The Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) through Fr. Rico P. Ponce, O. Carm. was chosen by Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. to convene the Organizing Committee for an ecumenical forum.
The idea for such a forum came to Archbishop Ledesma when he was invited but could not come to the 17th Spirituality Forum of ISA held on August 3 – 7, 2017 at the St. Paul University, Quezon City.
This year’s theme “Spirituality of Communion” gathered Christian religious leaders who shared their views on Communion from the perspective of their churches. Afterwards, Archbishop Ledesma called for a meeting on how to continue the work of ISA.
ISA met several times with representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines – Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), the Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF), and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) to make the idea of Archbishop Ledesma a reality.
The ecumenical Gathering was held on November 7, 2017 at the Grand Ballroom, BGPOP Bldg., University of Santo Tomas with more than 200 participants, double the number expected by the Organizing Committee.
With the theme of “Looking Back at the 500 Years of Reformation: Challenges for Harmony and Unity”, the forum served to promote understanding and cooperation among Christians of different denominations, and to remember and celebrate 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.
Archbishop Ledesma delivered the keynote address on the topic “The Road Towards Christian Unity.”
Rev. Ferdinand Anno (Protestant), Fr. Richard Babao (Catholic) and Bishop Rodrigo Tano (Evangelical) spoke on the perspectives, doctrinal policies and canonical laws of their churches on baptism, the Eucharist, ministry and mixed marriages.
Prof. Dr. Rommel Linatoc, the Program Secretary, Program Unit on Christian Unity and Ecumenical Relations of theNational Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) shared success stories of ecumenical celebrations.
In terms of peace, a victim of human rights violations from a group of indigenous people (Lumads) and the mother of a victim of extra-judicial killings (EJK) gave their testimonies, and Prof. Aldrin Penamora, the Executive Director, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission and Research Director for Christian-Muslim Relations of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) expounded on the different peace initiatives on the grounds.
In a workshop facilitated by Rev. Dionito Cabillas of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), the participants identified and affirmed various areas of partnership and cooperation.
The forum ended with an ecumenical prayer where the participants wished one another peace and harmony.
Dr. Carmen Alviar