The 5th School for Ecumenical Leadership Formation (SELF) Program was held from October 4 to 28, 2009 at the La Verne Mercado Ecumenical Center and Gems Conference Center in Metro Manila, Philippines, hosted by the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines (SCMP). The Program was attended by 18 participants from the member movements and ecumenical partners of WSCF AP. These were Mr. Samuel Deva Asirvathan from India; Mr. Suleman Abdia from Pakistan; Mr. Timothy Pathum Kumarathunga from Sri Lanka; Mr. Evens Biswas from Bangladesh; Mr. Janfri Sihombing from Indonesia; Mr. Pinto Admin Vasconselos from East Timor; Mr. Sieng Pagna from Cambodia; Mr. Saw Mon Na Oo from Myanmar; Ms. Kristine Valerio from Philippines; Ms. Gayeon Lee from Korea; Mr. Lazarus Chen from Taiwan and Ms. Nano Yeung and Fanny Lam from Hong Kong. Representatives from EASYNet were also invited, Ms. Maria Cristina Miranda, EASYNet Regional Coordinator and Ms. Wu Yu Hung, Taiwan International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS). The Local Host Committee composed of Leni Valeriano, Leslie Suazon and Cristina Guevarra were joined by theWSCF AP Regional Staff Team Necta Montes Rocas and Sunita Suna in organizing and facilitating the SELF Program.
SELF Program aimed to achieve the following objectives;
The SELF Program began with an Opening Worship held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Bahay Kanilaw led by the members and leaders of SCM Philippines. The theme of the worship was environmental justice and rebuilding of lives after a strong typhoon has killed more than 800 people and destroyed homes in Metro Manila, the venue of SELF. In the reflections, SCM Philippines showed a video presentation on the relief and rehabilitation work done by their members in the aftermath of the typhoon. The WSCF Pastoral Letter on the disasters and tragedy in the Asia Pacific Region was also read by Leni Valeriano, a member of the WSCF Global Advocacy Committee. At the end of the Worship, participants were asked to make “bangkang papel” or paper boats with their written prayers and hopes as the SELF Program begins.
The Orientation and Program Introduction was given by Necta Montes Rocas, WSCF Regional Secretary. She gave a brief historical background of the SELF Program its content and objectives. To develop a sense of community among the participants and provide space to introduce themselves, the “Lifeline” activity was led by Necta. In this activity, each person was asked to spend some time to do some personal reflections using the lifeline as a guide. On a piece of paper, participants were asked to draw a line symbolizing their journey and mark events or people that have influenced them, both in a positive and negative way. Each participant was asked to share to the bigger group their “lifeline” to allow each one to get to know each other better. Sunita Suna, Regional Women’s Coordinator, gave a brief explanation of the “Sexual Harassment Policy” of WSCF.
Module 1 also includes understanding the background of the SCM and WSCF as an ecumenical community of youth and students, introduction of participants, host and resource people, Community Building, Personal History and Social History, Introduction of WSCF-AP and the SCMs, its History, Vision and Mission.
The aim of Module 2 was to understand and challenge the prevailing practices and ideology in the current ecumenical movements. It includes inputs and discussion the following topics: principles and vision of the Ecumenical Movement; overview of ecumenical movement: past and present; challenges and prospect of the Ecumenical Youth Movement in the 21st Century; and developing skills on Theological Perspectives. For this module, three main resource people were invited, namely; Dr. M.P. Joseph, lecturer at the Tainan Theological Seminary in Taiwan, Dr. Revelation Velunta and Rev. Patrick Mc Divith, professors at the Union Theological Seminary (UTS) in the Philippines.
Rev. Dr. M.P. Joseph led two sessions on a critical perspective on the History and Principles of the Ecumenical Movement. In his lecture, he explained the two definitions of OIKOMENE (Ecumenism) in the biblical text, one referring to the ‘household’ of God where the establishment of relationship of God’s creation and celebration is affirmed, and the other as ‘establishment of administrative power’ during the Roman Empire. He also enumerated and explained the 5 stages in the historical development of the Ecumenical Movement within the history of Christianity. The first stage is the period of the colonial expansion and “ecclesiastic expansion” where Christianity aimed to “save of souls” and to “civilize the natives.” The second stage is the Missionary Period, where private individuals and mission agencies called “Mission Societies” travelled to the Far East to do mission work, this period was represented by the 1910 Mission Conference in Edinburgh, where 1,100 missionaries gathered to come up with common understanding of the churches mission work. The third stage is the period of the “native churches” growing consciousness towards independence from western colonial control, which culminated in the 1928 International Missionary Council (IMC), moving toward the idea that “churches should be in mission, not the mission agencies.” The 4th stage represented the formation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in 1952. And the 5th stage began in 1960’s or the modernization period or the “churches participation in development.” In the 5th stage, Dr. Joseph commented that this period reestablishment of western dominance or re-colonization.
Rev. Dr. Revelation Velunta talked about doing bible study from an ecumenical perspective. He began by illustrating that the premise of an ecumenical bible study should foremost be an understanding of diversity and a plural assumption of the Bible. He modeled a process where students of the Bible will engage in action-reflection-action towards transformation. He emphasized the need to listen to the voices in the context or particular life setting, to interact or immense with the voices encountered in the text, engage the context again and again and narrate the people’s story as your own. In his second session, he conducted a bible study using this model on the Good Samaritan on Luke 10:25-37. In this bible study, he uplifted the voices and asked the participants to equally listen to all the characters and creatures in the story, not just the Samaritan and the Priest, the two main characters in the story. In doing so, participants were able to understand a new model in doing Bible Study and gained new insight. For example, in re-reading the story of the Good Samaritan, participants identified with the in-keeper and described the Inn as a sanctuary. Some of them also identified as the donkey, preferring to bring the voice of the animals, as part of God’s creation.
Rev. Patrick McDivith, gave a lecture on doing theology from people’s experiences. He noted that doing theology is not only an exclusive work of the academically trained theologians, lay people can also theologize and interpret God’s message as it is revealed in the Bible. Trained theologian can provide the academic perspective, scholarship and authorship of the Bible. He asked the participants to enumerate, what can they possible bring in theologizing? Some of the answers were: experience, age, economic status, education background, gender, class, religion. In summary, Rev. Patrick, drew a matrix of pointing to the intersection of the aforementioned personal background and the basic principles in theologizing. He emphasized the need to theologize using Jesus’ teaching of preferential option for the poor, deprived and the oppressed.
Module 3 aims to have critical understanding about the reality of the socio- political and economic setting of the world in the context of the Asian society. Participants are also expected to be aware of the different trends of movements in Asia. The topics and activities included in this module are: understanding the host country, Philippines; exposure program and practical work in the communities; developing tools of Social Critical Analysis and Contextual Analysis; analysis of socio-political and economic setting of Asia and world; understanding new social movements, the trend of civil movements and alternative global movements.
Kristine Valerio, the General Secretary of SCM Philippines presented a brief history and the national profile of the Philippines. The Philippines is an archipelagic country with 7,100 islands and a population of nearly 90 million people. The historical presentation began with the Spanish colonial period in the early 15th century and the Christianization of the country, the American Colonial period, the Japanese Occupation until the present context. She explained that the Philippine society can be characterized as semi-feudal and semi-colonial, being a predominantly agricultural country (80%), and its economy still under the control of US monopoly capitalist interest. The Philippine economy is export-oriented and import dependent, owing to its colonial history of providing raw materials to the US, Japan and its European partners. She noted that majority of the Filipino people are poor, living below the poverty line, and explains about the Labor Export Policy of the Philippine Government, which sends nearly 4,000 workers daily to foreign countries to cope with the inability of the Philippine Economy to provide livelihood to its people.
The 3 days Exposure Programs were organized in two local communities in the southern and northern part of the Luzon island, a fisherfolk’s community in Aringay, La Union and a coconut plantation farmers community located in Mayantoc, San Andres, Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon. In the two communities, participants integrated and lived with the people, learned about their life situations. In La Union, together with the local students, participants helped cleaned classrooms in a primary school affected by the typhoon. They also participated in the harvesting of rice with the farmers and joined fisher folks in catching fish in the sea.
They learned about the issue of poverty, landlessness, the threat of foreign commercial fishing, and the destruction of natural resources and communities in the coastal areas of La Union due to extraction of minerals. In Quezon, participants joined the farmers in their daily work in the coconut plantation or “Hacienda” owed by a wealthy landlord family. In their integration, they learned that the farmers are poor, who do not own the land and continues to suffer due to landlessness and the failure of the Philippine government to implement Land Reform laws.
Returning from the Exposure Program, the participants began the session on “Developing Tools of Social and Critical Analysis, led by Rommel Linatoc, Program Secretary for Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP). Rommel enabled the active participation from participants through his creative methodology and presentations. At the onset, he grouped the participants in three, gave them boxes each with variety of objects inside. He asked each group to imagine what kind of person would have owned the different objects in the box and what could be the connection of each of the object. He asked them to list the possible answers on a big paper and share to the rest of the group. He asked each group to probe and compare the answers to the other groups to find out if there are connections. Finally, Rommel revealed that all of the objects belonged to him. In the second activity, he asked one participant to lie-down on the floor as he drew the outline of the person on a big piece of paper. Afterwards, he asked participants to write or draw on the outline, what would be the basic need of a person, in order to survive. Participants took turns in writing words like air, food, education, family, love or drawing figures inside the drawn outline.
At the end of his presentation, Rommel sang a Filipino nationalistic song, “Lumuha Ka Aking Inang Bayan” or Cry my Country. While singing, he brought out a sack of rice, with a miniature American flag, a Spanish flag and Japanese flag planted on top of it. He then revealed 3 drinking glasses, of different shape and poured rice in each, the small champagne class was overflowing and full, the medium size glass was half empty, and the big glass was filled one third. This, he said, represented the Philippines society. In the process of these activities, he explained the tools of analysis by enumerating the following approaches: (1) Practical Approach; (2) Scientific Approach involving observation, study, experience and validation; (3) Wholistic Approach; (4) Dualistic Approach.
Sonny Africa, Research Director for IBON Foundation in the Philippines gave the presentation on Social Movements. He defined Social Movements as “collective effort of relatively disempowered seeking social change by engaging in various forms of struggles to challenge undemocratic hegemonies and seeking solutions to long standing problems of inequity, poverty and under-development.” He gave a brief historical outline of the development of Social Movements starting from 18th century with the French Revolution, the 19th to 20th century with movements struggling for socialism, from 1900s to the 1970s, wave of revolutionary struggles, the post war period, ushering the period of “social rights movements” like the feminist movement, civil rights movement, and the 1980’s to the present social justice reforms struggles. Social Movements can also be characterized by its geographical scale and engagements, it could be trans-national, regional, national, local. He also gave the different types of Social Movements as systemic/national, sector-wide concern, issue-specific. The modes of organization are radical/revolutionary change or reforms/evolutionary change to alternative government structure, POs, NGOs, Networks, alliances, Campaigns. He also discussed the different social movements existing in the different sub-region in Asia, giving specific example in the development of Social Movements in the Philippines.
Module 4 is an intensive study module to clarify the burning issues in Asia as well as world. The participants will articulate their theological positions with regard to those issues. Through this module, the participants will also have acquired a strong theoretical as well as theological base. It also aims to challenge participants to doing theology in context. The topics included were: Ecology Justice, Human Rights, Feminism, Sexuality, Inter-faith dialogue; Globalization and economic justice; Justice and Peace Building.
Amira Lidasan, a Muslim young woman from In-Peace Mindanao gave a presentation of Inter-faith Dialogue. She began with asking a question on the causes or roots of conflicts from the participants. Participants responded with the following, ‘religion’, ‘food’, differences in perspective, resources, etc. She added that ‘power’, or those holding power creates conflict among nations or nationalities, religions, languages to serve their interest. She gave a particular example on her presentation on the impact of foreign intervention and development aggression in Mindanao, where the majority of the Filipino Muslim population reside. Mindanao is the largest island in the Philippines, located at the South. It has a population of more than 21 million people, majority (72%) are Christian settlers, 20% Muslim and 8% Indigenous communities. The Muslim people calls their land, Bangsa Moro or land of the Muslims. The Bangsa Moro people are not homogenous, there are 13 ethnolinguistic grouping among them. She also pointed out that land of Mindanao is rich in natural and agricultural resources, where foreign corporations have set up operations for large-scale mining, agricultural business plantations such as Dole and Del Monte. Most of the land rich in natural resources are ancestral domains of Indigenous People and Muslim communities. The Muslim people have also had a long historical conflict with the Philippines national governments due the injustices done to the Moro people in the past. The Philippines government has effectively opened-up and divided Mindanao to foreign interest and the exploitation of natural resources. Using the excuse of Muslim extremism and religious conflict, the government has allowed the US Military to operate in areas where US economic interest are located. In this situation, the conflict is Mindanao is not a religions conflict, as many have mistakenly projected, it is a conflict caused by economic exploitation and military aggression. The Christian and Muslim people in Mindanao have been cooperating and working together for Peace. They recognize that the problem is not about them or their religion, it is about the economic interest of the US and other countries in their land.
Athena Peralta, WCC Consultant for Program on Poverty, Ecology and Wealth made the presentation on Ecological Justice. She began with describing the vision of the World Council of Churches (WCC) for “Just, sustainable and participatory communities” as communities which support and nurture equitable relationships within the human family (South and North, “poor” and “rich”, women and men) and also between humans and the rest of the Earth community. They require a just and moral economy where all people are empowered to participate in the decisions affecting their lives, where public and private institutions are made accountable for the social and ecological consequences of their activities, and where the Earth is honoured and protected rather than exploited and degraded. She went on to discuss Globalization and its relationship with poverty and ecology, saying that economy cannot be delinked from ecology. She said that globalization has failed to improve conditions of poverty, but rather further aggravated it. Processes of economical globalisation have intensified ecological problems: global warming, thinning of the ozone layer, depletion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, extensive deforestation and desertification, etc. Overall, globalisation processes creates ecological debt. Ecological debt refers to ecological damage caused over time to ecosystems, places and peoples through production and consumption patterns; and the exploitation of ecosystems at the expense of the equitable rights of other countries, communities or individuals. It is primarily the debt owed by industrialized countries in the North to countries of the South on account of historical and current resource plundering, environmental degradation and the disproportionate appropriation of ecological space to dump greenhouse gases (GHGs) and toxic wastes. It is also the debt owed by economically and politically powerful national elites to marginalized citizens both in the North and the South; the debt owed by current generations of humanity to future generations.
Necta Montes, WSCF AP Regional Secretary led the session on Human Rights, Justice and Peace issues. She began her session with differentiating between human RIGHTS and human NEEDS. She gave a brief definition Human Rights as rights inherent to all human beings, whatever their nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. All human beings are equally entitled to human rights without discrimination. HR is also a yardstick or standard from which we measure respect for all humanity. The basic principles of Human Rights are, it is inherent, universal, inalienable, indivisible, interrelated/interdependent, dynamic and changing, and used as a standard. She also discussed the historical development of the concept of Human Rights through an activity asking each one to write on a piece of paper an important historical event they know and learned from the past. She then relates these events to the event that let to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). UDHR was adopted on December 10, 1948 by the UN General Assembly and was signed by majority of member countries. In addition, it is the state obligation to promote, respect protect and defend HR . She also discussed some of the major HR instruments, such as the ICCPR(International Convention on Civil and Political Rights) focuses on Individual Rights promoted by capitalist states, the ICESCR (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) focuses on collective or corporal rights, promoted by the former socialist states. She also explains that Declaration are non-binding, while Covenants are binding or obligatory. In summary, she noted that Human Right is a tool from which it can be used to promote and attain the goal of just, humane society for all, it is not the end in itself. Human Rights will be attained by the continuing struggle of people fighting for the recognition of their rights.
During the process of the Gender and Sexuality, Sunita Suna conducted various group dynamics to understand and analyze gender, sexuality, patriarchy, power relations and how these factors have specific impact on women and men in different situation and context. The exercises helped the group to discover that Gender is socio-cultural and it is made by society and it refers to masculine and feminine qualities, behavior patterns, roles and responsibilities, values, attitudes etc. Gender is variable and can changes from time to time, culture to culture, and even family to family. The group dynamics also led them to analyse how sexuality is taboo in our society and community and it is ranked according to the societal acceptance. Since hetero sexuality is norm, our society undermines and discriminates different sexual orientation. Moreover our society is mainly patriarchal; hence the system subordinates and oppresses women in both the private and public sphere. But patriarchy is not the solitary problem of violence against women. Patriarchy is different in different cultures and changes over time. Hence the group also analysed the class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation etc and the power dynamics or power relations between men and women, men and men, women and women etc. how power dominates and demonstrates its power over different groups in different situation, social location, context etc.
Module 5 aims to set guiding principles for promoting ecumenical leadership to the students and youth and experiment the different forms of movement building. To wrap up this extended training program by reflections on what the participants have learned and to suggest ways to moving forward in challenging the ecumenical movement, be it local, regional and global. This module included the following topics: Leadership Development Skills; Movement Building Strategies; Developing and managing movements and organizations; Developing projects and activities for youth and students.
The final module was led by Udan Fernando, senior friends of Sri Lanka SCM and consultant for Organizational Development and Management on the topic of Strategic Planning and Project Management. His session provided important tools in Strategic Planning. He began by giving an introduction on the ST tool and its objectives and asking 3 basic questions as a guide post: Where are we (organization) now? Where do we need to go? How do we get there? He went on to explain the step by step process of Strategic Planning, first, knowing the current situation, situational and contextual analysis, looking at the external (PEST, political, economic, social, technology and culture) and internal environment, organizational analysis (leadership and management style, structures and system, culture, staff), stakeholders analysis. He then went into the SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis, emphasizing that Strengths and Weaknesses are internal, while Opportunities and Threats are external. The final stage was Visioning and Objective setting and strategizing. In this stage, participants learned how to define specific goals, and identify methods to achieve the objectives. In learning this process, Udan suggested to use one organization, the SCM Philippines as an example in going through the Strategic Planning exercise. The participants proceeded with the step by step exercise using SCM Philippines.
Lesley Capus from the NCCP led the session on Movement Building and Leadership. He first defined the meaning of a Movement and discussed the different types of movements and the finally focused on the Ecumenical Movement. He traced the history of the Ecumenical Movement and the role of the youth in the formation of the EM. He went on to discuss the essential components of movement building: the vision, mission, goals and objectives; membership; leaders and officers; policies, systems and procedures; structure; funs and other resources; internal and external linkages. His next topics were common indicators of effective movement building; and finally, some challenges to consider in movement building. He also suggested some principles in Movement Building, these are; knowing who are you going to organize? Must be incarnational, must be scripture based and be committed to maturity in Christ, must be servant attitude and leadership, must develop academic excellence and one that promotes the value of education, must be equipping and enabling, must be liberating. Jesus the Organizer, why did Jesus organize? Whom did Jesus organize? Organizing a core-group, knowledge of social and cultural milieu, grasp of geographical terrain, people in need as priority, mass and popular education, challenges and risk.
After the Exposure Program, participants led the daily Bible Study session. Each group selected their own scripture, provided some reflections and facilitated the group discussions. They also led the morning worship, with songs and praise from their own countries. The Bible Studies reflected the feelings and reflections of the participants on the themes and topics of the SELF Program. They also reflected on their common experiences and learning as the days progress in SELF.
The SELF Program ended with the meaningful closing worship and cultural presentations prepared by the participants. Friends and guests from the local ecumenical youth movement, groups and organizations that the participants encountered during SELF, came to join the solidarity night. Each participant representing their country made a presentation of their traditional culture, songs, dances and food. Moon Na from Myanmar gifted each of the participants with a traditional Chin tribal head band and taught them to dance a tribal dance. The Philippine participants dances the “Tinikling”, a traditional farmers dance using bamboo, and played traditional games using a clay pot or “palayok” and a stick. In her closing reflections, Fanny Lam from Hong Kong shared an old Chinese saying, “ Our happiness is built on the pain of others,” describing how each one should be reminded of the responsibility towards others and how the economy of rich countries affects the poor countries. In addition, she also said, “SELF has changed my life and outlook in life.” After SELF, Fanny committed herself to work with homeless and migrants in Korea for six month.
Three periodic evaluation sessions were done after each module is completed in SELF. Members of the Steering Committee provided questions and areas from which participants can reflect and share their thoughts to the group. These sessions helped the participants identify areas of difficulties in learning, such as language, methodologies and provided the Steering Committee information to adapt the program and activities according to the needs of the participants and their level of understanding. Over-all, the SELF Program was highly effective and was able to fulfill the expectation of the participants and WSCF AP.