By JAY CASTRO and PAOLO CUDIA
MONTREAL, CANADA—On April 27, 2019, the Local Congregation of Ottawa-Ontario, Ecclesiastical District of Ottawa, Canada conducted an Aid to Humanity and community service activity in response to the city of Montreal’s declaration of a state of emergency due to immense flooding.
Heavy rainfall caused floodwaters to overflow in the area of Île-Bizard-Sainte-Geneviève, damaging the homes of some of its residents.
Despite the short notice, cold weather, and heavy rains, the brethren joined their community in making sandbags, transporting them, and reinforcing the walls to protect the homes of the city’s residents from the floodwaters. Borough mayor and city councilor Normand Marinacci thanked the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) for helping their community in such emergency. — With reports from the INC News Section
MANILA, PHILIPPINES —
The Member of Parliament for Scarborough North, Shaun Chen commended the “great work” being done by the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) after witnessing first hand the recent food drive done by the Church in the Greater Toronto Area.
“The great work being done by the (INC) congregation, by the volunteers … really shows the true meaning of true compassion,” Chen said.
MP Chen personally witnessed the ongoing humanitarian efforts of INC in the Aid to Humanity Food Drive held on April 14, 2019 to help those in need in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Through the Felix Y. Manalo (FYM) Foundation, INC volunteers in the GTA helped gather 250 boxes of non-perishable food items such as canned goods, baby food, fruit juices, and other necessities for the less fortunate to donate to the North York Harvest Food Bank.
“We’re the primary food bank in Northern Toronto. We have about 40 member agencies. We raise food, we raise funds, so that we can distribute food to our member agencies to look after the people in need in our area,” said Henry Chiu, the Director of Development and Marketing for the North York Harvest Food Bank.
Mr. Chiu added, “When our organization raises this much food … it helps us to serve the people … This food will [really come in] handy.”
This effort is one of many ongoing outreach projects of the INC held in communities in which it serves. This need to service both the spiritual and basic needs of its neighbors is reinforced by the INC Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo.
Just this last April 9, Brother Eduardo Manalo emphasized in a homily delivered at a special worship service how important it is to always remain obedient to God’s commands and to “not extinguish the flame of the holy spirit.” (I Thess. 5:19, Plain English Translation)
In that same gathering marking the INC International Officers’ Day, Brother Eduardo also stressed that members of the Church Of Christ should continue to possess the spirit of helping and caring for others — both our fellow Christians and all our neighbors.
This special worship service was attended by more than 55,000 Church officers at the Philippine Arena (main site) and thousands more through live streaming in more than 1000 remote sites scattered in more than 150 ecclesiastical districts worldwide.
Indeed, INC members in 151 countries are unequivocally united in their obedience to God’s commands one of which is to “help those who are in need” (II Car. 8:13-14, Good News Translation).
Administering a global Church—with its wide-ranging concerns such as propagation of the faith, edification of its members, selection and training of Church officers, construction of worship buildings and Church offices, among many others—is a great challenge and an enormous task; it is no ordinary undertaking.
Rising up to the challenge, the Executive Minister does not cease laboring for the sake of the brethren but responds with an inspired and dynamic leadership—always trusting in God—the welfare of the Church always in his heart and mind. In fact, love for the Church is what motivates him to share even his life for the brethren, as what Apostle Paul said: “Because of our love for you we were ready to share with you not only the Good News from God but even our own lives. You were so dear to us!” (I Thess. 2:8, Today’s English Version).
In addition, God bestowed on the Church Administration the authority to preach God’s commandments: “I have become its minister, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known” (Col. 1:25, Holman Christian Standard Bible). Thus, the Church Administration, through the help of ministers and ministerial workers, thoroughly teach and counsel the members—primarily through worship service lessons—in order to present each one perfect before the Lord Jesus on His Second Advent (Col. 1:28-29).
The Church Administration has also constructed buildings to serve as offices for the effective and efficient supervision of the members in their services to God. Foremost of these are the Church’s Central Office and other administrative buildings within its vast complex in Quezon City, Philippines. It has two main offices for its ecclesiastical districts in the Americas, one in England for Europe, and one in Japan for Northeast Asia.
Christian Family Organizations
The CFOs aim to strengthen the brotherhood within the Church and make every Iglesia Ni Cristo household worthy of salvation by promoting among its members a vibrant spiritual life. Through various worthwhile activities, the CFOs help instill Christian values to strengthen family relations toward a peaceful, secure, and happy life together.
Buklod (“bond”), the organization for married members envisions a strong husband-and-wife relationship leading to a family that is steadfast in faith and active in serving God. For this, it conducts activities for the strengthening of the bond of the husband and wife. It also assists them to learn and engage in noble and gainful livelihoods and encourages them to help in Church activities.
KADIWA or Kabataang may Diwang Wagas (Youth with Noble Intent), the organization for single members 18 years old and above, aims to prepare them for a bright future as well as for a married life under God’s blessing. It encourages them to participate in the multifarious activities of the Church, especially in disseminating and edifying the faith.
Binhi (seedling), the organization for baptized members 12 to 17 years old, instills in the youth the importance of knowledge and education while guiding them in right living and proper conduct. It also assists in tapping and honing their talents and skills in various disciplines such as literature, music, and arts.
Pagsamba ng Kabataan (PNK) or Children’s Worship Service (CWS) caters to the members’ children, 4 to 11 years old. Through the guidance of CWS officers, the Church Administration trains the children the proper worship of God and teaches them His words using age-appropriate methods to make it easier for them to understand the biblical lessons. The organization also carries out activities that edify their faith.
Christian Brotherhood International. The CBI caters to the youth of the Church who are studying. Activities are geared toward assisting them in their studies, helping them face life’s challenges, become responsible citizens, and most importantly, become strong and faithful Church members who never depart from the commands of God.
Christian Employees Association. CEA aims to promote harmonious relationship among employees and laborers and raise their level of efficiency in their respective work, based upon the tenets of the Bible.
Christian Medical Dental and Paramedical Society. CMDPS aims to create a network of Church members from the allied health professions for organizing free medical-dental and other health missions in every ecclesiastical district as part of the Church’s Aid to Humanity project.
Christian Society for the Deaf, Through the CSD, the Church provides a safe environment for the deaf and other differently-abled persons, embracing them with brotherly love and acceptance for their spiritual growth and self-development.
Society of Communicators and Networkers International. SCAN consists of licensed radio communicators advocating the responsible use of amateur radio communication in helping save people’s lives by, among others, assisting in emergency response and rescue operations during disasters and the like.
The Church holds sports activities through the INC Unity Games. Promoting not only health awareness and physical fitness, this multi-district, multi-sport event nurtures the love of brotherhood and further solidifies their Christian unity, inspiring them to a heightened fervor in serving God. The EVM Cup caters to ministers, ministerial workers, and volunteer workers with the INC Central Office and in the ecclesiastical districts.
Arts and Music
The Church Of Christ helps its members polish their creative talents in music and the arts and encourages them to use their gifts in giving praise to God. The Church conducts competitions and presentations to showcase its members’ creative works that highlight the true Christian way of living such as the following:
INCinema, where brethren in the districts hone their cinematic talents by producing original low-budget but quality films and stage plays that promote genuine Christian values. In recognition of such efforts and talents, the Excellence in Visual Media Awards (EVM Awards) are given to participants who excelled in different aspects of filmmaking and stage play production.
INConcert, musical presentations highlighting the brethren’s strong faith in the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ through original and inspirational song compositions.
INC Life, an exhibit of photographs that show the history of the Church and depict its continued success.
Essay and Poetry Writing Contest, wherein the brethren are able to express in writing their firm conviction as members of the Church.
Oratorio, a musical narrative about the Church Of Christ in these last days told purely through overtures, solos, recitatives, and choruses.
EVM Art, a contest in painting, drawing, and sculpture expressing the vision and mission of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
INC International Piano Competition, launched for brethren who love classical piano music and where compositions of some of the world’s greatest composers are interpreted.
INC Voice Competition, aims to advance and promote excellence in the art of singing arias and art songs by world-renowned composers.
Songs of Faith, Love, and Hope, a singing competition for the various family organizations in the Church that highlights contemporary Christian Music.
Concerned with the welfare not only of its members but also of society in general, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) undertakes programs and projects in its various fields of endeavor, which are guided by and at the same time promote Christian values.
Care for Humanity
The Care for Humanity (Lingap sa Mamamayan) outreach program has provided immediate assistance to multitudes of people, from calamity victims to indigents and indigenous peoples, and all others who are in need. Through its implementing arm, the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, the Church seeks to give aid to the needy in all parts of the world.
Resettlement communities commonly consist of housing units, livelihood sites, and a house of worship. The first one, Barrio Maligaya in Laur, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, was developed to provide refuge for victims of religious persecution. Barangay Bagong Buhay, in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, was established for displaced survivors of the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Sitio New Era in Barangay Langit, Alangalang, Leyte was established for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda).
A resettlement community with livelihood sites was developed each for the Kabihug of Paracale, Camarines Norte and the B’laan in Barangay Danlag, Tampakan, Cotabato South, both indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
Proper and safe shelter is provided for the Church’s volunteer workers, and even to their widows and children. Some of these are the housing projects in the vicinity of the Church’s Central Office in Quezon City; in Rodriguez, Rizal; Dasmariñas, Cavite; and Tagaytay City, Cavite.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo’s livelihood projects have provided job opportunities and gainful employment for many, members and non-members alike.
Aside from its ten ecological farms throughout the Philippines, the Church also maintains eco-farming facilities in Ladybrand, South Africa and in Shoshoni, Wyoming, USA.
The Unified Livelihood And Development Initiative (UNLAD) manages garment and food processing factories. Established in 2012, UNLAD International is the socio-civic and livelihood skills training arm of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
New Era General Hospital
The New Era General Hospital in the Philippines not only caters to the health concerns mainly but not exclusively of ministers and members of the Church; it also helps in mobilizing volunteers for the Church’s medical missions. Together with the Social Services Office, it conducts free medical-dental missions, blood donations drives, health seminars, and other related campaigns.
New Era University
The New Era University (NEU) offers basic to post-graduate programs in its various campuses throughout the Philippines. It also promotes the Alternative Learning Systems (ALS) program for out-of-school youths, and offers free Summer Pre-Kindergarten Program.
INC Museum and other buildings
The Iglesia Ni Cristo Museum in Quezon City, Philippines is a five-story state-of-the-art edifice that features historical timeline, and thematic exhibits, as well as information about the history and milestones of the Church and a children’s museum.
The Church’s heritage sites also preserve its history and culture. Among them are the old house of worship in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila (where the first converts came from), originally built in the 1930s and now converted into a museum as a reminder of the Church’s humble beginnings; and the museum in New Era, Hawaii, the very place where the Church’s first worship service outside the Philippines was held in 1968.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo built the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena and the Philippine Sports Stadium in Ciudad de Victoria in Bulacan, not just to accommodate its members during large gatherings, such as its centennial celebration in 2014, but also to share it with the Filipino nation and the international community.
Tree planting and clean-up activities form part of the Church Of Christ’s ongoing program on environmental protection and preservation. It has also supported the Earth Hour and promotes eco-farming, among other environment-friendly practices.
A solemn gathering of the faithful, the worship service of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is usually held twice a week in the house of worship and consists of hymn-singing, prayers, voluntary offering, and the study of God’s words to guide the true Christians in their daily living.
Houses of worship
To meet the needs of its constantly increasing number of worshipers, the Church Of Christ carries out a vigorous chapel construction program, extending to remote villages in the countryside.
Through the years, the Church has built about 5,000 houses of worship worldwide. Many of them have served as distinct landmarks in the locality.
Children’s Worship Service
A weekly worship service for children aged 11 years and below, using age-appropriate methods in biblical instruction.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo was preached by Brother Felix Y. Manalo, God’s Messenger in these last days, and was registered in the Philippines on July 27, 1914.
Brother Felix Y. Manalo (1886-1963), God’s Messenger in these last days, preaching the pristine gospel
The old house of worship in Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila
From its first local congregation in Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila, the Church quickly spread not only throughout the metropolis but also to the neighboring provinces in Luzon and across the islands of Visayas and Mindanao.
Brother Felix Manalo (center) in one of his pastoral visitations
When Brother Felix Manalo passed away on April 12, 1963, the Church had already established ecclesiastical districts in more than half of all the provinces in the country.
In 1968, the Church, led by Brother Eraño G. Manalo, the Executive Minister then, successively established the first two local congregations outside the Philippines—Honolulu, Hawaii and San Francisco, California in the USA.
Thus began the Church’s expansion in the Far West and eventually around the world.
Brother Eraño G. Manalo (1925-2009) (left), holding the scroll proclaiming the establishment of the congregation of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 27, 1968
From then up to the end of the ‘70s, the Church went on to spread throughout the continents of North America (establishing local congregations and group worship services [GWS] in other states and territories, such as New York and Guam in 1969, and Canada in 1971); Europe (the first local congregation, London [now Battersea], was established in 1972); Australia, mid-‘70s; Asia (China, by way of Hong Kong in 1974; Thailand in 1976; and Japan in 1977); and Africa (Nigeria and South Africa in 1978). By the end of the ‘80s, there were local congregations and GWS in the Scandinavian countries and their neighbors.
The first local congregation in Latin America was established in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 1990. Congregations were also established in world cities that are of great relevance to the history of Christianity— Rome, Italy on July 27, 1994; Jerusalem, Israel on March 31, 1996; and Athens, Greece on May 10, 1997.
Brother Eraño Manalo in Athens, Greece, May 10, 1997
At the dawn of the new millenium, the Church’s mission reached South America with the establishment of GWS in Brazil and Peru. Before Brother Eraño passed away on August 31, 2009, the Church had been spreading continuously in different parts of the world.
Through the leadership of its present Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Church continues to progress and succeed. Its membership has been constantly increasing.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, current Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo
Thousands of ministers and Church officers are being added worldwide. The construction and renovation of houses of worship, Church edifices, and other structures also continue, not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.
The houses of worship in Washington, DC; Barcelona, Spain; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands are just a few of those outside the Philippines that were dedicated to God in recent years, thus strengthening the Church’s presence in other countries worldwide.
Brother Eduardo Manalo in one of his pastoral visitations in South Africa
Greeting the brethren after a worship service
On July 21, 2014, the Iglesia Ni Cristo inaugurated the Philippine Arena, currently the world’s “largest mixed-use indoor theatre.” This megastructure that sits in Ciudad de Victoria, Bocaue, Bulacan was the venue of the Church’s centennial celebration held on July 27, 2014, which was attended by millions of its members from all over the world.
Brethren waving flags of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Philippine Arena, Bocaue, Bulacan
The Church Of Christ endeavors to:
Share the gospel of salvation to all people by following Christ’s command to “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” so that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16, English Standard Version).
Edify the faith of its members through constant and effective religious instruction, “admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom” in order to “present everyone perfect in Christ” (Col. 1:28, New International Version).
As the Church Of Christ is envisioned to be a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:27, New International Version), the Church Of Christ pursues the perfect unity of faith and practice among its members, that each one will be devoted to a life of holiness and service founded on true Christian teaching.
Members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo gladly fulfill their duty to share the faith. They invite all people to attend Bible study sessions in their homes and evangelical missions held in the houses of worship and in public venues.
The Church Of Christ also uses mass media in spreading its message of hope to a broader audience.
Pasugo: God’s Message, the monthly official magazine of the Church, carries mainly religious articles and Church news and features. Its maiden issue came out in February 1939 and was called “Ang Pasugo.” In 1978, it released its first international edition called “God’s Message.” Since 2004, the two editions have been merged. Its official website is at pasugo.com.ph. Aside from the magazine, the Church also has other publications such as books, pamphlets, leaflets, and fliers for worldwide distribution.
INCRadio DZEM 954kH, an AM radio station, began its broadcast in February 1969. A year prior, the Church had begun its radio evangelism through its religious programs aired over DZEC. INCRadio maintains a wide media presence through relay stations in various provinces and its own website that features live-streaming; its channels in YouTube, Facebook, and other social media sites; and its own mobile application.
INCTV is the flagship television station of the Church Of Christ. The Church first ventured in TV evangelism with the “Ang Iglesia Ni Cristo” program which premiered over a major TV network in the Philippines in February 1983. NET25 opened in 2000 and GEMTV 49 in 2005. In 2012, the Christian Era Broadcasting Service International Incorporated (CEBSI) rebranded the latter as INCTV, which features an all-Iglesia Ni Cristo program format. Through Cable TV stations, the Church’s programs are also available for viewers outside the Philippines.
Aside from the official websites of Pasugo: God’s Message magazine, INCTV, and INC Radio, the Church also maintains websites such as incmedia.org and incgiving.org and social media pages for its Christian Family Organizations, Iglesia Ni Cristo News Updates, Iglesia Ni Cristo Media.
The Church has also been utilizing videoconferencing and live-streaming technology to host international evangelical missions on-air and online. Likewise, mobile apps for INCTV and INCRadio are now available to all for free at app stores.