For Rev. Rex Reyes, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines—or simply Padi Rex, as he is better known—partnership characterizes all that he is and all that he does. It is his celebration of peace and justice, which takes on myriad forms.
From filming food security messages with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, to sitting with the United Church of Canada Partner Council, to ecumenical preaching gigs, to working with the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund strategic planning working group, Padi Rex finds his home in the church through local, regional, and international partnerships.
In Canada for a three-week visit, the Igorot priest from the Cordilleran mountains exudes impressive energy for social justice rooted in his Christian faith. Human rights, resource extraction, education, food security, gender justice, national and international politics, all find a home on Padi Rex’s theological radar. He is as well versed in Canadian federal politics as he is on youth engagement in the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.
At a gathering with Church House staff in early August, he stressed the importance of finding the distinctiveness of our Christian identity in service and prophetic action. “We are not just development workers, we are Christian development workers.” This, for Padi Rex, means reclaiming the language of the faith and the church long appropriated by secular and corporate voices. It also means constantly recalling the Gospel imperative to feed the hungry, offer water to the thirsty, and meet strangers and the imprisoned as Christ.
Padi Rex is among the most senior clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines. Though his current ministry as the first Anglican General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines is ecumenical by definition, his earliest experiences of Christianity were far less so. He laughs when he recalls his shock in discovering churches outside the Anglican tradition when he moved to Manila as a young man.
On his way to the top post at the NCCP, Padi Rex served the Anglican church in an array of ministries. He was an alter boy as a child, and later an ecumenical officer and provincial secretary. He even church planted a congregation within a poor urban community—Fairview Episcopal Resurrection Church—that still thrives as a hub for young Christians.
Seven years into his time as General Secretary, Padi Rex is increasingly grateful for inheriting a council with strong commitments to human rights, peace, and justice grounded in global partnerships. He names PWRDF and the United Church of Canada as two of the earliest and strongest relationships with the church and people of the Philippines.
The Philippines and Canada, he reflects, are bonded in a struggle for the conservation of the Earth, especially in the presence of Canadian mining companies on Philippine land. In these trans-Pacific connections, the Spirit moves, “We are in this together. In partnership we realize our common humanity and our dependence on God.”
Back at his desk in Quezon City, Padi Rex has a powerful reminder that partnership—and solidarity and sacrifice—must transcend what we can accomplish in this time and place.
In the shape of a simple cross, he has assembled the names and death dates of the 196 activist victims of extra judicial killings since the current government came to power. At the centre of this montage sits a candle to illuminate the witnesses to all conversations that take place in this space. “They will listen to us and convey to us their unfinished hopes,” Padi Rex reflects. With that closing thought, he returns his focus to Canada and is off to meet our co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations—always forging new pathways for new partnerships.
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