News Release

Church, Davao Interfaith Group Celebrate WIHW 2020

In response to the global call for mutual understanding and peace, the Davao, Davao West and Buhangin Philippine Stakes (dioceses) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints celebrated the 2020 World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) with friends from the Davao Interfaith Group.

Held on 6 February at the Claveria Stake Center, Elder Taniela Wakolo of the Philippines Area Presidency joined leaders of other faiths and indigenous people communities, including Archbishop Romulo Geolina Valles, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President and Metropolitan Archdiocese of Davao Archbishop, and 68 leaders and evangelists from 13 diverse groups in an interfaith luncheon.


With the year’s WIHW theme, Dialogue Towards Harmony, the event provided a setting for a congruent and united discussion. Leaders shook hands of friendship and shared unique beliefs to promote greater understanding and unity in diversity.

Elder Wakolo, who just recently met Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle in Manila on Monday, 4 February, delivered a message of friendship and goodwill. In his remarks, particularly addressing leaders of other faiths, he said, “We celebrate your success. We feel the pain of what you go through. When we set aside all our differences, it is just amazing.”

Church efforts on interfaith relationships have been done worldwide and in other local areas in the Philippines. Since the organization of the Church more than 100 years ago, honor and respect for unique faiths remain a strong belief, which allows all people to “worship how, where, or what they may.” (Articles of Faith 1:11)

“It is a great thing when we start to see that leaders of other denominations are coming together as one”, Elder Wakolo added as he spoke on the importance of a continuing dialogue within the interfaith community.

Despite differing beliefs, faiths, and traditions, each has a deep sense of love and hope for humanity. In an interview, Coris Tofertshoffer from the Focolare Movement said that the event brought her full of hope. “In our group, we build unity bridges so that all people may be one, just like Jesus said.”

Following Elder Wakolo’s message, Seventh Day Adventist Pastor Jaffet Legario facilitated the planning of activities, where opportunities for collaborative initiatives structured on common goals and objectives were discussed. Cantata, a year-end chorale of praises and thanksgiving, and community service were among the initial activities listed. Leaders and representatives are set to discuss details in the next few months.

Speaking of the proposed activities, Bishop Rodolfo Juan from the United Methodist Church gladly shared his response. “These are manifestations that we in the ecumenical community can work together to promote peace and harmony amongst us. It is Christ’s love for the lost, the least, and the last,” he said.

Archbishop Valles, in his keynote address, emphasized the need for a commitment to knit every Filipino heart in the service for others. He said that as partners for hope, every member in the interfaith community should all walk and work together. “In this journey, we must be conscious that we stand on the work, dedication, and sacrifice of those people who went before us, who saw the vision of harmony and dialogue,” he remarked. “We must carry on the torch, keeping their vision as we move forward.”

Acknowledging Archbishop Valles’ message of love and journey of hope, Sami Buat, Cultural Affairs Division Chief of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos said, “Standing with each other’s shoulders is so important among other things. As people of different faiths, we should help and understand each other with harmony. We must continue listening to each other on the things that we can be united and not on the things that will divide us.”

When asked about his thoughts about the event, Elder Ferdinand Pangan, Area Seventy assigned in Davao, said, "It was a well attended historic event. I should say that we have accomplished the purpose of the said event because there was harmony in it. People have gathered, are getting along and are nice to one another because we are in tune with each other. There was a beautiful blending among the participants."

Phillip Tan, welfare and self-reliance specialist, shared the Church’s programs on education and humanitarian aid, which gained praises from Archbishop Valles as it “supports all persons especially the poorest and those most in need.”

The event concluded with a guided tour of the stake center wherein guests were introduced to Church services offered for public use, such as the family history center and self-reliance service.

This is the second interfaith gathering hosted by the three stakes in Davao City, following the luncheon held last year at the Marco Polo Hotel – Davao.

Additional Resources

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