Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UMCOR Office Opens in Philippines

Ciony Eduarte and Bishops Tangonan Soriano and Juan cut the ribbon at the UMCOR Philippines opening celebration in late July.

It was a great day. Red and white “UMCOR” balloons were everywhere. Food was being prepared. People were arriving by Jeepney, bicycle, car and on foot. At 10:15 we moved into the largest of the rooms in the newly renovated UMCOR office space on the campus of Union Theological Seminary for the service of dedication. Songs were sung, prayers offered, symbolic gifts placed on the altar and remarks made. In many ways, the highlight of the event was the presentation of Mr. Alito. Mr. Alito is an elderly man who rides his bicycle around the campus everyday selling ice cream or produce to the students and faculty. He is a fixture on campus, and yet to many unknown. For this event and for evermore he represents the vulnerable people UMCOR is called to serve.

It is to those who are often labeled in the Bible and in society as “the least, the lost and the last.” I prefer to think of them as those whom God will sit at God’s head table during a heavenly banquet. Working with those who move among us often unseen by many of us is at the very essence of the teaching of Jesus Christ. It was those on the fringes of society that Jesus offered the gospel. The rich, powerful and visible were offered it too, but in a different way. In a way that called into question the ways in which they lived their lives, made decisions and sometimes profited unfairly from others. Jesus called us to give ourselves generously in service, frequently in prayer and often by “washing feet.” It continues to be the UMCOR way.

The UMCOR office in the Philippines will help the whole church better engage in a ministry with the poor, improving health and responding to the many natural and human-made disasters that plague this large nation of 7,000 islands. In the future it will serve as a gateway for UMCOR’s work in other places in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and South Asia. There is much that can be done and an important first step has now been made.
by Sam Dixon, Deputy General Secretary for UMCOR

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