Patricia Talbot, General Council staff (Team Leader for Church in Partnership, and Northeast Asia Partnerships), wrote to all Conferences with an update on the violence gripping communities in Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines. In addition, please see the UCCCP Bishops’ statement on the violence. (Note that we will post updates in separate posts; please see the home page on the right side for a list of updates.)
Patti writes, “We have received an emergency request for prayer from The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a global partner church of The United Church of Canada. In response to a General Council message of concern and solidarity message, Rev Rannieh Mercado of the UCCP’s National Secretariat wrote: “Your standing with us becomes a source of strength and encouragement as we confront this challenge to pursue and witness for peace based on justice.” (Please see the full letter further below.)
Violence erupted May 23 on the southern island in the Philippines, igniting once again the decades-long struggle for self-determination and control between the Philippines national government and regional groups. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a 60-day period of martial law in Mindanao after gunmen linked to ISIS laid siege to the major city of Marawi. Reports including the burning of a Catholic church, the city jail, and two schools. Gunmen occupied the city hall, a state-run hospital, and part of a university compound, as well the main streets and two bridges leading to the city of more than 200,000 people.
Dansalan College, an educational institution of the UCCP, was attacked, burned, and 7 personnel taken hostage by the armed group. Established by the UCCP in 1950, Dansalan College has served the diverse peoples of Marawi and Mindanao, and welcomes people of all faiths. It has offered a range of services to the community and reflects the importance and impact of positive interfaith relations.
The latest update received Thursday, May 25th:
- Seven (7) personnel of Dansalan College are currently held hostage by the armed group that attacked the School last May 23, 2017. Negotiation is needed for their release.
- Twenty five (25) of the Dansalan College personnel/teachers were able to reach Iligan City yesterday
- There remain sixty (60) personnel in Marawi to be evacuated to Iligan.
Please pray for:
- Those affected by the current crisis in the southern Philippines, the outbreak of violence there, and the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao;
- The people of Marawi and especially the students, faculty, staff and families of the UCCP’s Dansalan College, and the safe release of hostages;
- Those giving witness for a true and lasting peace, particularly the people and leadership of The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, for their continuing prophetic witness and presence in the region and the nation;
- The ongoing peace talks in the Philippines and the vision of greater economic justice, equity and well-being for all Filipinos.
Patti Talbot, The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada
May 24, 3017
TO: All International Partners of UCCP
The Presbyterian Church (PC-USA)
The United Church of Christ (UCC-USA)
The United Church of Canada (UCC)
The United Evangelical Mission (UEM)
The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA)
The Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK)
The Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea (PROK)
Dear Colleagues & Partners,
Greetings of peace from the UCCP!
With sadness, we wish to share with you the “bad news” on the horrible incident that occurred in the famous “Islamic City” in Southern Philippines, Marawi City.
The decades-old UCCP School in that City, the DANSALAN COLLEGE , was mercilessly attacked yesterday afternoon (May 23rd) by the armed Maute Group, a terrorist group suspected to have link with the ISIS.
The Laubach Hall — the main building of the School — was burned down, including the Science laboratory, the Library and Dormitory. The teachers & school personnel were trapped or held hostage inside the campus. Unconfirmed reports had been circulated saying that some teachers of Dansalan College were killed or beheaded during the assault.
We likewise heard from the news that the Roman Catholic Cathedral and Bishop’s House in Marawi City were also burned by the same Maute Group. The Parish Priest & other Church personnel were reportedly held hostage and brought to undisclosed captivity. They cannot be traced as of this time.
Indeed amid this tragedy, we beg for prayers and solidarity especially from our Partners. Sincerely yours,
REV. RANNIEH B. MERCADO
Executive Secretary for Administration & Program Ministries. – Office of the General Secretary – National Secretariat
United Church of Christ in the Philippines