Friday, March 19, 2021

Recommended Readings: Unity and Schism in the Philippines

US Americans are familiar with some of the jockeying in the United States around which churches and annual conferences will leave The United Methodist Church to join the new Global Methodist Church when that body forms. More opaque to United Methodists in the United States is the sorts of politicking that is going on around the same topic elsewhere in the work. The Philippines, however, has given a couple of recent glances.

The District Superintendent of the Metro Santiago District of the Northeast Philippines Annual Conference, part of the Baguio Episcopal Area led by Bishop Pete Torio, made a speech at the recent Northeast Philippines Annual Conference meeting in which he declared the intention of his district to secede from the UMC, organize themselves, and then join the new Traditionalist denomination. That move has been contested, but it is likely there are other similar groups in the Philippines making such plans.

Alternatively, the cabinet of the Manila Episcopal Area released a Statement of Unity on March 11th. The statement mentioned "confusions and threats happening both in the local and international panorama of discussions on the issue of separation and disaffiliation" and called out "any premature expressions of separation and disaffiliation." While they may or may not have had the Metro Santiago District specifically in mind, it is clear that they are responding to similar situations.

Of course, it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome of the possibility of denominational division will be, in the Philippines and elsewhere. But it is clear that while the push for division has originated within the United States, it is now an international debate.

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