On Ministry of the Laity
We, the clergy and laity of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), in a National Consultation on Ministry at the City of Manila on May 9-11, 2000, are strongly united in mind and heart that we are legitimate people of God having been created in His own image (Gen.1:27). As a Church born out of the Filipinos’ quest for genuine independence and liberation, and proclaimed by the Union Obrera Democratica (UOD), we continue to uphold our being Pro Deo Et Patria. We firmly believe that we are called and commissioned as heirs and stewards of the liberating God to incarnate our faith into the struggle for life in its fullness for the realization of the Reign of God on earth where there is abundance, joy, charity, peace and justice.
The Church is the Body of Christ (Eph. 1: 22; 5:23-30; Col. 1:18,24; Cor. 12;12-31; Rom 12:4). By virtue of our baptism, we are mandated to participate in the ministry of Christ. Every baptized Christian is responsible for the other members of the Church. We, like the early Christians, are commanded to devote ourselves to “spent their time in learning from the apostles, taking part in the fellowship, and sharing in the fellowship meals and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42TEV).
We re-affirm our faith that we are all children of God, by virtue of our baptism, and endowed with different gifts by the same Spirit (Cf. Ehp. 4:11) to live out our calling and pursue the mission of God on earth and to exercise the ministry of the loving God and Country and hasten the realization of Shalom on earth, which is life in its fullness.
Christian Ministry is essentially a ministry of salvation and reconciliation in the service of the world. It is a call for action. It is a call that identifies us with the mission of Christ. By nature of its being called and commissioned, Ministry in the Church, is helping to build communities of faith.
The ministry of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente is the ministry of Jesus, which is to realize the reign of God on earth. This ministry is not the sole responsibility of the ordained. We recognize that the ordained and the lay people share a common ministry but have different functions to undertake for the edification of the faith community, for the glory of God and in the service to the people. The ordained ministry is basically a ministry of guidance where the people are led and taught “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).
In spite of the abundant life that God has bestowed on us (Cf. John 10:10), ironically the whole creation groans in pain of childbirth (Cf. Rom. 8:22). The concentration of power and wealth by the colonial nation perpetuates the economic, political, and cultural maladies that plague the nation. Thus, in response to our prophetic role compels us to immediately respond, get involved, and participate in promoting a just, abundant and humane society.
Our ministry demands co-responsibility. It promotes the exercise of God-given gifts and upholds the people’s rights for freedom, dignity and integrity. This ministry must be responsive to the historical and structural realities of our time. This ministry addresses the life situation of the people of God and proclaims Good News to the poor, to gives sight to the blind and freedom to the captives (Cf. Lk. 4:16-21). Our ministry must always incarnate the teaching of Christ in every situation regardless of our classes, positions, works and professions.
The laity of the IFI, in solidarity with the rest of the Filipino people in their just struggle, must always read the signs of the times of the present situation. The prevalence of poverty, injustice, and human rights violations compel us to have a united action for the fulfillment of a Shalom community.
The forebears of the IFI articulated the importance of the lay participation in the ministry. The ministry of the lay people as defined in the early life of our Church is even more relevant today. We are challenged to recapture and to enrich our faith and heritage through the different ministries such as Pastoral Care, Ministry of Education and Nurture, Ministry of Information, Ministry of the Council, Ministry of Celebrations (Altar Servers, Altar Guilds, Stewards, Choir, Church buildings), Ministry of Social Action and Prophetic Ministry, and to continue the ministry of teaching, preaching and healing through the guidance of the Liberating Holy Spirit.
Our Pro Deo Et Patria must find its incarnation and meaning through our unequivocal participation in the total work of God’s salvific action.