Members Church of God International

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For other organizations with the same name, see Church of God International (disambiguation).
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Members of the Church of God International
Members Church of God International - Logo.png
Seal
Abbreviation MCGI
Classification Nontrinitarianism, Restorationism
Overall Servant
(formerly "Presiding Minister")
Eliseo Soriano
Region Philippines, Worldwide
Headquarters ADD Convention Center, Sampaloc, Apalit, Pampanga, Philippines
Founder Nicolas Perez registered as Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan in 1936 (Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Support of the Truth)
(claimed predecessor)
Eliseo Soriano
Origin April 20, 1980 registered as Mga Kaanib Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan sa Bansang Pilipinas (MKIDKHHSKBP)
Pampanga, Philippines
Separated from Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan (Church of God in Christ Jesus the Pillar and Support of the Truth)
Congregations 1,360 as monitoring/coordinating centers[1][2][3]
Aid organization ADD Foundation International
Kamanggagawa Foundation
Tertiary institutions La Verdad Christian College
Other name(s) Ang Dating Daan, ADD, MCGI
Official website www.mcgi.org

Members Church of God International, abbreviated as MCGI, is an international Christian religious organization with headquarters in the Philippines. It started as a small group with less than a hundred believers in 1977. It is popularly known in the Philippines as Ang Dating Daan (English: The Old Path; abbreviated as ADD), the title of its flagship radio and television program and currently the longest-running religious program in the Philippines[4] with Brother Eliseo Soriano as its "Overall Servant" (Former title: "Presiding Minister").

Members Church of God International believes that the Almighty God, the Father sent his begotten Son, Jesus Christ, instrumental in the establishment of the "Church of God", first planted in Jerusalem and preached by the apostles. They believe that Gentile nations, including the Philippines, are partakers of the promise of eternal life, through belief in Jesus Christ and the gospel and are not authorized by God to establish their own church, but mere members associated with the same "body" or the church written in the gospel by accepting it and executing the doctrines written by the apostles.[5] Guided by this scriptural principle, the church's registered name contains descriptive words "ang mga kaanib" in Tagalog or "members" in English to emphasize the group's association today, as "members" of the "Church of God" that is already established long time ago and was written in the Bible.

On April 25, 1980, in compliance with government regulations, Eliseo Soriano registered the group with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as Ang Mga Kaanib sa Iglesia ng Dios Kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohan, sa Bansang Pilipinas (English: Members of the Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Ground of Truth in the Philippines). In 2004, its registered name was changed to "Members Church of God International" (Tagalog: Mga Kaanib sa Iglesia ng Dios na Pandaigdig) in line with the church's overseas expansion.

For them, the church's primary objective, as commanded by Jesus Christ, is to propagate the gospel unto all nations until the consummation of the ages, convert sinners to believe and glorify God and to make them qualify for the eternal life in heaven.[5][6] Currently, MCGI is present in six inhabited continents of the world with more than 1,360 established local congregations.[7][8] Its flagship program Ang Dating Daan is being broadcast in more than 70 countries,[9] in five languages over terrestrial television, radio, internet and carried by at least seven satellites across the globe.[10]

They believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit but they adopt a nontrinitarianism orientation, rejecting the Trinitarian concept that there is "one God in three co-equal persons", which for them is against the Bible. They believe that the Father is greater than all, greater than Jesus Christ as declared by Christ himself. They do not observe customs and traditions which they consider to have pagan origins incompatible with Christianity. MCGI members prefer themselves to be called and identified as plain "Christians".

MCGI is not related to the many Church of God groups that descended from the Barney Creek Meeting House revival of the late 19th century in the United States.

History[edit]

An ADD coordinating center of MCGI

The Members Church of God International in the Philippines rooted from a similar denomination, the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan (Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Support of the Truth) which was first led by Brother Nicolas Antiporda Perez in Pulilan, Bulacan, Philippines in 1928. On December 10, 1936, the Church was registered with the Philippine government by Brother Nicolas Antiporda Perez as first church Presiding Minister with a Central Office in Natividad St., Pasay, Rizal (now Pasay City). Since the year the church was established, church workers were being sent to the nearby provinces around Manila.

Brother Nicolas Antiporda Perez, lead the church from 1928 until the time of his death in May 1975, the church was then a small group with less than hundred congregations.

After Perez's death in 1975, Levita Gugulan, the secretary-general of the church, succeeded as presiding minister; Soriano countered the authority of Gugulan. In February 21, 1976, Brother Eliseo Soriano, the only ordained minister by Perez, together with 16 other members created a schism and began a new church organization called "Mga Kaanib Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Saligan ng Katotohanan sa Bansang Pilipinas" (translated as "Members Church of God in Christ Jesus, Pillar and Ground of Truth in the Philippine Nation") which was officially registered in 1977.[11]

In 1980, missionary works started and was first done in the towns of Pampanga and then, the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, and Metro Manila. In the last quarter of 1980, the church launched the radio program Ang Dating Daan (ADD). Through the local radio station DWWA 1206 kHz, ADD was heard in many parts of the Philippine Archipelago. The program became popular in the Philippines because of its live question and answer portion. In 1983, the program kicked off its national television appearance through Intercontinental Broadcasting Channel 13. Ang Dating Daan as a program in radio made its stint in RJTV 29, PTV 4, SBN 21, and now UNTV.

In 2004, the church changed its name to "Members Church of God International". On January 7, 2006, the first live Bible exposition in the United States was held in Los Angeles, California. In 2008, Bible Expositions were conducted in the continent of Oceania bringing forth the first congregation in Papua New Guinea. In the same year, congregations were established in Ghana, West Africa as a result of a series of Bible studies in Africa. The early months of 2009 saw the Church introduced in Latin America.[12]

A schism in MCGI happened in 2009 when Willy Santiago, one of the bible readers of Brother Eliseo Soriano in his radio and TV programs had a dispute over the church leadership succession and "erratic" changes in church doctrines (such as prostrating towards the east in prayer and Sabbath). This resulted twelve MCGI members including Willy Santiago to split from the group on October 2009 and established a new religion, the Members Church of God in Jesus Christ Worldwide or MCGJCW, with membership now consists mostly of former MCGI followers.[13]

Organization and administration[edit]

The ADD Convention Center, the MCGI headquarters in the Philippines.

The organization is managed by the MCGI Central Administration under the MCGI Workers Ministry. It is composed of the Overall Servants (Tagalog: Mga Lingkod Pangkalahatan), council of Helpers of the Ministry (Tagalog: Mga Katulong ng Pangangasiwa abbreviated as "KNP") and Church Workers (Tagalog: Mga Manggagawa).[14]

Overall Servants[edit]

Currently, Brother Eliseo Soriano is the Overall Servant (Tagalog: Lingkod Pangkalahatan) to MCGI (formerly called as Presiding Minister or Tagapangasiwang Pangkalahatan in Tagalog) and his deputy, Brother Daniel Razon is the Vice Overall Servant (Tagalog: Pangalawang Lingkod Pangkalahatan, formerly called as Vice Presiding Minister or Pangalawang Tagapangasiwang Pangkalahatan in Tagalog).[15] They supervise the entire organization, implement policies and projects, teach the Helpers of the Ministry (formerly called as Assistants to the Administration, Ministers-in-Charge, abbreviated as "MIC" and Officers-in-Charge, abbreviated as "OIC") and Church Workers all the doctrines of Christ and oversee rightful execution of duties and responsibilities assigned to them, including other officials in various church ministries and organizations.[14] The Overall Servant prepares the outline of Biblical topics (Tagalog: paksa) and preach sermons.[16] A part of it will be delivered and discussed by his deputy. Preaching of Biblical topic is done by the Overall Servants, either live or recorded, which is being aired in all MCGI local congregations. They also personally take time to resolve spiritual and personal problems of members every Thanksgiving gathering, during the consultation period.[16]

Helpers of the Ministry and Workers[edit]

Helpers of the Ministry supervise a church "Division" (Tagalog: Dibisyon) referring to a geographical region in the Philippines or group of countries in a continent such as Asia Oceania.[17] Area Servants (Tagalog: Lingkod Pampook, formerly called as Tagapangasiwang Pampook and abbreviated as "TP") oversee a church "District" (Tagalog: Distrito) referring to one Philippine province.[14] Assigned Church Workers administer various church services such as Prayer Meetings, Worship Services, Indoctrination Sessions, Bible Studies, Bible Expositions, and Thanksgiving in local congregations.[14] They are allowed to communicate official memorandum signed by the Overall Servants and preside over matters and activities concerning the local church. Brethren can personally seek spiritual or personal advice from Workers, who were trained during ministerial classes,[18] in giving Biblical advice and recommendations.

Funding[edit]

Much of their funding is provided by voluntary contributions from members and personal donations from the Overall Servants. MCGI does not practice tithing and neither accept any contribution or donation from non-members nor offer any religious service in return for any financial payment.[16][19][20]

Geographic distribution and membership[edit]

In blue are countries and territories where Members Church of God International (MCGI) is present as of 2015.

As of 2015, Members Church of God International has established more than 1,360[21] congregations in the Philippines and abroad, up from a total of 1,280 locales reported in 2014.[22]

Congregations are grouped into geographical divisions mainly the Philippines, South America,[22] North America and Canada,[23][24] Asia Oceania,[25] Middle East[26] and Europe, Israel and Africa Division.[27] The official website of the church reported its presence in 46 countries and territories as of 2010.[28]

Since its arrival in South America in 2009, MCGI sees a growing number of locales in the continent. As of 2015, it reported 237 established locales in Brazil, including those in Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Florianópolis.[29] More than a hundred other locations in Brazil receive preaching through DVDs and internet streaming links.[30] In Latin America, the church reported 195 established locales and another 60[29] locales currently being established, with only three countries left to reach.[30]

MCGI keeps a formal number of members but does not openly reveal it. In 2015, the church gained more than 20,000 new members through regular mass baptisms.[29]

Propagation and evangelism[edit]

They believe that an important duty and obligation of the members of the church is to propagate the gospel on earth until the consummation of the ages.[5] Eliseo Soriano began his nightly town-to-town preaching in 1970s but eventually realized that his lifetime is not enough to reach the entire Philippines. In 1980s he decided to use emerging media such as radio and television.

Radio and television[edit]

The 30-minute AM radio program of Ang Dating Daan began in 1980 followed by its television debut 1983 on IBC-13. Later, it was transferred to RJTV-29, PTV-4 and SBN-21. In 1999, the program was heard nationwide through DZRH, RMN and 100 Radyo Natin stations. In 2004, UNTV-37 became its permanent home through a blocktime agreement with the Progressive Broadcasting Corporation. UNTV-37 is a free-to-air network and also carried by major cable networks and direct-to-home providers. In 2012, UNTV Radio La Verdad 1350 kHz was launched covering Mega Manila.

TV Verdade (English: Truth TV) was founded in 2009. It airs O Caminho Antigo, the Portuguese version of Ang Dating Daan through local channels in Brazil. Later, TV Verdade became the "free television arm" of Members Church of God International when it was granted a permit by the Ministério das Comunicações (English: Ministry of Communications) of Brazil to build and operate its own broadcast network. Currently, MCGI operates five relay stations in Minas Gerais, the second most populous state in Brazil. TV Verdade is currently rolling out more than 20 relay stations in the state of Paraná starting with the activation of its relay station in Cornélio Procópio. In 2012, the church launched TV La Verdad (English: Truth TV), its broadcast arm for Spanish-speaking countries airing the 24/7 broadcast of El Camino Antiguo in El Salvador.

Between 2010 and 2011, the church reached the airwaves of India, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia and Portugal by acquiring timeslots in local television channels. To further boost viewership, it acquired a 30-minute slot in Fox Channel which is carried by 50 cable networks in Central America and South America. Later, the church acquired timeslots in Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala. In 2013, the program was aired in Mexico via Gala TV. It was followed by broadcasts in Dominican Republic, Spain, Equatorial Guinea and soon in Cuba.

Satellite broadcast[edit]

In 2004, MCGI tapped GlobeCast to air the TOP Channel in United States and Canada via a direct-to-home satellite broadcast. In 2010, it was aired in the Philippines via Dream Satellite TV. Currently, MCGI programs reach more than 70 countries in six inhabited continents via TV Verdade, TV La Verdad, The Truth Channel and UNTV using the services of at least seven satellite providers.

MCGI Worldwide Satellite TV Broadcast

1
2
3
4
5
6

Online media[edit]

In 1999, the church joined the world wide web when it launched the www.angdatingdaan.org with video streaming feature. Its English version www.theoldpath.tv went online in 2004.[31] The international website of the church went online www.mcgi.org in 2009.[31] In 2007, Eliseo Soriano published his official blogsite, esoriano.wordpress.com and another blog, Controversy eXtraordinary (CX) in 2014.[32] CX is an expository blog, in five languages, which tackles issues about religion. It has more than 4.5 million page views as of May 2016. In 2012, the church introduced the "MCGI Broadcast App" for Google Android and Apple iOS devices where viewers can watch its programs in four languages.

Print media[edit]

The church distributes print and digital materials for free. It publishes the "TOP Magazine", "Believer Newsmagazine" and a newspaper called "Magandang Balita" (English: Good News). Soriano's online blogs are also compiled and printed as "The Blog Magazine". The church has also been acknowledged by the Philippine Bible Society as a regular donor and major distribution partner of Tagalog Bibles. Copies of full-length Ang Dating Daan episodes are also distributed in DVD format.

Beliefs and fundamental doctrines[edit]

God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit[edit]

Members Church of God International believes in the Almighty God, the Father, the begotten Son, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit but it adopts a nontrinitarianism orientation. The church rejects the traditional doctrine of trinity mainly on its concept that there is "one God in three co-equal persons", which for them, is against the Bible.[33] The church believes that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not perfectly equal with each other.[33] Adherents believe that the Father and Christ are greater than the Holy Spirit which is being sent by the Father and Christ. They also consider the Father is greater than Jesus Christ, the head of Christ and greater than all.[33]

The Almighty God is also called as "God of Israel" citing Exo 5:1, the creator of the universe (Acts 14:15),[5][34] with his Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14). God cannot lie.[35] God is not omniscient[36] (he does not know ahead of time all future human actions and choices), and God is not omnipresent (he created hell but is not there).

Jesus Christ is the Father's only Begotten Son[5] (in Romanized Greek: Monogenēs theos) as mentioned in John 1:18. For them, Christ is the Wonderful, Counselor, a true and Mighty God,[5] Prince of Peace referred in Isa 9:6. He is the only savior of mankind and the only way to the kingdom of God in heaven (Acts 14:15, 1 Cor 8:5-7, John 14:6; 14:1).[5] He is recognized as the Apostle, High Priest (Heb 3:1) and Mediator (1 Tim 2:5) of the church. They believe that Christ descended on earth from the bosom of the Father, suffered for the redemption of sin, died on the cross, resurrected after three days, ascended to heaven and sat on the right side of God.[37] Christ is talking and acting according to the instruction of the Father (John 12:49; 5:19; 14:10).[38] The church believes in the pre-existence of Jesus Christ in spirit before he was born and manifest in flesh and already teaching the prophets by his spirit.[39]

The Holy Spirit is the "comforter" citing John 14:26, sent by the Father and Christ, to give spiritual happiness and to help the brethren in his or her weaknesses, and to console a believer in times of persecution and trials (Rom 8:26).[34]

Prayer[edit]

Prayer is a basic doctrine in MCGI. All church gatherings, either spiritual or socio-civic, begin and end with prayers. The church believes that it is a commandment of God to live a prayerful life based on 1 The 5:17.[40] Praying repetitiously is prohibited.[41] To encourage its members to pray, MCGI launched an exclusive 24/7 prayer service website on March 6, 2011, enabling access to continuous singing of praises and hourly community prayer to God.[42] They believe that it is prohibited to pray in public just to be seen (Mat 6:5). As a discipline, they refrain from showing the act of praying on their television broadcasts, either live or recorded, in public. In November 2013, MCGI launched a community prayer service on UNTV Life and UNTV Radyo La Verdad 1350 kHz. However, only the audio of the community prayer is being aired, to encourage non-brethren to join and participate in praying to God, without necessarily being seen publicly.[43]

Bible[edit]

MCGI believes that only the Bible or the Holy Scriptures, composed of 66 inspired books, teaches the full wisdom of God for the salvation of man and that no other books should be used as basis for serving God and Jesus Christ.[5]

Relevance of the church[edit]

Members of the Church of God International believe that the church built by the Father through Jesus Christ is relevant to salvation.[37][38][44][45][46] They also believe that the church has a vital influence in a person's thinking, character, priorities and beliefs.[44]

The Church of God in the Bible[edit]

Jesus Christ established the church (Mat 16:18),[37] the "Church of God" (2 Cor 1:1, 1 Tim 3:15), not his own but of the Father (Heb 3:4).[38] It is the congregation of the apostles, prophets, teachers and others, and was first planted in the city of Jerusalem, where the preaching of salvation started (Luke 24:47),[38] which was later on scattered and preached by the apostles in different parts of Asia Minor (Acts 8:1, Gal 1:22).[37][38]

They believe that God is "calling" those people with determination to serve him, bringing them in his fold (1 Pet 1:15-16, 1 Cor 1:9; 1:2), teaching them righteousness after baptism, for their sins to be covered by the priceless blood of Christ poured in Mount Calvary, for the redemption of sin, to make them qualify for life eternal in heaven (Phi 1:27, Eph 2:10; 4:1; 4:10; 4:14).[6][37]

MCGI teaches that Jesus Christ loved the church, sacrificed and gave himself for it, and he will save the church (Eph 5:23).[45] Christ is the "head" of the "body" or the church (Col 1:18).[44] Inside the Church of God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles teach the pure and undefiled religion, written as thrēskeia in the Greek Bible (pronounced as thrace-ki’-ah) which means "worshipping" or the observance of something related to worship. It is where the true religion and worship is being practiced.[44]

People of God in the last days[edit]

Members of the Church of God International believe that prophecies written in the Bible are being fulfilled in our days, and the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Rev 19:10).[47] They believe that there will be God's people at the time of the end or in the "last days", citing a prophecy written in Dan 12:4; 12:9-10.[47][48] For the MCGI, the advent of the preaching of the "true church" among the Gentiles, referring to all nations outside of Israel (Eph 2:11-12), including the Philippines, is a fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy in Mal 1:11 which states that the name of the Lord God of Israel shall be great among the Gentiles, and will start "from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same". The people of God will offer incense, not a literal incense, but "prayers" (Rev 5:8) to the God of Israel.[47][49]

They also believe that the prophecies written in Isa 24:15 and Jer 30:19-24 were fulfilled in the Philippines and the Church of God International. Prophet Isaiah mentioned about people giving glory to the Lord God of Israel in the "coastlands of the sea in the east" (Revised Standard Version) and "isles of the sea in the east" (King James Version).[48] The MCGI says that the Philippines is a nation with 7,107 islands, geographically located in the Far East direction in the Pacific Ocean, formerly called as "Las Islas Filipinas" (English: Philippine Islands) in honor of King Philip II of Spain.[47] According to MCGI, it is the only country in Asia that believes in the Bible and that takes the Bible as the authority of their faith.[49] Meanwhile, Jeremiah mentioned about people of God in the last days, who will come out with praises and thanksgiving unto the God of Israel, "their nobles shall be of themselves", and "their governor shall proceed from the midst of them". They "will start from few", but God promised that "I will multiply them" and "they shall not be small".[48] They believe that prophet Jeremiah was ordained by the Lord as "prophet unto the nations" based on Jer 1:5.[48]

The MCGI says that aside from starting as a small group in the "east" direction, it is the only congregation in the "last days" that offers a weekly sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the "God of Israel".[47] Further, their overall servant came from among the group he leads and did not came from any other religious group and currently in the "west" to preach the gospel.[47][48]

Members of the Church of God in Bible[edit]

They believe that Gentile nations including the Philippines, are partakers of the promise of eternal life (1 John 2:25), through belief in Jesus Christ and the gospel, but are not authorized by God to establish their own church, but mere members associated with the same body or church (Eph 3:6, Col 1:18, 1 Cor 12:27) written in the gospel, by accepting and executing the doctrines written by the apostles (1 John 1:3-4).[37][48][49] The MCGI teaches that we are commanded by God to cleave with the right group (Rom 12:9), to have fellowship (1 John 1:3-4) with God and Jesus Christ, and to disassociate ourselves with false preachers or groups, especially to idol worshippers, as mentioned in Rom 16:17-18 and 2 Cor 6:17.[44]

The church mission[edit]

The MCGI believes that Jesus Christ delegated the task of preaching the Word of God, on a global scale, to his apostles based on Mat 28:19-20 and fulfilling this commandment is their primary objective.[50] MCGI aims to propagate the gospel on earth until the consummation of the ages. They believe that only the church can teach the wisdom of God for the salvation of mankind citing Luke 8:1-3, Eph 3:10 and 2 Tim 3:14-17.[5] They believe that this effort is geared towards converting sinners to believe and glorify God (Acts 2:38).

Eschatology and resurrection[edit]

MCGI believes that Jesus Christ "will come again" or "will return" (Tagalog: "muling paririto"), rather than using the terminology "second coming" (Tagalog: "ikalawang pagparito") which they consider a mistake by other religious denominations. They strongly believe that Christ came to the earth in many occasions already and his return will not be the "second" citing 1 Cor 10:4-5.[51] His return will be heralded by the trump of God with a loud voice of an archangel.[52]

They believe those "signs" mentioned in Mat 24:1-8 will happen before the return of Christ and most are already happening.[51] Adherents believe that the return of Christ will be "very near" once the "final sign" happens, the "great tribulation" mentioned in Mat 24:21-22.[51] According to them, the final sign is yet to arrive but believes that it is fast approaching.[51] After the great tribulation, Christ will descend from heaven and those righteous, those saints who died in Christ mentioned in Rev 20:4 will be resurrected first. Those righteous who are still alive will be caught up together with the resurrected saints in the clouds, to meet Jesus Christ in the air, to be with God forever citing 2 Thes 4:16-17.[53][54]

The church believes that Jesus Christ will reign with his saints for another one thousand (1,000) years citing Rev 20:4. Satan will be imprisoned during this period. The remaining people on earth who are still alive, those who were not caught up in the air to meet Christ, will be given a chance to salvation. After the 1,000-year period, another resurrection will occur. God will then judge all people, the living and the dead, according to what they have done. This will happen on God's appointed "day", the "judgment day" or the "last day" citing Acts 17:31. Those who will not merit salvation will be thrown into the "lake of fire" (Tagalog: dagát-dagatang apóy), the "second death", the eternal punishment. After the judgment day will be the earth's destruction.

Membership[edit]

Baptism is a key part in their doctrines. Membership is conferred through immersion baptism of adults.

Indoctrination classes are required prior to joining the organization. The classes are composed of nine lessons concerning church doctrines prepared by the Presiding Minister Eliseo Soriano. Indoctrinees must fully accept the doctrines taught during the indoctrination before they can be baptized.[55]

The church rejects infant baptism. Members not living in accordance with the church's teachings may be excommunicated, or expelled, from the Church.[56]

Members are required to be modest in dress and grooming. Women are prohibited from cutting their hair and wearing expensive jewelry and denim pants, and men are prohibited from having long hair. They are strictly prohibited from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, using drugs, and gambling.

Worship and church gatherings[edit]

The congregation meets at least three sessions each week. Meetings are held at MCGI convention centers and monitoring centers, which are typically functional in character, and do not contain religious symbols except for the church logo and reminders for non-members that are prominently displayed. Gatherings are opened and closed with congregational singing of hymns led by the choir and brief prayers.[16] The subject matter for most meetings is the same worldwide. Brethren kneel in prayer while guests are free to stay in their seats.[16] They believe that Christian believers should always attend religious gatherings.[5]

Prayer meeting and worship service[edit]

Worship service at MCGI locale in São Paulo, Brazil

Prayer meetings are held midweek and worship services are held during weekends. In 2011, a Bible-reading segment was added where a chapter or two of the Bible is being read. Meetings are devoted to the study of a Biblical topic, divided in portions, and will be continued in succeeding meetings.[16] Once a month, the congregation gather for a "special" prayer meeting, where a Biblical topic is discussed in full. The prayer meeting has the same format with the worship service except that there are no voluntary contributions during prayer meetings.[16]

Thanksgiving and special events[edit]

The church offers a weekly "Thanksgiving to God" (Tagalog: "Pasalamat sa Dios"). Brethren who have prepared themselves to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving will be singing songs of praises live on stage at the ADD Convention Center or at the nearest local church. A Biblical topic will be delivered in full by the Overall Servants followed by a consultation period during food breaks.[16] Every quarter of each year, the congregation gather for a three-day international "Thanksgiving of God's People" or "Pasalamat ng Buong Bayan ng Dios (PBB)" in Tagalog, formerly called as "International Thanksgiving to God (ITG)" and "Pasalamat ng Katawan (PNK)" (English: "Thanksgiving of the Body"). It has a similar format with the weekly thanksgiving except it allows more time for the Biblical topic and the consultation.[16] In 2014, South America served as the host country of the church's quarterly event.[22] The church celebrates "Christian New Year" with a special thanksgiving every first of Nisan, using the Hebrew calendar, which falls around April.[57] The church also commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ every 13th of Nisan.[57]

Places of worship[edit]

Main article: ADD Convention Center

The 10-hectare Ang Dating Daan (ADD) compound in Apalit, Pampanga is MCGI's headquarters in the Philippines.[58] It houses the ADD Convention Center where major church gatherings are held and the chapel, a multipurpose venue for the community prayer, indoctrination sessions, prayer meetings and worship services. Other structures inside the compound include the baptistry, administration office, museum, transient home, orphanages, mini-hospital, dormitories for church officers and volunteers, houses for church ministers and workers and school buildings of La Verdad Christian College.

MCGI has established more than a 1,360 local congregations.[21] These venues are also called the Ang Dating Daan Coordinating Centers or MCGI Satellite Monitoring Centers. It is where the brethren meet to attend church gatherings and host indoctrination sessions. Most of the sites are rented spaces in urban and rural communities in the Philippines and abroad. Equipped with C-band satellite dish antenna and high-speed broadband connection, these sites are able to receive real-time broadcast feeds emanating from the headquarters. Assigned church workers and officers oversee activities at the locale and receive queries regarding membership in the church. In 2012, a mobile coordinating center was launched. A bus transformed into a cozy venue with roof, chairs, television screen and satellite receiver, can accommodate guests in remote areas during Bible Expositions.

Criticism[edit]

Since 1980, there have been conflicts between religious organizations Iglesia ni Cristo ("Church of Christ", INC) and the Members Church of God International (MCGI) when MCGI Presiding Minister Eliseo Soriano started his radio program Ang Dating Daan (ADD). Through his program, he discussed biblical issues and "exposed" wrong doctrines of other religious groups, including those of INC. In 2001, after 21 years of silence on the issue, the INC launched its own program, Ang Tamang Daan (English: The Right Path), as a direct response for the first time to Ang Dating Daan and to debate and rebuke the claims of Eliseo Soriano, featuring video footages and recordings of ADD hosts as issues were tackled.

Records[edit]

The Ang Dating Daan Chorale of MCGI officially broke the record of the Iglesia ni Cristo as the World's Largest Gospel Choir in the Guinness Book of World Records. Consisting of 8,688 choir members, the ADD Chorale render religious hymns during the 35th anniversary of the religious TV and radio program Ang Dating Daan at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on October 12, 2015. The original record holder was the Iglesia ni Cristo's Centennial Choir (4,745 members) during the church's centennial celebration in the Philippine Arena on July 27, 2014.[59]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Soriano, Eliseo. "Twitter: @BroEliSoriano". twitter.com/BroEliSoriano. Twitter. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "From the Philippines to Brazil: MCGI's Last Quarter of 2014's Big Events and Recognitions". MCGI. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Ang Dating Daan's 34th Anniversary: An example to a peaceful and beneficial celebration". Buenos Aficionado. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Ang Dating Daan". angdatingdaan.org. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "MCGI Church General Declaration and Doctrines (Section 1 to 8)". mcgi.org (Wayback Machine). Archived from the original on August 30, 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2016. 
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