An update from Cobbie and Dessa Palm, mission co-workers serving in the Philippines
Write to Dessa Palm
Individuals: Give online to E132192 in honor of Cobbie and Dessa Palm’s ministry
Congregations: Give to D500115 in honor of Cobbie and Dessa Palm’s ministry
Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)
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Every year, Church Workers of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines gather for a few days at Silliman University at the tail-end of the university’s Founder Week celebration to reflect, discuss and to be in community. The Koinonia comes alive with conversations, breaking bread, singing and studying together. During this time, Dessa and Cobbie help put together a play that reflects the theme for each year.
After a two-year hiatus of a face-to-face Church Workers’ Convocation due to the pandemic, the university opened its door and church workers were able to gather again. In barely three weeks, students and faculty rehearsed a play inspired by stories of Divinity School students, interns, pastors and church workers. The performances were an effort to reflect on this year’s Church Workers’ Convocation theme, “Celebrating and Reaffirming our Hope for Healing” amidst the complexities brought about by the pandemic and other compounding social issues facing the church.
The play begins with the celebration of the Koinonia, the symbolic circle of our Christian community that is strengthened by the faithful community. This safe circle and the social fabric are suddenly shaken by the pandemic and its consequent impact on people’s lives as seen through the lens of church workers. Five stories are shared, distinct but interconnected.
- Charity is an intern who grapples with the experience of isolation and anxiety. In a poetic form, the piece explores mental health issues that can beset individuals who are not provided support and may feel cut off from her community. She confronts God with painful questions of faith.
- Pastor Lila’s story is about a church worker whose church pivots to online virtual worship and must negotiate her relationship with the online congregation. The piece explores the overwhelming scrutiny that comes with opening the church to the digital and global platform. Even with the seeming expansion of reach, it also leaves questions about the efficacy of pastoral care, especially with families who are in very difficult circumstances.
Sheryl is a student who thrived during the pandemic because the quarantine brought the students together as a family. But when tragedy strikes and COVID-19 impacts her family, the reality of painful losses and forced isolation with prohibitive restrictions becomes an overwhelming burden for her and her family.
- Pastor Toto is inspired by church workers who have served in prophetic ministries and have become targets of human rights violations. The piece explores the vulnerability of a pastor’s life when choosing to serve the neediest in rural contexts of landlessness and poverty and the impunity of the state.
- Pastor Kardo chronicles the creative possibilities that emerged during the pandemic, pastors who have pushed towards empowering families in their congregation to continue their worship practice by producing weekly worship and bible study materials for home and family use. Practiced particularly among pastors in remote areas, the Simbalay (home worship), became the way in which pastors ministered, occasionally visiting homes despite the risks and extra work entailed.
The play ends with a reflection on Luke 5: 17-26 which tells of the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man. The characters relate this story to the pandemic and the healing that Jesus shall continue to demonstrate in the context of an ailing world, and the role of the Koinonia, the community to rally around and together support the sick, and to declare their overwhelming faithfulness.
Indeed, we shall be healed through Jesus who works through the collective efforts of our Christian family. We continue to be deeply thankful to you all for accompanying us through your prayers and manifold support amidst all the storms and turmoil that we face as a community. May God bless us and renew us each day.
Cobbie and Dessa
Please read the following letter from Rev. Mienda Uriarte, acting director of World Mission:
Dear Partners in God’s Mission,
What an amazing journey we’re on together! Our call to be a Matthew 25 denomination has challenged us in so many ways to lean into new ways of reaching out. As we take on the responsibilities of dismantling systemic racism, eradicating the root causes of poverty and engaging in congregational vitality, we find that the Spirit of God is indeed moving throughout World Mission. Of course, the past two years have also been hard for so many as we’ve ventured through another year of the pandemic, been confronted with racism, wars and the heart wrenching toll of natural disasters. And yet, rather than succumb to the darkness, we are called to shine the light of Christ by doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God.
We are so grateful that you are on this journey as well. Your commitment enables mission co-workers around the world to accompany partners and share in so many expressions of the transformative work being done in Christ’s name. Thank you for your partnership, prayers and contributions to their ministries.
We hope you will continue to support World Mission in all the ways you are able:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel (E132192). This unified fund supports the work of all our mission co-workers as they accompany global partners in their life-giving work. Gifts can also be made “in honor of” a specific mission co-worker – just include their name on the memo line.
Pray – Include PC(USA) mission personnel and global partners in your daily prayers. If you would like to order prayer cards as a visual reminder of those for whom you are praying, please contact Cindy Rubin (firstname.lastname@example.org; 800-728-7228, ext. 5065).
Act – Invite a mission co-worker to visit your congregation either virtually or in person. Contact email@example.com to make a request or email the mission co-worker directly. Email addresses are listed on Mission Connections profile pages. Visit pcusa.org/missionconnections to search by last name.
Thank you for your consideration! We appreciate your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Rev. Mienda Uriarte, Acting Director
Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
To give, please visit https://bit.ly/22MC-YE.
For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
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Tags: COVID, Human Rights abuses, Matthew 25, Silliman University, UCCP
Tags: Cobbie and Dessa Palm
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