The United Methodist Church (UMC) in the Philippines has accomplished much in more than a century of service. Its missionaries arrived following the Treaty of Paris in 1898 signed by Spain, which controlled the country for 330 years, and the United States, its neo-colonial master ever since. In these years, the UMC has “built institutions of higher learning, a hospital to cater to the poorest of the poor, seminaries to train preachers and women/men steeped in the Word of God and networks of local churches, non-governmental organizations, ministries and related entities to do mission and evangelism, to disciple and to plant the seeds of the Methodist faith to the lost, the last and the least," writes Reverend Dan Miranda in his article “The Rationale for Revival in the United Methodist Church Today.” But that momentum has faltered. Miranda continues: “However, from the zenith of our faith … we have reached rock bottom." He cites several factors that he thinks have caused the downward spiral of the UMC, among them: dirty politics in high places, disunity among UMC bishops, and discontent among the laity that spawned a breakaway group threatening to split the UMC down the middle. And yet, all is not lost. Miranda believes there is a silent majority within the Church that is simply waiting for an opportunity to raise its voice across the country. A movement within the denomination called Revive UMC, spearheaded by retired Philippine Supreme Court chief justice Reynato Puno, is working to provide this opportunity, which will happen on November 30, 2012. On this date, the Grand Revival Worship Celebration of the UMC is expected to gather at least 8,000 members of the denomination. The organizers are hoping this event will spawn much-needed healing and unity within the Church and society. “In order for revival to take place in local United Methodist churches and in the hearts, minds and souls of the people called Methodists, a spirit-filled revival must now happen,” Miranda said. He pointed out that the “need of the Church now is not politics nor rhetoric but an honest-to-goodness revival and the return to God through the power of the Holy Spirit.” It is too bad “politics and rhetoric” might rear their ugly heads on the very occasion these are to be denounced. It’s the season, after all. Very soon, the UMC will elect three bishops and the campaign period is already reaching fever pitch. All the organizers can do is wish for the participants’ better judgment and discernment that the real focus of the event is a revival of faith and not the pursuit of worldly power. Fort Nicolas is a newspaper editor based in Manila
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