IT’S all system go for the 69th Annual National Assembly of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association on January 19-22, 2010 at the Katipan Hall, Camp Higher Ground, Barotac Viejo.

Expected to attend are 1,000 strong Baptist ministers serving the churches and institutions of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC).

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CPBC is the oldest Baptist organizational body in the Philippines. Having its base in Western Visayas, the national body has been serving the whole country since 1935 with over 1,000 churches, a big university, colleges, theological institutions, hospitals, and community centers.

The assembly’s first two days will be spent for fellowship and games, sharing of best practices, institutional reports and round table discussion on internal issues and concerns.

In the last two days, participants will wrestle on the role of pastors in nation building and other development endeavors and the extent of their participation in the affairs of the nation.

Leading the discussion are Dr. Domingo J. Diel Jr. prominent Baptist theologian; Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes, the first woman General Secretary of a protestant national ecumenical body; and lawyer Lyndon Caña, active lay leader who was among the top 10 councilors in the Philippines in 2006.

As a culminating activity, a forum-dialogue with national and regional leaders will be held to establish partnership in community service and development towards nation building.

Expected to attend are top government officials in the region to be led by Raul N. Banias, Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas, Governor Salvacion Zaldivar-Perez, Chairperson, Regional Development Council, and National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) Regional Director Ro-ann A. Bacal. Former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Perfecto R. Yasay, who is a Pastor’s Kid, will also join the forum.

Also confirmed to attend the partnership dialogue are regional directors of line agencies in Western Visayas, namely: Aida M. Estabillo of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), Teresita S. Rosales of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Mildred Garay of the Department of Education (DepEd), and Larry P. Nacionales of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will send its Operation Officer 5 and Planning Officer Luz Penedero.

Meanwhile, it was learned that two national vice presidents of the Social Security System (SSS) will present the SSS Coverage and Benefits and rovident Fund for Church Ministers. These are Vice Presidents Marissu G. Bugante and Ma. Luz C. Generoso.

It is expected that after the assembly, the CBMA, as an organization will become more active in performing its role in development endeavors, particularly involving the life of the nation.

The CBMA Board in its recent meeting has already decided to continue with the Pilgrimage for Peace, as a response of local Christians to the universal call for peace especially during national elections.

In May 2004, the first Pilgrimage of Peace-Panay wide was spearheaded by the CBMA, in partnership with Central Philippine University, Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches, and the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (Icon).

During the May 2007 elections, the pilgrimage covered the islands of Panay, Guimaras and Negros. It made short stopovers in every town to distribute voter's education materials and pray for peace with major stopovers on designated centers.

The possibility of holding it nationwide on May 2010 elections will be one of the agenda of the forthcoming assembly.

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