Dec 19

Francisco assigned as bishop of Davao Area

By Tafadzwa Mudambanuki*

BAYOMBONG, Philippines (UMNS) — The Rev. Ciriaco Q. Francisco of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, has been elected as a United Methodist bishop by delegates at the Philippines Central Conference.

Francisco was elected Dec 16 — less than an hour before the scheduled consecration service — at the central conference’s quadrennial meeting in Bayombong. On the 25th ballot, Francisco received 238 of 317 votes cast.

Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco speaks. At right, his wife Restetita Victoria claps. UMNS photo by Tafadzwa Mudambanuki

Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco speaks. At right, his wife, Restetita Victoria, claps. UMNS photo by Tafadzwa Mudambanuki

Francisco will serve the Davao Episcopal Area, which encompasses five annual and provisional (regional) conferences in western and southern regions of this multi-island nation. His four-year term of service begins Jan. 1, 2013. “My dream is to make Davao Episcopal Area a model episcopal area in its financial resources and wring out from its lay and clergy ranks passion to make disciples of Jesus Christ that transform lives and transform communities,” Francisco said.

To overcome the old entrenched challenges of financial resources, Francisco said he plans to make overtures with the business community of his area and persuade businesses to develop vast acres of virgin land owned by The United Methodist Church.

“We will develop nonperforming assets of The United Methodist Church by a model we call ‘build, operate and transfer,’” he said. “This means forging partnerships with local investors to construct buildings for income generation and creating jobs for local people in those communities targeted for development.

“It’s high time we lift the church out of penury because our Lord Jesus Christ came to make himself poor so that through his poverty, the church (church people) can be rich,” he added, citing 2 Corinthians 8:9.

Francisco, 60, was the third bishop elected when 317 delegates, an equal number of United Methodist clergy and laity, met Dec. 12-16. The election fills the position formerly held by Bishop Leo A. Soriano, who is retiring after serving the Davao Episcopal area for 12 years.

San Francisco Area Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr. and Chicago Area Bishop Sally Dyck co-presided over the proceedings.

With skills honed over decades of experience in pastoral ministry and education, Francisco said he would consult his laity and clergy leadership to devise ways of training church leaders for effective discipleship.

“Continuing education gives people opportunities to reset their buttons in their area of specialization and serve with confidence without fear of being overwhelmed by emerging technology,” the new bishop said.

He was born to impoverished Methodist parents, who depended on subsistence farming and his mother Clara’s peddled wares to eke out a living. Because of limited means, Francisco learned very early in life to fend for himself.

“My election today reinforced the notion birthed during my formative years at my parents’ subsistence farm that the difference between the impossible and possible is hidden in self-determination,” Francisco said.

Francisco shared that his parents influenced his values for manual labor, discipline, persistence, courage and love. “All these virtues have helped me in my ministry all these years, and the episcopal office will be no exception,” he said.

At his father’s farm, Francisco watered the carabaos — animals that have similar features to oxen and are used in the rice fields of the Philippines. From his mother, Clara, Francisco also learned business skills and relationship skills.

He paid his own school tuition by working from 2 to 10 p.m. in factories, at the end of a school day that began at 7 a.m.

He has faced rejection in his ministry. Francisco recalls that when he was appointed district superintendent, the district leadership rejected him as unfit for the office. On his first day in office, the district officials wore black armbands as a sign of protest for his appointment. Instead of being vindictive to the district officials, Francisco said he wore his own black armband.

Francisco said he took a cue from the Apostle Paul who wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:20, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), to win those under the law.”

Impact of church dispute

Francisco said hopes to join efforts with colleague bishops in the Philippines to reclaim church assets now used by former United Methodist bishop Lito Tangonan and a small group of former United Methodists.

Tangonan, who formerly led the Manila Episcopal Area, was suspended as bishop in 2009 and, under complaint, was replaced in January 2010 by retired Bishop Daniel C. Arichea Jr. The complaint accused him of misconduct under Paragraph 2702 of the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book. That provision lists chargeable offenses of bishops under church law. No details were released about the complaint itself.

Tangonan left The United Methodist Church in 2011 to form his own church, called Ang Iglesias Methodista Sa Philippinas (The Independent Methodist Church of the Philippines).

The church has created factions in the Philippine Central Conference, Francisco said. The dispute over church property is now under litigation in Philippine courts.

Addressing other needs

Francisco said another problem he would like to address is the lack of standardization in pastors’ salaries in the Philippines Central Conference. The salaries are not sufficient to meet a pastor’s family needs, Francisco said.

“It is my sincere prayer that the Lord Jesus will use me to engage investors who will bring hope to their desperate situation by establishing income-generating programs for the common good,” the new bishop said.

Francisco said he wants to build a reputation for channeling the church resources in winning souls for Jesus instead of spending more time on church programs.

“There is need for United Methodists to have a revival fear of God by a thorough grounding in the word of God, what John Wesley called consulting the ‘Oracles of God,’” he said.

The United Methodist congregations in Davao operate in a spiritual environment riddled with Islamic insurgency, he noted.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the Philippines government has waged a decades-long struggle against ethnic Moro insurgencies in the southern Philippines, including intermittent peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Francisco said he plans to engage leaders of other Protestant denominations and other faith leaders on how they can work together to promote sustainable peace for spiritual development of their people.

As in the United States, local United Methodist churches around the globe are organized into increasingly larger groups: numerous districts, dozens of annual conferences and seven central conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe. Three bishops lead the 24 annual and provisional conferences that form the Philippines Central Conference.

Unlike in the United States, United Methodist bishops in the Philippines Central Conference are not elected for life. A bishop is elected for one four-year term at a time.  If the bishop continues to be elected every four years until reaching retirement age, then that bishop becomes a “bishop for life.” If the bishop is too young to retire, the bishop returns to the annual conference as a pastor and surrenders the “episcopal status.”

The United Methodist Book of Discipline directs each bishop to “guard the faith, order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline of the Church” and to “lead all persons entrusted to their oversight in worship, in the celebration of the sacraments, and in their mission of witness and service in the world.” Bishops also are to be “prophetic voices and courageous leaders in the cause of justice for all people.”

Francisco is married to Restetita Victoria Francisco, a university professor in the field of guidance and counseling in Manila. The couple has three grown children — one girl and two boys. Francisco is pursuing a doctoral degree in educational management and is now doing research to complete his dissertation.

*Mudambanuki is director of Central Conference Communications for United Methodist Communications.

News media contact: Heather Hahn, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.



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  1. Joel Andrew Gilenya

    Congratulations to the newly elected Bishop. Wish you God’s guidance as you lean on Him.

  2. Pierre Omadjela

    Glory to God.

    My God guide you as you are leading His Church.

    Stay blessed, you have our prayers.

  3. Remigio

    Bishop Cerrie Francisco was one of the young pastors in then Bulacan District when I was assigned as pastor in their local church in Meycauayan, Bulacan in 1979-1984. I knew his parents and some of his siblings and they hail from Lawang Bato, in now City of Meycauayan. His youngest sister, Josie, was a deaconess of our church. Bishop Cerrie struggled all through his life which includes his local church ministries to be a man who had been tested, crafted and destined by God to lead not only one of the episcopal areas but the whole United Methodist Church in the Philippines at such a time as this. Praise be to God for lifting up a person who came from a very humble origin to occupy the highest position in The United Methodist Church. I will personally commit myself in praying and supporting him in his leadership.

  4. Rev. Reynaldo M Calalang

    I join the many Filipino Methodists in praising God for Rev. Ceri Francisco’s election as Bishop of the UMC. We we were both members of Bishop Tuquero’s cabinet in the Manila Episcopal Area and he was one of the Disctrict Superintendents of MEA who made Bulacan District increased in church’s members. It is always my prayer that Bishop Francisco will be successful in his dream particularly for the Davao Episcopal Area. God bless you Bishop.


    My family and I wish to extend our warmest felicitation to bishop-elect Rev Cerrie Q. Francisco. I was privileged working with him at Central United Methodist Church as one of his Associate Pastors. I never doubted that he will become bishop of the church because he exemplified excellent leadership, selfless dedication, splendid commitment, passion for mission, zeal for service,compassion for the needy, love for the church workers, concern for the congregations, and clear vision for the whole UMC in the Philippines. God has widen his horizons and so I pray that God would use him more as his vessel of blessings to more people. God bless the UMC!

  6. Bing Pabilla

    It is by God’s will that you became one of the Bishops of the UMC. And we thank Him for giving us the opportunity of knowing you and your family during your brief sojourn at the Central UMC. It is our prayer that He continue to bless your ministry of shepherding your flock, particularly in the Davao Episcopal Area.

  7. marcela bacani figueroa

    i am so blessed to have known the wife of reverend pastor cerie francisco. It is my great joy to know that both these beautiful souls have been fa,ithful serving the Lord.

  8. Bishop Dr.Akbar khokhar

    I am preacher, but, most important, a child of God. I have organized churches, pastored,I am organizing crusades, Pastors & Leaders Seminar/ sunday school,Bible Colleges,Orphans Children’s Center,Deborah Adult Education Centers and prayer meetings in Pakistan..We have vision that some believers come to Pakistan and share the Words of God and join with us for this heavenly work. Are you ready for this call?Kindly continue to pray for me,the ministry and my family.Let me know your prayer requests and we will prayer for you.I Am Sure That You Will Have Your Part Of Blessings From Our Lord Jesus Christ Through This Ministry.
    may the grace of God abound in you!!!
    Bishop Dr. Akbar Khokhar!!
    The Wesleyan Methodist Church in Pakistan
    Email: life_kingjesuswmcp@hotmail.com

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