1. The Apostles of Jesus Christ ordained Elders in every church in every city.
- Acts 14:23 (KJV) “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed…”
- Titus 1:5 (KJV) “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee…”
2. The New Testament Elders are always in the company of the Apostles.
- Acts 15:2 (KJV) “When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question…”
- Acts 15:4 (KJV) “And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them…”
3. The Apostles and the Elders are the decision-makers in the early church.
- Acts 15:6 (KJV) “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter…”
- Acts 15:22 (KJV) “Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren…”
- Acts 15:23 (KJV) “And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia…”
- Acts 16:4 (KJV) “And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem…”
4. The New Testament Elders are responsible in governance and education of the church.
- 1Timothy 5:17 (KJV) “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine…”
5. The Elders are also responsible in the healing of every church members.
- James 5:14 (KJV) “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…”
6. The New Testament Elders should be treated as a father.
- 1Timothy 5:1 (KJV) “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren…”
THE OFFICE OF ELDERS IN THE CHRISTIAN UNITED CHURCH
Ministry of Elders. The ministry of a Elder is to represent Christ and his Church,
particularly as Pastor to the people; to share with the Bishop in the overseeing of
the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and
declare pardon in the name of God. Elders are ordained to a lifetime ministry of
word and sacrament in the church and provide pastoral leadership in the denomination.
The Christian United Church Book of Discipline, Article IV page 9
MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
My faith journey started in 1990 when I became a Born Again Christian and became an active member of a full gospel, bible based, Christ Centered, Spirit filled Church in Dasmariñas Cavite known as the Word of Life Christian Global Mission. The Holy Spirit came to me during this time and I was growing and maturing in the faith. In this church I learned to be a musician,a singer, a worship leader, a tambourine dance minister, a creative arts director, a Sunday school teacher and youth leader. So it was a very meaningful 8 years of my life. I was under the care of Spirit filled, pentecostal pastors. I was trained under the teachings of the Holy Spirit. I had a very good life, I loved the community, the fellowship, the ministries that was entrusted to me, and especially praise and worship. I was like a little David learning to be a musician and later on a dancer for God’s glory. I consider those one of my glorious days. I had experience learning the things of the Spirit. Faith healing, prosperity gospel, prophetic, apostolic doctrines and most especially our missionary trips to Bilibid Prison and the Manyan Tribes of Mindoro. I had the chance to get to know great missionary pastors like Pastor Gayarez who have made a large impact on my spiritual life and also my first spiritual father, Bishop Robert A. Neri Sr. who has been a good pastor to me until now.
WHEN SEXUALITY MEETS SPIRITUALITY
During those times while I was growing spirituality I was also growing physically and also sexually. I was having a hard time on reconciling my faith and what I really feel inside. My mind tells me that sexuality and spirituality could not meet. They cannot be mixed together. I was having a hard time accepting the truth, that I was gay and that I was a Christian. That was my problem. I tried fasting for a week just to drive out the “demon” in me. I also tried dating so that I could “change” my “abnormal” feelings. I tried exorcism to cast out the “devil” inside me. But to no avail. It didn’t change me. The harder I try it was very persistent. The longer I tried to hide the more the Holy Spirit convicted me that I was living a big big lie. So I needed to look for another spiritual path that would resolve my problem and in 2000 I met a former member of MCC Manila. To make the long story short I became an active member of MCC Manila and became an Assistant Pastor in training during the time of Rev. Edgar Mendoza. After the term of Rev. Mendoza he was succeeded by Interim Pastoral Leaders, Rev. Cj Agbayani, IPL Lino Tan Lee, IPL Bjorn San Diego and IPL Jojo Encelan.
ASSISTANT PASTOR IN TRAINING TURNED INTERIM PASTORAL LEADER.
In 2005, MCC Philippines was looking for a new Interim Pastoral Leader and I applied for the position and was installed as IPL on August 21, 2005. I am so happy that I had the chance to be an IPL of this church. It has taught me a lot for example GLBT Theology, ecumenism, sexuality and spirituality, HIV & AIDS awareness, sexually transmitted diseases, human rights advocacy, social concerns, pastoral counseling, church politics, church governance and marriage equality. I had the chance to get to know so many important figures especially those who are into the LGBT community who are fighting for our rights. I had the chance of conducting “Homosexuality is not a Sin not a Sickness Seminars in Bulacan, Quezon, De La Salle University -Manila, Asian Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary. I was interviewed on ABS-CBN Chanel 2 on “Pipol”, GMA 7’s “Jesicca Soho Reports” on QTV The 700 Club Asia and I was also featured on the New York Times and Korean International News. I also had the chance of conducting Holy Unions around the country. This was a very fulfilling and life-changing experience for me. In 2008 after serving MCC Philippines for three years I decided to rest so I resigned as IPL and focus on my professional life.
PASTOR CALLED TO BE AN ELDER OF THE CHRISTIAN UNITED CHURCH AND PRIEST OF THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF ONE SPIRIT.
At the end of 2008 several events happened to me that almost destroyed my entire life, a failed relationship, a failed ministry, people whom I loved destroyed me, and I was contemplating on committing suicide. People whom I loved, respected and cared for judged me, ridiculed me and criticized me negatively. But I kept my peace. I kept silent. I just prayed to God, that He/She will make a way for me and God did!!!
A pastor of my previous church told me that according to our elder he is not recognizing me as a pastor of any of their church. This pastor told me that I don’t have the authority to solemnize Holy Unions, even the sacraments because I don’t have a church. This pastor told me that my former elder is angry at me because according to them I destroyed their church. But they didn’t know the whole story, only God knows and my family. But I prayed I told God, that He/She should make a way for me.
After this event I was determined to change my life and forget about my religious or should I say spiritual life so I applied to be a call center agent and for 6 months I did the job. I had the money and the friends but deep inside I was very unhappy. I feel that I am not doing what am I suppose to do. The very reason why God created me. And so, I prayed to God that please make a way for me. And God did! In September of 2010 Holy Unions started to pour on me and also I became a member of the Christian United Church. In October 2010, I was appointed as Local Pastor of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd Church of God in union with the Christian United Church by H.E. Rev. Bishop David C. Strong, the Presiding Bishop of the Christian United Church denomination. After 7 months our small church had a chapel and we conducted at least 25 holy unions and we have at least 20 active members and still growing most of them are straight by the way.
God did make a way for me where there seems to be no way, says the song written by Don Moen. Yes God did it because his word tells us “For the gifts and calling of God is irrevocable” (Romans 11:29 ESV). We may resign as pastor or interim pastoral leader or any church position, but God’s calling is IRREVOCABLE. When God calls you, he calls you no matter what, God will not change his mind about it, even people will change their minds about you, but God will not, even churches and denominations will change their minds about you, but God will not. Because God know you, and God knows me very well even better than I know myself. Yes, God made a way for me. When people close their doors on me God opened a window for me.
On June 12, I will embark on another spiritual journey another challenge, a new calling. from being a musician, becoming a pastor, now an Elder of the Christian United Church and a Priest for the Catholic Diocese of One Spirit. Two denominations or Christian Communities all in one accord in proclaiming that God is calling me again. I may not be perfect. But God called me. I may not be the best. But God called me. I may not be as good as the others. But God called me. Because God believes in me, and I believe in God. To God be the Glory and Praise!!!
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