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Protecting God’s Gift of the Seas

A Letter from Cobbie and Dessa Palm, serving in the Philippines

Summer 2021

Write to Cobbie Palm
Write to Dessa Quesada-Palm

Individuals: Give online to E200393 for Cobbie and Dessa Palm’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D506901 for Cobbie and Dessa Palm’s sending and support

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery)


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Dear friends,

God bestowed upon us the care and stewardship of creation. As God’s mind, hands and heart, we must care for everything God has created and deemed good. It is our moral obligation to God and to future generations to protect it.

Over the last few weeks, we have been engaging with initiatives by the church, academe and civil society organizations to oppose efforts by the local government to forge a Memorandum of Understanding with a private construction company to dredge and reclaim land to create a 174-hectare off-shore island stretching four miles along much of the coast of Dumaguete to create a new business hub. Based on studies being presented by marine scientists, this project will require millions of tons of sand, gravel and soil from somewhere that will forever bury coral reefs, seagrass beds, and rich biodiversity with more than 200 species of fish. The project is a grave threat to the fragile marine ecosystem.

A discussion forum that Cobbie has been deeply involved with at the Silliman University Church has led to a declaration by the church opposing the reclamation project. An excerpt from the statement reads:

Following deep reflections and prayers, Silliman University Church – through its Church Council – finds it a faithful act to unconditionally oppose the proposed 174-hectare reclamation project of the Dumaguete City government.

God created the world as a blessing to all nations. It is a world of intricate interdependence of all living and non-living things— on land, air, and sea. It is a world of exquisite beauty, and of divine justice that all in it be given respect and worth as creations and creatures of God.

Development that advances only material prosperity but inordinately and unjustly disregards the worth and value of creations and creatures of God, and which is insensitive to and dismissive of established rules of order and governance of society, is a development that Silliman University Church deems very short of God’s ordained purpose for Creation.

Meanwhile, members of the Youth Advocates Through Theater Arts (YATTA), led by Dessa, are deeply troubled by the proposed reclamation project and have discussed ways of expressing their indignation. For the past year, the organization has been involved in various initiatives to promote awareness of the value of marine biodiversity and the need to protect it. This reclamation project troubled many of its members questioning why the city’s leaders would support a proposal that would destroy its natural resources.

The youth decided to create a quiet but visual display of their opposition. They designed headpieces of marine species that would be affected by the planned reclamation, including corals, giant turtles and an assortment of fishes. On the morning of July 21, 2021, while the city council was in session, the YATTA members walked into the halls and positioned themselves right outside the glass doors of the session hall donning the headpieces and holding little bubble-shaped placards that said, “We are important. Save us. We were not consulted.”

YATTA President Onna Quizo read the group’s message: “Our advocacy centers on the rights of young people. This includes protecting the environment to sustain our lives and the generations to come. As advocates, we want to be the voice of creatures who are unable to be heard, including the marine species and coastal resources of Dumaguete City.”

We only have one planet and one blessing of life. We have only one blessing of Creation from God. We ask you to join us in prayer for discernment and guidance for the peaceful resolution of this controversial proposal.

Cobbie and Dessa Palm

Please read the following letter from Sara P. Lisherness, the interim director of World Mission:

Dear partners in God’s mission,

I don’t know about you, but daily my heart grows heavier. News about the pandemic, wars, wildfires, gun violence, racism, earthquakes and hurricanes cloud my vision. It’s hard to see hope; our world is in a fog. Yet we trust that God’s light and love transcend the brokenness of this time.

God is at work transforming the world, and you, through your prayers, partnership and encouragement, are helping us share this good news. Thank you for your faithful and gracious support of our mission personnel.

How can we see through the fog? What will the church be after the pandemic? Could it be that God is doing “a new thing” and is inviting us to perceive it? Through all the uncertainty we know that God’s steadfast love and care for all creation will prevail and that God’s Spirit is at work in each of us.

We all have an integral part to play in fulfilling God’s mission. As we seek to grow together in faithfulness there are three important steps I invite you to take in supporting our shared commitments to God’s mission:
Give – Consider making a year-end financial contribution for the sending and support of our mission personnel. Your support helps mission personnel accompany global partners as together they share the light of God’s love and justice around the world. Invite your session to include support for mission personnel in its annual budget planning.
Act – Visit The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study to delve deeper into the work God is doing through the PC(USA) and its partners in ministry around the globe:
Pray – Include our mission personnel, our global partners, and our common commitments to share God’s grace, love, mercy and justice in your daily prayers.

Thank you for your faithfulness to God’s mission through the Presbyterian Church. It is my prayer that you will continue to support this work with your prayers, partnership, and financial gifts in the coming year. We hope you will join us and our partners in shining a beacon of hope throughout the world.

In the light of hope,



Sara P. Lisherness, Interim Director
World Mission

Presbyterian Mission Agency
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

To give please visit

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

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