“Resurrected” MSPM? Thanks to NETS!*

Congratulations to the Batch 2012 of the Negros TheologicalSeminary (NETS) . Special mentioned to Pastor Teofilo “Boy” Mahilum and Pastor Stephen Gallenero for being the pioneer graduates, as far as the Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) is concerned. With your graduation, the sustainability of MSPM program is already assured in Negros or even in Panay. More so, that the guest speaker in your 2nd Commencement Exercises is one of the pioneer faculty of the MSPM, Dr. Melvin M. Mangana.

When we started the program in 2007, some downgraded our voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

Some students even experienced “harassment” from an on- and- off personnel who intimated to monitor the program as it is suspected to be used against the CPBC leadership. A ridiculous claim as the program was approved by the Board of Trustees of the referred institution. Of course, the reactions mostly came from people who have been conditioned to believe that they are the center if not the sole reservoirs of learning or power. Apart from them or their blessings, no other initiatives will ever prosper.

However, like the unknown kid in the Bible, whose small initiatives resulted to the feeding of 5,000+ , we were not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. Such voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

MSPM pioneering students

The MSPM stands as witness to the unprecedented unity in the Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) and Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) five years ago. It is one of the two breakthroughs undertaken when the CPBC Unified Theological Education System(UNITES) was conceived, approved by the CPBC Board of Trustees and gradually implemented by the Theological Education and Ministerial Concerns Committee. Those were the days, my friends, we thought would never end, when theological institutions affiliated with the Convention were so united to formulate a Standardized Curriculum.

A combination of Master of Social Work and Master of Ministry, the mission of the Master of Socio-Pastoral Ministries program is to prepare pastors for leadership roles in church, church-related institutions and community. Specifically, it is geared towards a healthy and balanced pastoral leadership in church and community services. For we have a holistic mission and ministry exemplified by our Lord and Master Teacher, Jesus, the Christ as he put into action the avowed mission in Luke 4:18-19 .

Three years after the program was implemented, it has produced 23 pioneering graduates from Panay and Negros, despite some attempts to sabotage the program . The Conferral Ceremony was held on May 1, 2010 at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Ajuy, Iloilo with the approval of the General Secretary of the CPBC, Rev. Job Santiago, who served as speaker on said event. Pastor Stephen could have joined that Batch, but without his knowing it, he opted to graduate in NETS together with Pastor Boy today.

MSPM program is unique as it democratizes the center of learning and power. The program exemplifies a sharing, self-reliant , self sustaining and empowering community. Faculty are volunteers. Students in respective centers shoulder the transportation expenses and accommodation. Classes are conducted in provincial centers offered by churches and institutions who subscribe to the idea. Participating theological institutions conferred the degree to graduates.

As such, the program serves as good news to pastors who dream for an alternative continuing pastoral education, affordable but qualitative, without necessarily leaving their pastorate and families. Its message to the whole CPBC constituents is clear. Nothing is impossible if we only share. Our pastors can earn masteral degrees if we pool our resources together. The CPBC, with the help of our theological institutions and volunteer faculty – our pastors and lay leaders can liberalize the educational opportunities and improve the plight of the pastors.

But such beauty and uniqueness of the program are not attractive to people who do not believe in empowerment and sharing of resources for the benefit of the many. Changes in leadership in our Convention and respective bible schools have curtailed the development of the program. Politics and personal interests caused some to scamper for the opportunity to push for their respective agenda when in the leadership position. Some opted to put a new label to the same product. With my complex health condition, the more the program was sidetracked.

PRE GRADUATION SESSION. Dr. Melvin Mangana (3rd from left, front row) together with the NETS administration officials and Graduating students. At extreme right is Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza

However, as the saying of old contends “you cannot put a good person or product down.” By God’s own timetable, NETS was organized. Subsequently, a new center of learning and empowerment has been established. I am glad that the school administration included in their course offerings the MSPM. With this development, coupled with the graduation of Pastor Boy and Pastor Stephen, today, we are assured of the “resurrection” of the MSPM . Those who have started the program in Negros and in Panay can now earn their respective degrees in NETS. Let us spread this good news ! God bless.

*Statement of Support from Rev. Edwin I. Lariza, MSPM pioneer, for the 2nd Commencement Exercises of the Negros Theological Seminary (NETS) in Escalante City on April 9, 2012, as requested by the Seminary administration.The statement was read by Prof. DZ Patriarca-Lariza during the graduation ceremony.

About philnets

Never ending training and service institution that caters the needs of ministers through personal learning encounter towards transformation and service.

Posted on April 22, 2012, in Graduation, Ministry, Pioneers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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