United Methodist Delegation Visiting Philippines Jan. 3-7; Group to Gather Information on Killing, H

United Methodist Communications
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Jan. 1, 2006

Contacts: United States Stephen Drachler
(615) 742-5411 office (615) 456-4710 cell

Philippines (Jan. 3) Rev. Liberato Bautista
+63.919.521.5177 levindjeck@msn.com

United Methodist Delegation Visiting Philippines Jan. 3-7; Group to Gather Information on Killing, Harassment of Church Workers

NEW YORK - A high level delegation of United Methodists leaders will be in the Philippines Jan. 3-7 to learn more about the killing and harassment of church workers, peace and human rights activists, and journalists.

"The situation in the Philippines is deeply disturbing," said the Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of The United Methodist Church's international mission agency. "Church workers, human rights activists, and others who are perceived as threats are terrorized and killed."

"We need to hear first-hand the stories of the people who serve God in the midst of this danger, and show them that the international church is with them in their struggle," said Day, who attended college in the Philippines.

The delegation expects to meet with church leaders, U.S. State Department, and Philippine government officials during its four-day visit and report on its work before departing.

Day is one of the nine United Methodist leaders who will gather in Manila. In addition to the New York-based Day, the delegation includes Bishop John Hopkins of Cleveland, who leads the denomination's program coordinating organization, The Connectional Table, and general secretaries of three of the church's program agencies.

The United Methodist Church has had a presence in the Philippines since the late 19th Century. Its three bishops serve a community of about a million persons connected to nearly 1,700 congregations throughout the nation. The denomination works closely with The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, the largest Protestant denomination in the nation, and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Its third denominational partner is Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en Las Islas Filipinas.

In addition to Day and Hopkins, the other members of the delegation will include:

· James Winkler of Washington, D.C. general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society.
· The Rev. Larry Hollon, of Nashville, Tenn., general secretary of United Methodist Communications.
· The Rev. Larry Pickens, of New York, general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.
· Ascencion (Inday) Day, of New York, executive director of the National Federation of Asian American United Methodists.
· The Rev. Liberato Bautista, of New York, assistant general secretary of the General Board of Church and Society.
· The Rev. Ruby-Nell Estrella, district superintendent of the Northwest Manila District in the Philippines.
· Kristina Gonzales, of Seattle, Wash., a member of the Connectional Table.

Before leaving for Manila, Winkler met with a member of the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to update him on the delegation's visit and share the denomination's concerns about the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Worldwide, The United Methodist Church is present in approximately 125 countries. Its congregations provided more than $5.3 billion in funding for church missions, outreach and administration in 2003. It has more than 11 million members in more than 43,000 congregations.

A press kit will be available at /interior.asp?mid=10479 on Tuesday, Jan. 3.

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