Recently, the trustees of Silliman University expressed the idea that Silliman University Church (UCCP) has erroneously adopted by-laws without the benefit of legal identity. As a consequence of this ‘error’, the SU trustees seek to correct this matter by assimilating all facets of Silliman University ‘Church’ into the University, and addressing Church policy in a Silliman University Church Operations Manual.
If the SU Church is not a legal entity and able to develop by-laws for Church operations, is it a Church in fact, legally or otherwise?
If SU Church is not a Church, how can it continue to perform the offices of a church; i.e. conduct marriages, collect offerings, and other authorizations that are within the legal auspices of a church?
Do the Articles of Incorporation of Silliman University authorize the University to operate a Church? Is the intent to diminish the SU Church to the status of a chaplaincy of Silliman University? Does a chaplaincy have the authority to collect offerings, perform marriages, and function as a Local Church?
The intent of the early administrators of Silliman University was for the Church to minister primarily to the student body. However, over the years, the Church has evolved into being primarily a place of worship for alumni and the community with less than 10 percent of the student body attending services at the SU Church, although chaplaincy services are extended to the occupants of campus dormitories.
From the aspect of a relatively recent observer of SU Church, I suspect that the SU Church (UCCP) adopted by-laws of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines which were then tailored to meet the specific needs of the Silliman community, and thereby, assumed a legal identity under the Articles of Incorporation of the UCCP.
This assumption is reinforced by the past practice of many years of the SU Church’s financial contributions of support to UCCP. Resuming this relationship and maintaining an autonomous personality in cooperation with the University would resolve aforementioned foreseeable difficulties/questions of attempting to assimilate the SU Church into Silliman University.
Jack J. Washington
Batinguel, Dumaguete City