The Territorial Youth Ministry – ICCEC Philippines
In August 26–29, 2019, the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) – Territory of Asia held its Territorial Convocation at the Center for Community Transformation, Tagaytay, the Philippines, to celebrate the end of 40 years of the journey since the church started as Christian Life Fellowship. The church grew into many churches around the archipelago and, in 1994, became a part of ICCEC. As the CEC Territory of Asia came to its journey’s end of the 40th year, the whole church remembered and understood 40 years’ significance. Much like the end of Israel’s journey in the wilderness from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, thus, entering into a new phase of the journey with God.
Advancing the theme “Forward at Forty: Fulfilling your Divine Destiny,” the church finds hope in keeping the vision and the dreams God has granted by passing them on to the next generation. On the night of the 3rd day of the Convocation, August 28, 2019, the Bishops had symbolically passed on the light to the Youth signifying the passing on of God’s vision and commissioning the Youth to carry on the work God started in the Territory.
The year 2020 is the year that the Youth of the Territory will gather for the very first Youth Congress. Immense planning and preparations are expected as the work began.
The delegates were chosen as they are set to converge in Kalibo, Aklan, in June 2020. However, like the rest of the world, from the NBA Season to the Olympics, the Youth Congress is no exemption from the postponement.
But alas, truly what the enemy meant for evil, the Lord will always turn for good. The pandemic pushed the Technical Working Group (TWG) of the Youth Congress to present a more viable solution online.
Online platforms like the Facebook page is created to ease the dissemination of information to the delegates and members of the Youth in the Territory.
Who knew that a Facebook Page would make something that has always been existing more official? The (then) Territorial Youth CEC Ph Facebook Page was created with the following objectives:
a. To unite and connect the Youth Ministries of the four (4) dioceses of CEC Philippines (Southern Luzon, Northern Luzon, and NCR, Visayas, and Mindanao)
b. To encapsulate what we can do as one body, one church
c. To be the channel that functions as the primary source of official CEC PH information, whether it is for the Youth or the whole Territory
This page gave birth to three micro teams – the admins, the creatives, and the content writers. These teams are composed of members represented by the four dioceses – all working together, albeit remotely. Most of them have not met in person yet, and here they were – working on the same ministry for a page whose creation had to be fast-tracked because of the pandemic. A glimpse of what the Lord could do through the Territorial Youth.
A few weeks before creating the Facebook page, there was a move to change the name from Territorial Youth CEC PH to a more collective group that will represent all Youth Ministries in the Philippines.
Last May 23, 2020, 65 Youth Congress Delegates cast their votes in an online poll choosing eight nominated names.
The Top 3 names were selected and deliberated by the TWG. A week of prayer was held as TWG seek the Lord for the word that they would choose. This was done following ICCEC Canon 4-6 on Consensus Government Procedures.
A total of 11 members of the TWG cast their votes. In the end, six out of the 11 voted for Youthnited.
Those who did not vote for the name were asked if they would agree to stand behind what the other six voted for. All four present during the video call agreed. These proceedings were then submitted to the College of Consultors for their insights and prayers. The Consultors then gave their recommendations to the house of bishops for approval, and so the name Youthnited was born.
Who is Youth United?
We are all 36 (and counting) Youth Ministries from the Diocese of Northern Luzon and NCR, Diocese of Southern Luzon, Diocese of Visayas, and Diocese of Mindanao. One body, one spirit, one hope of calling. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.” Ephesians 4:4 (NKJV)
The Youth Congress
“This is our time; this is our place.” This has been the Youth’s mantra since the territorial convocation in August 2019, wherein the earlier generation’s symbolic baton has been handed down to the Youth – the next generation. With a burst of renewed purpose and a sense of mission, the Youth of the ICCEC-Philippines has been actively working to serve the church and the communities beyond its borders. To follow through with the work begun in 2019, a Youth Congress was set to take place in June of 2020. World circumstances changed drastically at that time. Nevertheless, the Youth, alongside their elders and the house of bishops, remained resilient and pushed with the plan and take alternative ways for the congress to thrust into motion amidst the global pandemic.
Delegates, young people, and youth functionaries, from the Diocese of Southern Luzon, Diocese of the NCR and Northern Luzon, Diocese of the Visayas, and the Diocese of Mindanao, intended to spend three days in Kalibo, Aklan for the first-ever Territorial Youth Congress of the ICCEC Philippines.
This is the first call of the bishops to the youth ministry functionaries in the church (Territory) to seek God and formulate the vision and mission for the development of the young people, and draw up plans for the perceivable future.
However, travel restrictions due to COVID-19 were imposed in March 2020 by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) formed by the Philippine government based on a thorough risk assessment of the current situation.
When the previous schedule was put on hold, like many others throughout the world, the delegates found themselves in a virtual conference in the comfort of their homes and churches. The Youth is now entirely settled to participate in the first-ever Youth Congress through online platforms. Still, the question remains. How was this setup carried out? It was made possible through prayer, by God’s grace, thorough planning, and the technical working group’s hard work.
The Youth Congress kicked off with the Diocesan Caucus held in each diocese. This was done “face to face” and online when the pandemic hits.
The preparations for the start of the Youth Congress included series of virtual meetings after working hours for weeks on end. The technical working group held these meetings within their own dioceses and then all together, fusing all dioceses to finalize the information needed from the participants and polish everything needed for the caucus. This was followed by the designing of logos, diocesan mandate, and several templates for the sessions.
—-On July 31, 2020, the Opening Session of the Territorial Youth Congress was held online. Starting with our acknowledgment of God’s grace and provision, the Holy Eucharist’s celebration, via live streaming, was presided by Bp. Paulino Villavicencio, the bishop protector to the Youth. After the Mass, the Youth Congress officially convened by Bp. Paulino, reminding the delegates that this congress is a “formal and holy” event. The bishops of the Territory gave their encouraging messages, led by our Primate, Abp. Ricardo Alcaraz. Fr. Erel Villanueva, a member of the College of Consultors, “welcomed” the delegates. Fr. Jayson Molanda, the Congress Moderator, discussed the process of the conduct of online congress and the ensuing schedules, concluding the plenary session of the First Territorial Youth Congress. Session one followed with reports from every diocesan caucus.
Online conferences aren’t expected to be perfect. Not everyone has the same access to a stable internet connection. During the Mass and the congress proper, some experienced glitches in their systems, occasional instability of Wi-Fi connections, others had poor audio quality, and video resolutions.
Yet, these little inconveniencies did not hinder the commitment to get things done for God’s Kingdom. The virtual gathering may have lacked the intimacy of a physical gathering and had several issues that came with it, but it was indeed a success.
From August 1 – 24, Session Two was held online to formulate programs and activities. In the process of formalizing and institutionalizing guidelines and regulations, members of the Youth Congress have been divided into different Agenda Points, namely: Active Youth Participation, Family; Equipping & Training; Mission & Outreach; Economic Sustainability; Health & Well-being; Leadership and Church Governance; and Territorial Adaptability.
Online meetings of these groups and their sub-groups were carried out as they frame various program activities, the instructions, detailed program flow, steps, and outcome for the target ministry that it aims to help in compliance with their specific agendas. With the guidance of the College of Consultors, the groups are currently in action with virtual meetings and assessments to produce quality content for this youth congress and the whole of the Territory.
The final output of the Youth Congress will include a Manifesto, a manifestation of the desire to empower the Youth and its share in building the Kingdom of God. With this output, The Territorial Youth Development Plans (2021-2031) will be submitted to the House of Bishops for review and approval.
The Territorial Commission for Youth Development
The Commission is composed of the Bishop Protector, the College of Consultors, and the Territorial Youth Council. The Commission is the governing and advisory body responsible for the proper and orderly administration of the ministry to the Territory’s young people, working under the authority of the Territorial Primate and the House of Bishops (HOB).
The Bishop Protector
The bishop protector (guardian), a representative of the Primate and the House of Bishops, provides oversight to ensure the Commission’s proper administration.
The College of Consultors
The college comprises clergies from different dioceses of the Territory chosen for their expertise and ministry to the Youth. The College of Consultors is an advisory and consultative body to the Commission engaged to assist the house of bishops in the ministry to the Territory’s young people.
The Territorial Youth Council
The youth council serves as the administrative office that assists the house of bishops in the ministry to the Youth in the Territory through the development of programs and activities; designing plans and strategies; and, formulation of policies and guidelines, for the advancement and growth of the life of the young, both in spirit, mind, and body, into the full stature of Christ-likeness.
There is still much work to do, and by the grace and mercy of God, this will all be made possible. We anticipate that by faith, these organizations of ministries, programs, projects, and activities can genuinely raise awareness of the different kinds of necessities and stumbling blocks that are relevant to the Youth of today and of the generations to come; and furthermore, establish Godly ways of dealing with these through setting standards to be followed and creating a safe space for the Youth to grow and mature in the love of God. Good seeds have been planted in the lives of the Youth, and it is only a matter of time before these seeds grow and bear fruit in the kingdom of God. The way to success will never be linear and easy, but by the grace of God and the prayers of those who surround us, we know that all things done today will work out according to God’s purpose. We implore you, all who is reading this, keeping the Youth in your prayers and may they serve as an inspiration to push through the circumstances however hard it is.
The Call to Action
David prophesied, “Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.” ~ Psalm 110 : 3
In contrast to the rebellious spirit for which the Youth are known, there will be much willingness for the people of God to array themselves for the Gospel of Christ. A people of great willingness and devotion (Edward Reynolds, n.d.) rallying behind the Priest forever, according to the Order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). They are willing to be transferred from nature’s steps of Human descent to God’s steps of human ascent (John Pulsford, in “Quiet Hours”, 1857).
The womb of the dawn symbolizes the resurrection, and as the dew are new every morning, so shall there be a constant succession of new life in the church, a perpetual juvenility. The Youth will have an undying enthusiasm for Christ, as their strength will be renewed like eagles (cf. Isaiah 40 : 30-31).
Our Youth will rally behind the call of the bishop, and they will fight the good fight of faith under the banner of our Lord. This call must be made now, a trumpet call to seek the Lord, in the day of Your power (Psalms 110, ff).
Gillian Marie Reyes
Fr. Jay Molanda