Various Christian groups in the city have set aside denominational and doctrinal differences to call and pray for an end to prejudice and religious intolerance during the recently concluded World Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
“The whole city of Baguio is blessed for having a strong ecumenical movement working towards unity of all Christians here,” said Bishop Pedro Torio Jr. of the Baguio City First United Methodist Church.
He was speaking during a homily when the Methodist Church hosted an ecumenical evening prayer and worship last Jan. 21, the start of the World Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ended on Jan. 26.
Proposed in 1908, the worldwide week-long activity has been organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity of the Vatican and the World Council of Churches through its Commission on Faith and Order.
For Baguio, the activity since 1998 has been coordinated by the Baguio-Benguet Ecumenical Group, which is composed of various churches and fellowships.
“Let us continue to strengthen our diversity and our unity in the Spirit, and overcome our prejudices and stereotyped perception of others,” also said Rev. Simplicio Dang-awan Jr. of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, which hosted the global activity last Jan. 25.
The other leaders, who also hosted the ecumenical activity, stressed on respecting and appreciating each other’s religious tradition such as various modes of prayer and worship. They also highlighted the need to find common ground in the essential teachings of the gospel such as community solidarity and being each other’s keeper.
When the ecumenical week of prayer started here in 1998, only the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopalian Church, Lutheran Church, UCCP, Methodist Church, and Philippine Military Academy participated.
But since five to six years ago, other smaller churches and fellowships have been participating. These include the Christ-appointed Church, World International Ministries, Zion Christian Center, Jesus is Lord Fellowship, Jesus’ History-makers Ministries, Yeshua Set-free Ministries, Assemblies of God, Bukal (a pastoral care group), and Christ is Coming Church.
“More churches are now involved and we can harmoniously work together as one big happy family,” said Dr. Raylita Calimlim, a Catholic lay leader and secretary of the BBEG.