Philippines church holds sexuality forum
A recent forum at a local church was part of an effort by United Methodists in the Philippines to hold conversations on human sexuality.
The Jan. 22 forum on sexuality and LGBTQ people, held during the 95th Anniversary celebration of Sandmeier United Methodist Church, was prompted by a petition on approved by the Philippines Central Conference in support of the Commission on the Way Forward of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.
During the forum, Samuel John Earl P. Canlas, a lay minister assigned to a mission extension congregation of Sandmeier church, spoke about “redemptive inclusiveness” and said that whatever a person’s sexuality, “there are no preconditions to God's love.”
Being a follower of Christ is a process that extends beyond life itself, he said.
“God can complete his purpose beyond our temporal life if we abide in relationship to Christ,” Canlas said. “We cling to his love as Jesus redeemed us, but not all our state of being is fixed. We go on the process of discipleship and serve God in life and mission, but it need not be that we attain absolute perfection in our being in our lifetime."
In his theological reflection, the Rev. Jonavern P. Lungub, an ordained elder in the Philippines Conference and lecturer on Wesleyan theology and church history and polity, pointed to degrees of brokenness in human sexuality that, he said, can be addressed by “new birth.”
"New Birth is a corollary to New Creation, which includes real healing to our human sexuality and this is brought by God’s act of reconciliation in Christ by the Spirit’s power for us to be progressively and holistically restored in God’s image both in manhood and womanhood,” he said.
The transformation of human life, Lungub added, is a work in progress — “prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace as God’s gift to us, as we put our trust in Christ."
In a 20-minute video, the Rev. Israel Alvaran, based in San Francisco, spoke about how he felt God walking with him, even as a closeted homosexual, from his baptism to ordination to appointment to the church where he was baptized.
The Holy Spirit invites the church “to be in discernment about what it means to be truly open to all of God's children,” said Alvaran, who serves under episcopal appointment as the western regional organizer for the Reconciling Ministries Network.
He encouraged congregations “to have open and honest conversations and listen to each others' stories, especially those from our LGBTQ siblings of faith.”
Reacting to the forum speakers, Dr. Glenn Roy Paraso, executive director of Mary Johnston Hospital and a lay leader from Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, said he believes God has “no alternative plan” to heterosexuality, as designed through Adam and Eve.
But Paraso is willing to have the conversation. "We can come to the table armed with grace and mercy, understanding and learning,” he said.
Such dialogue is the aim of the petition approved by the Philippines Central Conference. The Rev. Liberato Bautista wrote the petition, which is related to the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.
“The process and dialogue shall provide the Church with as many venues for as wide a latitude as possible in hearing from a multiplicity of voices and varied concerns, even opinions, with respect to human sexuality, but especially focused on the place and role of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) persons in the life and ministry of the church, to the whole world, and to all peoples,” the petition said.
“The PCC commits to engage all its annual conferences, through the facilitation and leadership of our bishops, in holding dialogues and conversations on human sexuality in all its forms and dimensions in inclusive, diverse, and participatory settings (i.e. forums, panel discussions, presentations, lectures, etc) that include a wide diversity of opinions on this subject, especially the voices of LGBTQ persons in our communities.”
Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To get more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.