Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The fullness of time has come for us to organize

How time flies. I just realized, it is now more than three weeks since my last post. My new designation as Officer-in-charge of the Department of Social Work, Central Philippine University limits my time for blogging. I have to adjust with the new task and subsequent regular office hours since August 1. While I enjoy my current work, I don't want to lose the gains in blogging more so that my Google, Alexa and Technorati rankings are picking up. Hence, this alternative post of my previous messages until I can adjust with my schedule.

Sharing with you the first part of my Opening Message during the Organizational Meeting of REVIVAL 1020 Network at Central Philippine University on April 19, 2010:

"Thank you for coming and congratulations for taking part in this historic gathering today. Its significance may not be felt immediately but some years from now, after our consistent commitment, we can look back to this gathering and the people who are here as the key players in bringing the change many have longed for.

This is the reason why I decided to print my message so that you can keep it for reference 3-5 years from now. Not to mention the obvious, that I cannot speak too long, having not fully recovered yet from my ailment. But the urgency of organizing this movement cannot wait for my full recovery. Being personally present is enough for me.

The need for change in the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) has long been felt. Many have been calling for it, some even taking initiatives towards this end. This is one of the important lessons I have learned in my stint as President of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) for two terms in my interaction with pastors in the mainstream. By trying to know the actual situation and improve the life of pastors, I have learned that problems do not only involve personal ones but the system itself. And we can only attain the development of pastors if we change the system, to complement the changes in individual lives.

Let me cite concrete example of defect in the system. We were made to believe before that CPBC is basically for churches and not for pastors, which should be the concern of the CBMA. But when I joined the CPBC Board, I have discovered that foremost of the tripartite intentions of the CPBC is the leadership development of pastors and lay. This was inscribed in the Declaration of CPBC Principles during its founding in 1935. There is an observable trend, however, of the lopsided development in terms of fulfilling its intentions. For so long, the development of ministers was not given much emphasis in programs and services and in the budget.

Similarly, record shows that in 2000, a Ten Year Strategic Plan was formulated which included the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns as a separate program specifically for the development of pastors. This however was not given emphasis and sufficient budget and particular staff.

Why such historical document that is very valuable to pastors not given attention and emphasis reflects the problem in system of leadership and CPBC politics. Indeed, since the time CPBC elections have been highly politicized, the trend in leadership position has drastically changed. Results of elections always favored organized groups that have established and strengthened their mass base and machinery to perpetrate their leadership control and set the direction of the CPBC and related institutions. As such, the CPBC and related institutions have been captive of various interest groups/cliques as the focus shifted to control of leadership and not service and giving direction in implementation of the avowed intentions and purpose of the Convention as chartered by the founders.

Some opined that the development of pastors was not given emphasis to maintain their dependence and loyalty on particular person and group that support them. Because if this has been deliberately undertaken by the CPBC, then the loyalty of pastors will be on the organization not on person.

It has become a perennial problem, criticized, scorned and condemned by some. But oftentimes forgotten in the course of time. Then when the problems manifest, the concerns are revived. There appears to be no deliberate and concerted effort to put an end to this obvious and condemnable activities. Rev. Rustom Ola has rightly described this as form of bondage.

The systemic problem has created a culture of traditional politics of patronage - that one cannot be in the leadership position unless he/she submits to a particular patron/group. Leadership is no longer a matter of capability, ability and skills and tract record but on what has been programmed by the group. Those who do not toe the line or fail to consult the patron are left by their own in their leadership survival. Such approach forces those dreamers of leadership position to establish tactical alliances and trade offs in order to get and subsequently cling to the desired position.

Because of this, the CPBC has been deprived of other qualified and good leaders who cannot win in the elections because of the systemic problem. The trend will continue unless we make a move to form a network of principled individuals and groups to change the system and revive the noble purposes of our pioneer leaders."

(To be continued)

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