Union Theological Seminary (Philippines)

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This article is about Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. For other uses, see Union Theological Seminary (disambiguation).
Union Theological Seminary
The Salakot Chapel.jpg
The Salakot Chapel, Union Theological Seminary
Motto Preach the Word
Established June 1907
Type Private, Theological, Ecumenical
Religious affiliation Mainline Protestant, Wesleyan
President Rev. Dr. Eleazar S. Fernandez
Academic staff 19 [1]
Admin. staff 23 [1]
Students 118 (as of March 2012)[1]
Location Dasmariñas, Cavite, PhilippinesPhilippines
14°17′32.9″N 120°57′42.6″E / 14.292472°N 120.961833°E / 14.292472; 120.961833
Affiliations Philippine Christian University, ATESEA,[2] WCC[3]
Website https://uniontheologicalseminary-public.sharepoint.com

Union Theological Seminary is the oldest Protestant seminary in the Philippines.[4][5][6][7][8] It was created when the Ellinwood Bible Training School (founded by the Presbyterians in 1905) and the Florence B. Nicholson Bible Seminary (established by the Methodists in 1905) merged into one theological institution in 1907.[9][10] For more than a hundred years, it has educated Filipino pastors and other church workers for higher learning. The fusion of these two institutions was a significant event for the Evangelical Union, which intended to unify various Protestant denominations that came from America at the dawn of the 20th century. Though the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and the United Methodist Church collectively support the seminary, the institution remains to be independent in structure and curricular formation.

Since its creation, the seminary has produced pastors and church workers who contributed substantially to the life of the evangelical movement in the Philippines.[11] Graduates of the seminary were the ones sought by well-established local churches.[12] Its alumni played a vital role in the organic union that led to the birth of the UCCP in 1948.[9][13] Through the leadership and dedication to ecumenical ministries, individuals who came from UTS took part in the formation of the Association of Theological Education in Southeast Asia in 1957[14] and the National Council of Churches in the Philippines in 1963.[13]

This seminary has also been involved in various movements for the protection of human rights. Upon the request of the bishops of the UCCP and UMC in early 2001, the institution willingly accepted and granted shelter to several families of Mangyans from Mindoro who had left their homes due to massive military operations in their localities. The seminary has proclaimed its vicinity as a kanlungan (“refuge” in Filipino) and served as a sanctuary to the victims of forced displacement and oppression.[15][16]


The Beginnings[edit]

When various Protestant denominations from America came to the Philippines in the early 1900s, the missionaries started teaching Filipinos about the Bible and basic doctrines. These trained workers have played an active role in the evangelization throughout the islands.[10] Bible study courses had been conducted in churches and homes until Protestant churches started to make their own theological institutions. On August 25, 1903, the Manila Bible Institute was initiated and has become an annual event to train church workers within a course of one month. Numerous pastors from Manila and Dagupan attended the training. Since then, various Bible schools were established and theological education among Protestants in the Philippines has become more institutionalized not only in Manila, but in other provinces as well.[17]

The Union Theological Seminary building in Manila circa 1940 (being used now by the Philippine Christian University).

Ellinwood Bible School[edit]

With the help of Rev. James B. Rodgers and other missionaries, the Presbyterian Mission has established churches in Manila and nearby provinces. One of the most prominent churches is the Ellinwood Malate Church, which was named after Rev. Dr. Francis F. Ellinwood, the Secretary General of the Presbyterian Mission Board during that time.[18] Rev. Rodgers envisioned to establish a school in Manila. After a few years, the church founded a school in 1905. It was called Ellinwood Bible School, which was also named after him. The school taught basic instructions about the Bible, preaching, health and good manners.[5] The Bible school had separated classes for boys and girls. In 1906, the buildings were erected for the Bible school: one for young men and the other one is for young women. Dormitories were also built as part of the expansion under the direction of Dr. George W. Wright.[10]

Florence B. Nicholson Seminary[edit]

The Methodist Episcopal Mission instituted the Florence B. Nicholson Bible Seminary on October 11, 1905 in Manila.[17] The name was used to refer to the theological institution that had been founded by Methodists. The president of the seminary was Dr. Harry Farmer. In 1906, a seminary was established in Dagupan, Pangasinan.[13] The following year, the classes in Dagupan were transferred to Manila eventually after acquiring a property in Caloocan (which was then part of Rizal). Students from the provinces transferred and continued their studies in Manila.[19] On December 4, 1908, the seminary had its first batch of graduates after three years course.[20]

One of the two markers unveiled by the National Historical Institute for UTS.

The Union[edit]

Because of the vision of uniting various Protestant traditions, the Presbyterian and the Methodist Missions have combined efforts to hold Bible classes for workers in 1905. Under the direction of Rev. Wright and Rev. Farmer, the sessions have been proven to be a success and made it as a regular event. Earlier in 1907, the leadership of the Ellinwood Bible School and the Florence Nicholson Seminary came up with an idea of a possible establishment of a united theological institution that would jointly train church workers from these two Protestant traditions.[10]

Presidents of
Union Theological Seminary
Rev. Dr. George W. Wright, 1905-1907
Rev. Dr. James B. Rodgers, 1907-1908
Ms. Theresa M. Kalb, 1908-1910
Rev. Edward Campbell, 1910-1912
Mr. Charles Gunn, 1912-1913
Rev. Dr. Harry Farmer, 1905-1909, 1910-1915
Rev. Marvin A. Rader, 1909
Rev. Ernest A. Rayner, 1910
Rev. Ernest S. Lyons, 1915-1918
Rev. Dr. George W. Wright, 1919-1921, 1921-1924
Rev. Dr. James B. Rodgers, 1924-1925
Dr. Archie L. Ryan, 1925-1932
Rev. Charles R. Hamilton, 1932-1934, 1934-1941
Rev. Don Holter, 1941
Rev. Albert J. Sanders, 1947-1952
Rev. Benjamin I. Guansing, 1952-1954, 1954-1966
Dr. Jacob S. Quiambao, 1966-1971
Dr. Emerito P. Nacpil, 1971-1975
Dr. Levi V. Oracion, 1975-1985
Rev. Dr. Meynardo R. Jose, 1983-1990
Rev. Dr. Mariano C. Apilado, 1990-2003
Dr. Anselmo D. Lupdag, 2003-2004
Rev. Dr. Romeo L. Del Rosario, 2005-2008
Rev. Dr. Ferdinand A. Anno, 2008-2011
Rev. Dr. Everett L. Mendoza, 2011-2012
Rev. Dr. Wilfredo H. Tangunan, 2012-2013
Rev. Dr. Eleazar S. Fernandez, 2013–present

After a conference was held, this vision came to reality and gave birth to the Union Bible Seminary. Its first classes join institutions started in June 1907 in Ellinwood building in Malate. The following years, classes were also held in Caloocan. The division of classes into two different locations were found to be inconvenient, so they just decided to hold the sessions in Ellinwood buildings and the Central Methodist Church. The said “union” was first considered to be a mutual cooperation. The established bond was so strong that almost everything from the faculty to properties had been mutually shared. In the succeeding years, more denominations decided to join the union and started sending their students to seminary. The United Brethren joined the cooperative effort in 1911, the Disciples of Christ in 1916, and the Congregationalists in 1919. In 1920, the name Union Theological Seminary was adopted as official name of the institution.[13] A year after, the corporation was formed having its own Constitution and By-Laws. In its earlier years, the newly incorporated seminary did not have facilities of its own until a new building was erected at the corner of Taft Avenue and Herran Street (now Pedro Gil). It was dedicated in 1926. During World War II, the seminary temporarily suspended classes and resumed after the war had ended. In the bombing of Manila in 1945, the city was severely devastated. Many of the historic buildings and landmarks were ruined, but UTS building remained intact and stays firm even until today. From 1926 to 1962, the seminary stood on Taft Avenue, Manila.

During the special meeting of the Board of Trustees on June 2, 1961 held at Baguio City, it was approved that the seminary be assigned to a new location.[21] The Board of Founders of the Nanking Theological Seminary provided the funds needed to buy a property.[11] There were two options at that time. First was to acquire the 5-hectare property at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, which would substantiate the seminary’s relationship with the university (which was also founded by the Presbyterians).The second option was to purchase a property in a nearby province south of Manila. The latter choice was more appealing, because the site would be great to establish the new UTS community and it would create an opportunity for expansion for its ministries in the rural areas.[22] In June 1962, the seminary moved to Dasmariñas, Cavite. The 97-hectare property had started to be developed even before the transfer. The buildings for dormitories, classrooms, library and refectory was already in progress at that time. Housing projects for the faculty was also initiated. The seminary continues to stay in this vicinity until today.[13]

The Birth of New Institutions and the Merger[edit]

While the seminary was still in its original location, a Union High School was established in Manila by the Evangelical Union in 1919. Later on, the Union Christian College in San Fernando, La Union, was instituted in 1936 with elementary and college departments.[9] The seminary began offering college courses in Manila, which eventually led to the birth of Manila Union University in 1947. This institution has become the Philippine Christian College. These schools were all initiated by the seminary leadership to serve the educational needs of pastors, their families and the surrounding communities. For many years, the seminary and the colleges existed independently and cooperatively under separate boards.[23] Most of the facilities in Manila had been shared with the Philippine Christian College until the seminary moved to its new location in Dasmariñas, Cavite. Since then, the seminary just occupied a small portion of the building along Taft Avenue, mostly for administrative and academic functions for post-graduate studies. The Philippine Christian College attained its university status in 1976. The College of Agriculture was then offered in its Dasmariñas, where the Union Theological Seminary was situated. In 1978, Union Theological Seminary merged with Philippine Christian University to create Philippine Christian Center of Learning.[13]

Theological Formation[edit]

The Critical Asian Principle[edit]

Since 1972, the Union Theological Seminary in partnership with member seminaries and divinity schools of the ATESEA, has adopted the Critical Asian Principle as the basis of perspective for implementing the operation of various theological programs of the member schools. The CAP celebrates and emphasizes the Asian experience as theological education’s situational, hermeneutical, missiological and pedagogical principle. These four key principles were conceptualized to empower Asian churches develop theologies of their own that are fully liberated from the culturally extraneous framework and evolve values that privilege Asian thought, reflection, and action in their actual theologies.

The Guansing Memorial, a prominent spot at the heart of the UTS grounds.

It includes the following concerns:

  • Religious Fundamentalisms
  • Gender Justice
  • Ecological Problems, Disease and Disasters
  • Globalization and Global Empire Building
  • Colonization
  • Spirituality
  • Identity and Power Struggle
  • Peoples Movements and Ecumenism
  • Information Technology – Change and Challenges
  • Social Challenges, Indigenous Identity and Minority Rights[24]

The Centennial Curriculum[edit]

Considering recommendations from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and adopting the Revised Critical Asian Principle, the seminary has devised the Centennial Curriculum to make the education contextual, holistic and responsive to current challenges and experiences of the people to become more relevant in the Philippine situation. The primary language used in the instruction is Filipino, but English is alternatively used to facilitate communication with international students.[24]


The Totem, a monument celebrating the life of Union Theological Seminary

UTS confers various types of programs: (1) residential program: both graduate (M.Div.) and undergraduate (B.Th.); (2) Theological education by extension: Master of Ministry (M. Min.) and Bachelor of Ministry (B. Min.) and Doctorate in ministry (D. Min.);and, (3) graduate programs: M. Theol. and D. Theol. (being offered in cooperation with the ATESEA Theological Union). Currently, there are six centers for theological studies:

  1. Center for Peace and Justice
  2. Center for Arts, Liturgy and Music
  3. Center for Geocentric Applied Theology
  4. Center for Pastoral and Spiritual Formation
  5. Center for Ecumenics and Mission
  6. Center for Women, Youth, and Children.[1]

Notable Alumni[edit]

Among the best people who have attended Union Theological Seminary are the following:

  • Dionisio D. Alejandro (1893-1972), (B.D. 1922) first Filipino bishop of the United Methodist Church (elected in 1944)
  • Benjamin I. Guansing, (1908-1968), first Filipino president of UTS (1952-1966), one of the founders and first Chairperson of ATESEA,[14] bishop of UMC (elected in 1967)
  • Cirilo A. Rigos (B.Th.,1955), former General Secretary of UCCP (1968-1972), appointed as delegate to the Philippine Constitutional Commission,[25] former President of the Philippine Bible Society, former Executive Secretary of UBS, ordained minister of UCCP
  • La Verne D. Mercado (B.Th.,1952), hailed as one of the heroes of the struggle against dictatorship in the Philippines,[26] former General Secretary of NCCP (1974-1987), bishop of UMC (elected in 1976)
  • Feliciano V. Cariño, former General Secretary of WSCF, former General Secretary of CCA (1995-2000),[27] former General Secretary of NCCP (1988-1995), organizing secretary and former Chairperson of Student Christian Movement of the Philippines
  • Emerito P. Nacpil, President of UTS (1971-1975), former Executive Director of ATESEA, served in Central Committee of WCC, bishop of UMC (elected in 1980)
  • Daniel C. Arichea Jr. (B.Th.,1957), translation consultant UBS, former President of Philippine Bible Society, former Chairperson of NCCP, bishop of UMC (elected in 1994)
  • Cipriano S. Navarro, bishop of UCCP (elected 1948), one of the founding leaders of the UCCP and Philippine Methodist Church
  • Leonardo G. Dia, bishop of UCCP (elected 1948), one of the founding leaders of the UCCP
  • Proculo A. Rodriguez, bishop of UCCP (elected 1948), one of the founding leaders of the UCCP
  • Ciriaco Ma. Lagunzad, former General Secretary of NCCP (1972-1973)
  • Marciano C. Evangelista, bishop of UCCP (elected 1960)
  • Eligio B.A. Hernandez, bishop of UCCP (elected 1972)
  • Eduardo B. Panganiban, bishop of UCCP (elected 1974)
  • Estanislao Q. Abainza, (A.Th.,1949; B.Th.,1952; BD,1959) former General Secretary of UCCP (1972-1976), bishop of UCCP
  • Erme R. Camba, (honoris causa in 2014) former General Secretary of UCCP (1986-1994), bishop of UCCP
  • Hilario M. Gomez Jr., former General Secretary of UCCP (1994-1998), bishop of UCCP
  • Elmer M. Bolocon, (B.Th.1974) former General Secretary of UCCP (1998-2006), bishop of UCCP (elected in 1998)
  • Eliezer M. Pascua, former General Secretary of UCCP (2006-2010), bishop of UCCP (elected in 1990)
  • Cornelio M. Ferrer, bishop of UMC (elected in 1968)
  • Paul Locke A. Granadosin, bishop of UMC (elected in 1968)
  • Juan A. Marigza, (B.Th.,1957) bishop of UCCP (elected in 1986)
  • Gabriel A. Garol, bishop of UCCP (elected in 1994)
  • Nelinda Primavera - Briones, first woman bishop in the Philippines / UCCP (elected in 1998)
  • Benjamin A. Justo, (BD,1968) bishop of UMC (elected in 2000)
  • Leo A. Soriano, (BD, 1980) bishop of UMC (elected in 2000)
  • Solito K. Toquero, (BD,1973) bishop of UMC (elected in 2001)
  • Benjamin G. Barloso, (BD, 1981) bishop of UCCP (elected 2002)
  • Dulce Pia Rose, second woman bishop in the Philippines / UCCP (elected in 2006)
  • Jesse S. Suarez, bishop of UCCP (elected in 2006)
  • Rodolfo A. Juan, bishop of UMC (elected in 2008)
  • Lito C. Tangonan, presiding bishop and founder of Ang Iglesia Metodista sa Pilipinas (2012), former bishop of UMC (elected in 2008)
  • Arturo R. Asi, (B.Th.,1979) bishop of UCCP (elected in 2010)
  • Roel P. Mendoza, bishop of UCCP (elected in 2010)
  • Jaime R. Moriles, bishop of UCCP (elected in 2010)
  • Pedro E. Torio Jr., bishop of UMC (elected in 2012)
  • Ciriaco Q. Francisco, bishop of UMC (elected in 2012)
  • Emergencio D. Padillo, bishop of UCCP (elected in 2014)
  • Joel E. Tendero, bishop of UCCP (elected in 2014)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Mendoza, Everett L. "UTS Annual Report to the Churches 2011-2012". Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  2. ^ ATESEA. "Member Schools". Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "World Council of Churches website". Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Dieter, Georgi (2005). The City in the Valley: Biblical Interpretation and Urban Theology. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature. pp. xvi. ISBN 90-04-13065-9. 
  5. ^ a b Apilado, Mariano (1999). Evolutionary Spirituality: A Study of the Protestant Role in the American Colonial Rule of the Philippines, 1898-1928. Quezon City: New Day Publisher. ISBN 9789711010331. 
  6. ^ Benedetto, Robert and Donald K. McKim (2009). Historical Dictionary of the Reformed Churches (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements Series). USA: Scarecrow Press. p. 439. ISBN 978-0810858077. 
  7. ^ Theological Education in World Christianity. "World Report on the Future of Theological Education in 21st Century". Joint Information Service of ETE/WCC and WOCATI. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Tainan Theological College and Seminary website". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c Sitoy, T. Valentino Jr. (1989). Comity and Unity: Ardent Aspirations of Six Decades of Protestantism in the Philippines (1901-1961).Tugon Special Issue. Vol.IX,Nos.1-2. Quezon City: NCCP. ISSN 0116-4260. 
  10. ^ a b c d Rodgers, James B. (1940). Forty Years in the Philippines: A History of the Philippine Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the USA 1899-1939. New York: Board of Foreign Missions. p. 166. 
  11. ^ a b Deats, Richard L. (1964). The Story of Methodism in the Philippines. Manila: NCCP. p. 73. 
  12. ^ Schwenk, Richard and Caring. "Methodist-Related Schools in the Philippines: Preparing Leaders and Educating the Poor". Global Ministries - UMC. Retrieved October 25, 2012. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f Velunta, Revelation E., eds. (2007). A Century of Preaching the Word. Cavite: Philippine Christian Center of Learning. ISBN 978-971-93530-2-7. 
  14. ^ a b ATESEA website. "History". Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  15. ^ Lopez, Rey. "Philippines: Pastor Abducted". Christian Peacemaker Teams. Retrieved Oct 20, 2012. 
  16. ^ "UTS The Alumni Newsletter". Vol. 2 No.6. Dec. 2006. Retrieved 11 November 2012. 
  17. ^ a b Oconer, Luther J. and Rebecca C. Asedillo. "The United Methodist Church in the Philippines". UMC – General Commission on Archives and History. 
  18. ^ Ellinwood Malate Church website. "History". Retrieved 3 December 2012. 
  19. ^ Minutes of the Philippines Islands Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. March 1908. p. 70. 
  20. ^ The Missionary Review. Vol.32. Virginia: Princeton Press. p. 539. 
  21. ^ Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees of Union Theological Seminary. Baguio City. June 2, 1961. 
  22. ^ Arichea, Daniel C. (2012). Visions for Union Theological Seminary. Presentation during the UTS Convocation.November 21, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Philippine Christian University Website". Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  24. ^ a b UTS Centennial Curriculum Primer. Cavite, Philippines: UTS. 2007. p. 20. 
  25. ^ Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Official Gazette. "The 1987 Constitution: Members of The Constitutional Commission". Retrieved Oct 25, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Bantayog ng mga Bayani". Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  27. ^ Chunakara, Mathews George. "A Survey of the Ecumenical Scenario: Prospects and Challenges". CTC Bulletin. Christian Conference of Asia. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 14°17′32.9″N 120°57′42.6″E / 14.292472°N 120.961833°E / 14.292472; 120.961833