Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas
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|Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas|
Western Facade of the Cathedral
|Founded||February 28, 1909|
|Founder(s)||Bishop Nicolas V. Zamora|
|Bishop(s)||Bishop Nathaniel P. Lazaro|
The Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF; English: "Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippine Islands") was founded on 28 February 1909 by Bishop Nicholas Zamora. It is the first Indigenous Evangelical Church in the Philippines.
Behind the founding of the IEMELIF, nationalist and subsequent independence movements. Filipinos wanted full autonomy, including in the realm of religion, as the 333 years of Spanish rule were marked by the Catholic Church's control over both temporal and spiritual affairs.
When the United States of America colonised the islands in 1898, they introduced Protestantism, which they propagated together with early Filipino evangelists. The American colonial government practised religious toleration, a complete departure from the one church under the Spanish. Although the Americans upheld this principle of religious freedom, Filipinos wanted a truly autonomous church consistent with their yearnings for political freedom.
A group of Filipino preachers in the Methodist Episcopal mission in Tondo put up "Ang Katotohanan” (The Truth), an organisation that carried on evangelistic work in the country.
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Nicolas Zamora y Villegas was the first Filipino Protestant minister, well known in Filipino and American evangelical circles. He was also the founder and pastor at what is now the Knox Memorial Church. His father, Don Paulino Zamora, had been exiled from the country for possession of a Bible, while Don Paulino’s uncle, Father Jacinto Zamora, was one of the Gomburza priests who had been executed in 1872 by the Spaniards for supposed sedition.
When approached by Ang Katotohanan, Nicolas Zamora accepted the leadership against the advice and importuning of the Americans. After some preparation, the group established the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas on 28 February 1909. Their vision and motivation was faith in God’s providence, and belief that the Filipino was capable of erecting an self-sustaining, autonomous, and self-propagating evangelical church.
The fledgling Church quickly grew in numbers and spread rapidly in Manila and in surrounding provinces. Bishop Zamora suddenly died on 14 September 1914, and Alejandro H. Reyes succeeded him. Reyes' successor was Victoriano Mariano who, aside from continuing the evangelisation programme from 1921 to 1926, also focused on Christian education. He saw to it that the laity knew what Church membership was all about, earning him the moniker “Father of Religious Education.” Francisco Gregorio's administration from 1926 to 1939 aimed to consolidate and build upon the achievements of his predecessors with the view to fortifying Church organisation. Bishop Gregorio initiated the formulation of the IEMELIF’s own Discipline, based upon the Methodist Episcopal Discipline which the Church had been using with minor adaptations until then. The first Central Temple was also built during this time in Tondo, Manila, at the site of the present Cathedral; the Central Temple was destroyed by fire in 1941.
During World War II, the occupying Japanese authorities wanted all Protestant churches consolidated. Bishop Matias B. Valdez, then the General Superintendent from 1939 to 1947, together with Bishop Dionisio D. Alejandro of the Methodist Church, firmly stood against the plan, whereas other churches yielded.
Bishop Eusebio Tech’s administration (1947–1952) saw the democratisation of the Church. The Discipline was revised to create of the Supreme Consistory of Elders, a board that became the legislative body of the Church, whilst the General Superintendent became the head of the Episcopacy, an organ which was tasked with administration.
The brief term of Bishop Marcelino C. Gutierrez (1952–1953) saw important contributions in the organisation of the Ministerial and Lay Workers Institute as a permanent agency of the Church. This institute, which in 1991 became the present IEMELIF Bible College, trains the ministers, deaconesses and other lay workers of the Church. Bishop Lazaro G. Trinidad 's leadership (1953-1972) saw rapid progress; it was during this time that the Cathedral was finally rebuilt. The Church also introduced the then-innovative central fund system, and formalised relationships with both local and foreign religious groups.
Bishop Geronimo P. Maducdoc took over as General Superintendent from 1972 to 1980. His administration marked greater participation of the laity in Church administration with the inclusion of two laymen in the Supreme Consistory, until then composed of only ministers. Among its other achievements were the Pagasa Trust Fund, intended to finance the social security needs of the Church; The Church Building Construction fund, to help in emergency needs for church construction; the Manpower Development Program, to train both ministers and laymen in religious, financial and social fields; and the evangelisation program dubbed “Eighty by 1980”.
Bishop George F. Castro took over as the tenth General Superintendent in 1980. The thrust of his administration was to adapt the Church to the changing times, to improve Church administration, to enhance evangelistic efforts, and to improve the professional and economic situation of ministers and Church workers. The IEMELIF also became more outgoing, participating in both local and international meetings and fellowships.
In 1992, the IEMELIF began experiencing some issues within its episcopal offices, which led to the secession of some 105 local churches and ministers forming what is now known as the IEMELIF Reform Movement (IRM)led by Bishop Reynaldo C. Domingo. The IRM refers to the original body as "IEMELIF Admin" which signifies acknowledgement of administration by the latter. IEMELIF maintains its membership to the National Council of Churches in the Philippines while the IRM joined the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.
In 2009, the two factions celebrated the IEMELIF's 100th anniversary in separate locations. The IEMELIF Admin held a programme at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, while the IRM held theirs at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. In late 2011, the IRM totally separated from the IEMELIF and is now registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission as "I am Redeemer and Master Evangelical Church" (IRMEC). Thus, there is only one IEMELIF existing in the whole of Philippines.
Bishop Nathanael P. Lazaro was elected as the eleventh General Superintendent in 2000. Imbued with administrative abilities, he caused significant changes in the organisation and administration of the Church to make it more "attuned to the Great Commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ as stated in the Gospels." His efforts led to the overall amendment of the IEMELIF Book of Discipline in 2007.
IEMELIF Cathedral Architecture
The original cathedral of IEMELIF was built in 1928 and took 13 years to build. It was burned down in a big fire in Tondo, Manila on May 3, 1941 but was rebuilt at the same site and completed on February 28, 1959, which was also the 50th anniversary celebration of the Church.
Architect Benjamin T. Felix drew up the structural design of the new cathedral. The church is laid out in a traditional cruciform plan, facing northest. The building is constructed of cement in Gothic style. It has pinnacles on both sides of the facade with a large pointed arch window at the center. There are also pointed arched windows with stained glasses on the eastern and western sides of the structure which bring a light-greenish effect all throughout the church interior.
Inside, a newly constructed large choir loft looms just above and overhangs the entrance to the nave. It has a high ceiling with decorated hanging lamps. The framing of the ceiling, as well as the panels found on the altar are made from the wood of the Narra tree, all donated by Brother Edward Tan, an avid sympathizer of the Church. The pulpit, lectern, pews and transept balconies have richly-carved woodwork with the same theme.
Government Recognition of the Church
On its 80th Anniversary of Methodism in the Philippines, simultaneous with the 70th founding anniversary of the IEMELIF Church on October 1979, the Metro Manila Commission renamed Sande street, fronting the cathedral, to Nicolas Zamora street in honor of the founder of the IEMELIF Church.
During the 75th founding anniversary of the IEMELIF Church, President Ferdinand E. Marcos proclaimed "February 28, 1984, as a special historical church day for thanksgiving on the founding of the first indigenous evangelical church in the Philippines." On the same day, a historical marker was installed by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in front of the Cathedral.
Iglesiang Masigasig at Matatag sa Pananampalataya, Pagkakaisa at Pamamahala
- To propagate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Philippines and in the world at large so that men may be brought into membership in the family of God. (Matthew 28:18-20)
- To shape the Christian life of the members bound in Christian love and unity assembling together in sacred worship and service to one another in the love of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- To employ progressive methods that shall produce effective and exemplary workers and a vital life for the Church; put into practice scientific and practical management principles and methods in the administration of its affairs, which shall ensure smoothness and effectiveness in its operations, and foster a robust, sound and vigorous fiscal condition.(I Corinthians 14:40)
The Church does not confine itself to purely internal matters. It also conducts public crusades and rallies, as well as house to house Bible studies. It also involves itself in civic and community affairs, extends help to victims of natural calamities like typhoons, earthquakes, and fires. It is also active in helping promote matters of public interest such as the movements against drug use and against air and water pollution. Helping promote public awareness of civic duties like voting is among its concerns.
The church is led by a General Superintendent, who is responsible for the well-being of all churches within the jurisdiction of the IEMELIF. The current General Superintendent is Bishop Nathaniel P. Lázaro, who accepted the post in 2000.
|General Superintendents of the
Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas
|Bishop Nicolas V. Zamora, 1909 - 1914|
|Bishop Alejandro H. Reyes, 1914 - 1922|
|Bishop Victoriano Mariano, 1922 - 1928|
|Bishop Francisco Gregorio, 1928 - 1939|
|Bishop Matias B. Valdez, 1939 - 1948|
|Bishop Eusebio Tech, 1948 - 1952|
|Bishop Marcelino C. Gutierrez, 1952 - 1953|
|Bishop Lazaro G. Trinidad, 1953 - 1972|
|Bishop Geronimo P. Maducdoc, 1972 - 1980|
|Bishop George F. Castro, 1980 - 2000|
|Bishop Nathaniel P. Lazaro, 2000–present|