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Meeting of the UEM Council in the Philippines

The members of the governing body of the UEM held their second ordinary meeting chaired by the Moderator Ephorus em. Willem Simarmata in the city of Tagaytay (Philippines). Photos: Martina Pauly / UEM

From 5th to 7th October, the members of the governing body of the UEM held their second ordinary meeting in the city of Tagaytay, south of the Philippine capital of Manila. The meeting is hosted by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), a UEM member church. Bishop Reuel Marigza, leader of the hosting church and member of the UEM Council, welcomed the Council members from Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia, Cameroon, Indonesia, and Germany. The original plan had been to hold the Council meeting in the city of Davao on the island of Mindanao. Because of the attack carried out by an ISIS-linked extremist terror group in Marawi City in May 2017, the Council decided at short notice to meet in Tagaytay instead, for reasons of safety.

In his welcoming remarks, Bishop Marigza informed the Council about the current situation in Marawi City, where the UCCP runs a college and the terror group has taken a number of college staff members hostage. The good news was that five female staff members taken hostage by the extremists had been released on the same day. One UCCP co-worker is still being held captive. All in all, the extremist group still holds 100 persons hostage. Furthermore, Marigza emphasized that the UCCP was determined to reconstruct the college after the conflict has ended. Three college buildings have been burnt down and 15 buildings have been destroyed in other ways. Large parts of the city of Marawi have been destroyed by the terrorists.

In his opening speech, the Moderator of the UEM, Ephorus em. Willem Simarmata, addressed the difficult political situation in the Philippines and other troubled parts of the world, including the countries of the UEM communion. He stated that the daily peace was severely threatened in many parts of the world. This led him to the question of why mankind has learned nothing from history, in particular with regard to the two world wars of the past century. He called upon the UEM communion to continue their commitment to the fight against violence and extremism.

Items on the agenda of the Council meeting include the preparation of the General Assembly 2018 on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, 25 years of the international UEM and the succession of the Executive Secretary for Asia.

The international Council of the UEM usually meets twice a year, including at least once in the African or the Asian region.

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