BROTHER FELIX Y. MANALO, God’s Messenger in the last days, was the first one to select and train Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) members who would become ministers. Ministerial training, called Ang Klase, began in 1915 and was formalized in 1974 during the time of Brother Eraño G. Manalo, the late Executive Minister of the Church.
Thus, on September 16, 2022, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) School For Ministers (INC-SFM) celebrated its 48th founding anniversary. Marking such a milestone, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the current Executive Minister, officiated at a special worship service held at the house of worship of the Local Congregation of Luzon Avenue, Ecclesiastical District of Central, in the Philippines. In the said gathering, 25 regular ministerial workers were ordained as ministers, and 549 ministerial students were sworn in as regular ministerial workers. Most of their loved ones joined them at the host venue. Other ministerial students and brethren attended the worship service at the Central Temple, Quezon City via livestreaming.
“This is a memorable day, since today is our graduation day,” shared Brother Dave Estarija, one of the newly sworn-in ministerial workers. He is currently assigned in the Rizal Ecclesiastical District. “Time flies; it has been four years since I began studying in the ministry. We have gone through many trials but with God’s mercy, I was able to complete my studies,” he added.
Brother Evan Mañebog, a newly ordained minister, said: “The love and care of Brother Eduardo Manalo inspired me to ardently dedicate myself to helping in the Church’s works. I have longed for this moment, that I finally am a minister. The Lord God has answered my devotional prayers and deemed me worthy to become a minister. I will further devote myself to fulfilling my tasks for the benefit of the Church members under my charge. God has helped me countless times in the past, which is why I fully trust that He will not forsake me as I continue on fulfilling my duties in the ministry.”
After the hymn-singing, Brother Rene J. Panoncillo, the Church’s General Secretary, led the opening prayer. Before the homily, Brother Arnel R. Canicosa, INC-SFM president, presented the graduates of Bachelor of Pastoral Studies and Evangelism (BPSE), a degree conferred to them by the Executive Minister. The Bible-based preaching followed.
Brother Eduardo Manalo expounded on the biblical truth about how ministers and ministerial workers must fully devote themselves to catering to the spiritual needs of the brethren. As God’s co-workers, they must exhibit steadfast faith as they lead the Church members―ever focused on what God wants them to do, never swayed by the evil influences in this world.
Brother Jeruel Aguirre, one of the ordainees, expressed: “The duty of a minister is a delicate one. It is of utmost importance because it concerns leading the brethren to salvation. For this reason, a minister is duty-bound to fulfill what the Lord God requires of Him, such as edifying the faith of the brethren and intensifying the works of propagation.”
The Executive Minister reiterated that the ministers and ministerial workers must be the first ones to obey God no matter what and remain focused on carrying out their ministerial functions at all times, as such is the level of integrity that God expects from those in the ministry. “Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded us of Noah’s faith. God commanded him to build an ark in the middle of dry land. Noah was ridiculed for doing it. Even so, he was not held back, but kept obeying without complaining,” recalled Brother Dave.
After the homily, Brother Romer D. Galang led the closing prayer. The oath-taking of the ordinands and ministerial students was then led by Brother Bienvenido C. Santiago, the Church’s General Evangelist. Afterwards was the laying on of hands of the Executive Minister to the 25 ordinees. Brother Arnel R. Canicosa led the prayer after the ordination.
“I cried tears of joy as I was witnessing my son taking oath as a ministerial worker. We prayed for so long for this very moment and the Lord God never abandoned our son. As what the Executive Minister pointed out, those whom God called in the ministry must fully devote their time to the Church. From the very moment our son left our home, I firmly believed that he will not be forsaken by the Father,” said Sister Ilka Vidallon, mother of a newly graduated ministerial worker.
After the holy gathering, the new ministers and regular ministerial workers were sent back to their respective districts with renewed strength and hope. Brother Eduardo Manalo reminded them that since it was the Almighty God Who called them into the ministry, He will also be the One to uphold them wherever their local assignment or whatever their tasks would be.
Brother Michael Castillo, another newly sworn-in ministerial worker, reaffirmed: “Words are inadequate to describe the feeling. It’s so profound. The Lord God has allowed me to be called into the ministry. I can’t help but remember my first days in my destino (local congregation assignment). It was a mixed feeling of excitement, bliss, and anxiety, but the Father upheld me. Now, a new chapter of my life begins. I promise to all the more devote myself to working hard for the welfare of the Church.”
With fortified resolve, Brother Jeruel said, “The calling in the ministry is a privilege like no other. I was chosen to be one of the instruments of the Lord God for His works in the Church. I vow to heed the call of Brother Eduardo Manalo to all of us—that we perform our duties devotedly and with integrity, ready to endure anything with diligence, and work zealously with the help of the Lord God.”
Written by Jose Primo Rivera Jr.
“The Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) School For Ministers (SFM) plays a pivotal in upholding the spiritual undertakings of the Church, especially now that the Church Administration, through the dynamic leadership of our beloved Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, further intensifies the works of propagation. The Church needs more ministerial workers who will not only propagate the gospel but also edify the faith of the brethren. For this divine purpose to be fulfilled, discipline is being instilled in each ministerial student. They are taught to be obedient to the commands of the Lord God. The rules and regulations being implemented by the SFM also serve as their guide. To be part of the ministry is an enormous blessing from the Almighty Father. So I take this opportunity to resound the call of our Executive Minister to male Church members who are qualified to enter the holy ministry. For the parents in the Church whose sons are qualified, may you help the Church Administration in convincing them to enlist as ministerial students. And for those whose sons have already joined the holy ministry, may you continue to support them for they will be of great help in administering the global flock.”
“I’m so thankful to the Father for He counted me to be one of His ministers. The honor of being a minister of the Lord God comes with divine obligations. Such duties involve upholding and defending the pristine gospel to edify the faith of the brethren and to spread the message of salvation to people. The Father seeks from His ministers integrity in the performance of their duty and a thorough work amidst life’s hardships and pains. I promise God and the Church Administration that wherever I will be assigned, with whatever tasks, I will answer to the call and fulfill them devotedly.”
“My motivation to enter the holy ministry began when I got converted to the Church Of Christ. The teachings I heard are purely from the Bible and people are being exhorted to obey them to be certain of salvation on Judgment Day. That encouraged me to dedicate myself in sharing the true gospel. This desire was intensified by the call of our beloved Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo for qualified male Church members to consider joining the ministry. I first thought of my family’s situation but I prayed to God and asked for His help. I heeded the call to join the ministry, fully convinced that this call from God is for the welfare of His fold.