Nearly 400 United Methodist youth, young adults and adult leaders from 34 countries gathered in the Philippines in July for the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly. One of the young adults chosen to participate was Sheryl Farfan-Tello from the Kentucky Annual Conference. Sheryl attends Buechel UMC in the Louisville district and has been active with conference Ministry with Young People's events for many years. Here is Sheryl's first hand account of her time in the Philippines. Next week we will share Sheryl's account of the Typhoon that hit while she was there.
As I was journeying to the other side of the world, I could not help but wonder what the church was like in the Philippines. Was it just like it was in the United States? Was it totally different? Thankfully, there were opportunities for worship, prayer, preaching and communion during the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly (GYPCLA). I had the opportunity to go to a Sunday service at a local church, which gave me a good view of a Filipino Sunday morning.
During GYPCLA, there were many opportunities for worship, which is my favorite way to praise God. I did not know whether the worship band was going to sing in Filipino or English. Surprisingly enough, they sang in both languages. Even though not everybody was familiar with the Filipino language, we all sang and worshipped like we knew the language by heart. We sang traditional and contemporary songs, which meant people of all ages were able to enjoy worship. Also, there were a couple of traditional Filipino dance performances. They were beautifully performed and gave us a glance at the Filipino culture.
The sermons were absolutely powerful and meaningful. It felt like it was spoken just for us that day. Bishops preached most of the sermons and most of the speakers preached in English, but there was one bishop who decided to preach in Filipino and English. It made the sermon more interesting to the listeners. To me, it was like learning a different language.
All participants had the opportunity to visit local churches. I had the opportunity to go to Kamuning First United Methodist Church. The overall service was amazing and the congregation was very welcoming to us. The service was really similar to services back home. It had worship time, announcements, affirmation of faith, the creed, hymns, a sermon, choir, etc. The only thing different was that they had two services, one in English and one in Filipino. Also, at the end of the service, the congregation made lunch and there was a time of a gathering for all of us. They were very warm and kind to us during our visit to Kamuning.
My time at the legislative assembly was exciting and intimidating at the same time. I was excited about being able to vote and make my vote count. It was intimidating at the same time, because not everybody agreed with my vote. I learned that not everybody is going to agree and that some concerns that young people have might not be the concerns of others. The issue of homosexuality was the main concern during the legislative assembly. It seems like young people wanted that to be a change in the church, while others were concerned about poverty, the environment or war. After the legislative assembly was over, the participants realized that the main topic that needed to be addressed was making disciples of Jesus Christ.