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The Church of Myanmar visits the Philippines

Participants of the strategic planning workshop in the Philippines.
Participants of the strategic planning workshop in the Philippines.

On May 20th 2013, 19 people from the Church of the Province of Myanmar (CPM) travelled to the Philippines for a 10 day strategic planning retreat for CPM’s provincial development program as well as to visit community development projects.

The visit was hosted by the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), with the workshop held at St Michael’s and All Angels Parish in Tadian, Mountain Province. As ABM’s program coordinator with oversight for ABM’s community development activities in Myanmar, I worked alongside the local workshop facilitator and ECP national development staff to ensure that the event would be a positive and useful exercise for all the CPM participants. 

Workshop in progress.
Workshop in progress.

The open, consultative and participatory nature of the workshop helped in crafting a unified statement of a theology of development for CPM and a draft provincial development strategic plan at the end of the three days. Draft diocesan development strategic plans were also prepared and participants were tasked with completing their diocesan business operating plans one month later as workshop time proved short.

As part of the workshop, Floyd Lalwet (ECP’s National Development Officer) talked about ECP’s journey to self-reliance which proved very interesting especially to CPM’s bishops. ABM’s Executive Director John Deane made a presentation about mission and the theology of development, and also facilitated the SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) session on the first day. The participants were all engaged and actively participated in the discussions. Due to careful planning in the workshop groupings, it was heartening to note that most of the participants said it may have been the first time that they have had a workshop where such open discussions were had between church leaders and laity.  

John Deane, Archbishop Stephen and Lina at the retreat.
John Deane, Archbishop Stephen
and Lina at the retreat.

Archbishop Stephen Than Myint Oo of CPM said he was happy and grateful to the ECP and ABM for supporting their visit to the Philippines. Prime Bishop Edward Malecdan of the ECP said he looks forward to the strengthening of relationships between the two churches and affirmed that hosting the visit is a first step in that direction. 

I always feel blessed and privileged every time I go on a work trip, some trips more so than others. CPM’s visit to the Philippines was indeed memorable, one of those that I was thankful I did not miss.

Participants from CPM talked about how they valued the warmth and friendship extended to them by the ECP; from the Prime Bishop in Manila, to the Bishop of Northern Philippines and the other ECP bishops, the church members of St Michael’s and All Angels especially the young people who looked after the living arrangements and catering, to the community members they were able to meet after the workshop. ECP members, for their part, were happy to share and also learn from the experiences of CPM.

It is hoped that CPM, the ECP and ABM will build on what has already been achieved, encourage each other  and continue to work together to fulfil God’s mission. 

Lina Magallanes
South East Asia Program Coordinator
May 2013

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