"Relationship of Grandparents"
This month started with a 10-day visit from Elizabeth Boe and Jenny Grant from The Episcopal Church. Elizabeth is the Mission Personal Officer in charge of Young Adult Service Corps (the program I am participating in) and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (YASC for those over 30 years old). Jenny is the Global Relations and Networking Officer for the Episcopal Church.
During their visit, we met with and talked to Episcopalians across 5 of the 7 dioceses of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines. We heard stories about self reliance of the churches and specifically how the church is supporting efforts towards self reliance.
One thing I didn't know before being assigned to the Philippines is that the Episcopal Church of the Philippines used to be a diocese of The Episcopal Church all within the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is the global body of Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world which includes 40 provinces. Each province has a leader called a primate. In the US, we are in province 37 and our primate is the Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Our province includes all Episcopal churches in the United States as well as 17 other countries. The Episcopal Church of the Philippines makes up province 26 and the Prime Bishop is Joel Pachao. The provinces of the Anglican Communion are autonomous but are held together by various meetings of church leaders as well as our common beliefs.
The Episcopal Church of the Philippines (ECP) started as a mission of the American church at the end of the 19th century. The church in the Philippines relied heavily on support from the mother church in the United States. TEC built churches, paid priests, and gave parishioners gifts like milk, jackets, chocolate, and coffee. The dependence on TEC was not a healthy relationship for the church in the Philippines. In 1990, the ECP split from TEC and in 2007, ECP stopped receiving funding from The Episcopal Church (province 37). The relationship between the "mother" church and ECP has diminished in the years since ECP has become independent.
The churches remain close allies in the Anglican Communion but our church members have lost connection. Attorney Floyd, the ECP's attorney, Director of E-CARE, provincial secretary, and more, explains the relationship through the experience of a former Bishop in Texas. The Bishop had worked and lived in the Philippines for many years before becoming bishop. On a return visit, he realized he knew the grandparents of all the people he met and that the relationship between the churches had become a "relationship of grandfathers."
During the past 12 years, the ECP has sought self reliance. Now, it is time for TEC and ECP to rebuild the former close relationship but now as partners. On the trip with Elizabeth and Jenny, I participated in conversations about building a stronger partnership between the churches. The ECP can teach TEC some of the lessons they have learned in their journey toward self reliance. Instead of looking to build relationships through monetary or other donations, we can build our relationship around spiritual development and our shared efforts to live Jesus filled lives and make the world a better place.