Ahead of the anniversary date of the establishment of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) in these last days, its members around the world held special worship services during which they offered praise and glory to the Almighty Father for the 108 years of continuous wonderful blessings to the Church. They expressed their sincerest gratitude not only for His abiding guidance and protection but also for always leading them to victories in all the Church’s holy works through the instrumentality of the Church Administration.
Among these triumphs over which the faithful rejoice is the completion of many houses of worship, which is one indicator of the Church’s success in its propagation and edification works.
At the Anniversary Thanksgiving Worship Service, which the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, officiated on July 22, 2022, two houses of worship were dedicated to the Lord God. One was that of the Local Congregation of Luzon Avenue, Ecclesiastical Districts of Central in the Philippines, which was the very venue of the special worship service. And the other one was that of the Winnipeg South Congregation, Manitoba Ecclesiastical District, Canada. With the addition of these, the total number of houses of worship that were constructed or acquired and renovated by the Church since 2009 has reached 3,212, with 259 of them during the time of the pandemic.
The preaching of the Executive Minister was streamed live from the house of worship of the Luzon Congregation to the Local Congregation of Winnipeg South, as well as the Local Congregation of Long Island City in New York, USA, both of which celebrated the 50th anniversary of their establishment. Local congregations in the Ecclesiastical District of Central also witnessed the worship service via livestreaming.
During the worship service, the Executive Minister announced the theme for the Church’s 108th anniversary: “Ang Nasa Kahalalan ay Namumuhay sa Kabanalan” (God’s Elect Strive to Live in Holiness), based on II Peter 1:5-10 (Norlie’s Simplified New Testament). He exhorted all members to always follow what our Lord God wants us to do, so that we can lead a life that is worthy before the Almighty Father. Brother Eduardo Manalo also reiterated through the Bible that we should not imitate the culture of the world that is against God’s teachings but instead fulfill what gives glory to the Lord, that is living a godly life.
The prayer before the preaching of God’s words was led by Brother Arnel R. Canicosa. After that, the Church’s General Evangelist, Brother Bienvenido C. Santiago, read the description of the houses of worship. Then, Brother Rene J. Panoncillo, the General Secretary of the Church, led the group of selected ministers in the prayer for the chapel dedication. Another spirit-filled prayer was led by Brother Romer D. Galang after the preaching of the Executive Minister. Then, Brother Eduardo Manalo said the benediction.
The following stories of the local congregations that were part of the anniversary thanksgiving worship service led by the Executive Minister reflect how God has led His chosen ones to victories throughout the years:
Luzon Avenue, Quezon City
Written by Jane Claudine Lamata
As the world continues facing problems brought by the pandemic, the Iglesia Ni Cristo never stops building and renovating houses of worship for its members. One of these houses of worship is the newly dedicated house of worship along Luzon Avenue, Quezon City. The rise of the magnificent 2,020-seater edifice was truly anticipated, most especially by the brethren of the Local Congregation of Luzon Avenue, Ecclesiastical District of Central.
The brethren could still remember the humble beginnings of the local congregation. It was formerly Area 4 of the Local Congregation of Balara, (now Local Congregation of Templo Central). “Back then, we attended worship services in a hall—called Kapilya I—that was part of the Central Office compound,” said Brother Joel Parco, a deacon and a district officer of the Society of Communicators and Networkers, Inc. (SCAN).
During the early years of the Church in the Luzon Avenue area, Church members went through trials and persecution. They experienced having to walk through flood during heavy rains to attend worship services. “When it rained, the area would get flooded, which would made it difficult for us to get across the creek. The surrounding area would also get muddy making the path slippery and difficult to walk on,” Brother Alfredo Cabaltera Sr., 74, and an active deacon, said. However, the brethren stood their ground and upheld their services to the Lord God.
The time came when the Church Administration decided to establish Area 4 as a local congregation. A 214-seater house of worship was constructed, which was dedicated to God on September 6, 1979, in a worship service that was officiated by Brother Eraño G. Manalo, then the Executive Minister. That was also the official establishment of the Local Congregation of Luzon Avenue.
As years passed, the number of members grew quickly. To accommodate the increase in membership, the Church Administration approved the construction of a 754-seater house of worship. This was dedicated to God in a worship service led by Brother Eraño Manalo in November 1988.
Because of the perseverance and active participation of the brethren, especially by the Church officers, in the propagation of God’s words, the number of members in the local congregation continued growing. Areas 19 and 20 of the local congregation were eventually established as the Local Congregation of Bonifacio Drive. In spite of this, and although more schedules of worship services were added, the capacity of the Luzon Avenue Congregation’s house of worship was still not enough to accommodate the continuously increasing number of worshipers. The Church Administration then approved their request for a bigger place of worship. Construction works ensued in the later part of 2019.
Brother Alfredo said, “We are so much thankful to the Lord God because what the brethren in our local congregation had prayed for was fulfilled. He granted us a new and much bigger house of worship even though many of the members here are not affluent.”
Even during the time of the pandemic, the Church has built, acquired and renovated, and dedicated to God several houses of worship. On their own, Church members could never accomplish such a feat. However, they firmly believe that the victories in all the endeavors of the Church are the work of God’s mighty hand. That is why they are forever thankful to Him for all the blessings that He has been showering on the Church.
Written by Eric Perey
As of 2022, the Church Of Christ in Canada currently has seven ecclesiastical districts. But over 50 years ago, it all began with a small group of brethren in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They started by gathering for committee prayers every week.
More brethren would arrive to be part of that committee prayer group. On July 27, 1972, the first local congregation in Canada was approved by the Church Administration to be established. The Church, then, was able to acquire a house of worship at 88 Juno Street. Soon enough, that place became too small for them. Then in 1981, the Church purchased a property at 485 Ingersoll Street to be used as a house of worship.
As the Local Congregation of Winnipeg continued growing, some brethren would go on to move to different parts of Canada, such as Toronto, Vancouver, and Edmonton. Since then, the Church has spread to various parts of the country. In 2011, the Church Administration approved the establishment of the Local Congregation of Winnipeg North. The then Local Congregation of Winnipeg was renamed Winnipeg South.
As the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Local Congregation of Winnipeg South was approaching, a formal request was sent to the Church Administration to start the general renovation of their house of worship. It was approved in early 2019. Although renovation commenced as scheduled, the local congregation did not face the great task without a challenge.
In March 2020, everyone around the world felt the first effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Governments all over the world placed health restrictions to protect the well-being of the general population. This was one of the major roadblocks along the renovation’s way. As time passed, the restrictions eventually loosened. “Some of the brethren started to come in small groups to help in the renovation,” said Sister Farrah Labertino, the choir leader of the local congregation. As the brethren volunteered to help in any way they could, they also had to deal with the weather. During the winter they had to brave the deep-freezing temperatures.
By April 2022, one would think that the weather would be more favorable. But on some days, the brethren had to endure intense heat and there were also many days when rain would pour all day causing streets to be flooded. These patterns of weather were not normal in Winnipeg. However, it did not stop the brethren from helping in finishing this great work so that this house of worship would be dedicated on the appointed date.
The brethren did their best to extend assistance in the renovation work as they hold the house of worship essential because it is where they worship and pray to God. “The worship service is very important to me. Also, when we are happy or sad, when we are faced with confusion or in need of help from God, it is important to pray to Him in the house of worship,” Sister Farrah asserted.
With God’s grace and mercy, the Winnipeg South house of worship was dedicated to Him during the Anniversary Thanksgiving Worship Service led by the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo, a few days away from the golden anniversary of the congregation’s establishment.
The Church Of Christ continues reaping victory after victory—celebrating 108 years of its establishment and 50 years of its mission in Canada. Truly, God is with His people in these last days. Recollecting the blessings that the Church continually receives, Sister Farrah added, “With God’s help, the Church continues on. We are able to constantly worship Him. The Church’s membership is growing. That speaks a lot about the Lord God being with this Church. This Church is truly His.”
Long Island City, New York
Written by Williamson Matibag
In 1968, after visiting the brethren in Ewa Beach, Hawaii and San Francisco, California, the then Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, Brother Eraño G. Manalo, went to New York to visit more Church members there. He officiated at a prayer meeting held at the New York Hilton Hotel.
The Church members were instructed to seek out more brethren, gather themselves together, and continue praying for the fruition of their aspirations. Soon enough, they were able to find more brethren all over the state of New York and its neighboring states. The brethren then would travel long distances to congregate and conduct prayer meetings and worship services.
Through God’s love and mercy, the Church Administration approved the establishment of the Local Congregation of New York (now the Local Congregation of Long Island City) on July 27, 1972. In 1973, the Church was able to purchase a property in Long Island City that continues serving as their house of worship until today.
As the local congregation grew, the Almighty God continued blessing the brethren and gave more success to the Church’s endeavors in this part of the world. Within the 50 years of its establishment, the local congregation has now expanded and is part of what is now known as the Ecclesiastical District of New York. This would not have been possible without the help and guidance from God. Truly, He never fails to fulfill His promises.
This year, 2022, marks the 50th anniversary of the Local Congregation of Long Island City—a milestone event that only comes once in a lifetime. The brethren were so happy to be part of the live-streamed Anniversary Thanksgiving Worship Service that was officiated by none other than the Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo Manalo.
On July 21, 2022 (July 22 in the Philippines), despite a heatwave and less than favorable weather conditions, the brethren were not hindered from attending this gathering. Hours before the appointed time, the brethren were eager to express to the Almighty God their thankfulness and appreciation for all the wonderful blessings that He has given them and to the entire Church.
“I was touched when the Executive Minister greeted the Long Island City Local Congregation as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. Praises and glory be unto God Almighty,” Brother Carlito Aquino, a head deacon, said. The brethren felt the immense power and the comforting presence of God, another experience that they will never forget, for it gives them strength to continue and never waver in their faith.
Their celebration continued as they conducted a special gathering and a musical presentation on July 31 to remember the humble beginnings of their local congregation. They also recognized the valiant efforts of the pioneering members who were instrumental and who served as the seed of growth and expansion of the Church in this part of the world.
The Lord God continues blessing the lives of His people all over the world with the guidance of the Church Administration. Inspired by the biblical lessons taught during worship services, Brother Carlito expressed, “We will always adhere to God’s teachings we receive through the Church Administration because in doing so, we are assured that the blessings of God will continue flowing and, in that way, we can continue remaining loyal and true members of the Church.”