Name Change

 

In the Bible when a person changes his name it also changes his spirituality. He also changes his identity. For example Abram changed his name to Abraham. In the New Testament Saul became Paul. And as our church progressed so is our faith and also our identity.

In 2010 our other affiliation was CUC or the Christian United Church, after which it was changed to AOCC or the Apostolic Old Catholic Church. Our local church council and our congregation after much prayer and deliberation voted for our new name, our new identity. We followed the example of our Christian ancestors when they named the first churches in the New Testament in the Greek language as the EKKLESIA TOU THEOU or the CHURCH OF GOD in English.

From now on our church will be called in its original form the EKKLESIA TOU THEOU or the CHURCH OF GOD. Our church will also be under the care and jurisdiction of the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit Philippines through our bishop Richard Mickley and our Archbishop Jim Burch. Our church will be open to ecumenical affiliations, communions and partnerships with all independent churches with valid apostolic successions and also with all churches that are welcoming, inclusive, uniting and non discriminating.

4oth Holy Union at Balagtas Batangas City

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Church of God: One year of God’s goodness, favor and love. October 2010 – October 2011 in a glance

31st Holy Union in Dasmariñas Cavite

Where is the true church founded by Christ?

For the past 20 years of my life I have been attending, exploring, studying and observing different churches existing in my town.  I was born a Catholic but in 1990 my family especially my mother and relatives from my mother’s side became evangelical Christians and decided to join an Evangelical Church.  But that church was so far away, it was in Manila and we live in Cavite.  So my mom and I decided to look for another church that is near in our house.  We tried going to a Baptist church but it was too silent for us.  So we tried attending a Born Again Pentecostal Church it was noisy at first but we got a hang of it and we stayed there from 1991 to 1999.

During my high school days I was suffering from “identity crisis” because I don’t know if I will accept my sexuality or not because of the teachings that was taught to me that homosexuality is a sin.  But as a Christian I read and explored the bible and I read the stories of Ruth and Naomi, Jonathan and David, Centurion and his servant in Luke 7, and also Jesus and John.  And it confused me.  And during this time I was also confused on the fact that there are so many churches in our town.  So I went and attend services of the Mormon church, Jehovah’s witnesses, Iglesia ni Cristo, Ang Dating Daan or Members Church of God International, El Shaddai and numerous Born Again Pentecostal Fundamentalist Ministries or Fellowships.  And during that time one of my main question is where is the true church founded by Christ?

I read in the Bible in Matthew 16:18 that Jesus Christ our only Lord and Savior built his church.  So I was asking everyone where is it but none of them convinced me.  So my spiritual journey did not stop there.  In 2000 I was invited by a member of the Metropolitan Community Church Manila.  When I first attended their Sunday worship I was totally shocked!  because everyone is gay and the worship service was too gayish for me and during that time I was in the closet but I was happy but I was shocked.  So I didn’t go back for another 3 months.

After 3 months I thought I was ready to face myself and want to come out so I went to MCC Manila and became a member and eventually became the Assistant Pastor in 2001.  At this church I learned so much about sexuality, ecumenism, understanding different churches and different traditions, respecting different beliefs, same sex relationships, same sex holy unions and many others.  In 2005 I was elected as the Interim Pastoral Leader of MCC Philippines formerly called MCC Manila and ended my term in 2008.  I had so many good memories and also bad ones.  I learned to accept that there is no perfect church because we are not perfect.  A perfect church is an empty church.  After being an IPL of MCC Philippines I decided to retire early and be an ordinary citizen of the republic of the Philippines.  So I decided to be a call center agent.  But something happened.  Our account was pulled out and 80 of us didn’t have work.

I remembered the Prophet Jonah when he was called by the Lord to preach in Nineveh and doesn’t want too because he said he is busy to do that.  So he went far away just to escape God’s calling and he rode a boat and then disaster came.  You know the story.  He was eaten by a big fish and he was there for three days and nights and when the fish opened its mouth it was on dry land on the shores of Nineveh.  So Jonah said Ok Lord I will preach less another fish will eat me again. To make the short story long I compared myself to Jonah.

One night I was praying because of this question that has been bothering me for such a long long time.  Where is the church founded by Christ? I opened my Bible and I read Acts Chapter 20, when I came to verse 28 I felt that the letters was alive as if it was jumping out of its page.  And so I read:

Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God which he purchased with his own blood…”

God gave me a revelation in this particular verse.  If I want to be a member of the true church founded by Christ I must look for a bishop.  Not just a Bishop from any church but a bishop with a historic episcopate or ordained by the apostles that will assure me that the church that I am in is connected to the true church or true body of Christ.  But I reasoned with God there are many churches today with apostolic succession like the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Churches, the Assyrian Churches, the Ethiopian Churches, the Indian Churches and most of them are anti-homosexual so how can I belong with them it’s impossible?

Well I never learn do I? I read in the Bible that all things are possible with God.  So one night I had a chat with a Bishop at facebook and he was starting the Christian United Church.  It was n inclusive, welcoming and affirming church for ALL PEOPLE straights and gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.  And as we chat I learned that this Bishop has a historical episcopate in an unbroken chain from the Apostle Peter.  And I was stunned.  And I told myself I want to belong to this church.  And I decided to join.  He did not offer me any money nor a monthly salary.  The spiritual tradition of the historic episcopate for me is enough.  Now I feel at peace that I am now connected to the true body of Christ, the true church of God or church of Christ and that is connecting to the Bishop.

Tertulian (160 – 220 AD), a prolific Christian writer in from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa writes:

Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men…

Irenaeaus, an early church father also writes:

Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession.

So for me the historic episcopate of our Bishop, H.E. Bishop David Strong is enough for me to be joyful, secured and assured that I am connected to the body or church that was founded by Christ.  I am so exited, humbled and honored to be one of the local pastors of the Christian United Church and I have promised God that I will serve inside this church as long as I live.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!

H.E. Rev. Bishop David Strong announces the appointment of Ptr. Regen Luna

ANNOUNCEMENT ON FACEBOOK

The Christian United Church welcomes Regen Luna, as a licensed Local Pastor and candidate for ordination as a Elder in Full Connection, after the completion of additional formation. He will be planting a community in the Philippines. Visit our website for additional information about the Christian United Church. The CUC is currently engaged in ministry in the United States and Poland. We are excited to bring a new inclusive Christian community to the Philippines.

ANNOUNCEMENT ON CHRISTIANUNITEDCHURCH.NING.COM

Regen Luna has been accepted as Candidate for Ordination and as a Licensed Local Pastor in the Christian United Church. Pastor Luna will continue to prepare for pastoral and theological studies to be received as Elder in Full Connection by the Annual Conference of the Christian United Church.

Regen is from Dasmarimas, Philippines. He completed a Bachelor’s in History from DeLaSalle University In 2001 and has studied Theology at various graduate institutions. He has served as Associate Pastor, MCC Manila 2000-2001 and as Interim Pastoral Leader of MCC Philippines from 2005- 2008.

Pastor Regen will be developing a congregation in Dasmarinas named Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd Christian United Church. This will be the first church for the newly emerging Christian United Church with congregations currently in Poland and the United States.

Bishop David Strong, Bishop of the denomination, said “We welcome Pastor Regen into the connectional covenant community of the Christian United Church. He shares in the charism of the CUC to provide a ministry of inclusion which invites members of the LGBT community and our straight allies to become Disciples of Christ through communion and community”.

The Christian United Church is a denomination with a Methodist polity that is inclusive and centered on the spiritual practice of weekly Holy Communion and the means of grace and mercy in our daily life. For more information visit www. christianunitedchurch.net