Last May 2017, Sid Balatan visited Bishop Cerrie Francisco at his office for a news interview. After the interview Bishop Cerrie and Sid drifted into a chitchat on the floating issues within the United Methodist Church, especially the LGBTQ question pervasive in Western countries. The conversation, over a cup of coffee, went to local churches, where the prevailing issue are far from LGBTQ but more on church finance, membersjip growth and health coverage for Church workers.
At one point of the conversation, and seemingly exasperated, Bishop Cerrie said: “You know Sid, as member of the Execom of the COB (Council of Bishops), I attend meetings, mostly in the US, and join hard decision-making process on the issues of LGBTQ, and the likes. But when I fly back in the Philippines, those issues I encountered in the US are nowhere to be found in the local churches. The churches in the provinces are more concerned of growth, finance and health.”
From the conversation, Sid, who is a journalist for more than 30 years, working for international news agencies, immediately sensed a disconnect between the grassroots and the UMC top leadership based in the US.
To bridge the Information Disconnect, Sid proposed an Over the Internet TV that will served as centralized channel for the local churches to amplify their voices, up to the hearing distance of the COB, and at the same, for the global leadership of the church, use the OTI-TV as a medium to reach down to the grassroots churches.
Both Bishop Cerrie and Sid were so excited about the concept of a centralized information network via an Internet TV Channel. But when Sid made a study on the costing of the project, it was a budget that MEA cannot afford.
Then here comes the answer to the prayer of Sid and Bishop Cerrie. Sid presented the project idea to his brother, Rev. DS Ares Balatan, who is based in Australia as the Executive Director of F3M or Filipino Migrant Ministry.
After few weeks Pastor Ares came back to Sid via a Messenger voice call and told Sid that he was able to source half of the budget. But Bishop Cerrie the final say, as Manila Episcopal Area is the fiduciary of the fund.
Sid revisited his Excel document, and totally delete his professional fee, do away with the purchase of video equipment, and so on.
Sid emailed the new budget and where the source of will come from to Bishop Cerrie.
And as we often say in conclusion, the rest is history.