Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana: An Unwelcome Gift

This post is by Darlene Marquez-Caramanzana, Program Secretary, Program Unit on Ecumenical Education and Nurture, National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP). Ms. Marquez-Caramanzana is a deaconess in the Philippines Central Conference. The piece is written in response to the recently announced non-ratification of two amendments to the United Methodist Church's constitution regarding gender justice.

On Sunday, United Methodist churches paid tribute to mothers for the observance of Mother’s Day. Once again, the church proclaimed its praise to women (be it that some are just expressions of tokenism) – for their love, for their nurturing, for their care, for their strength amidst suffering, their resiliency and many more adjectives that one may think of.

On May 18-20, United Methodist Women throughout the whole connection will gather and celebrate women’s historic role in the church in Columbus, Ohio. While the assembly aims to foster fellowship among women, it is also meant to equip women for service and collectively experience God’s call to mission. Women of the United Methodist Church are faithful in service, diligent in study and compassionate in doing mission.

These two historic events are about to take place in the context of the church failing to ratify two constitutional amendments: One was on gender equality which declares, “men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God.” The other was pertaining to inclusion which declares that no member will be “denied access to an equal place in the life, worship and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status or economic condition.

We failed to be the church.

We failed to remember that as a church, we stood up against slavery, against forced and child labor, against Apartheid.
We failed to remember our foremothers in the faith who trail-blazed new paths of mission and service.

We failed to be the church.

We failed to honor the dignity of women, the image of the Divine in each and every woman and girl.
We failed to honor the sacredness inherent in each of women’s lives.

We failed to be the church.

We failed to recognize women’s painstaking labor of love for the church and its mission; of their generous giving and sharing of resources till it hurts; of their kind deeds and acts of mercy.
We failed to recognize women’s contribution in their efforts to live out the pastoral and prophetic work of the church.

We failed to be the church.

We failed to affirm the diversity of women’s ministries, of their varied expressions of faith and service, of their deep love for humanity and for the church.
We failed to affirm women’s significant place in the church.

We failed to be the church. We failed before God. We failed the generations that are yet to come. We failed in our mission to be in solidarity. We failed God’s will for the church to have its doors, hearts and minds open.

No thanks for the gift. It certainly is not a gift but a failed mission.

And we, women shall rise. We will not be discouraged nor defeated.

We will persist until discrimination is but a thing of the past.

We will persist until inclusion is a reality.

The non-ratification of the two amendments is an act of injustice to women and the most vulnerable. It is an act of injustice done against the dignity and honor of women. We will be held accountable by the generations that will come.

In the ultimate, the Divine, the giver of life, the author and finisher of our faith, will hold the church accountable.

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