God’s Chosen People Must Perhaps “Reinvent” Their Church

by Bobby Reyes

| Photo by hoyasmeg via Flickr/Commons CC BY 2.0

Part XI of an “EDEN America” series

If Filipinos, especially OFWs and Overseas Filipinos, decide to become “God’s Chosen People” by the next century (or even earlier), then they must “reinvent” the present churches where they belong. If the church leaders refuse to heed their suggestions, perhaps they should form their congregations. Yes, even a new church.

As written earlier in this series, a church must minister to save its members’ souls and help them become socioeconomically empowered. Or if not interdependent with each other because a church should work and support its members. Yes, assist church members in reaching heaven as a reward when they die and make sure that their present existence on Earth does not amount to an “economic purgatory,” a term this writer coined in 1988.

To be socioeconomically independent, I suggest that every church member belongs to a cooperative whether the co-op is engaged in commerce, manufacturing, distribution, or any other business venture. It means that through a cooperative (co-op) system, health-maintenance organization (HMO), credit union, insurance, investment institutions can provide almost all church members’ needs. It should remedy the primary defect of Capitalism, which is the lack of capital (or venture capital) among the poor and even among the middle class.

It will not require “rocket science” to preach to a million low-income families that if every one of them contributes (as co-op shares) one greenback daily for 365 days, their co-op would have a paid-up capital at the end year of $365-million. Plus any interest or dividend as income that their pooled resources will generate — especially if among the members are astute money managers and/or financial whiz kids.

“It will not require “rocket science” to preach to a million low-income families that if every one of them contributes (as co-op shares) one greenback daily for 365 days, their co-op would have a paid-up capital at the end year of $365-million.”

Aha, it would require only the doing of “It’s elementary, Mr. Watson” adage to argue that in due time, a “super co-op” can compete with business monoliths like Walmart, Costco and Amazon combined. Yes, one monolith — as inspired by their church leaders — that is “by the church members, for the church-members and of the church-members.” This writer considers it as the “co-op brand of business governance and ownership.”

Or just imagine what a new electric-car manufacturing firm called “People’s Co-op Motors” (PCM) can do that its workers own (as members of a “labor co-op). Also, for buyers of its vehicles, which other co-ops function as dealers, service centers, financiers, auto club, auto insurance, etcetera – ad infinitum.

Or just visualize a church that does not build a cathedral for worship. But it constructs instead a “Cathedral of Learning” and/or “Cathedral of Baseball and Other Sports” and/or a “Cathedral of Medicine” (which houses schools of medicine, nursing and other courses, a research-and-development center, and a general hospital with specialized clinics for particular diseases). Or even a “Cathedral of Entrepreneurship,” which can house a stock exchange for co-op members trading their shares, a graduate-business college, credit union, insurance co-ops, etc. Or even a “Cathedral of Culture,” which contains a museum, a library, a performing-arts center, broadcast stations, film studios, a music conservatory. A factory for musical instruments and other edifices. Almost all proposed buildings have the additional purpose of serving as sanctuaries for thousands of patients or refugees during a pandemic, a natural calamity, or disaster.

During the present pandemic caused by the COVID-19, they forced many churches and places of worship to shut their doors. Why? Because they did not build the churches to new medically-approved standards designed to protect worshipers, church staff, and the public.

“Or just visualize a church that does not build a cathedral for worship. But it constructs instead a “Cathedral of Learning” and/or “Cathedral of Baseball and Other Sports” and/or a “Cathedral of Medicine” (which houses schools of medicine, nursing and other courses, a research-and-development center, and a general hospital with specialized clinics for particular diseases).”

Before Thanksgiving November 1998, my wife and I visited the City of Pittsburg and the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning.” It is a 42-story skyscraper that serves as the centerpiece of its main campus, and donor countries built almost all their classrooms. I talked with university officials about the feasibility of having a “Filipino classroom” in it.

During this visit, I also made a courtesy call at the Pittsburgh Pirates of the Major League Baseball (MBL) — and presented a possible Filipino American Community Night during a regular MBL game at its stadium. And also with the public-relations executives of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). I also ate at the city’s only Filipino American restaurant, discussing the possible Fil-Am event during the MBL 1999 season. But in 1998, there were only some 450 Filipino American residents and Filipino graduate students in Pittsburgh. The proposed baseball event was not, therefore, viable at that time.

But the idea of putting up a similar but modest Filipino version of the University of Pittsburgh’s “Cathedral of Learning” got a boost when one of its alumni, Regis John Seaman, Jr., heard about it. Engineer Seaman is married to a Cebuana and was retiring in Cebu. Regis and I became good Facebook friends, and we continued to discuss ways and means to pursue the project.

Perhaps the people of Colima, the smallest province of Mexico, and their leaders may assist the coming “Pueblo Filipino” mega project. The project site– which can be as large as 1,200 hectares — is big enough to build retirement condos and all the buildings discussed in this presentation. It will also allow OFWs and Overseas Filipinos to help Mexico become the 5th-biggest economy in the world by 2050. More on these ideas by this Wednesday’s column.

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