The Church as Agent of Community Transformation – The ATS 2017 Theo Forum

Peace Church Philippines presented at the recent ATS 2017 Theological Forum last March 2-3, 2017 held at Greenhills Christian Fellowship Ortigas. The theme of the forum this year is “The Church as Agent of Community Transformation”

Regina Lyn Mondez Sumatra and Kathleen Lei Limayo shared stories of transformation in the communities Peace Church was involved in.

The first story is how Balay Tukalsan journeyed with informal settlers in Taguig during conflict with a business man. Bryan Paler, a member of Peace Church Philippines, leads the Balay Tuklasan. The conflict started when the business man wanted to remove the informal settlers on a nearby land. Bryan facilitated the conflict resolution by inviting everyone to eat on a feast at the street and get to know each other. By building relationships and letting the people involved in the conflict know each other, reconciliation and peace in the community can happen.

The second story is the street concert of Canadian Artist, and Juno Award winner, Matt Epp in Balut, Tondo Manila in 2015. Normally, performers like Matt will hold big concerts, but last 2015 in Sining Kalye Musikalsada he sang alongside local artists in Tondo. The concert challenged “Theo Sa Kanto” to encourage the local artists in Tondo to share their talent to their community.

Peace Church Philippines engages not just with Christians but even individuals who have different faith. Since 2014, Peace Church has collaborated with individual anarchists to host the event “Sining Kalikasan, Aklasan”. It is a annual event that seeks to voice out concerns to the government during the State of the Nation Address of the Philippine president. It is a peaceful protest by sharing workshops and performances.

To listen to the full presentation of Peace Church Philippines, watch the video below.

 

 

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Community is the Center of Our Life

What is an Anabaptist Christian? free download link here

“Every day they broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and since hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people Acts 2: 46 – 47.

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By referring to his followers in family terms, it became evident that Jesus wanted his followers to not only believe in him, but also to have a strong sense of belonging to each other. Observers were amazed at what God did in and through these groups of early Christians. They had the gifts, insights, and courage to continue doing what Jesus had begun to do while he was with them. If you would have asked those first followers of Jesus, I believe they would have said, “Jesus-centered Community is the center of our life!”

Over time the idea of belonging to Christ and to each other as a close-knit community was largely lost. Those who wanted to follow Jesus obediently and to experience close community chose to become monks and nuns who lived in monasteries and convents. This gave the impression that following Jesus and daily life and living relationally in Christ center community wasn’t possible for common people.

Martin Luther and other reformers originally intended to reform the Church to its biblical Origins. Luther and zwingli were prevented by The Peasants War and other political circumstances from implementing many of their intended reforms. They continued with:

  • the basic structures of Constantine and the Theology of Augustine
  • the state church as the structure for the church
  • the sanctuary as the center of the church
  • infant baptism as the introductory right into the church
  • the use of the sword by the government as the tool for discipline
  • the interpretation of a “flat” Bible as the primary way of knowing God’s will. (A flat Bible means reading and applying the scriptures from the Old Testament to the new, with no authoritative priority given to the life and teaching of Jesus.)

The anabaptist saw the church as being composed of transformed believers who were committed to Jesus and each other in covenant communities. Both Protestant and Catholic leaders view this as a threat to the established church. As a result, they imprisoned and severely persecuted many Anabaptists. More than 4,000 were drowned, beheaded, or burned at the stake as Martyrs for their faith.

The early Anabaptists’ strong sense of belonging to Jesus and their loyal support of each other help them to live devoted ethical lives in the context of a hostile world. If you would have asked them, I believe they would have said with the first disciples “Christ-centered community is the center of our life!”

In today’s world, Christians with an Anabaptist perspective understand and practice christ-centered community in three distinct ways.

  1. Forgiveness is essential for community
    1. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. He prayed fervently that we would be one with each other even as he is one with the father. A warm sense of community and all the benefits pertaining to it emerge when members of the body of Christ are committed to asking each other for forgiveness. Confession and forgiveness remove the barriers that prevent fellowship with God and with each other. Anabaptist christians believe that forgiveness is essential for creating and nurturing community.
  2. The scriptures are interpreted in community
    1. Christians from an Anabaptist perspective believe that the scriptures need to be studied both privately and in the context of a Spirit-guided community where fellow believers give and receive counsel. Generally, community members who come together in small groups, classes, and conferences in the spirit of Christ can best determine what scripture is saying to them about a particular situation.
  3. Community is experienced in face-to-face groups
    1. Some aspects of christian living happen best and relational groups of 12 or fewer people. This is often true when we give and receive counsel, discern gifts for Mission, and have fun and fellowship. Healthy congregations are structured for community. They are often networks of small groups. Some would go so far as to say that the small group is the basic unit of the church. Christian from an Anabaptist perspective experience Christ-center community at the center of their life.

~This is a section from a short eBook by Palmer Becker which you can get as a free download here.

Advent Prayers – Dec. 16

The Christmas season is a reminder that we are not alone, God has entered this world to suffer with us, and overcome the darkness. All are invited to be his poeple and he will plant in our the seed that becoems the light of the world.

This is my prayer of hope, knowing that Jesus Christ is present with us.

Let’s open our ears to hear.

In our world, where we hear as much bad news as we want to hear, we look for hope outside of ourselves.

In our world where we know people are dyeing on the other side of the city due to unfair, injust, or abusive things, we look for diving guidance outside of our own capacity to bring change.

In our world where our homes become places of tension rather than places of rest, we long for your light in our darkness.

In our world where few faithfully claim to walk with a loving Creator because their picture of the Creator is angery and judgmental…. Jesus lead us in treating others as we would want them to treat us. We antisipate in faith and we look for hope.

 

Longing for light we wait in darkness.

Longing for truth, we turn to you.

Make us your own, your holy people,

light for the world to see.

 

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light! Shine in your church, gathered today.

 

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.

Longing for hope, many despair.

Your word alone, has power to save us.

Make us a living voice.

 

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

 

Longing for food, many are hungry.

Longing for water, many shall thirst.

Make us your bread, broken for others,

shared until all are fed.

 

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

 

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.

Longing for warmth, many are cold.

Make us your building, sheltering others,

walls made of living stone.

 

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.

 

Many the gifts, many the people,

Many the hearts, that yearn to belong.

Let us be servants to one another,

making your kingdom come.

 

Christ be our light! Shine in our hearts. Shine through the darkness.

Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today….

 

As we take in a breath, the air you created, with our lungs, Lord, help us to be filled with your Spirit as well. Your spirit is only of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfuness and self control….

Make us the people who embody your loving service into every neighbourhood your followers are present.

The poem is “Longing for Light” By Bernadette Farrell. 1993.

Advent Prayers – Dec. 12


Invitation to Praise

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. 

Song of Praise

Come, let us sing to the LORD: let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. 

Song Link “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” 

In the light of the morning, Lord: tune our hearts to sing your praise. 

Psalm 65:5 –8 

Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness, O God of our salvation: O Hope of all the ends of the earth and of the seas that are far away. You make fast the mountains by your power: they are girded about with might. You still the roaring of the seas: the roaring of their waves, and the clamor of the peoples. Those who dwell at the ends of the earth will tremble at your marvelous signs: you make the dawn and the dusk to sing for joy. 

In the light of the morning, Lord: tune our hearts to sing your praise.

Invitation to Discipleship

Isaiah 7:1 –9 

In the days of Ahaz (Jotham’s son and grandson of Judah’s King Uzziah), Aram’s King Rezin and Israel’s King Pekah (Remaliah’s son) came up to attack Jerusalem, but they couldn’t overpower it.

When the house of David was told that Aram had become allies with Ephraim, their hearts and the hearts of their people shook as the trees of a forest shake when there is a wind. But the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the channel of the Upper Pool, by the road to the field where laundry is washed, and say to him, ‘Be careful and stay calm. Don’t fear, and don’t lose heart over these two pieces of smoking torches, over the burning anger of Rezin, Aram, and Remaliah’s son. Aram has planned evil against you with Ephraim and Remaliah’s son, saying, “Let’s march up against Judah, tear it apart, capture it for ourselves, and install Tabeel’s son as its king.” But the Lord God says: It won’t happen; it won’t take place. The chief of Aram is Damascus; the chief of Damascus is Rezin (in sixty-five more years Ephraim will be shattered as a nation); the chief of Ephraim is Samaria; and the chief of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you don’t believe this, you can’t be trusted.’”

Luke 22:31 –38 

“Simon, Simon, look! Satan has asserted the right to sift you all like wheat. However, I have prayed for you that your faith won’t fail. When you have returned, strengthen your brothers and sisters.”

Peter responded, “Lord, I’m ready to go with you, both to prison and to death!”

Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster won’t crow today before you have denied three times that you know me.”

Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out without a wallet, bag, or sandals, you didn’t lack anything, did you?”

They said, “Nothing.”

Then he said to them, “But now, whoever has a wallet must take it, and likewise a bag. And those who don’t own a sword must sell their clothes and buy one. I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in relation to me: And he was counted among criminals. Indeed, what’s written about me is nearing completion.”

They said to him, “Lord, look, here are two swords.”

He replied, “Enough of that!”

In the light of the morning, Lord: tune our hearts to sing your praise. 

Prayers for Others

Paschasius Radbertus, a ninth-century Benedictine, wrote, “The apostles took every care not to be drawn from the right path. They kept watch, observing the universal precepts their master had given to his disciples so as to be ready when he came again. Consequently we must always be on the lookout for Christ’s twofold coming, the one when he comes day after day to stir our consciences, and the other when we shall have to give an account of everything we have done. He comes to us now in order that his future coming may find us prepared.” 

Prayers for Others 

Our Father…

Walking with Jesus Daily

With each new day, help us, Lord, to make our lives a hymn of constant praise to you. Teach us that the sweetest song is stirred when our hands are open in generosity and our feet are quick to bring the good news of your reconciling love to rich and poor alike. Amen. 

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you; may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.

Advent Prayers – Dec 11


In 1981 scores of Salvadoran troops from the US-trained Atlacatl Battalion occupied the town of El Mozote in rural El Salvador, interrogating its citizens about the whereabouts of guerilla troops suspected to be in the area. Though the residents of El Mozote, many of them born-again evangelicals, were known to be neutral in the conflict between the Salvadoran government and the FMLN resistance, nearly one thousand men, women, and children were systematically killed in the largest massacre of modern Latin American history. 

Invitation

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen. 

Song of Praise

Come, let us bow down and bend the knee: let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 

Song “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” [Click Link]

Rouse yourself! Come and see!: Save us, God, from the enemy. 

Psalm 59:1 –5 Rescue me from my enemies, O God: protect me from those who rise up against me. Rescue me from evildoers: and save me from those who thirst for my blood.

See how they lie in wait for my life, how the mighty gather together against me: not for any offense or fault of mine, O Lord. Not because of any guilt of mine: they run and prepare themselves for battle. 

Rouse yourself, come to my side, and see: for you, LORD God of hosts, are Israel’s God. 

Rouse yourself! Come and see!: Save us, God, from the enemy. 

Call to Discipleship

Isaiah 6:1–13 

In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. Winged creatures were stationed around him. Each had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew about. They shouted to each other, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces!

All the earth is filled with God’s glory!”

The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.
I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!”
Then one of the winged creatures flew to me, holding a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips. Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed.”
Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?”
I said, “I’m here; send me.”
God said, “Go and say to this people:
Listen intently, but don’t understand;

    look carefully, but don’t comprehend.

Make the minds of this people dull.

    Make their ears deaf and their eyes blind,

    so they can’t see with their eyes

    or hear with their ears,

    or understand with their minds,

    and turn, and be healed.”

I said, “How long, Lord?”
And God said, “Until cities lie ruined with no one living in them, until there are houses without people and the land is left devastated.” The Lord will send the people far away, and the land will be completely abandoned. Even if one-tenth remain there, they will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak, which when it is cut down leaves a stump. Its stump is a holy seed.

Luke 22:14 –30 

When the time came, Jesus took his place at the table, and the apostles joined him. He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. I tell you, I won’t eat it until it is fulfilled in God’s kingdom.” After taking a cup and giving thanks, he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. I tell you that from now on I won’t drink from the fruit of the vine until God’s kingdom has come.” After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.
“But look! My betrayer is with me; his hand is on this table. The Human One goes just as it has been determined. But how terrible it is for that person who betrays him.” They began to argue among themselves about which of them it could possibly be who would do this.
An argument broke out among the disciples over which one of them should be regarded as the greatest.
But Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles rule over their subjects, and those in authority over them are called ‘friends of the people.’ But that’s not the way it will be with you. Instead, the greatest among you must become like a person of lower status and the leader like a servant. So which one is greater, the one who is seated at the table or the one who serves at the table? Isn’t it the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.
“You are the ones who have continued with me in my trials. And I confer royal power on you just as my Father granted royal power to me. Thus you will eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones overseeing the twelve tribes of Israel.

Rouse yourself! Come and see!: Save us, God, from the enemy. 

Prayers for Others

The inscription on a memorial in El Mozote’s town square reads, “They did not die, they are with us, with you, and with all humanity.” 

Prayers for Others 

Our Father…

Walking With Jesus in Daily Life

Lord, we give thanks for the faithful who have gone before us. Strengthen us by their witness of courage and help us live lives that might encourage those who long for the gift of faith. Amen. 

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you; may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors.