by Charles A. Gawidan
Episcopal dioceses throughout the Philippines have achieved to stage the Samahan ng Kabataang Episcopal sa Pilipinas (SKEP) 5th National Youth Peace Camp to invigorate Christ ministry among the young people in the church.
This NYPC bore the theme “Kristiyanong Kabatanunan alang sa Kalinaw: the Youth Upholding Peace and Reconciliation” that aims at gathering the young leaders in our church once again to celebrate the ministry of youth work, to understand the current situation of the different conflicts in our country, and to learn the meaning and importance of its relevance to the young people of the church. The camp, which began on April 17, 2017, brought together around 220 young people nation-wide from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon, Episcopal Diocese of North Philippines, Episcopal Diocese of North Central Philippines, Episcopal Diocese of Santiago, Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines, Episcopal Diocese of Davao, and Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines.
The camp was held at St. Thomas Parish, Barrio 4, Barangay Rang-ay, Municipality of Banga, South Cotabato. During the five-day camp, the young people have explored human right issues in different context of conflicts, 5 marks of mission of the Anglican Communion, socio-political-religious issues; and the biblical interpretation of those issues. They have dwelt also with series of bible studies, talent and skills workshops, cultural sharing and appreciation, devotions, and community service.
The event was organized by the SKEP National Council: the youth national officers and youth diocesan presidents/representatives of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP). The bishop of the Diocese of Davao which is the host, The Right Reverend Jonathan L. Casimina, said that conducting the youth peace camp in Mindanao is a courageous act coming from the youth. The bishop enlightened the delegates that conflicts are not only present in Mindanao, it is everywhere. The youth were encouraged to become living testimonies in defying the stereotype of the word ‘Mindanao’ – only a place of war and struggles; also, challenging the young people to continue being part of the catalyst of change to challenge society’s unjust systems and structures. The forum has addressed the issues in the context of the Anglican Communion’s Five Marks of Mission.
The challenges of today are somewhat confusing to the young people especially in prioritizing between the demands of school, work, church, and family. Without the right mind and attitude coming from the leadership of our church, the pressures inflicted by these important aspects of a young people’s life could possibly handicaps to them instead of leading them to discover their potentials. This camp did not only intend to let the delegates know what are conflicts lurking in our beloved country, but to realize also the problems present within the backyard of our church which possibly hampering active church involvement.
The SKEP 5th NYPC together with the dioceses also aimed to make an impact to some youth potential leaders with the hope that the same or related activities will be done in their home churches/parishes, deaneries or community.
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines is still blessed with a number of young people in most of the dioceses and deaneries. SKEP as the young peoples’ organization hopes to instil upon most of its members, if not all, the good marks and life experienced values of the seniors and leaders of the church. Of course, they are values that are rooted in the Word of God.
“We are hopeful that this 5th NYPC will help lit the fire of revival among many young people in our church to continue serving God thru His brethren in any aspect of life.”