News Release

Elder Cook Hosts Luncheon with Religious Leaders 

A respect for diverse beliefs and building relationships with those of different faiths are part of the hallmark doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the spirit of solidarity with the Roman Catholic church’s celebration of the 2020 Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples (EIDIP), Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hosted an interfaith luncheon to meet and build friendship with leaders of other faiths and discuss topics of mutual concern.


Elder Cook, at the beginning of his special message, expressed his great love to the Filipino people. He then shared about his long association with the Philippines. When he was a lawyer in San Francisco, California, he was called to be a stake (diocese) president for the Church. He related that one of the best wards (congregations) he has served with was a Tagalog-speaking one in Daly City.

He was then more pleased when he learned that his first Church assignment after being called to serve as a General Authority was to come to the Philippines in 1996. His two-year term allowed him to know and love the Philippines and its people more.

“I think that the Filipino people are very capable, and they’re very talented. They’re also very kind. They respect other people,” said Elder Cook of his deep appreciation of the Filipinos.

The Church organized the interfaith luncheon in support of the Roman Catholic church’s preparation of the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021. 

Elder Cook shared that there are two aspects that bring interfaith communities together. One is the desire to create a sacred space for families to worship God and the other to bless the lives of others. “We are all concerned about the well-being of everyone, and that’s a principle that brings us together,” he said.

He then related instances of how the interfaith community helped changed the world. One example was the abolishment of slavery in the 1800s through the instrumentality of an Evangelical pastor. Another is the example of Mother Teresa in taking care of the poor.

In the middle of his remark, Elder Cook showed a thought-provoking video of a Harvard Business professor, Clay Christensen, who explained about the essence of religion in the functionality of democracy, which was democracy works because most members of most religious communities choose to obey the law.

Elder Cook concluded his remark by saying that as part of the people's accountability to God, interfaith dialogue should include increasing faith, blessing families, protecting religious freedom, and serving others.

Elder Cook spoke to more than 20 religious from different religious groups. Among them were Rev. Fr. Carlos Reyes, Rev. Fr. Richard James Babao from the Ministry of Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the Archdiocese of Manila; Rev. Fr. Onie Rosaroso of the Philippine National Police Chaplain Service; Professor Pablito Baybado, Jr. of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Office and Religions for Peace Philippines; Imam Ebra Moxsir, Aleem Said Basheer, and Aleem Najib Taher of the Imam Council of the Philippines; Venerable Miao Jing Shih of the Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay Temple; Patrick Tanunliong of Buddha’s Light International Association; Asela Arago, Ted Arago and Robert Samson of the Focolare Movement; Pastor Aldrin Penamor of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches; and Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David of the Diocese of Kalookan and Vice President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines.

At the conclusion of the event, Bishop David expressed gratitude for the opportunity to be part of the luncheon. His message focused on love as the foundation of faith. He shared that the keyword for the 2020 Year of EIDIP is “dialogue”. Dialogue among Christians, dialogue among communities and dialogue among cultures especially the indigenous peoples in this country. “When we are capable of recognizing goodwill anywhere, dialogue is possible,” he said.

Elder Evan A. Schmutz, General Authority Seventy assigned to serve in the Philippines Area Presidency conducted the meeting while Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, General Authority Seventy, introduced Elder Cook to the guests.

Ministering in the Philippines

Elder and Sister Cook were in the country as part of their ministering assignment in Asia. In addition to attending an interfaith luncheon, Elder Cook presided over special conferences and devotionals with the youth and young single adults. 

Elder Cook also meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and made an unannounced visit to the Taal evacuees seeking shelter at the Batangas Stake Center.

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