AS THOUSANDS OF THE FAITHFUL gathered for worship on May 9, 1980 in the house of worship of the Local Congregation of Tondo, Manila, they witnessed the ordination of Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. He received the laying on of the hands by the then Executive Minister, Brother Eraño G. Manalo (1925-2009), thus, being invested with the sacred office of minister in the Church.
Looking back now at that momentous occasion 40 years ago, members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) acknowledge that it was all part of God’s plan for the sake of His elect in these last days. For, having become a full-fledged minister, Brother Eduardo was soon entrusted by the Executive Minister important responsibilities—in which he showed outstanding capabilities—that would greatly impact the future leadership of the Church Of Christ.
Early post-ordination duties
After his ordination, Brother Eduardo Manalo was assigned as an instructor of evangelical studies in the then Evangelical College (EVCO), forerunner of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) School For Ministers. He was also appointed as the school’s Assistant Dean. He also served as a religious program host in the Church’s radio station DZEC and a panelist for the Ang Iglesia Ni Cristo, one of the Church’s first television programs.
Four years after his ordination, Brother Eduardo was appointed as co-Coordinator, serving in the capacity of District Minister, since the Church’s Metro Manila Coordinating Office then was the hub of the local congregations in the entire Metro Manila. During this period in his ministry, he founded the organization for radio communication enthusiasts—the Society of Communicators and Networkers International, Incorporated (SCAN).
Throughout this time, he had been entrusted to officiate at worship services not just in local congregations in Metro Manila but also in various provinces in the Philippines. Soon enough, he would shoulder a more delicate responsibility.
As Deputy Executive Minister
Having set his sight on choosing and grooming an eventual successor as Executive Minister, Brother Eraño Manalo convened the Church’s Economic Council and senior ministers for the said purpose. On May 6, 1994, the body of ministers unanimously elected Brother Eduardo Manalo. The following day, during a worship service at the Central Temple beamed live even abroad, Brother Eduardo Manalo took oath as the Deputy Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ). This period in his ministry saw him performing tasks outside the Philippines as directed by Ka Erdy.
In 1994, he led the delegation of the Church for the registration of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in Rome, Italy. Before he was sent abroad two years after the official establishment of the Church in Rome, his interest in the emerging field of digital communications inspired him to establish the Data and Network Management (DNM) for the Church’s Central Office.
In 1996, he assisted the Executive Minister in the registration of the Church in Jerusalem, Israel. In 1997, he accompanied Ka Erdy in visiting the brethren in Athens, Greece. In 1998, Brother Eduardo was again sent by Ka Erdy abroad. This time, he conducted pastoral visitations in the states of Hawaii and California. His pastoral visitation was in time for the 30th anniversary of the Church’s presence in the West. Two years after, he was tasked to visit various local congregations in ten other US states and in Washington, D.C. In 2006, he undertook the task of visiting and leading worship services in various local congregations across Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
As Deputy Executive Minister, he also gave attention to the ministerial students, sponsoring various workshops for them on such topics as writing, translation, photography, and videography. He sponsored art exhibits and animated documentaries about Brother Felix Manalo, God’s Messenger in these last days, and about Brother Eraño Manalo. He also set his eyes on the preservation of the Church’s literature, moving to digitize copies of the Pasugo: God’s Message, the official magazine of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ). Under the auspices of his office, brethren were encouraged to produce art and music for the Church.
As the Executive Minister
In 2009, the duty of shepherding the Church Of Christ fell upon the shoulders of Brother Eduardo Manalo. At this juncture of his life, he had been an ordained minister of the Church for 29 years and Deputy Executive Minister for 15 years. In him, the members of the Church Of Christ saw a leader chosen and guided by God. The years that followed proved them right.
Knowing that the Church was still grieving over the demise of Ka Erdy, Ka Eduardo embarked on a series of pastoral visitations reminiscent of those carried out by Ka Erdy after the Sugo passed away in 1963. His first call to the ministers was “We must lead the Church across the afflictions.” And lead he did. More ecclesiastical districts, local congregations, and group worship services were established. Thousands of new houses of worship and barangay chapels were constructed. The Church reached more and more countries, most notably in Africa as well as India. The number of ordained ministers grew by considerably as more and more faithful young men enrolled in the ministerial school. Eco-farms and housing communities were established in the Philippines and elsewhere. The arts were extensively tapped to express faith. Thousands upon thousands joined the Church Of Christ, among them preachers of other religions.
When a few untrue ministers and their ilk tried to sow discord among the members, Brother Eduardo Manalo acted accordingly to preserve the unity of the Church and guide the brethren in the right path. He stood by his word when he became the Executive Minister: “Wala akong iibahin sa sinimulan ng Sugo at itinaguyod ng Tatay [I will not change anything from what the Sugo began and what my father continued to uphold].” He never compromised the word of God. Although the dissenters involved people in the media and the government in their twisted bid to sully and destroy the Church, in the end the Church Of Christ emerged stronger and even more steadfast in the faith.
On his 40th year
The Covid-19 pandemic has defined this year without a doubt. Leaving thousands dead, millions infected, and millions more reeling under the economic impact of the extensive and prolonged quarantine and shelter-in-place measures, the pandemic has led people to question the character and power of their leaders—civil and spiritual alike. Such is not the case with members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ). If the pandemic revealed anything about Brother Eduardo Manalo, it is exactly what they have known and has been proven all along: he is inspired and guided by God.
Even before there was Covid-19, the Executive Minister prepared Church members, through worship service lessons that he outlined, for the onslaught of troubles and woes. When the pandemic struck, material aid was sent and continues to be sent to Church members wherever they are in the world. Most importantly, Iglesia Ni Cristo members are able to continue holding worship services in the safety of their homes. Whether through print medium distributed to each household or through livestreaming or videostreaming technology, Church members are able to receive God’s words—an integral part of the worship service that God seeks (John 4:23–24; I Cor. 14:26).
Being able to worship God gives members of the Church the confident hope that they are never alone in facing life’s challenges. As Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded them in a recent worship service lesson he outlined, they never have to worry no matter how difficult life may become because:
“His miracles are marvelous, more than we can count. … He protects the sorrowful and lifts up those who have been disgraced. … The poor are filled with hope, … God will protect you from harm, no matter how often trouble may strike. … In times of war and famine, God will keep you safe. You will be sheltered, … Your home will be secure …” (Job 5:6-9, 11, 16, 19-21, 24 Contemporary English Version).
On the 40th anniversary of the ordination of Brother Eduardo Manalo, members of the Church Of Christ around the world unite in praising and worshiping God. Never one to heap glory upon himself, Brother Eduardo Manalo always reminds Church members: God is the reason the Church Of Christ succeeded and will continue to be triumphant until the day of the Lord Jesus Christ’s return.