News Release

Church, Interfaith Groups in Cebu Unite in WIHW Celebrations

Divided no more. This described the scene of leaders and members of different religious groups gathered at the Fuente Osmeña Circle in Cebu City last 9 February 2019 after a Unity Walk and for a Uniharmony Prayer.


Members of the Cebu City Interfaith Movement and Uniharmony Partners Cebu, which are groups of different religious and faith-based organizations in the city, joined together to celebrate the World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW). 

The Unity Walk, which began from the Santo Rosario Parish and ended at the Fuente Osmeña Circle, is the culmination of the groups' week-long celebration of the WIHW. 

A short program ensued following the walk. It commenced with an entry song called We Are the World. Afterward, Sister Sandra Clemente, [RSCJ] Society of the Sacred Heart, gave a "Salutation to the Great God" with the sounds of harmony. 

Each member of the group then offered a Uniharmony Prayer. The Buddhists were the first ones to offer the prayer followed by a representative of the Baha'i Faith, Renaissance, Chaitanya Mission, Islam faith, Roman Catholic church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP). 

Bishop Arnold Pantaleon, a local leader of the Lahug Ward (congregation), represented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “The experience was very interesting," he said talking about this experience during the event.  "Despite the different principles of faith, everyone showed their love and respect to each other. The unity was there. I have learned how others pray and worship God."

The Uniharmony prayer concluded with everyone releasing butterflies to symbolize peace, and the group sang the song Let There Be Peace on Earth led by the NCCP. 

“It was my first time to attend such kind of activity and I so love it! It was fun to walk with church friends and friends from other faith”, said Sunshine Arganda, a member of Apas Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She and her husband, Anthony, cheerfully joined the walk while singing Church hymns despite the drizzle.

In support of the interfaith efforts in the local area, the city government provided refreshments. 

The World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations in Cebu City commenced with a Breakfast Meeting with Archbishop Jose Palma of the Archdiocese of Cebu held at the Archbishop's Palace Cebu on 1 February 2019.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Cebu City, Cebu Central and Mandaue stakes (dioceses) attended the event together with members of the Cebu City Interfaith Movement and Uniharmony Partners Cebu.

“It is beautiful to gather together to pray but it is also a wonderful moment to gather to enjoy a meal like this,” Archbishop Palma said as he welcomed the guests at his home. 

In addition to the Unity Walk, Uniharmony prayer and Breakfast meeting, the same interfaith groups also conducted a Symposium on Disaster Preparedness, which took place on 5 February 2019 at the Cultural Hall of Lahug meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Their aim was to raise awareness on disaster preparedness and to introduce the 72-hour kit to improve chances of survival when calamity strikes.

Representatives from the different participating faith groups joined the forum, including Muslims, members of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Focolare, Muslims, and The Church. Students from Bukas Palad, student facilitators from Cebu Normal University, and volunteers from other groups were also present.

The resource speakers for the symposium were from Seagulls Cebu, Inc., which is an emergency response group. 

The first speaker presented data on particular disasters that occurred in the Philippines and the damage they had caused. He enumerated the specific areas or barangays in Cebu City that are prone by flood, fire, and landslides.

He then explained that the government created a group called The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), formerly known as the National Disaster Coordinating Council established by Republic Act 10121. He said that the objective of NDRRMC was to ensure the protection and safety of the people during disasters and emergencies.

Meanwhile, the second speaker discussed what to prepare before calamity strikes. He named essentials things that should be inside a survival kit, like tools, food, water, clothes, radio, whistle, etc. To help the participants understand the need for a survival kit, he explained the significance of each item. He recommended that each member of the family should own a 72-hour survival kit, even babies and pets.

Although disaster preparedness is a common topic, the participants were keen and intent on listening to the speakers, as shown by their taking notes and taking photos of the presentation slides. At the end of the symposium, the organizers distributed handouts about what to prepare during disasters and the items that should be in a 72-hour kit.

Following the presentation, participants were able to satisfy their questions through a Q&A portion.

Respect for religious diversity is one of the hallmark teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hence, it supports interfaith efforts, such as the observance of the World Interfaith Harmony Week, to promote religious liberty, tolerance, and cooperation for the common good. 

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