The United Methodist Men organization in the Northeast District, East Mindanao Philippines Annual Conference, was surviving but not thriving. Change was necessary. A subgroup – Men of God Inc. – devised a plan. They decided to rekindle their commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ through income-generating projects related to environmental justice.
With a Peace with Justice grant from the General Board of Church and Society, the men divided a portion of the conference property at San Andres, Bunawan, Agusan del Sur – about 2.5 acres – into 10 modules. The projects (four are already underway) will focus on bullfrog, tree orchard and range chicken production; duck, goat, hog and quail raising; inland fish ponds; mushroom culture and management; and organic vegetable farming. The goal is to address systemic poverty by providing a sustainable source of organic, healthy foods for the surrounding community and for annual conference sessions and other events.
Your gifts on Peace with Justice Sunday helps fund Peace with Justice grants distributed by The General Board of Church and Society.
"The project," said Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Davao Episcopal Area, "advocates for the promotion of … practices that address the need for healthy, chemical-free agricultural produce. The project also responds to the prevailing economic disparity and dependence on inorganic farm inputs for a better harvest.
"Unknowingly," he added, "the dependence further deteriorates the life-support system of the land. Organic agricultural practices will renew the land's fertility, boost the life-support system and optimize the sustainability of the earth to support [humanity's] need to eliminate poverty."
Through the profit-sharing program, participants buy shares and receive yearly dividends. The men also gather weekly at the project site for Bible study, prayer and choir practice. A "prayer caravan," launched in 2015, links prayer requests with area United Methodist men groups.
"In accordance with our Social Principles and Social Creed," said Ruben De Guzman, Men of God president, "we adhere to be the best stewards of God's creation, practicing environmental justice to our soil, land, water, air and other living things. … Organic farming, being an ecofriendly agricultural practice today, will be a basic component of every module that constitutes this project.
"The most practical and least-expensive way to address global warming is through massive tree planting," Guzman continued. Three million trees are projected to be planted in the episcopal area. Supporting this endeavor is a group called Adopt-A-Tree. Two nurseries will be established for seedling distribution to individuals and organizations, regardless of religious affiliation.
"The bottom line of this endeavor," Juan noted, "will complement our goal for the betterment and transformation of the world under God's reign."
On Peace with Justice Sunday, traditionally celebrated with an offering on the First Sunday after Pentecost, United Methodists support programs like Men of God Inc. Half of the offering goes to Peace with Justice ministries in the annual conference. The remainder assists the General Board of Church and Society for its Peace with Justice efforts.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Peace with Justice Sunday enables The United Methodist Church to have a voice in advocating for peace and justice through a broad spectrum of global programs. The special offering benefits peace with justice ministries in the annual conference and through the General Board of Church and Society.