During week of prayer, Philippine churches set aside differences

Baguio City, Philippines, January 19 (ENInews)--In the midst of a governance
crisis that threatens to divide the Philippines, several churches say they are
marking the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by setting aside doctrinal
differences, praying and working for change.

"Even amidst new political trouble that threatens to polarize again our country,
we Christians can take the lead in getting together in prayer," the Rev. Felipe
Ehican of the Lutheran Church of the Philippines told ENInews on 18 January.

The week of prayer usually takes place between 18 and 25 January. Resources such
as texts for ecumenical services are sponsored jointly by the Geneva-based World
Council of Churches (WCC) and the Roman Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for
the Promotion of Christian Unity.

Ehican was referring to the current Senate impeachment proceedings of Supreme
Court Justice Renato Corona, which began 16 January, also the start in the
Philippines of the celebration of the week of prayer.

The Rev. Joie Galinato of the United Methodist Church likewise stressed the
importance of strengthening the unity of the Christian population to prevent the
country's division as a result of the impeachment trial of Corona.

"The impeachment trial is now dividing the country between the pro-Corona and
the anti-Corona," Galinato told ENInews. "But we can help a lot in bridging
divisions by our coming together in prayer as Christians from various
denominations, united in our common desire for righteous and good governance."

Roman Catholic lay leader Dr. Raylita Calimlim also acknowledged and prayed for
Bukal, an ecumenical pastoral group. She said Bukal volunteers from Baguio City
travelled to southern Philippines to counsel and rehabilitate traumatized
survivors of a deadly storm there last December. "Bukal has been doing a great
job in helping bring change," she said.

The week of prayer in this northern Philippine city was organized by the
Baguio-Benguet Ecumenical Group, an interdenominational organization, which has
been celebrating the Vatican and WCC-led weekly activity since 1999.

As a spin-off of the week of prayer in past years, the ecumenical group has been
actively involved in social and political advocacies such as honest, peaceful
and clean elections, anti-gambling drives, and good governance. "We seek to
sustain these as we continue to pray and work together," said Galinato.

Maurice Malanes

Maurice Malanes writes for Ecumenical News International.

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