Episcopal Church in the Philippines visits USPG

First published on: 23rd March 2021

The Most Rev’d Joel Pachao, Prime Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), and Attorney Floyd Lalwet, Provincial Secretary of the ECP, shared news virtually from their province with USPG staff and trustees over a Zoom link.

Rev’d Davidson Solanki, USPG Regional Manager for Asia and the Middle East, introduced the guest speakers, saying “It is my great joy and honour to welcome Prime Bishop Joel and Secretary Floyd from the ECP. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the ECP has shown great adaptability and resilience. Prime Bishop Joel and Secretary Floyd will be sharing what they have managed to achieve during Covid-19 with us”.

Prime Bishop Joel Pachao provided a brief history of the ECP before outlining the challenges that Covid-19 had created for the Church, saying: “In 1990, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion and is currently comprised of seven dioceses, 100 parishes and around 170,000 members. When the Church became autonomous, it had a difficult first few years. However, the Church became stronger and more resilient. It is this strength and resilience that the ECP has been able to draw on during the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, we had to close our churches and cancel bible study meetings. As leaders of the ECP, we had to consider how we could continue to worship God and serve our communities, given the Covid-19 restrictions and challenges”.

Floyd Lalwet said, “In 2012, USPG and the ECP renewed our partnership, focusing on asset-based community development – identifying the gifts and needs of our church communities. We are thankful for USPG’s partnership with us, as it has facilitated the ongoing development of our church communities and enabled us to move closer to financial independence”.

Secretary Floyd said, “The impact of the pandemic on our church life was a real shock – even during the Second World War we didn’t cancel church services! However, we managed to conduct church services in new ways, live-streaming the Sunday service and holding open-air services when possible. For many of our churchgoers, the Anglican Communion became an experienced reality for the first time as we invited representatives from across the Communion to participate in our online services. We were inspired to do this by USPG’s “Zoom Around the World” in May 2020”.

Secretary Floyd also talked about the unexpected positives which occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, saying “Despite the fact that we waived rental fees on church properties as soon as restrictions were announced, nine of our parishes became financially independent during 2020. At a time of global economic turbulence, our provincial financial plan has been certified as financially viable”.

He described some of the ECP’s initiatives, saying “At our provincial headquarters in Manila, we were able to host around 100 hospital workers from St Luke’s Hospital in the city. These frontline workers had previously been travelling from outside the city to St Luke’s, which is in the middle of Manila, increasing the chance of spreading Covid-19. By offering them accommodation at our headquarters, we were able to cut down on possible transmission of the virus. In 2020, the leadership of the ECP released statements highlighting a number of social injustices, including one in response to the introduction of the Rice Tariffication Law, which has made it less expensive to import rice to the Philippines, adversely affecting Filipino rice farmers. We backed up these words with deeds, as the ECP purchased 10 tonnes of rice direct from local farmers, which was then distributed to church members and partner institutions”.

Prime Bishop Joel and Secretary Floyd then answered questions from USPG staff about the relationship between the ECP and USPG in the future, and how lessons from the pandemic can be applied to the long-term strategy of the ECP.

You can read more about the relationship between USPG and the Episcopal Church in the Philippines here.