Update from our partners in Banaybanay
The Banaybanay congregation sends their best wishes for a fruitful and safe new year to our congregation and has sent a letter filled with good news. Joevani Espanola has reconsidered his resignation and will continue to serve the Banaybanay congregation, which greatly values his experience and commitment. His wife, Jonabeth, is currently doing an internship in UU ministerial formation and will continue to be an important member of the leadership team. Thanks to the virtual plate passing donation from the Fellowship they will be able to begin church renovation this month. They continue to take precautions to avoid Covid 19 and at this time have not had cases in their congregation. The letter is below.
Happy New Year to you, your family,.. and the rest of our friend and partners in your fellowship. May you are all in good health and all had a wonderful Holiday celebration.
We had a very successful church Anniversary Celebration last Dec. 24 and a Christmas party after lunch. Children enjoyed giving gifts to each other. As well as the adults, and enjoyed participating in parlor games that were facilitated by some of our youth, headed by Lourren and Joan Trinidad. It was an amazing Church celebration in spite of the Covid case. I am glad to share with you this, joyous moment of the congregation. And another thing to be happy is that we are in semi-normal situations here in our place. We have no Covid case recorded as the pandemic start until now. But we still do extra care like using face masks every time we go outdoors or in public places.
Another thing to share with you was that Joevani’s resignation was not officially accepted by the congregation. We had a wide discussion about letting him go as our congregation assigned minister. It was a majority decision that he will remain the local minister of the Banaybanay Congregation. Members think deeply about the service and the effort of Rev. Joevani in his ministry in the congregation and losing him will lead the church in struggle and lots of adjustments. Members said they were all satisfied with the services rendered by Joevani. He has already a very great experienced in church ministry. It is already proven for how many years of service he rendered in the congregation. We had Rev. Weina but she lives far from Banaybanay. And she often can not perform services assigned to her because of her distance. Joevani and I are working together as a team in Church ministry. We always do surprise birthday serenades for our members who had a birthday, at the very early down like 3:00 am. As of now, I am in my internship period of my UU ministerial formation training. I was assigned to the other congregation (Nato Congregation) which is still part of Bayawan City, not so far from Banay2x. Thankful to Joevani For always helping me and assisting me in my internship. He takes me to my assigned church through a motorcycle.
Tomorrow, Monday here, we will have a church officers final meeting for the church renovation to start within this month. Hopefully, we can start it sooner since it is the right time to do the renovation because summer is starting now here.
We had a lot of challenges faced last 2020 and, I am thankful that at the very early of 2021 we had fix things accordingly and smoothly. It is true example of a growing leadership and faith.
Thankful also to Rev. Rebecca and Elvie, for visiting us here in Banaybanay and assist us in times of challenges. Having you keeps us inspired and stronger in continuing to strengthen this community of faith.
Again, have a fruitful and safe New year to everyone…
In Faith and friendship,
Jonabeth, and the rest in Banaybanay
The Partner Church Committee had a very active year in 2019-2020. At GA in June the Rev. Jim Coakley graciously accepted the Steward of Partnership award for Mary Ellyn Vicksta and Jan McHugh, members of our committee. Mary Ellyn does a phenomenal job of meeting all of the committee’s photography and video needs. Jan has been a member for nine years and has been active with our Annual Plant Sale, RE presentations, Party! Party!, and numerous other events.
Approximately thirty families in our congregation continue to generously support our Mango PIE (Partners in Education) Program by providing stipends that make education a reality for 40 students at our partner congregation of Banay Banay, Philippines. As a committee we also helped Alma, a third year college student, pursue her goal of a college education by providing her with a computer.
The minister of our partner church in Deva, Romania and his wife, Julia, welcomed a beautiful boy, Abel into the world in December 2019. We had the idea to make a baby quilt for Abel and asked the congregation for assistance. Boy, did we ever receive! Margaret Alexander, Mary Ann DeBruin, and Jane Salsich all contributed their time and expertise to help committee members Tina Main, Vicki Milde, and Jan McHugh craft a lovely quilt. To include as many congregants as possible, we made the quilt two-sided and asked for signatures from Fellowship members who happily signed hearts with well-wishes. Baby Abel loved the colorful result!
This year’s Party! Party! was a very successful partnership with Soup Saturday and included amazing soup recipes from our partner countries of The Philippines and Romania, wonderful desserts (including the ever-popular Halo Halo), dancing, games, and a slide show highlighting our partners.
In March our intrepid committee leader, Tina Main, worked with the Religious Education staff and students on a cross-cultural story in which the students brainstormed ideas for plot and character names. We hope that when our partners are allowed to meet again the students of Deva and Banay Banay will finish the stories and send them back to us. To be continued…
And last but not least – in May, the Fellowship held a virtual plate passing that raised funds to assist our two partners with unexpected expenses. Banay Banay will use the funds for repairs to their church, and Deva encountered some additional needs for their guest house. Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful generosity!