Tag Archives: Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries

Indeed, our labor will never be in vain: A sequel*

The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected in the CPBC Board in 2006 and chaired the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns (TEMC) Committee. By divine guidance, the first document that caught my attention was the CPBC Strategic Plan for 2000-2010 which highlighted the TEMC program. Finding the missing link, I started advocating the program, trying to bridge the gap through voluntary involvement in its implementation.

My wife also volunteered to teach in theological institutions in Negros to strengthen the TEMC program. Studying previous initiatives of various organizations related to continuing theological education, eventually the CPBC Unified Theological Education System(UNITES) was conceived and gradually implemented.

Two breakthroughs were undertaken, namely: Formulation of Standardized Curriculum; and the MSPM program. From its humble beginning at NNBBC in July 2007, the program got its boost when Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr. suggested during one TEMC meeting to offer it to other theological institutions. Approved by the CPBC BOT on November 9, 2007, the program has become an integral part of the CPBC UNITES.

Peculiarities & Mechanics of MSPM

But why MSPM? The mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services. For we have a holistic mission and ministry exemplified by our Lord and Master Teacher, Jesus, the Christ as he put into action the avowed mission in Luke 4:18-19.

Under the CPBC UNITES, MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by TEMC and CBMA. Participating theological institutions will grant the degree. Enrolment can be done simultaneously while attending classes or later. The program is student friendly and very affordable, with only P500 as payment per semester/ summer plus contribution for transportation expenses and food of the faculty for four semesters and two summers.

MSPM2

More than another story of endless possibilities

Today’ s event is not just another story of endless possibilities but also a tribute to those who believe in the cause. Like the little boy, they shared their respective contributions. Foremost, is our General Secretary, Rev. Job A. Santiago, who courageously provided the necessary support from the start to the finish, amidst pressures – the extent of which he only knows. For this, he deserves our applause for this legacy, which can be considered among the benchmarks of his administration to be looked upon by future generations that, as the CPBC celebrates its diamond year, it has initiated a program that produces the first MSPM graduates.

Secondly, my wife, who made the crucial decision to volunteer full time in implementing the TEMC program, whose commitment, labor and sacrifices are beyond comprehension which only few of us were able to appreciate –closed friends, Rev.Santiago, our maninays and maninoys and ihados (godparents and godsons) included, apart from our children and the students who directly benefited from her voluntary endeavors.

Of course, our volunteer faculty/lecturers for MSPM- ACDA Center, as follows: Dr. Lucy Catalogo, Atty. Nicias Alameda, Pastor Francis Neil Jalando-on, Pastor Elizer Geromiano, Rev, Joniel Howard Gico, Rev. Jerson Narciso, Dr. Melvin Mangana, Pastor Melchor Lariza and those in other provincial centers.

Special mention to Dr. Domingo Diel, Jr., and other members of the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee, especially the heads of theological institutions at that time- Prof. Josita Alpha Jalando-on in CBBC; Prof. Ruth Valencia &Pastor Georem Gutierrez in SONBI; Pastor Stephen Gallenero in NNBBC-for their support.  To all pastors and lay who have been praying for us. Lest I forget, Dr. Juanito Acanto for allowing me to implement the program during my term as director of the University Outreach Center, CPU.

Lastly, but not the least, the MSPM students – the important characters today, the survivors- who serve as our inspiration to tell the whole CPBC that the program is feasible. Without them, MSPM has never been materialized. They were able to sustain the momentum, sacrificing their free days and overcoming difficulties of time and finances. Of course, with the support of their respective families, church officers and members, and the administration of Ajuy Christian Development Academy and Ajuy Baptist Church that opened their doors to us.

Today’s event carries a very strong statement to the skeptics and critics, but good news to other pastors who also dream for an alternative continuing pastoral education, affordable but qualitative, without necessarily leaving their pastorate and families. Its message to the whole CPBC constituents is clear: Nothing is impossible if we only share.

Our pastors can earn masteral degrees if we pool our resources together. The CPBC, with the help of our theological institutions and volunteer faculty – our pastors and lay leaders can liberalize the educational opportunities and improve the plight of the pastors. Because education is not an exclusive property of the privileged few. It is the right of every individual. Continuing quality education is the right of all pastors.

Of course, the program is not perfect. Just like any other new programs, it needs refinement and improvement. Undeniably, however, we made a breakthrough. A benchmark which no skeptic or critic can deny or take away. Whichever angle one looks at, no matter how dim or gleam, irregardless of arguments, nobody can deny the fact that MSPM is another story of endless possibilities.

MSPM is comparable to the story of the KATIPAN Hall at Camp Higher Ground. When we started the project, there were various reactions of skepticism, disbeliefs, and criticisms even from pastors themselves. Understandably, because of the mindset that pastors are always in the receiving ends. But we have proven them wrong. The KATIPAN Hall and MSPM are living testimonies that whenever we start sharing whatever we have, God will work more stories of endless possibilities.

MSPM: Agent of Change

But MSPM is not just another story of endless possibilities. Through  MSPM, a new movement of change has started. From these graduates, will spark the fire of change and development that will benefit our churches, institutions and even communities. Unlike the traditional school system which commences in graduation, our partnership will continue even after today’s event. For MSPM is not merely another degree program. It was designed to change the pastors’ perspective and way of life which will subsequently trickle down to the lay leaders, youth and whole members of churches in respective pastorate. God’s blessings for all!

*Last of the two installments of my message for the  1st Conferral Ceremony  for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo on May 1, 2010. Daughter Dazen Dawn delivered this message.

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Indeed, our labor will never be in vain

Today is Labor Day as celebrated in many countries worldwide. In the Philippines, this year’s celebration has the following theme: Manggagawang Pilipino: Handa sa Hamon ng Makabagong Panahon implying the readiness of Pilipino workers to respond to the challenges of the changing times. In my other blog, I shared the historical significance of this day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers.

Rev. Job Santiago addresses the MSPM graduates and their respective families and church members

Rev. Job Santiago addresses the MSPM graduates and their respective families and church members

However, it is not only the historical significance of the Labor Day that reminds me of today’s celebration. Equally worth remembering is the 1st Conferral Ceremony for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) graduates held three years ago at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo, Philippines. It was graced by no other than the General Secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC), Rev. Job A. Santiago, who was the conferral speaker.

The occasion could have been a day of rejoicing for me as it would be a culmination of my pioneering and voluntary work. I was supposed to give my message for the pioneer graduates. Unfortunately, seven months before the event, I was seriously ill caused by chronic heart ailment, compounded by unusual nerve disorder.

Worse, my vulnerable condition was taken advantage by the group who had an axe to grind against me for leading the move  to frustrate their scheme  to railroad the selection process for top post in the CPBC. Even to the extent of manipulating circumstances to shame me including an attempt to derail the graduation of the pioneering MSPM students. While I have long forgiven the perpetrators, recollection of the event continues to add significance to the successful endeavors which are manifestations of God’s grace and strength over our weaknesses.

Dazen Dawn delivers my message for the MSPM pioneer graduates

Dazen Dawn delivers my message for the MSPM pioneer graduates

Anyway, though bedridden and unable to join the event, my message still reached the target audience. It was delivered by my daughter Dazen Dawn.
Entitled MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities, it was published on PADAYON: Our Life journey. I decided to reblog my post in two installments to commemorate the Labor Day.

“Today, we are witnesses to another story of endless possibilities. Overcoming the tests of times and circumstances, our pastors in North Iloilo and Negros will receive with joy and pride, without necessarily being boastful, their hard- earned certificates in today’s Conferral Ceremony. The choice of the date for this event, which happened to be Labor Day, was more circumstantial than intentional.

However, viewed in the context of the long winding road trod by students and faculty to sustain the MSPM program, the date has become doubly significant. With gladness, we can shout on this Labor Day that our labour is not in vain, after all.

MSPM2

The biblical account of the feeding of the 5,000+ serves as inspiration to the MSPM story. Aware of the needs of the time, a boy offered whatever he has to respond to the call for service. He was not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. His voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

An inspiring story to remind us that our labor, no matter how small and simple, will never be in vain in the Lord. Let me stress this point because it appears that our past experiences of difficulties or disappointments have made us callous and apathetic for change, especially as far as organizational or institutional life is concerned. Sometimes, we cannot even start any good project or movement because we are already overpowered by the difficulties and perceived problems or impossibilities, even before we give it a try.

MSPM students taking up the examinations

The MSPM Program has a foretaste of this experience. Since its start in 2007, some downgraded the voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate whoever they are and wherever they want. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University offered in Master of Social Work program which was patterned to that of the University of the Philippines- Diliman, yet friendly and affordable for pastors. The faculty are more than qualified. The only difference is compensation because in MSPM, we teach voluntarily, gaining the love and respect of pastors, not monetary profit.

Favorable conditions

Conglomeration of events have been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for our doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

Those aforementioned favorable trends served as signals for us to entertain the questions: Why can’t we design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors? If it was successfully implemented in professional social work courses, why can’t we do the same for pastors? But, how?

MSPM graduates pose for posterity together with Rev. Santiago after the Conferral Ceremony

MSPM graduates pose for posterity together with Rev. Santiago after the Conferral Ceremony

My previous sad experience has also served its purpose. When elected as president of Convention Baptist Ministers Association, I continued the term of my predecessor in the committee which was tasked to study and recommend to the CPBC Board cases of pastors undergoing graduate programs from other theological institutions. The arguments were overwhelming against recognizing the degrees from other schools not affiliated with the CPBC and related affiliations. The most that I could do at that time was raised the question: Can CPBC provide alternatives?”

(To be continued)

MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities

Today is Labor Day as celebrated in many countries worldwide. In my other blog, I shared some researches on the historical significance of this day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers. Inspired by the Pauline epistle to the Corinthian, I titled it Our labor will never be in vain.

However, it is not only the historical significance of the Labor Day that inspired me to blog. Equally inspiring is the 1st Conferral Ceremony for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held two years ago at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo, Philippines. It was graced by no other than the General Secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC), Rev. Job A. Santiago, who was the conferral speaker.

The occasion could have been a day of rejoicing for me as it would be a culmination of my pioneering and voluntary work. I was supposed to give my message for the pioneer graduates. Unfortunately, seven months before the event, I was seriously ill caused by chronic heart ailment, compounded by unusual nerve disorder. However, though bedridden, my message still reached the target audience. It was delivered by my daughter Dazen Dawn.

Entitled MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities, it was published on PADAYON: Our Life journey. I decided to reblog my post in two installments  to commemorate the Labor Day.

“Today, we are witnesses to another story of endless possibilities. Overcoming the tests of times and circumstances, our pastors in North Iloilo and Negros will receive with joy and pride, without necessarily being boastful, their hard- earned certificates in today’s Conferral Ceremony. The choice of the date for this event, which happened to be Labor Day, was more circumstantial than intentional. However, viewed in the context of the long winding road trod by students and faculty to sustain the MSPM program, the date has become doubly significant. With gladness, we can shout on this Labor Day that our labour is not in vain, after all.

The biblical account of the feeding of the 5,000+ serves as inspiration to the MSPM story. Aware of the needs of the time, a boy offered whatever he has to respond to the call for service. He was not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. His voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

An inspiring story to remind us that our labor, no matter how small and simple, will never be in vain in the Lord. Let me stress this point because it appears that our past experiences of difficulties or disappointments have made us callous and apathetic for change, especially as far as organizational or institutional life is concerned. Sometimes, we cannot even start any good project or movement because we are already overpowered by the difficulties and perceived problems or impossibilities, even before we give it a try.

The MSPM Program has a foretaste of this experience. Since its start in 2007, some downgraded the voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

MSPM pioneer students during the Semestral Joint Class in North Negros Baptist Bible College

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate whoever they are and wherever they want. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University  offered in Master of Social Work program which was patterned to that of the University of the Philippines- Diliman, yet friendly and affordable for pastors. The faculty are more than qualified. The only difference is compensation because in MSPM, we teach voluntarily, gaining the love and respect of pastors, not monetary profit.

Favorable conditions

Conglomeration of events have been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for our doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

Those aforementioned favorable trends served as signals for us to entertain the questions: Why can’t we design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors? If it was successfully implemented in professional social work courses, why can’t we do the same for pastors? But, how?

My previous sad experience has also served its purpose. When elected as president of Convention Baptist Ministers Association, I continued the term of my predecessor in the committee which was tasked to study and recommend to the CPBC Board cases of pastors undergoing graduate programs from other theological institutions. The arguments were overwhelming against recognizing the degrees from other schools not affiliated with the CPBC and related affiliations. The most that I could do at that time was raised the question: Can CPBC provide alternatives?”

(To be continued)

Learning lessons on faith, justice and grace

Article first published July 03, 2011 on Faith Journey.

One of the unforgettable experiences I have happened in General Santos City, the birthplace of the world renowned Filipino boxer- congressman, Manny Pacquiao. It was during my active years while still the national president of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association. We were conducting continuing theological classes for pastors under the Institute for Advanced Theological Studies (IATS). The institute is an outreach arm of the College of Theology, Central Philippine University.

As one of the resource persons, I took the privilege to promote the newly designed Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) program for pastors. Two subjects in the seminar were assigned to me, namely: Community Organization and Strategies in Church and Community Mobilizations. These can be credited to MSPM program, should participants decide to pursue the degree.

Awed by the relevance of the community organizing process in their pastoral work, participants actively participated in the discussion. I was presenting the stages in community organization designed by the University of the Philippines, a premier state university in the country when interrupted by a simple looking old minister. He was so excited to share his experiences similar to the theories presented. With hesitation, he asked whether the process they did can be related to the stages discussed. When I gave the affirmation, in disbelief he blurted out: “Kon amo, maalam man gali kami, Pastor?” Implying how wise/intelligent they are to rightly practice the stages even without setting their feet on the prestigious university, nor even having a formal education.

The more he was surprised when I candidly affirmed the correctness of his thoughts and their practice. Thereafter, the discussion focused on the interrelatedness of theory and practice. How theories are developed through observation and study of experiences. The wisdom in nature, learning through life’s experience and the state of education before it was commercialized. I pointed out their God-given wisdom and natural talents, including common sense, emphasizing not to be overly dependent on theories and academic preparation or the lack of it. That wonderful encounter has boasted their morale, enhanced their confidence, bridged the gap between education and practice, and inspired them to continue their respective ministries.

The aforementioned experience flashed back into my mind as I continue to wrestle with my lingering illness vis-à-vis faith and prayer. Losing my seemingly invincible stature, either real or imagined, my health condition has exposed my vulnerability. I have been undergoing hands- on experience on issues of faith, prayer, sufferings, care of God, and all those things which can be easily resolved theoretically/spiritually. Now, in a situation wherein the acid test of faith is required, I have to resolve these issues: Can my faith indeed move mountains? If not, where lies the difference? Within me, or the kind of faith that I have? The care of God is out of question, here. It has become obvious by my own survival. If not for God’s care, I don’t think I would ever survive the test.

In the process of recollection, I found myself no longer the teacher but a student that has learned a wonderful lesson on theory and practice. Less concerned with the theory to support my practice now, I just want to relate my belief, speak out my mind and express my belief. Its correctness or soundness is no longer an issue to me, leaving to the readers the task of analyzing it. Hebrews 11:1 has become real to me. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

One night, while having trouble with sleep, I spent the time talking to God. Unlike in past when bothered by such situation, this time I started thanking Him for letting me experience the painful process of recovery. The delay has caused me a lot of trouble and mixture of thoughts and questions on God’s care, and his ambivalent provision. It has also exposed my faith when it felt short of getting what I asked for. On the other hand, the delay has given me lot of lessons. I have experienced significant changes within and without. Wonderful ideas and concepts have been developed. I have valued the importance of health and holistic development of self. Just as I have realized my negligence and abuse of health. Likewise, my view of mission and God’s purpose has dramatically changed, as well as my understanding of church, ministry vis-à-vis the Kingdom of God.

After the thanksgiving narrative, my thoughts shifted to the issue of justice. I realized that the slow and painful process, including the long wait is worth the abuses and negligence done to my body. Admittedly, I have abused my health deliberately or indeliberately, consciously or otherwise. Hence, I could not demand for immediate recovery. Guilty, my body deserves the pain, the price to pay.

I have resolved to patiently wait for healing, no matter how long. While learning to value health, in the process. As I continue to pray for the full recovery sooner or later, the meaning of grace is becoming clearer to me. Should God hear my prayer and grant me the full recovery soon, it would mean grace. God’s grace that shortens the justice demands. I realized, this is no longer a question of my faith, for faith is not an unreasonable demand. It is an expectation of grace beyond justice.

MSPM: The miracle of sharing

I always relate the Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) experience to the feeding of 5,000 with few loaves of bread and fish. Although our experience pales in comparison to the miracle. It is one of the only two miracles that are recorded in all four Gospels. The other one is the resurrection. Of the four, I like John’s narrative (John 6:5-14) which portrays the role of a boy with five loaves and two small fish. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

Apart from the dominant view on the literal multiplication of the food, some emphasize the miracle of sharing. This view assumes that people have brought with them little food of their own. They just kept them for themselves, hence the scarcity. However, upon seeing the unselfishness of the boy whose generosity was blessed by Jesus, they began to share what they have. Thus, the abundance of food are more then enough for their needs.

In the same way, we also offered whatever we have to respond to the needs of the time. Like the boy, we were not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. Such voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

When the program started in 2007, some downgraded the voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate which was never materialize. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University (CPU) offers in Master of Social Work program which was patterned after that of UP Diliman. Yet, the program is friendly and affordable for pastors. The faculty are more than qualified. The only difference is compensation because in MSPM, we teach voluntarily, gaining the love and respect of pastors, not monetary profit.

Conglomeration of events have been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for our doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

The aforementioned favorable trends sparked the idea to design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors. The break came when through the pastors’ support, I was elected to the board of Trustees of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) in 2006 and subsequently chaired the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns (TEMC) Committee. By divine guidance, the first document that caught my attention was the CPBC Strategic Plan for 2000-2010 which highlighted the TEMC program. Finding the missing link, I started advocating the program, trying to bridge the gap through voluntary involvement in its implementation. My wife also volunteered to teach in theological institutions in Negros to strengthen the TEMC program.

Studying previous initiatives of various organizations related to continuing theological education, eventually the CPBC Unified Theological Education System (UNITES) was conceived and gradually implemented. Two breakthroughs were undertaken, namely: Formulation of Standardized Curriculum; and the MSPM program.

But why MSPM? As registered social worker and holder of master of social work, I can only offer a degree program within my area of specialization. My exposure to development work and community service has also shaped my holistic perspective. Likewise, pastors who were enrolled in Master of Social Work in CPU encouraged me to integrate social work courses in designing a masteral program for pastors. Comparing the curriculum of divinity and theology masteral programs with that of social work and other masteral programs, the relevance of MSPM appears convincing in terms of meeting the needs of pastors, its practicality and length of time for studies, as well as usefulness to their work in church and community.

The mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services. MSPM classes are conducted in provincial centers by volunteer faculty. Students in respective centers shoulder their transportation expenses accommodation. Certificate is issued upon completion of each subject with corresponding grade. This will be used for official enrolment in the aforementioned theological institutions. The enrolment can be done simultaneously while the students are taking up modular classes. Or may be enrolled later.Participating theological institutions are the ones granting the degree after official enrolment.

The program in Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries is a combination of Master of Social Work and Master of Ministry. The curriculum incorporates Ministry Core courses, Biblical Core Courses, and Socio-Pastoral Courses. Both ministry and biblical core courses include the following: Philosophical Foundations of Ministry, Ministry Assessment & Equipping Strategies, Church: Ministry & Mission, Hermeneutics, Biblical Theology, Biblical & Theological Foundations of Discipleship.

On the other hand, the Socio-Pastoral Courses consist of Socio-Behavioral Theories, Group, Community, Social Institutions and Processes, Family Wellness & Pastoral Counseling Models of Ministry and Leadership in the Church & Community, Strategies in Church and Community Mobilization, Seminar in Socio Pastoral Ministries, Social Research, Social Jurisprudence & Local Governance, Pastoral Ministry in Conflict Situations, Administration and Management of Church & related organization/institutions, Community Organization & Social Welfare and Development Services. After completion of academic courses, students have the following options as final requirement: Thesis Writing, Special Paper, or Community Project.

Through sharing of resources, our pastors can earn masteral degrees without necessarily leaving their pastorate or respective work. Indeed, the KATIPAN Hall and MSPM are living testimonies that whenever we start sharing whatever we have, God will work more stories of endless possibilities.

Breakthroughs(Part II): Twin stories of Endless Possibilities

After successful advocacies in social work and non-government organizations (NGOs), I realized how far have I been away from my first love – the pastoral ministry. However, the desire to return to full time pastorate seemed to be next to impossible considering my status. Yet, the recurring thought kept on nagging me: If other loves have maximized my knowledge, attitude and skills, how much more my first love?

Returning to my first love was not that easy. A family man, I could not just leave my employment in the University. As a transition, a week-end work in a local church in Iloilo City became an alternative. In the process, I realized I could no longer recover the lost time and opportunities in working with churches. Hence, the decision to focus on pastors, guided by the belief that whatever developments in their lives will trickle down to the churches.

However, my intention was not taken, without question and reservation. I failed to get the confidence of majority in my first attempt, no matter how clear my platform was. Some were honest enough to express their suspicion on my political leanings. My independent and principled stance also did not get the backing of veteran power brokers in the Convention whose candidate was miserably junked by majority of the pastors in a three-cornered fight in 2001.

The experience did not dampen my spirit. My second attempt was wholeheartedly welcomed by the pastors. In an unprecedented event, I ran unopposed and served as national president of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) for two consecutive terms in six years. As such, I applied all my past learnings in the context of the CBMA. The best years I have ever given to a particular cause in my lifetime. Years that witness the commitment and dedication surpassing my other endeavors, paid or likewise voluntary in nature.

Subsequently, we made breakthroughs. But I want to focus on the landmarks that are replicable and may interest the readers. The twin stories of KATIPAN Hall and Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries with some elements of the biblical account on the miraculous feeding of the 5,000+. Aware of the needs of the time, a boy offered whatever he has to respond to the call for service. He was not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. His voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.But unlike the miracle which has been associated with extraordinary sudden/quick change, the twin stories underwent gradual process.

KATIPAN is an Ilonggo term for Covenant. In the CBMA context it sums up the phrase Katuman sang Tingob nga Pagsalig kag Binuhatan. In English, this means “realization of collective faith and action.” True to its meaning, KATIPAN Hall has become a symbol of solidarity among pastors. Katipan has galvanized our relationship. It even boasted the morale of pastors who have been stereotyped to be always in the receiving end. Of course, not a few had raised their eyebrows questioning our capacity to sustain the project. Even engineers who volunteered their labor could not help but smile upon learning our start up budget.

The movement started as fund-raising campaign of the CBMA to construct a modest Session Hall at Camp Higher Ground to accommodate the participants for their National Assembly in January 2006. Soon, the design has been improved to accommodate 1,000 people and keep abreast with the development of the Camp as planned by the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches

In the process of campaign and construction, the participants have experienced God’s power and provision as church leaders, members and even the public gave their support. Also they realized the beauty of restoring trust and confidence and the power and strength in unity. Moreover, the project has become an opportunity to meet friends and partners in service both local and international. Funds surplus even completed the construction of basketball court beside the edifice. But the bulk of the donation came from pastors.

On the other hand, the Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) is a combination of Master of Science in Social Work program offered in CPU and pastoral ministry courses. The mission of the MSPM program is to prepare graduate students for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership, church administration and social/community services.

Modular Classes are conducted by volunteer faculty in provincial centers. Certificates are issued upon completion of each subject with corresponding grade. This is used for official enrolment in the participating theological institutions. The enrolment can be done simultaneously while the students are taking up modular classes. Or may be enrolled later. Three years after the program was implemented, it has produced 23 pioneering graduates from Panay and Negros. They were conferred their degree on May 1, 2010 at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Ajuy, Iloilo.

(More on twin stories in the succeeding posts)