cabanatuan City with an estimated 1,000 in attendance.

“We declare that the Lord will anoint and consecrate to his service as his servant leaders our three new bishops. And we declare that these anointed bishops will be bestowed by the Lord, the power and the authority to lead our Methodist church,” Puno said during his welcoming remarks.

Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco (looking at camera) along with (to his right) Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan, former Philippines Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, Council of Bishops President Thomas Bickerton, Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr. and retired Bishop Leo A. Soriano clap along during the Revive 3 worship service at Wesleyan University-Philippines Chapel in Cabanatuan City, Philippines. Photo by Gladys P. Mangiduyos, UM News.  
Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco (looking at camera) along with (to his right) Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan, former Philippines Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, Council of Bishops President Thomas Bickerton, Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr. and retired Bishop Leo A. Soriano clap along during the Revive 3 worship service at Wesleyan University-Philippines Chapel in Cabanatuan City, Philippines. Photo by Gladys P. Mangiduyos, UM News.

The Revive movement started in 2012 to respond to unresolved issues the church was facing. In 2016, Revive 2 drew 10,000 people. 

In his welcome address, retired Judge Benjamin D. Turgano, President of Wesleyan University-Philippines, encouraged delegates and attendees to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in them.

“Our prayer is for this sanctuary to be the upper room where the Holy Spirit descends upon his disciples. We will all be filled with God’s spirit, anointed to do God's work in the world.”

The three current United Methodist bishops in the Philippines, whose terms end on Dec. 31, delivered sermons on servant leadership during the revival. 

Bishop Pedro M. Torio Jr. of the Baguio Area said Christians should embrace truth and holiness, incarnating the love and compassion of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for all people.

“Holiness is a gift,” he said, emphasizing the Bible as the standard for truth and Jesus Christ as the standard of holiness. 

Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco of the Manila Area reminded Revive 3 guests that in the context of Christianity, leaders are not masters, but rather they are called to serve.

“Leaders are called to serve the least, the last and the lost. Please remember that you are called to serve. Bear in mind that our ministry is our calling. In other words, leaders are the servant of the people, not master or boss. A bishop is a servant of all.”

Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Davao Area said that going back to reading Scripture would help restore the joy and faith of Methodist Christians. He enunciated that the Word of God is the heart of revival. 

“There must be a hunger for God’s words, and there must be openness for the infilling and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. 

“Christians should respond to God’s words with obedience and humility,” he added, noting that “a growing, glowing, and going United Methodist Church is what we need.” 

Members of a 300-voice choir led by N. Arnel de Pano (center) sit during Revive 3 in Cabanatuan City, Philippines. The choir included local church singers from the Middle Philippines and Quezon City Philippines East conferences. Photo by Edwin S. Hilario. 
Members of a 300-voice choir led by N. Arnel de Pano (center) sit during Revive 3 in Cabanatuan City, Philippines. The choir included local church singers from the Middle Philippines and Quezon City Philippines East conferences. Photo by Edwin S. Hilario.

Local church singers from the Middle Philippines and Quezon City Philippines East conferences formed a 300-voice choir led by Nathanael Arnel A. de Pano, who arranged most of the songs. He also was the director of the 1,200-voice Revive 2 Choir in 2016.

Lay leader of Kamuning First United Methodist Church and an alternate delegate to the 2020 General Conference, de Pano contracted COVID-19 early in the pandemic. He told UM News that he is grateful for the opportunity to lead the church in worship after his harrowing experience.

“The greatness comes from the grace of God, who has allowed us to celebrate faith together again — face to face. Having survived COVID myself, I feel more deeply the calling to make music for the church until my last breath,” de Pano said.

He said that the Revive 3 choir hopes to bring the message of God's abiding presence, love and hope after two years of being apart, living in uncertainty under the pandemic. 

Elgin Veneracion, treasurer of the Middle Philippines Conference, shared her joy and thanksgiving in joining the Revive choir.

“What a great privilege to serve God through singing,” Veneracion said, adding that it was like singing with a multitude of angels.

The event’s highlight was the consecration of the delegates for the special conference and the prayer for all aspiring bishops. The service was led by Council of Bishops President Thomas J. Bickerton.  

He addressed the delegates in prayer that they were about to fulfill a holy work.

“I pray for the heat and fire of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Come, Holy Spirit, come. As we exercise our responsibility, we know that you are not through with us yet. Grant us strength to know that it is not about us; it is all about you.” 

The Philippines Central Conference special session started the next day and three new bishops were elected during the Nov. 24-26 meeting.  

Bishops Ruby-Nell EstrellaRodel M. Acdal and Israel Painit will lead the Manila, Baguio and Davao episcopal areas, respectively, beginning Jan. 1.

Estrella, the first female bishop elected in the Philippines Central Conference, said that consecrating episcopal candidates during Revive was powerful.

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“The Revive tradition of consecrating episcopal candidates is a powerful recognition that it is God who will ultimately choose the servant leaders of our church. In humble submission to God's perfect will, we surrender everything to God.”

Painit shared his gratefulness for the pre-conference revival.

“First,  I can feel the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and awaken my call to be faithful to God and serve our neighbors. Second, the impact of doing it after two years of hiatus due to the pandemic created an impact on us as a community of faith, thereby strengthening our resolve to edify the church.” 

Acdal said that Revive 3 was not as big as the first two, but this one was more touching. 

“Episcopal candidates were asked to kneel before the altar and were prayed upon by a retired bishop. Then, active bishops laid their hands on our heads,” he said.

“It was like Christ was just in front of me, smiling and saying, ‘I have chosen you.’ Tears started to fall from my eyes; I can’t hold them. And then I said to the Lord, ‘Here I am, Lord, use me.’”

After the Revive event, a free concert was held in the city’s Freedom Park featuring the Papuri! Singers. Papuri! is the famous music ministry of the Far East Broadcasting Company in the Philippines, which offers original Filipino gospel/Christian songs. 

“We are proud of the Methodist legacy, especially the legacy of John Wesley,” Puno said. “We thought that (the concert) would be a good opportunity to make a community impact … so the wider community would know how the Methodists worship the Lord our God.”

He said the Revive movement’s aim is to help The United Methodist Church.

“We know that the global Methodist Church is facing a lot of serious problems. This is one way of helping our church: seeking the Holy Spirit, the help of the Lord, to direct us in choosing the bishops who will lead us in the coming years.”

Mangiduyos is a UM News correspondent in the Philippines.

News media contact: Julie Dwyer, news editor, [email protected] or 615-742-5469. To read more United Methodist News, subscribe to Free Daily or Weekly Digests.


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