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An open letter to my niece: a Filipino woman's vision for the church of the future.

December 1st, 1999

Union Theological Seminary, Philippines

My dear Sharon,

Happy Birthday on Dec. 14! I am grateful to God for your life. I rejoice with you and your seven month old baby girl, Carmela. As I look at you, modern Madonna and child, I can't help but dream. Dream for a new home, new church, new community, new world, new cosmos. I know that you want only the best for your child, for your spouse, for your family. And the best is the best of your dream and mine. Seeing your baby cradled in your arms, I want to envision a new millennium that is child-friendly, environmentally sustainable, justice-oriented and spiritually focused.

Once you asked me, "Aunt Eliz, how long will you be working in the church?" You probably asked that because I commented that sometimes I am tired of the church, of the hierarchical church, of the traditional church. I may be tired of it, but I am not giving up on it, not yet anyway. And how do I see the future of the church and the church of the future? Sharon, let me share with you my vision of church of the future.

Church of the future: A Philipina Woman's Vision
 A church that grows inside and out
 A church that excludes no one
 A church that celebrates in the midst of
 A church that struggles to be free
 From patriarchy and prejudice
 From political apathy and moralism
 For interdependence and ecumenism
 For inclusiveness and justice-making.
 A church without walls and divisions
 A church that is relevant and dynamic
 A church that says Yes to economic justice
 for all
 A church that says No to the mammon of globalization.
 NO to hierarchical order, elitist and racist
 YES to circle of acceptance and empowerment
 Bridging the gap between the politics of
 And the common life of the ordinary.

The church of the future will be open to women's ordination without exception. The church of the future is the present-future for women bishops, women presidents, women Popes, women lay leaders, women disciples. This church is home to men who are secure in themselves, respectful and supportive of the human rights of women, believers of unity amidst diversity.

The church of the future will be the church of the poor and the neglected. The mighty will be dethroned, the gentle and meek will inherit the earth. No hidden and unshared wealth, power and prestige. The Church of the Poor will lead, will evangelize, will show humility and authenticity.

The church of the future will be cosmic-oriented, denomination-free, and debt-free. She will sound the trumpet of Jubilee. She will be instrumental in fighting the modern forms of slavery, including the debt crisis, trafficking of women and girl-children.

The church of the future will be a church of the land; befriending, not exploiting; gratefully receiving the blessings of Mother Earth, and learning from the spirituality of the indigenous sisters and brothers, brother Sun and sister Moon and other creatures big and small.

A church that preaches the gospel without strings attached, or glory and fame expected. Her desire would not to be the greatest church by year 2000, rather, her wish would be a responsible servant, a catalyst for change, a prophet discerning the signs of the kairos being accountable, transparent, firm, creative, courageous, sensitive, joyful and simple.

This is my vision. This is my prayer. This is my commitment. But I can't do this alone. May the compassionate Wisdom of God bless us with wisdom and courage. May all who love the church gift us with determination and cooperation. And may you and your darling baby join me and my companions in this dream journey. Mabuhay!

Much love, Tita Eliz

Mabuhay is a Filipino greeting which literally means "may you have life, abundant life. It is used to greet someone who is arriving and who is leaving

Rev. Elizabeth S. Tapia, Ph.D. The Philippines
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Article Details
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Author:Tapia, Elizabeth S.
Publication:Women Magazine
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Mar 1, 2000
Previous Article:The growing fruits of faith.
Next Article:Let in the Holy Spirit to work!

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