On August 9, 2014, delegates to the 6th SMSSAFF North America Conference in Toronto took a sort-of pilgrimage to St. George's Church, Newcastle, Ontario Canada. This is the church where Bishop Charles Henry Brent, the 1st resident Bishop of ECUSA [Episcopal Church of the United States of America] in the Philippines, began his illustrious career as a Soldier for Christ, Servant of Humanity and foremost Exponent of Ecumenism.
The email below describes how Claus Nabert aka Agpad, one of the planners of the pilgrimage, saw it. LBS
7:44 AM (1 hour ago)
Greetings All ...
Here is your next set of images, this time the actual service in Newcastle. [See images in photos.]
I think anyone will agree that this was special and truly magic but I suspect few know the overall impact of that day.
For us it has indeed been a pilgrimage and a very special moment. It was an opportunity to honour a very special person in our history. And honour we did. We arrived as a bunch of individuals, individual cells, and quickly coalesced into a single organism sharing our passion for our history, sharing our gratitude for what the church has done for us over the past hundred years, and sharing our faith. We have demonstrated to everyone there how we can unite into a single whole when we have an opportunity to make a statement.
But it doesn't end there. What astonished the clergy and the local parishioners was how intense we were. We even astonished the reporters from the Anglican who were blown away by the event and how we made it come alive. Everyone discovered just how powerful our devotion can be and through this we have set a new standard, a new example of what it means to be Christian and what it means to honour your history. We also set a new standard for preserving and promulgating our culture. There is no one in Newcastle who doesn't know about us and what St Mary's in Sagada is all about.
And even that doesn't really wrap it up. St Georges is no different from most other mainstream churches, it's seen an ongoing decline in its membership and it struggles to pay the bills. In addition, they are like most other organizations, gradually the history is lost and life just goes on.
Our arriving there in the winter to talk about a possible service in August had a profound effect on the parish. Overnight, as the congregation was asked whether they would help us celebrate, there was a change in the congregation. People started to research their history, they started to learn about Bishop Brent, they started to develop a deep and lasting pride in their history. Suddenly St Georges was transformed into a special place, into a church that has had a significant impact in the world. Almost overnight the congregation was energized, they unified into a single whole rather than a bunch of bickering individuals, and they began to walk proudly down the street.
As much as we were moved by our experience here, so the local congregation was also deeply touched by our devotion and determination to honour one of their own.
This wasn't just a pilgrimage and a memorial service for us, it was also an event that transformed a parish in a small rural town. It was an event that will leave a lasting impression on everyone who was there. It was a new standard for us all to follow.
In an earlier email I said that the delegates who went to Newcastle represented us all very well. We all demonstrated who the Igorots are and what they are capable of. And that is exactly what happened that day. Those who could not come should at least be proud and grateful to those who did for we represented you all in that magic service.
Special mention needs to also be made to the clergy. Archbishop Finlay felt very honoured to be able to lead the prayers and through us to finally recognize Bishop Brent and he deserved to be recognized. To the bishop this wasn't just another memorial service, one of many in his long distinguished career, it was also a pilgrimage as it has been for us. Fr Eugene needs to be thanked too for his belief in us and his ongoing cooperation throughout. Bishop Bedford-Jones was in every planning meeting with us and offered wonderful suggestions as he came to understand our intent. And of course Bishop Botengan represented us up at the altar.
The clergy and also the choir and organist of St Georges also combined to create this special event for us. Rose and I will be visiting Newcastle again in the next month where we will be thanking them all personally for their amazing contributions.
Do have a really super day.