The upcoming 72nd National Assembly of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association necessitates me to make this post. Under the theme Healthy and Faithful Pastoral Leadership, the annual assembly will be held on January 15-17 at Central Philippine University. Part of the agenda for business meeting on January 17 is the relaunching of the PADAYON Fund for Pastors project.
The project is an attempt towards a comprehensive and sustained approach to meet the perennial needs of pastors. This is a combination of mutual aid, revolving fund and cooperative concept. Funds will be used specifically for welfare needs, emergency cases and livelihood projects. During bereavement, accidents, calamities and other urgent needs, the association can immediately provide assistance in the form of grant or loan or whatever scheme agreed upon by the members. Later, the association through respective chapters can collect with members agreed upon contribution or payment for loan.
Launched in 2010, the project was one of the agenda in the Round Table discussion during the 69th National Assembly of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association. The event was meant to solicit comments and subsequent assistance of various stakeholders to the concerns of the pastors including possible partnership in initiating workable programs. It was participated in by leaders/representatives of CPBC member institutions and auxiliary organizations. Most of the representatives signified their commitment to support the program with the few uncommitted ones making a promise to consult first their governing board or members.
Various factors have contributed to the conceptualization of the project. Foremost, was the successful endeavors undertaken by the organization for past years which have galvanized our solidarity and created an atmosphere of trust and optimism. On the other hand, the discovery of past documents made us realize the gap between what it should be and the actual situation of the pastors in the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC).
The development of pastors and lay leaders was one of the tripartite avowed intentions in the Declaration of CPBC Principles. It was also specified in the CPBC purposes (Article II, Section 1e): “To work with member churches and related institutions in securing the well-being of all its ministers for strengthening of the pastoral ministry and missionary work.”
There is an observable trend, however, of the lopsided development in terms of fulfilling its intentions. For so long, the development of ministers was not given much emphasis in programs and services and in the budget. Worse, there has been prevailing misconception that the CPBC caters only for churches while the CBMA should be the one responsible for pastors.
Past surveys revealed the sad realities of the situation of pastors. In his book A History of Philippine Baptist Pastors 1898-2002, Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on mentioned about an old survey conducted by the College of Theology, Central Philippine University. It revealed the very low average monthly salary of pastors and workers, greater majority of whom did not have a house of their own. If ever they had a Social Security System coverage, only a few were able to derive sufficient benefits from this upon retirement because of low monthly premium that they gave to the SSS.
The survey concluded that Baptist pastors were looking at the future with a great sense of insecurity. Thus, few young people were committing themselves to the Christian ministry; many pastors were shifting to secular ministry; and there was a lack of creative and consecrated pastoral leadership in the churches. It forecasted a bleak future for the Baptist churches in the Philippines if the above conditions were not averted.
The situation has not improved significantly since then. In a survey conducted by CBMA in 2006, of the 531 Pastor –respondents, only 16.4 % received salary/honorarium ranged from P5, 100- P20,000 (with only 22 pastors receiving P10,000 up); 68.5% received P1, 000 -P5,000 while there were 15% receiving below P1,000. In updated survey in 2009, it was found out that the average salary is P4, 000 with highest at P25,000 while the lowest is P500. In the same survey, it was found out that of 482 participants, only 258 has SSS and 245 has Philhealth.
While these conditions might have been expected as part of the sacrifices to make, inevitably they affect one’s ministry. There are pastors who are more fortunate to have well-meaning and ever supportive members who always respond to their needs. However, while others get support from individual members or groups in times of crises, these are not regular and institutionalized. Some confessed experiencing some sort of string attached to the support during political season in the CPBC. Still others admitted having lost the authority to exercise prophetic role because of debt of gratitude and other vulnerabilities.
In order to respond to the aforementioned needs and problems, the PADAYON Fund project was conceptualized and launched. But it was not given priority for past years due to other urgent needs of the association. Recently, the CBMA President has decided to resume the project and subsequently appointed me to head the Committee. Hence, this appeal for support.
We may differ in many ways, argue on certain issues, compete or even quarrel over leadership positions. But certainly, we cannot deny the need to unite to improve the Pastors’ condition/situation.
PADAYON KATIPAN blog focuses on the Convention Baptist Ministers Association and Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches. It will recall successful activities in the past, analyze and make commentaries on the trends and issues in both organizations. In this way, we can refresh ourselves, remind the current officers and guide the future leaders of our organizations of the struggles we have and the covenant to keep.
May other readers learn from our experiences and find inspiration to guide them in their respective struggles.