Rev. Florence Ayban is a bold young minister from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, and the first-ever international partner for the newly merged Partners in Mission and Ecojustice (PMEJ) Committee, now overseeing the mission and justice work of the Anglican Church of Canada.
“This is a good learning experience for both of our churches,” said Rev. Ayban in an interview. “The Episcopal Church of the Philippines has had a long partnership with the Anglican Church of Canada and we are happy to join your committee.” Rev. Ayban, an Aboriginal woman from the Kakana-ey people group, was ordained in June 2004 and is currently rector of a Chinese congregation in Manila, Philippines. She also serves among indigenous Filipinos in remote areas.
At the October PMEJ meeting in Orillia, Ont., Rev. Ayban worked alongside other committee members and was also given a time to share. She affirmed the committee’s work, but also challenged them and offered new ideas. She shared how the Filipino church has used a network of volunteers to translate documents into indigenous languages; this is a model that could be revolutionary in Canada.
It’s been a tradition for over 30 years to have an international member as part of the Partners in Mission committee (now part of the newly merged PMEJ committee). Every three years a new partner is chosen from a different region, and this year the Episcopal Church in the Philippines was chosen from the Asia region, not only because they have a formal, covenanted relationship with the Canadian church, but also because they have long been engaged in mission and justice work—a perfect fit for the interests of PMEJ.
“The Episcopal Church of Philippines is a church that takes mission as work of church locally, nationally, and internationally very seriously,” said Andrea Mann, global relations coordinator at the Canadian national office. She said that the Filipino church actively campaigns for indigenous rights, particularly traditional land rights. It has proven that it is not afraid of being a prophetic voice to the government.
2007 is a landmark year for PMEJ to welcome Rev. Ayban. At the end of the year the Episcopal Church in the Philippines will become fully independent and will pay for all its own stipends, theological colleges, and buildings. Originally a mission church of the Episcopal Church of the U.S., the Filipino church has worked towards self-sufficiency for the past 10 years.
“We are bringing the life and work of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines to the PMEJ meetings. We are proud of ourselves. We can stand up,” said Rev. Ayban. “We are committed to doing work of the Anglican Church wherever we go.”
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