Filipino-American Methodists celebrate 100 years in North America
By James J. Kang and Jesse N. Love

The National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists (NAFAUM) celebrated 100 years of Fil-Am Methodist ministry in North America at its 14th biennial convocation held at Riviera United Methodist Church in Redondo Beach, Calif. from July 23-26, 2013.

According to The Rev. Dr. Ben Vinluan, NAFAUM formally began January 1984 in San Francisco with the purpose of empowering an Asian-American group in celebrating ethnic diversity as a means of reaching the world with the good news of Jesus Christ. Since then, NAFAUM has held biennial convocations in celebration of God’s work in and through the Filipino-American United Methodist community.

This year’s theme was “Bagong Siglo, Bagong Sigla”, (“New Century, New Vitality”) with the associate theme of “Celebrating God’s Grace and Faithfulness”.

During its August Convocation, The National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists approved several legislative resolutions.

  • The body approved resolution to begin lessening its carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly by going green.
  • The body approved legislation to stand for Filipinos Workers of Grand Isle Shipyards in New Orleans and to pressure the company to comply with US labor laws and to draw attention of Secretary of State John Kerry and Acting Secretary of the Department of Labor, Seth D. Harris to these workers’ plight.
  • The body approved to support California AB 123, which moves to “Teach California Students About the Importance of Filipinos Contributions to the Farm Labor Movement”.
  • The body approved a resolution to Advocate for Justice on Oppression in Mindanao – for human rights and the environment.
  • The body approved NAFAUM Vita: A Ministry of New Vitality as a celebration of ministry for the future of its ministry.
  • The body approved to affirm and renew ties with American United Methodism to celebrate 100 years of Fil-Am ministry in America.
  • The body approved to affirm its relationship with The United Methodist Church in the Philippines and to support Methodists in America and Canada for effective witnesses and disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Leadership from the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church helped in welcoming delegates to the Convocation and provided great messages to help strengthen the Fil-Am community for the century ahead. North District Superintendent, the Rev. Dr. Cedrick Bridgeforth, preached during opening worship service; West District Superintendent The Rev. Dr. Kathey Wilborn, Executive Director of Connectional Ministries; The Rev. Dr. Stephen Hundley, and Chair of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Rev. Janet McKeithen.

As a nod to both its past and the promise of the future, the Rev. Amy Valdez-Barker, Executive Secretary of The Connectional Table of The United Methodist Church, presented her message during Centennial Night. Valdez-Barker spoke of her roots as a child from the Philippines whose family heard the gospel story from missionary Richard Wehrman. She spoke of how amazingly the grace of that story led her to a life of service and ministry. In her current role, she’s engaged in finding and implementing new and creative ways to tell the gospel story to our age and time. The crowd of some 500 received her message with rapt attention and responded with enthusiasm to her challenge to go make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world.

During the final night of NAFAUM, The Young Voices Service was held featuring an all-young person led program with powerful music and testimonials on how they young people were touched by God at the young people’s camp, Christmas Institute (CI).

Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño, served as the honored guest speaker for the Young Voices worship service. Carcaño preached from the book of Acts illustrating how apostles Peter and John commanded a lame man to get up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ. Carcaño challenged listeners with these important questions:

  • Do you truly believe that Jesus Christ can heal as the apostles believed?
  • Are you sure of your identity in Christ as the apostles were sure?
  • Will you go to the public and political places as the apostles went?

The response from the young people was quite telling of their perspectives on faith and the future. Katerina DePano, daughter of Pasadena First UMC’s the Rev. Adiel DePano, served as MC for the night. Katerina remarked that the Bishop’s message gave her hope that the Methodist Church of the future can reach young people by being “relevant, truthful, and genuinely loving.”

Pacific Northwest Conference young people, Yvonne Agduyeng, Faith Sairez, and Kathleen “Kaye” San Pedro all noted that the message was easy to understand as a challenge to them to be more welcoming to outsiders and to engage the issues of today, especially those relevant to the Filipino community, like immigration.

Kathlyn Talapian, who serves in the Northern Illinois Conference, was empowered by the message as “a reminder that, as we face the new century, God will always be with us.”

The final night of NAFAUM was a symbol of Methodism’s spiritual vibrancy and of the commitment to “Vital Ministry” Filipino-Americans have been dedicated to for the last 100 years. For the past, the present, and the future to come, you are invited to be in continuing prayer and heartfelt celebration with the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists as they embark on vital ministry in the next century!

The next NAFAUM Convocation will be held in Chicago in 2015. Visit Special thanks to the leadership of the California-Pacific Conference and the laity of Riviera United Methodist Church for hosting this year’s convocation.

James J. Kang serves as the director of Communications for the California-Pacific Conference. Jesse N. Love serves as the print & publications manager for the Pacific Northwest Conference and is also a communicator for NAFAUM.


NAFAUM photos
Check out photos from the NAFAUM 2013 Convocation via Flickr.

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