The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a mainline Protestant church of around 1.5 million members, has unanimously approved “Let Grace Be Total,” a policy statement on lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender people in its 10th Quadrennial General Assembly and 66th Founding Anniversary.
“The statement was a product of the studies done by the Faith and Order committee in 2010. This affirms that all of us regardless of any category are under the grace of God. The statement means that LGBTs should not be discriminated but should be unconditionally accepted in the fellowship and membership of the Church. There has been some resistance but they have only been a minority,” said Bishop Reuel Marigza, UCCP General Secretary.
In a report by The Union Voice, Pastor Kakay Pamaran, of the Metropolitan Community Church, welcomed the statement as a “courageous step towards ‘coming out’ of the UCCP for the inclusion of LGBT people but with the acknowledgement that there is also a lot of work to study and reformulate the statement.”
The Union Voice also reported that Bishop Marigza confirms the openness to ordain openly gay and lesbian church workers.
Rev. Alfred Candid M. Jaropillo, who is an openly gay administrative minister of UCCP in Ilo-Ilo City said that “as a clergy of the UCCP, for me the statement of our General Assembly on LGBT… was a spiritual uprising of the church and liberating for the LGBT community. The UCCP made her stand and affirmed that the God we serve is an inclusive God therefore the church should open her doors for all people.”
While the statement may make others uncomfortable, Jaropillo believes that truth generally “makes us uncomfortable. This is a prophetic pronouncement of the Church and I believe the future of the UCCP is very clear this leads the people of God into shalom,” Jaropillo added.
The UCCP community may still be largely “surrounded by a culture and norm of patriarchal domination, anti-women and homophobic frame of thought and way of life.” But Jaropillo said that “the church has been doing its work to advocate for gender equality. The view of the UCCP faithfuls are diverse. And I believe through Christian Education the church can lead forth and liberate the people of God from an oppressive and monolith structure,” he ended.