Digital/TV ministry to serve Filipinos in Australia
A partnership among the Filipino United Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Uniting Church of Australia is launching the first TV ministry and opening the digital door to serve some 295,000 Filipino immigrants in Australia.
Church officials, led by United Methodist Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of the Manila Area, went to Australia in early September to launch the TV Ministry, which is called Grassroots Uniting Mission for Christ TV or GUMC.TV.
Filipino Methodists in Australia now attend a worship service affiliated with the Wesleyan Methodist Church.
Siegfried “Sid” Balatan, a multimedia online news producer based in Los Angeles, is one of the people who helped organize GUMC.TV, along with Bishop Francisco and the Rev. Arestedes Balatan, executive director of M3F or Mission Ministries with Migrant Filipinos and the brother of Sid Balatan. The Rev. Balatan is based in Australia.
"The TV ministry will serve as a news and information exchange center between grassroot churches and global institutions. Through its website, it will serve as a repository of all books, forms, newsletter, cards, liturgies, hymnals and other church materials,” Sid Balatan said.
He went on to explain that the ministry also will “serve as a link center to all the social media accounts of local churches. It will promote, disseminate and help increase traffic to be able to make the grassroots digital footprints popular. It will also be an avenue for online education and worship service."
Though GUMC.TV is operated by The United Methodist Church in the Philippines, its policy is to maintain and implement an interfaith and ecumenical editorial policy, exemplified by the denomination’s theme of open hearts, open minds, open doors, explained Sid Balatan.
In explaining how the effort came about, the GUMC.tv website reports that a discussion between Bishop Francisco and Sid Balatan about information disconnects led to the creation of the TV ministry. The website says that after recognizing the potential of GUMC.tv, the Rev. Balatan was able to come up with half the needed funding, which put the project underway.
"The website is for now on the back burner for lack of funding to pay an administrator. What is running regularly is the FB page at facebook.com/gumc.tv," explained Sid Balatan. "There is no live streaming broadcast for now because that requires a huge funding. We are planning to do that next year as funding trickles down."
He said that until mid-2018, they are trying to fine-tune the technical capability of volunteers and news bureaus.
"By mid next year or maybe earlier, we expect to launch a full channel operation,” Sid Balatan said. He added that based on what has been done so far in Australia and other places, they believe the undertaking will be self-sustaining.
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Bishop Francisco said he considers the visit a historical event in the life of The United Methodist Church, strengthening the Asia-Pacific mission for the Filipino diaspora.
“Partnership in common mission is possible, as shown by this event,” he said.
"This is a very good opportunity for the two churches, from the same roots, to have an exploratory talk on partnership of mission."
Francisco said more than 295,000 Filipinos are working residents of Australia, which offers a “big potential of mission.”
The Rev. Balatan noted that Australia is a country that attracts many Filipinos in search of work. He said it is “one of the most livable” countries in the world, and one of the least-stressful places to live.
He added that United Methodists in Sydney were founders of Filipino churches and partnered with other denominations of Methodist heritage, such as the Uniting Church of Australia and Wesleyan churches, to reach Filipino Christians. "It is ecumenical, interfaith and open to all Christian churches situated in Asia Pacific,” he said.
The Rev. Balatan also said the launching event was a breakthrough. "Two churches are our partners now, Wesleyan Methodist Church and Uniting Church of Australia. The focus is to minister to almost 295,000 Filipino migrants in Australia who are considered as ethnic groups or communities."
He said worship in the Uniting Church of Australia is managed by the Wesleyan Methodist Church, and worshippers are mostly United Methodist Filipinos.
The Rev. Balatan said the church is set to reach out in New Zealand and Papua, New Guinea.
Bishop Francisco said in a press conference announcing the project that this is the first time “
after 40 years, that heads from Wesleyan Methodist Church and United Methodist Church met together, for many possibilities."
“We agreed that Australia will accommodate our pastors from the Philippines and that all mission possibilities be extended to them,” Francisco said.
"I feel that the church is left behind with the modern technology; there is a need to maximize so the gospel of Jesus Christ will be heard by everyone,” Francisco said.
"I appeal to all faithful United Methodists to help and support this project, so we can share the gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world. That is the mandate — Go and make disciples — and the church shall respond to that."
Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To get more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests