faith in action

Harris Memorial College hosts conversation on draft Social Principles

United Methodists gathered Aug. 3 at the Harris Memorial College in Taytay, Rizal, Philippines, to discuss the proposed revisions to the United Methodist Social Principles.

On July 13, 2018, a memorandum was routed to inform the different groups consist of student deaconesses and home missioners and UMC school administrators, faculty, teachers, and staff to take part in a public conversation on the draft of the revised Social Principles of The United Methodist Church on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018.

The participants were informed about the rationale of this important activity, and that their input will be part of the revision of this historic document which will be considered at the 2020 United Methodist General Conference. Copies of each of the sections of the document were distributed to the group facilitators and the participants ahead of time for advance reading, feedback and reflection.

On Aug. 1, 2018, all group facilitators met at the president’s office for an orientation on the content of the document and the conduct of a public conversation. Dr. Cristina N. Mañabat, president of Harris Memorial College, discussed the background of the Social Principles, and the reason for conducting a public conversation. Each of the group facilitators was given a copy of the step-by-step process/procedure in conducting a public conversation, and the expected outcomes. They were informed about the goal of this activity; that is, to introduce the draft of the revised UMC Social Principles, to reflect, and to share thoughts, impressions and perspectives on this document.

To achieve the stated goal, the following questions were asked as a guide for a conversation on the assigned section per group:

  • Is the document global/globally relevant?
  • Is the document theologically and biblically founded?
  • Is the document succinct?
  • Is the section assigned to you particularly inspiring?
  • Which part/s of your assigned section need to be strengthened or changed?

On August 3, 2018, at 3:00 p.m., all members of the six groups were convened in the conference room of the school’s administration building to discuss the rationale of a public conversation on the draft of the revised UMC Social Principles.

After an hour and a half of group conversation on the document, all participants and facilitators gathered at the college library for plenary. Each of the group facilitators shared highlights and a brief summary of their conversation. It was followed by a question and answer portion, and sharing of reflections from the students, faculty and staff. The participants and the facilitators were excited and engaged during the group conversation and plenary. As such, several suggestions were given on how to continue a prayerful study and reflection on the document. The activity ended with a closing prayer by the school chaplain.

Several comments were highlighted from within the situation in the Philippines. These include: extra-judicial killings, human rights violations, injustice going on and being experienced by the Filipino people, especially those in the margins of society; lack of access to basic social services like healthcare, education, shelter, adequate food, clean water,  and housing  for those in the periphery of the Philippine society; the continuing and widening gap between the rich and the poor caused by globalization, unfair systems of production, imbalance of trade and investment, land conversion from agricultural to residential and industrial purposes, problem of unemployment/underemployment and cheap labor, graft and corruption and bribery, human trafficking and gambling which results in deepening poverty being experienced by the poor majority of the Filipino people.

Additional areas of concern include the continuing desecration and degradation of the environment which greatly and adversely affect the livelihood and quality of life of the masses; the need to adequately address gender issues, people with disabilities, rights of migrants and religious minorities, right to healthcare; and the urgency to address the issues on gender equality, sexual exploitation and violence, bullying, and same-sex marriage.