GENERAL FRAMEWORK OF THE THREE YEAR ROLLING PLAN 2011 - 2014
‘Ipagpatuloy ang Mabuting Gawa Tungo sa Higit na Pagpapala”
General Call: Higit na Patatagin ang Pambansang Pamunuan
Palakasin ang mga Lokal na Simbahan
Pasiglahin ang Kalakhang Kasapian
A. BACKGROUND and RATIONALE
1. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente is currently pursuing the IFI Ten-Year Strategic Plan (TYSP) that was launched after it had been approved by the 9th Triennial General Assembly held in May 2002. The TYSP is now in its final phase of implementation which is scheduled to end in 2012. It has been programmed that before the ten-year period ends or precisely by the middle of 2012, a comprehensive evaluation shall be undertaken to determine and/or measure the impact of the TYSP upon the life, mission and witness of the Church. The impact evaluation is a logical conclusion to sum up the valuable lessons gained over a decade of experience in the implementation IFI TYSP. The outcome of this process would provide the rationale in conceptualizing and formulating another strategic plan to be pursued by the Church in the coming years.
2. The 11th Executive Commission has chosen a verse from the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians as the theme of the IFI 12th Triennium. The 9th verse in Galatians Chapter Six says: “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart”. (Ipagpatuloy and Mabuting Gawa, Tungo sa Higit na Pagpapala). Indeed, the theme is a logical sequel to the theme focus of the past three years – “Hold Fast to What We Have Attained”. Galatians 6:9 is a timely exhortation, not only to the Galatians during St. Paul’s time but for all the people of God, to continue doing what are pleasing in the eyes of God. The prophets of old, like Micah and Amos, had pointed out succinctly the good deeds that are expected of anyone who profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ and a member of His body (the Church). For the IFI faithful, these pleasing acts are made manifest through our collective efforts to enable our beloved Church to pursue Christ’s mission in the world, and through our unwavering commitment and dedication to glorify God, love our Church, and serve God’s people.
3. Bearing in the mind the preceding statements of facts, the Obispado Maximo decided to propose the extension of the program thrusts and strategies that have been adopted and carried out in the past three years, into the next triennium. A draft general program framework was presented to the members of the Commission on Programs and Projects (COPP) in a consultation called by the COPP to assess the implementation of the IFI Comprehensive National Program (TYRP III), and to formulate the general framework of the IFI National Program (TYRP IV) to be undertaken in the next three years – 2011 – 2014. The result of that consultation is the Proposed General Framework of TYRP IV for presentation to the 12th General Assembly for its consideration and appropriate action.
B. PROGRAM THRUSTS, STRATEGIES, AND ACTIVITIES
1. Membership Education and Nurture
B.1.1 One of the primary tasks of the Church is to educate its members with the basic teachings of the Christian faith, and indoctrinating them with the historical traditions, beliefs and doctrines of the IFI. Compared with the other churches in the Philippines, the IFI lags far behind in the area of Christian education and nurture. The teaching ministry was not given enough attention or it had been neglected since way back that contributed largely to the stunted growth of the IFI in terms of membership. This reality was noted down long time ago. Several attempts had been initiated to remedy the situation but these small strides were far from being consistently sustained.
B.1.2 In light of the above, the following strategies need to be given enough attention in the next three years:
a. Continue to nurture, indoctrinate, and consolidate the faithful on the IFI history and heritage, faith and doctrines, polity and governance, and other essential church documents, through structured/ladderized or popular methods used in mass education.
b. Enable, develop and empower the faithful, most especially the lay leaders who are members of diocesan/parish councils; national, regional and diocesan sectoral officers/leaders (men, women, youth), to become deeply rooted in the Scriptures as well as grounded in and clothe with the basic teachings of the Church so that they can effectively participate and become partners of the ordained in doing Christ’s mission in the world as a fulfillment of their baptismal covenant with God.
c. Enable the faithful to have a deeper understanding about and a fuller grasp of the biblical, theological and historical bases of the Church’s missionary zeal “Pro Deo et Patria” and develop human rights advocates and peace builders from the ranks of the clergy and the laity.
B.1.3 Essential Activities or Programs to be undertaken within the 12th Triennium
a. Production/Publication of the IFI Resource Book and translated into the three major languages in the country (Ilocano, Cebuano, Tagalog)
b. Production of Christian Education Materials for Sunday Schools, Vacation Church Schools, Confirmation/Catechetical classes. Inventory/collation of Education and Instructional materials authored by IFI writers; develop a common curriculum or syllabus and approved by the SCB, to be used in all education and nurture activities undertaken in the regions and in the dioceses.
c. Lay Formation and Development Program – regular program to be undertaken at the regional and diocesan levels. A five-day live-in intensive seminar on the IFI History and Heritage, Faith and Doctrines, Polity and Governance. A structured curriculum (common or uniform) will be used to educate, indoctrinate, and consolidate the lay sectoral leaders and members of leadership bodies.
d. Sunday Schools, Vacation Church School for the youth and children respectively; Parish-based Bible Studies, Religious education in public schools, etc, should be done in the parishes, but properly coordinated by the Local Church.
e. Social Awareness Building and Consolidation through seminars, fora, exposure and fact finding missions through and/or with PeaceMakers, RPRD, etc.
2. Mission, Evangelism and Church Growth
B.2.1 The mission field is fast shrinking and it has become too crowded due to the aggressive competition waged by the other churches and the onslaught of the new religious movements or so called para-churches in the country. The IFI, though, has the competitive edge. About three to five million people remain faithful under its fold. A few thousand regular parishes, mission chapels and outstations are scattered across the country. However, the number of IFI church workers is simply not enough to watch over the flock and deepen the faith of these members through regular church services and activities. If this situation continues, chances are, scores of the IFI faithful might go astray or become easy prey to the attractive and enticing methods used by those who intend to steal the herd that are under the watch or care of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. In this regard, the following programs and activities are proposed to be carried out in the next three years.
a. Vocation Campaign - The Local Churches must undertake an aggressive vocation campaign in their respective jurisdiction, especially among young men, women and other capable and able members of the Church, to supplement or complement the campaign initiated by the Seminaries. Every Local Church should sponsor and support at least two seminarians every year. The Local Church must be consciously allocating a certain amount in its annual budget for the support of the seminaries and/or the seminarians.
b. Lay Ministers Formation, Training, and Development - The Local Churches should always be in the lookout for potential, able and capable lay people to be trained as lay ministers in their respective jurisdiction. At least two Lay Ministers Training and Development Seminars should be conducted at the regional level annually and each local church should be able to motivate at least five would-be church workers every year.
c. Mission and Evangelism Training Seminar/Workshop should be conducted at least once a year by the Regional Bishops Conferences.
d. Every Local Church should target at least two mission stations (with chapels) to become regular parishes, and at least three outstations to be established within its jurisdiction annually.
3. Advocacy, Prophetic Witness, and Service
B.3.1 The socio-economic, political, and ecological situation in the country has gone from bad to worse. More and more Filipino families are being pushed down below the poverty line due to skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services. The majority of these families subsist on the same level of income, or even less, a decade ago that, at this time, is barely enough for two square meals a day. Economic policies continue to favor transnational interests, allowing foreign corporations, in connivance with the local political and economic elite, to exploit the God-given resources of the country at the expense of Filipinos who have the prior right over these natural wealth. More and more Filipinos are looking for greener pastures outside the Philippines draining the country of able and capable workforce needed to create wealth for the common good. The Government’s delivery of social services to its citizens is very much wanting, and in some cases none at all. The legitimate demands of the basic sectors – the peasants, workers, indigenous people, professionals - like agrarian reform, nationalist industrialization, wage increases, ancestral domain, etc., are met with lukewarm attitude by the powers-that-be or, much worse, even by bullets from the Atmed Forces who are supposed to safeguard and protect the Filipino citizenry.
B.3.2 In the political arena, the legislative, executive and even the judiciary branches of governance are in the hands of the economic elite. The Government bureaucracy is riddled with graft and corruption that drain the national coffers with the much needed resources for national development and for the delivery of basic services. Human rights violations and military atrocities remain unabated in spite of the Aquino Government’s claim that it is pursuing the right or straight path in the area of governance and administration. In short, the brighter tomorrow springing from the horizon and hoped for by the great majority of the Filipino people is still very bleak, blurry and hard to decipher.
B.3.3 ‘Juan dela Cruz’ continues to groan, agonizing in the quagmire of poverty and powerlessness. But thousands of Filipinos have now taken upon themselves to change this abject situation and turn it around in order to promote the common good. The sectors are organized and are pushing their legitimate agenda for a just and progressive society. From the looks of it, the boastful claim by the military and political leaders to crush the progressive movement by hook or by crook is far from being attained. In other words, peoples’ continuing dissent and harsh military actions would continue to characterize the political landscape in this our own, our native land.
B.3.4 Climate change has already descended upon this country, popularly known as the Pearl of the Orient Seas. Disasters of catastrophic proportions have already occurred in the last few years. Global warming, as a consequence of environment and ecological degradation will continue to affect this planet. The churches should help mitigate the devastating effect of these natural and man-made disasters. It should continue to educate and build the capacity and preparedness of its constituents to address the eminent destruction brought about by typhoons, volcanic eruptions, flash floods, tidal surges, etc.
B.3.5 In light of the above context and realities, the IFI, more than ever before, must continue to exercise, and hopefully with more intensity and determination, its advocacy, prophetic witness and service through the following activities to be undertaken in the next three years.
a. Publication of the 3rd edition of “Our Heritage, Our Response” (OHOR” containing the Church’s statements and pastoral letters in the last ten years (first decade of the 21st Century and under the Macapagal-Arroyo Regime) The OHOR should be translated into the three major languages in the country. As much as possible Primers on the major issues addressed by these statements should be disseminated to the IFI faithful.
b. Church Statements and Pastoral Letters must be issued from time to time to publicly manifest or register the IFI’s opinions or standpoints (expose, oppose, propose) on certain issues or events that affect the country, the Filipino people, and the world.
c. The IFI must continue to support the legitimate issues or concerns of the basic sectors by extending moral, spiritual. material and, to certain extent where resources warrant, token financial assistance. The Church must continue accompanying the Filipino people in their struggles and continuing journey towards a friendlier tomorrow.
d. Develop and/or institute a responsive and responsible sanctuary program in key urban centers in the country. Formulate the rationale and the necessary guidelines (the DOs and DON’Ts) regarding this special concern of the Church.
e. Organize and enable PeaceMakers at the national and regional levels. Conduct conscientization and awareness building seminars and forums for the IFI faithful. The Church should continue joining or supporting fact-finding missions and exposure programs. The IFI must sustain its pro-active role in issue-based organizations/coalitions in the areas of peace and human rights, climate change and ecology, good governance and public accountability, etc.
f. Consolidate, strengthen, and expand the reach, and systematize the operation of the Relief and Rehabilitation Program of the IFI through Operation SamBayaNihan at the national and regional levels
g. The Bishops Conferences should initiate regional development programs or projects specially in the areas of socio-economic and livelihood concerns, poverty reduction, climate change and ecological concerns, food production/security and sustainable development, etc.
4. Ecumenical, Concordat and International Relations
B.4.1 The inherent and unique identity of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente is its nationalist moorings being one of the living and tangible fruits of the 1896 Filipino struggle for national independence and sovereignty from colonial and imperialist powers. It is perhaps the only Church in the world that was founded and proclaimed by the working class. Another distinct character of this nationalist and historic church is its ecumenical outlook and perspective. Hence, the IFI is a member, in good standing, of national and international ecumenical organizations like the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Christian Conference of Asia, the Council of Churches in East Asia, and the World Council of Churches. To further edify its stature as a church institution and to expand its sphere of influence and relationships in the global Christian community, the IFI has entered into a Concordat of Full Communion with churches belonging to the Anglican/Episcopal, Old Catholic and Lutheran confessions/traditions based in North America, Europe, Scandinavia as well as in the Asia/Pacific regions.
B.4.2 The following activities are proposed to be carried out under this program thrust in the coming three years:
a. Further strengthen the existing ties with the ecumenical organizations by religiously complying with the responsibilities or obligations expected of the IFI, such as participation in the various activities initiated by these bodies, promptly paying our financial dues, supporting the stand or positions of the ecumenical community on issues that affect the Christian faith, the churches, and the people of God. Maximize these bodies as effective platforms or avenues to inform the global community about the IFI as an institution and to ventilate the Church’s stand on issues or concerns that affect the country and people. Build goodwill and international solidarity with these institutional and their member churches/bodies.
b. Continue and strengthen the relationships with the wider ecumenical community in the country through active participation in activities/concerns initiated by issue-based coalitions, church-related organizations, inter-faith action groups, or faith-based organizations, and sectoral or peoples’ organizations
c. Initiate dialogues with the Concordat Churches with regard to the holding of an IFI International Celebration of the Jubilee Year (2012) of Concordat relations. Use the occasion to challenge the Concordat Churches to initiate joint mission programs for overseas Filipinos workers and migrants in their respective countries, and to generate international solidarity and support to the on-going Filipino peoples’ struggles for national sovereignty, self determinations, and peace based on justice (issues/concerns that are closest to the heart of the IFI). Furthermore, use the occasion (international celebration) to propose and discuss the possibility of conducting a Study/Exposure Reciprocal Visits between the leadership of the IFI and the concerned concordat churches to share and to know more deeply each other’s history, faith and doctrines, theological perspective, and other equally essential facts and figures that are important in strengthening the foundation of a lasting and fruitful relationship.
5. Stewardship and Resources Development
B.5.1 There is no justifiable reason why the Iglesia Filipina Independiente could not be self-reliant in its institutional life, mission, and witness. It has the necessary resources (human and material) to harness and mobilize in its efforts to achieve self-sufficiency. After all, the IFI is still considered as the second biggest church in the country in terms of membership, a fact that has been taken for granted or paid little attention over the years. Several attempts had been initiated in the past to raise the much needed resources for its continuing mission and witness. Unfortunately, the negative attitudes toward these initiatives prevailed and eventually these modest plans had been relegated to oblivion. There is a need to enrich and further expand the on-going resource generation activities initiated by the Church like the IFI Lenten Fund Campaign. Likewise, more creative and doable ways of fund-raising campaign should be initiated or revived. One good example was an action taken by the SCB a few decades ago where the faithful (clergy and lay alike) donate to the Church the equivalent amount when one who is celebrating his/her birthday multiplies his/her current age with One Peso. The is doable and not hard on the pocket so to speak. It should be a year round fund raising campaign and the clergy and the lay who are serving as members of the parish/diocesan councils, and national commissions members should be initially targeted.
B.5.2 One of the yardsticks used in measuring the strength or stability of a church institution is the extent by which the members support the institutional life, mission, and ministry of the Church. If one is committed to be a part, and believes in the vision and mission of the Church, he/she must be willing to share the burden, or whatever it takes to be a good steward of time, talent, or treasure in furthering that mission in order to realize the vision that the Church aspires for. When this level of maturity is achieved, the IFI can truly claim that it is driven by the collective desire of the faithful to participate in pursuing God’s mission in the world and so, therefore, it is not a church driven by the availability of foreign aid or grants. It is the obligation of every church member to be a good steward and embrace genuine churchmanship as a way of life. The ordained should serve as role models and they should walk the extra mile to inculcate in the minds of the faithful to faithfully observe the biblical mandate to share at least ten percent (10%) of their time, talent and treasure for the IFI life, witness and ministry, just as the church leaders are expected to observe the other 3Ts. They should be trustworthy, a trait that is earned by being truthful and transparent in the discharge of their role, authority, and responsibilities, most specially in managing the Church’s financial, material, and human resources. This basic principle must be consistently and constantly advocated, preached and lived out by the IFI leaders and constituents.
B.5.3 In the area of human resource development, the church must continue to undertake continuing theological education activities for the IFI church workers, like the Bishops’ Institute or Study Conference, Clergy Convocation and Clergy Institute. The regional conferences must be challenged and enabled to conduct these activities once a year in their respective regions. The CTEOM (Committee on Continuing Theological Education and the Ordained Ministry) must develop a uniform curriculum (content) to be tackled by the regional clergy gatherings annually for the next three years. In like manner, the church must provide opportunities for both clergy and laity to sharpen, enriched, or acquire skills and knowledge in the various ministries that the Church is engaged in, e.g. Christian Education and Nurture, Mission and Evangelism, Relief and Rehabilitation, Development Management (Project Development and Management, Organizational Development). These activities should be done either at the national or regional levels.
B.5.4 The results of the Clergy Performance and Ministerial Development, hopefully, would determine the training needs of the clergy that are essential in further developing the attitudes, skills, and knowledge of the IFI Clergy. Corresponding and appropriate training modules that would adequately address specific needs would be developed and formulated by the concerned commission or committees within the Church structure.
6. Institutional and Organizational Development
B.6.1 Constitutional Convention - This is a very essential activity in the institutional and organizational life of the IFI. Concerted efforts must be invested in order to hold the Constitutional Convention within the 12th Triennium.
B.6.2 The IFI is an episcopally-led and a synodically-governed Church. It has adopted the committee system of governance to allow wider, democratic and meaningful participation in running and managing its institutional life. Likewise, the IFI is registered as a corporation sole whose existence and operations are duly regulated and governed by the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.
B.6.3 Any policy or program approved or adopted are deemed essential in realizing the vision, and in pursuing the mission agenda and the institutional goals of the Church. Moreover, any policy or program is considered as an effective instrument to further edify and build the stature of the IFI as a church institution. Before a policy or a program is approved, it has undergone the tedious process of extensive study, animated deliberations and debates by the leadership bodies within the Church organizational structure. Given the nature, polity and governance of the IFI, every component unit of the Church are duty bound or obligated to strictly observe, follow or implement such policies and programs approved by the leadership bodies of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente. However, some concrete experiences pointed to the fact that some component units in the church structure either ignore or refuse to implement some of the national policies or programs approved by the Church. This prevailing organizational culture must be stopped at all costs. A radical change of heart is urgently needed. Organizational discipline must be observed and practiced in all aspects of the Church’s institutional and organization life.
B.6.4 Implementation of Existing Systems/Policies and the Development Formulation and Installation of Appropriate Policies, Systems, and Guidelines - The Centralization of Funds, Financial Management System and the Clergy Performance and Ministerial Development Program must be fully adopted, installed and practiced by the whole Church in the 12th Triennium. Concerted efforts for their full implementation should be initiated by the Church through the facilitation and coordination of the Obispado Maximo in collaboration with the Bishops Regional Conferences. New Policies and Systems that would enable the Church to effectively and efficiently perform her primordial task of doing mission, exercising her pastoral ministry and prophetic witness in a self reliant and self sustaining fashion should be explored, studied and developed. Likewise, an internal or external evaluation of the existing church organizational structures and programs (Commission/ Committee) in terms of its efficiency and cost effectiveness (Program Impact Evaluation and Management Audit) must be seriously considered in 2012.
B.6.5 Regional Bishops Conferences - The regional conferences must be fully optimized as a program channel for united witness by the different component units of the Church (SCB, COP, and Mandated Organizations. Best Practices at the regional conferences should be documented and/or replicated in other regional conferences (Mindanao Experience)
B.6.6 Councils and Mandated Organizations - The Councils and Mandated Organizations will formulate their respective plans and programs for the 12th Triennium. A token budget allocation in the TYRP Budget is earmarked to support organizational and program concerns of these units. Moreover, the national and regional officers/leaders of the Councils (Supreme Council of Bishops, Council of Priests, National Lay Council) and the mandated organizations (WOPIC, LIFI, YIFI) would be participating in some of the program activities of the national program, particularly the Lay Formation and Development Program, and the Bishops and Clergy Institutes, as well as the skills-equipping seminars and training workshops, e.g. Project Development and Management, Organizational Development and Management, Development Management Seminars.