(As I write this note, I’m getting ready to attend the Conference on Global Filipino UM Movement and the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference to be held in St. Louis, Missouri on February 21-27. Let me share with y’all a portion of my commentary that was recently released by the United Methodist News Service. Please join with me in praying for the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference.)
From the very beginning, the Wesleyan movement’s missional charge is, from the words of John Wesley, “to reform the nation and, in particular, the Church; and to spread scriptural holiness over the land.” At the very core of who we are as a people called Methodists and whose we are as people of God, we are mandated to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to participate in God’s ongoing mission to redeem and restore a broken world.
As a Filipino-American, I realize that the issue on human sexuality is “a main thing” with the American society and somehow vital in the mission and ministry of the church.
Growing up in the Philippines, human sexuality is important, but not central to our common life or to our Christian core beliefs and theology. As a predominantly Catholic nation, a majority of Filipinos recognize marriage as a “union between a man and a woman.” However, tolerance for the LGBTQ community in the Philippines has increased over the years due to greater education on sexual orientation and gender identity issues as well as the growing visibility and political activism of the LGBTQ community. The fact remains, however, that same-sex marriage is still not legally recognized in the Philippines, and the LGBTQ community is not protected by any civil rights law.
When the Filipinos gather in St. Louis, we shall rise above this divisive issue and demonstrate the Gospel’s mandate to “keep the main thing the main thing.” On Feb. 22, a day before the start of the General Conference, we will launch the Global Filipino United Methodist Movement through the National Association of Filipino American United Methodists.
When the Filipinos gather in St. Louis, we are committed to the unity of The United Methodist Church. The basis of our primary commitment to unity is Jesus Christ. Into Jesus Christ we, with all members of the Church, were baptized. We, with all members of our church, have vowed in our Baptismal Covenant to “be loyal to Christ through The United Methodist Church, and do all in (our) power to strengthen its ministries.”
When Filipinos gather in St. Louis, we invite the Council of Bishops, delegates, general agencies and participants to join with us in praying that we “keep the main thing, the main thing.” And the main thing is the centrality of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Humble Servant and the Risen One, who draws us into profound community with one another in love and unity to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. With God’s grace, let us be courageous to move forward by keeping the main thing the main thing!