By REV. LUNA DINGAYAN
“The time is here for me to leave this life. I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith.” — II Timothy 4: 6-7
We were conducting a national church community organizers training at UCCP Sapang Palay when news came to us that Bishop Elmer M. Bolocon died in his sleep in the loving presence of his family.
Memories started to come back to me since the time I first met Rev. Bolocon at the Institute of Religion and Culture (IRC), where I worked as one of the staff for almost a decade while serving as pastor of churches in South Luzon. He was then a member of the Board of Directors (BOD) of the Institute, a position he continued to serve until his death. He was actually one of those who helped in conceptualizing and establishing IRC in the early eighties.
IRC has been playing a big role, especially during the Martial Law years, in terms of raising peoples’ social as well as faith consciousness. Bishop Elmer continued to serve as BOD of IRC even as he served as pastor of local churches in Metro-Manila, one of which is Tondo Evangelical Church, until such time that he was elected Moderator of then Greater Manila Conference.
Then, in 1998 he was elected General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) with the title of a bishop. He had been in that capacity until 2006. It was during his incumbency that we’re able to put up our Seminary building in Baguio City with generous support coming from the United Evangelical Mission and the Evangelical Church of Westphalia with Bishop Elmer’s endorsement. Bishop Elmer had been very supportive of our newly established seminary in Baguio with its new approach in theological education and its growing population.
About ten years ago, our good Bishop was diagnosed of cancer of the bones that somehow slowed down his involvement in the church as well as in the ecumenical movement. He was able to miraculously overcome the illness that was bothering him through these years until his death. The illness, however, did not deter him from his involvement in the ecumenical movement. He had been the Executive Secretary of the Ecumenical Bishop’s Forum (EBP) until his death. EBF, as we know, is one of the church organizations that are passionately calling for the resumption and continuation of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
Together with EBF, our good Bishop firmly believed that our country’s socio-economic and political problems and armed conflicts can be resolved through peaceful means by addressing the root causes of these problems. Thus, he spent his life, especially the last years of his life passionately calling for the peace talks to succeed.
Bishop Elmer died without seeing the dawn of a new Philippines that is genuinely peaceful, just, humane, and truly free. Indeed, he left us a great task to continue. But I do believe that Bishop Elmer died peacefully with the thought, like Apostle Paul, that he had done his best in the race; he had run the full distance; he had kept the faith (cf. II Tim. 4:6-7). Amen. # nordis.net