To our guests, my brothers and sisters in the Lord, allow me to greet you with a very pleasant morning and heartily welcome you to this memorable convention. It is memorable because it coincides with the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation and the 70th year anniversary of LCP. Today we thank God for giving us Dr. Martin Luther as His messenger and servant to bring back to light the correct understanding and meaning of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus as revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
We thank and praise God not only for Dr. Luther but also for people who passed on the message of salvation through Christ up to our time. To mention a few, those missionaries from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod who came to the Philippines experiencing separation from their loved ones leaving their country and comfort to come and share that life giving message. And most especially we thank God for His faithfulness because His Word as proclaimed will not return to Him empty but will always accomplish the purpose for which it was sent.
The 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation and the 70th anniversary celebration of LCP manifest the truthfulness of God’s promise that His Word will endure forever. We hope that the Word we receive will not end with us but will be passed on through the generations to come. Nowadays we are faced with many challenges that tempt us to degrade the Word of God and treat it just an ordinary book. We are now surrounded with issues, doctrines and teachings that contradict the teaching of the Scriptures.
Among these are the issues concerning same sex marriage and homosexuality, divorce and remarriage without Biblical reasons, abortion and others issues. These are issues we are facing. Issues that divide. And the challenge that confronts us is that– are we to give in or are we to hold on to what we believe? Are we to compromise just to be accepted and supported?
Or should we be aggressive and bold enough to let the whole world know of where we stand and what we stand for. It all goes back to how we perceive the Bible. When our understanding of the Bible is wrong, then everything will crumble. We need to re-establish that the Holy Bible is God’s inspired and infallible Word in its entirety and thus the only source and norm of Christian teachings. It is good that our partner churches are aware of our stand and that they respect our position. We are thankful that we walk with them, work with them side by side respecting each other’s belief without compromising our own. But we do not stop there. We need to aggressively convince them by the power of the Holy Spirit to go back to the Bible and to go back to what the true will of God is. This is our call. This is one of our core values -to be steadfast in the Word.
LCP AFTER THE 2014 CONVENTION
When I started my term in October 2014, I envisioned LCP to become financially self-supporting. We have a vast array of valuable properties. One of these is the place where we are holding our convention now. I was not trained to be president of a large organization. And yet I assumed this office with much hope and confidence that I would be able in this capacity to serve God and you my fellow believers because of God’s promise that He will never leave me. Just like King Solomon, I prayed for wisdom. At times my faith wavered when facing mountains of difficulties but in the end God has proven Himself faithful.
LCP HEADQUARTERS OFFICE ESTABLISHED
I left behind a comfortable assignment in Davao City bringing along my family to reside at Old Sta Mesa St., Manila which is the official headquarters of our church. For two years, together with my staff, we held office at the ground floor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. During which time the LCP Board of Directors, in February 2016, authorized the restoration of the old Lutheran Building. The LCP Ways and Means Committee, was created under my direct supervision, to look for funds and implement the restoration. The Board appointed Lovejoy Abadiano, Edgar Toclo, Delia Ruth del Rosario, Ervin Pizarro, Esperanza Ariones and Arlene Reyes as members of this Committee. Leo Parotina also worked with this committee as the Treasurer of LCP.
The Ways and Means Committee immediately took action and in July 2016 the renovation started and thanks be to God the product of those efforts is now here for us to enjoy. The LCP President’s Office and Business Office are now housed in this building with two function rooms and a 30-bed dormitory. Today, the third floor renovation and the 40 bed dormitory at the basement, which we are using as sleeping quarters are almost completed.
OFFICE STAFF INCREASED
When I assumed as President, the Business Office was manned by only two full time staff, one Bookkeeper-Ms. Esperanza Ariones and one messenger-Mr. Leo Cangayo. Later, I saw the need to hire a Business Manager-Mr. Alvin Casino, to run the business affairs of the Office. Subsequently, a Cashier-Ms. Leah Bantolino, was hired to ensure that basic internal controls operate within our small office. Although funds were limited, we saw how God miraculously sustained the salaries of three full time staff and myself. Later, Mr. Alvin Casino, resigned due to personal reasons. But before he did, he helped improved office files and procedures and helped in having the Lutheran building vacated to give way to the planned restoration. He also designed an organizational structure which was approved by the LCP-BD and served as basis for recruiting additional personnel. I’m still praying for Mr. Casino to come back and work with us once again.
In 2016, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria, through Dr. Traugott Farnbacher, funded the hiring of two additional staff, namely Mr. Reynold Bermuel, Jr as Human Resource Development Officer and Mr. Johahan Celine Valeriano, as Public Affairs Officer. Both are receiving salaries far below the kind of work they are rendering to LCP. These men are truly God’s servants who do not measure their work by the compensation they receive but how much God is pleased. The LCP is blessed with their dedication and commitment.
In 2017, three volunteers were added to the full time staff. Mr. Vineprel Quinale, as Driver, Ms. Dina Quinale as Dormitory Attendant and Mr. Raul Galdones as Utility. They receive a monthly honorarium on top of their free lodging at the Center. The LCP is blessed by the utter dedication of these volunteers because their services is their ministry to the Lord. Ms. Arlene Reyes joined the staff as Chair of Ways and Means Committee taking charge of the business of the dormitory and function halls, the renovation and assisting in the training program. She works a a volunteer for our Church. All in all, the LCP Head Office has 8 full time staff.
MISSION AND VISION REVISITED
On March 10, 2016 the LCP-BD met for a Strategic Planning at the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 4461 Old Sta Mesa St., Manila. In this planning conference the mission and vision was revisited. After a prayerful deliberation by the members of the Board, the LCP’s vision was reworded as follows- “A leading missionary church in the Philippines and abroad.” and our mission .”We commit ourselves to strengthening and equipping of God’s people in the area of witness, worship, fellowship, nurture and service.” For the first time, the LCP-BD came up with Core Values to guide every member in our decision making. These are steadfastness in the Word, Christian Education, humility in service, compassion and mercy, zealousness, generosity, integrity, transparency and accountability. Hence, the training at the Lutheran Center were anchored on these values.
THE LUTHERAN CENTER INSTITUTED
The Lutheran Center at 4461 Old Sta Mesa St., Manila is our building which is intended to be the headquarters of LCP where the President resides and holds office together with the Business Office. It also serves as the temporary shelter for Lutherans while they are in Manila to attend trainings or for personal matters. It is the Learning/Training Center for pastors, laymen, women, youth and children. As part of community service, it offers function rooms and dormitory to members of the community. The LCP-BD passed a resolution allocating thirty percent of the net income of the Center to be remitted to the LCP Mission and Evangelism Fund.
A total of seven (7) seminars were held at the Center from November, 2016 to August, 2017. To date, it has trained 308 participants, while the dormitory has hosted 380 guests both local and international guests. Seminars organized and hosted were as follows: the Luther Academy Seminar, Youth Leadership Conference, Communications Seminar, Becoming a Missional Church, Governing a Missional Church, Evangelism Congress and National Children’s Ministry Conference. LCP-BD meetings were also held at the Center and other workers’ meetings.
Also, in 2015 the series of Pastoral Leadership Institute International (PLII) Seminars was completed and another seminar was held at the Trinity Lutheran Church to wrap up the trainings. The LCP pastors were blessed by these seminars that we helped arrange for the same seminar for our Lutheran friends in Indonesia particularly the Hurea Kristen Indonesia.
PASTORS’ PENSION CONTRIBUTION SHOULDERED BY LCP
In view of the increase in income from parking lots, LCP has shouldered 100% the monthly contribution to the Pension Fund beginning January 2017. This is in addition to our the SSS and Philihealth contributions which we also shouldered. As of today, there are forty-five (45) members of this Fund. We thank God that our pastors pension is secured when they retire and in addition we are still looking for ways to give our church workers more benefits.
IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH FOREIGN CHURCHES
Our church hosted the Regional Consultation Forum twice. The first one was held at the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in March 2015. This forum of Lutheran bodies working in Asia aimed to forge a cooperative effort towards making a difference in the Asia region. It tackled issues on defining partnership relations and exploring common areas where we can work together. The second forum was held in March 2017 at the Lutheran Center to continue the topics started in 2015. Participants included the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bavaria, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod-Asia, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea, Lutheran World Federation, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Northern Germany. It was agreed during the last forum to hold this activity every two years with more Lutheran bodies in Asia participating.
On June 8, 2016, I signed the Protocol Agreement with the Lutheran Missouri Synod(LCMS) in St. Louis, Missouri represented by the LCMS President, Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison with the Rev. Felipe Ehican, Jr. LCP Vice President accompanying me to witness the momentous event. Although there was already an existing partnership relations with LCMS, it was deemed necessary to put agreements in writing. The LCP-BD reviewed the terms prior to the signing of the agreement.
I represented Asia region in the Executive Committee Meeting of the International Lutheran Council in England in January 2015 and in Germany in June 2017. My presence has strengthened our representation in this prestigious Council.
The Rev. Henry Paul Roa, our District President of South Luzon District and Board Secretary, together with Johanan Celine Valeriano, represented LCP in the LWF Assembly held in May 8-17, 2017 in Namibia. In this assembly, Johanan Celine Valeriano our Public Affairs Officer was elected as member of the LWF World Council, making a giant step towards our stronger representation in this Council.
PLWL AND PLYL REORGANIZED
Realizing the need for active and meaningful contribution from auxiliary groups, the LCP-BD directed and encouraged the women and the youth to re-organize. In 2015, both groups successfully elected their sets of officers. Women have proposed a Women’s Sunday which is now institutionalized to be celebrated in March of each year while the youth had their leadership training and developed the Luther Garden/LCP Tree at the grounds of the Lutheran Center.
REBIRTH OF THE PHILIPPINE LUTHERAN MAGAZINE AND LAUNCHING OF LCP WEBSITE
Despite the advent of the social media, news within our church still need more coverage to include those who are not reached by the internet. Our fellow Lutherans specially in the north and also in the south have no strong internet facilities. Besides, if there is internet, it is expensive to secure the services of a provider. The rebirth of the Philippine Lutheran magazine was conceived by our Communications Team and thanks to their dedication and sheer determination and faith the first edition of the magazine came through in September 5, 2017. I encourage you my brothers and sisters to contribute to this magazine and to subscribe to its quarterly publication.
On the other hand, due to the need to circulate worldwide, our website was finally became functional. I urge you to log on to www.lutheranph.org and find that you will be blessed and inspired by the contents of our website. I therefore invite everyone to contribute to our magazine and website to make it updated and responsive to the call of the times.
FIRST LCP MISSIONARIES SENT TO PAPUA NEW GUINEA (PNG)
Prior to my term, one Filipino missionary was already deployed to ELC-PNG, namely: the Rev. Edwin Huevos who is now the academic head of Longaweng Seminary in Finshaffen, PNG. In 2016 we sent the Rev. Xavier James Palattao, who is now Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, Madang, PNG and most recently we sent the Rev. Reynaldo Sadca as seminary instructor and Mr. Antonio Tan as administrative staff of the seminary. The three pastors went there with their families. The three church went to ELC-PNG as approved by the LCP-BD. Our vision is to become a leading missionary church and slowly we are beginning making steps towatds its realization.
It is our prayer that many of our young people will commit themselves to becoming missionaries and we can only realize this if all of us, as one, will pray together to the Lord of the harvest. And this morning to inspire us are our missionaries in PNG who are with us today and are willing to share their experience with us. So before I end this report may I give the floor to them.
Reports are sometimes easy to make. But at the end of it is always a prayer to God that in all the things that we plan, we do and reflect–His name will at always be honored and glorified. Men may be tempted to use their position to glorify the self, but God knows our hearts. He can never be fooled. No matter what we do, it is what is in our heart that counts to God. Like King David, we must all strive to become men after God’s own heart.
Thank you my brothers and sisters for praying with me. Let us all pray and work together that our church will rise up and truly become a leading missionary church for God’s great glory. Amen!
REV. ANTONIO DEL RIO REYES
PRESIDENT, LUTHERAN CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES