The Most Revd Rhee Millena Timbang, was elected Obispo Máximo of Iglesia Filipina Independiente on 9 May 2017. The Obispo Maximo is the Spiritual Head, Chief Pastor, and Chief Executive Officer of the Church, and heads the Executive Commission.
The Obispo Maximo represents and speaks in the name of the Church after consultation with the Executive Commission on national issues and with the Supreme Council of Bishops on issues concerning faith and morals.
He was ordained Deacon in April 1982, and to the Holy Order of Priesthood on May 23 1982, consecrated Bishop on September 29, 1996, and consequently installed as Bishop of the Diocese of Surigao.
As Bishop of Surigao, the diocese had intensively undertaken to grow and embodied the challenge of being a local church, progressed from having only eleven churches when Surigao was created as a diocese in 1995, growing into having Twentynine parishes and six mission churches. The Diocese is a mission-driven, and program-oriented church, and has developed and given birth to two new dioceses, namely the diocese of Siargao, and the Diocese of Dinagat, and is gearing toward forming another new diocese, from the southeast deanery of the diocese.
Most Revd Rhee also served as president of the Council of Bishops, and published timely and relevant pastoral statements to guide members in their practice of faith and witness as Iglesia Filipina Independiente, among the numerous statements, is the Pastoral Statement “Our Common Humanity, Our Shared Dignity,” expressing that the Church must openly embrace God’s people of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions (SSOGIE) as we embark on a journey toward a just and peaceful world. In that same statement, the Bishops, asked for forgiveness for the many times they have shown indifference, and have made the LGBTIQ+ people feel less human, discriminated against and stigmatised.
As an advocate for human rights, social justice and peace, he is active in numerous ecumenical fellowships, formations and movements for human rights, social justice and peace, among them, are the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform, Pilgrims for Peace, One Voice, Ecumenical Bishops Forum. Several development programs and ministries that promote and uphold human dignity, were sustained, developed, launched and continuously implemented in his incumbency as Obispo Maximo, the Abundant Life Program (for the Indigenous Peoples), the Projects PROPHETS (for the defence and promotion of human dignity), the Workers Assistance Program, (for the poor and oppressed workers), Mission to Seafarers PH (for the seafarers and their families), the United Against Online Sexual Exploitation of Children, and the ESKULAYAN [School for awareness-building and freedom] (both programs for the defence and advocacy of children’s rights).
An EcumeniCAL LEADER, the Most Revd Rhee is active in the work of unity among Christian churches and has strengthened IFI’s relationship with Churches in the Anglican Communion, as well as with Christian denominations. Among the ecumenical development in the life of the IFI, is the recent formal signing of mutual recognition of baptism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia Filipina Independiente, whose document was launched last August 3, 2021, at the National Cathedral of the IFI. The document was signed by the Obispo Maximo, the Chairperson of IFI Committee on Ecumenical Relations and International Affairs, the Bishop of IFI Diocese of Greater Manila, and by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Most Revd Rhee and his spouse Mayette Timbang were blessed with two children, and are now proud grandparents of beautiful twin girls.