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#CloseTheGap Initiative Launches in the Philippines (Religion & Race)

May 3, 2023

The Pananaw Newsletter, the Official Newsletter of the National United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines, is partnering with the Board of Women’s Work to launch a new initiative called #CloseTheGap: Using Information to Facilitate Innovation and Action. This project, funded by the CORR Action Fund, aims to promote crucial conversations about race, religion, gender, and disability within the United Methodist Church in the Philippines.

The initiative will take a three-pronged approach, focusing on informing, equipping, and mobilizing members of the church and the community through a combination of online and physical activities. These activities will include disseminating information through social media platforms and video conferencing sites, as well as holding educational discussions with biblical and theological reflections on racism, gender identity and expression, HIV/AIDS and sexual orientation, and ministry for persons with disabilities. 

Roella Marcelle Bautista, Editor-in-Chief of the Pananaw Newsletter, says “#CloseTheGap is an initiative that was developed through the need for a consistent and reliable tool to amplify the voices of the youth regarding different issues and challenges that concerns them. It is with hope that as the initiative continues, radical discussions would not only arise, but participatory movements with the youth at its center would bring about impactful change that is not only limited to the church but would permeate into the society as well.” 

The #CloseTheGap initiative hopes to broaden people’s understanding of race, gender, and disability and to expand the conversation on these topics to include new viewpoints and voices. Through meaningful conversations, informed decisions, and actions like mobilization and policy reforms, the initiative aims to build a safer, more open-minded church and community for all worshipers. 

At present, the initiative is now in the process of releasing materials related to Religion and Gender and upcoming releases will be on Gender and Disability. In addition, a Joint Pananaw Workshop and ECSA Camp titled “Mulatinta: Pagmulat sa Kasalukuyan, Tinta ng Kinabukasan” will be held on June 9-12, 2023 at the Philippines Annual Conference Cavite (PACC). The event emphasizes the need for the youth to be open and exposed to current societal issues and concerns in order to create concrete plans and actions that would allow them to leave their mark as part of the future generation.

Overall, this project is a long process of creating a safe and welcoming church for all, especially for minority groups who have not been seen or heard by the church in the past. By promoting crucial conversations and expanding the conversation on topics of race, gender, and disability, the initiative aims to create a brighter and more inclusive future for the United Methodist Church in the Philippines.

For more about the #CloseTheGap initiative, visit the Pananaw Newsletter Facebook Page.

For more about the CORR Action Fund and other grantees, visit the CORR Action Fund Page.