Kristen Caldwell interviews UMCTV members Earlie Bautista, Noel Miguel, and Jodel Pascual. Photo by David Valera (PNW) for WJ Communications.

By Kristen Caldwell, WJ Communications

For the first time, the Philippines Central Conference has a full slate of communicators attending General Conference to share the stories of this global gathering with more than 300,000 professing United Methodists spread across 24 annual conferences back home.

UMCTV – United Media Channel – officially launched online in 2018, but this year sent three communicators from the Philippines to help share stories, livestream the plenary sessions in Tagalog on Facebook, and support the needs of 51 General Conference delegates.

“It’s more than information, it’s inspiration,” said Earlie Bautista, central conference secretary and onsite reporter for UMCTV.

Noel Miguel, a professional videographer by training, started UMCTV with the hopes of having things set up for General Conference 2020. Jodel Pascual has also served as the tech leader for UMC TV. The team determined early on that Facebook was the best way to reach people for the cheapest cost.

“We bought some second-hand cameras and started producing youth-oriented shows,” Miguel said.

When the pandemic began, UMCTV decided to focus on sharing concerts, worship, bible studies and more.

“UMCTV really bloomed because everyone was watching everything online,” Pascual said.

In the lead up to General Conference, UMCTV’s biggest task has been battling misinformation across the Philippines, specifically in regard to regionalization and what that means for LGBTQ+ discussions and inclusion inside and outside of the United States.

“This misinformation in the Philippines is really, really bad,” Pascual said. “I tried to be a keyboard warrior.”

The team needed to be at General Conference. They needed to work with delegates and bishops to clearly and effectively remind people what regionalization is and isn’t.

They asked for permission from their bishops, and they became the coordinators of their various delegates – helping them apply for Visas to get here, while applying for their own.

“We were like call center agents,” Bautista said.

Through help from United Methodist Communications, the Love Your Neighbor Coalition (LYNC), Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) and the National Association of Filipino-American United Methodists, the team arrived and even received a working laptop when one of theirs crashed the first week.

Bautista said with UMCom’s permission, they are livestreaming the session to Facebook using a combination of Tagalog and English – Taglish, she said.

Immediately after regionalization passed, UMCTV grabbed a few of their bishops to host a press conference. The team is also producing a daily recap video that is getting shared on its channel as well.

Miguel said UMCTV has approximately 15-20 volunteers working with them off and on in the Philippines. The hope is to expand their work and create their own cable channel, have a radio channel and more to share the Good News of Jesus.

“It’s about spreading the faith of The United Methodist Church,” Miguel said. “The world wide web is our parish.”

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