- Posted August 8, 2014 by
Quezon City, Philippines
- World’s fastest-growing Christian Church inaugurates “largest theater on the planet”
- Iglesia Ni Cristo continues to proclaim God's message in great assemblies
- Fastest-growing Christian church intensifies evangelical missions as its Centennial nears
- From record-breaking worldwide walk to rebuilding houses and lives for typhoon Yolanda survivors: the Iglesia Ni Cristo shows the way
Global Christian church from the Philippines celebrates centennial “to give back glory to God”, gets world’s attention
A once-unknown Christian church with humble beginnings in the Philippines which was registered in Manila on July 27, 1914 became the focus of global attention as it celebrated its centennial in a week-long celebration in a city called Ciudad de Victoria or City of Victory in Bulacan, Philippines.
The center of the celebration was the Philippine Arena, a 55,000-seater domed architectural marvel inside the Ciudad de Victoria that had been declared by Guinness world records as the world’s “largest mixed use indoor theater” on July 27, 2014, the centennial day itself of the Church of Christ or Iglesia Ni Cristo or INC.
The Philippine government also recognized the INC as a global Christian church of “national historical significance” which had its roots in the Philippines, that had spread love and helped not just Filipinos, but other people in need in other parts of the world. On July 24, three days before the INC centennial, the government installed a “national historical marker” inside the church's sprawling central office grounds in Quezon City.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III himself on the inauguration of the Philippine Arena on July 21 lauded the INC for now being a global Christian church which continues to help members and non-members alike in different parts of the world. He said the INC had proven that an institution from the Philippines could reach global stature.
The INC also set a new record for the “largest gospel choir” in the world for the 4,745-member choir that sang during the special worship service inside the jam-packed Philippine Arena officiated by the church’s executive minister Eduardo V. Manalo. Outside the arena, hundreds of thousands of people watched via giant LED screens. People who packed the nearby 20,000-seater Philippine Sports Stadium were also able to participate in the worship service via a large LED screen.
The worship service was also broadcast live via satellite in 1,180 sites worldwide for the millions of its members in other parts of the Philippines and in other countries. The church has spread to more than 100 countries with members belonging to at least 112 races.
With the two Guinness records achieved by the INC on its centennial day, the church now has a total of eight Guinness records since 2012. Five of them were achieved this year, 2014, considered by the INC as its centennial year. Three of them were set this February 2014: two during the February 15 worldwide walk for victims of typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, and another one set during the February 22 distribution of food bags in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, a province in Central Luzon, Philippines.
Guinness adjudicator Kaoru Ishikawa presented the new records for the “largest gospel choir” and for the “largest mixed use indoor theater,” the Philippine Arena, to INC General Auditor minister Glicerio B. Santos Jr, to the cheers of more than 50,000 spectators inside the arena on July 27.
Ishikawa said that with the two new Guinness records set by the INC on that day, the church now has eight Guinness records in all.
It is also notable that six of its Guinness records were all related to activities in helping people, especially those in need.
The February 15, 2014 worldwide charity walk was participated in by Iglesia Ni Cristo member-delegates worldwide who registered for the event so they could help the typhoon victims. The record number of 519,221 participants who walked in 135 sites around the world became the new Guinness record for the largest charity walk done within 24 hours in multiple venues, which was an altogether new Guinness record category. It also broke the Guinness record for the largest charity walk in a single venue (Manila site) with 175,509 participants. The number to beat was only 77,500 participants set by Singapore’s “The New Paper Big Walk 2000” on May 21, 2000.
A week later, on February 22, 2014, the INC, through its charitable arm – the Felix Y. Manalo foundation – conducted a massive relief distribution in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija. The total number of 302,311 distributed food bags containing rice, sardines and noodles was declared as “the most number of hunger relief packages distributed in eight hours in a single venue” by Guinness.
The first three Guinness records broken by the church organization happened on July 7, 2012, during the INC International Aid to Humanity held at the Parola compound in Tondo, Manila where INC volunteers conducted a whole day medical-dental and relief mission for the poor residents in the area as part of the 98th year commemoration of the INC’s registration in the Philippines on July 27, 1914.
The INC broke three Guinness world records on that day -- the largest dental health check, the biggest number of blood pressure (BP) readings taken in eight hours, and the most numerous blood glucose level (BGL) tests, also conducted in eight hours.
INC General Auditor Santos, who also serves as president of the FYM Foundation, said the church had been helping those in need since the early years of its establishment, especially in times of calamities and natural disasters.
The INC had also conducted relief missions abroad such as those held in the aftermath of the quake in Japan in March 2011, Hurricane Sandy in New York and in New Jersey in October 2012, the floods in Bundaberg, Australia, and the series of tornadoes that happened in Oklahoma in 2013.
Philippine President Aquino lauded the unity of the Iglesia Ni Cristo or Church of Christ which, he said, had been a moving force to help people not only in the Philippines but in other parts of the world.
He said the construction of the Philippine Arena and the Ciudad de Victoria was concrete proof of the unity of the INC members, whose voluntary monetary contributions alone made it possible to build the arena which reportedly cost some $200 billion.
He also congratulated the INC on its centennial and thanked the church as a whole for its concern for others, which, he said, was “manifested not just in words but in action.”
The celebration at the Ciudad de Victoria of the Iglesia Ni Cristo centennial began with a 25-minute spectacular fireworks display at the Philippine Arena, followed by the special worship service officiated by the INC executive minister that was meant to strengthen the faith of church members worldwide, and at the same time to give glory and praises to God. This was followed by an “oratorio” or concert of hymns of praises to God. On July 29, a musical play entitled, “Ang Bayan Mo’y Nagpupuri” (Your People Give Praise) was also staged at the arena. The musical relived significant events in the INC’s his-tory, and featured a total of close to 500 singer-actors and dancers and a 1,100-mem¬ber chorale.
On July 31, a stageplay entitled, “Ang Sugo,” (The Messenger) was held at the Philippine Arena. It detailed the life and struggles of Felix Y. Manalo, who first registered the Church of Christ, or INC, on July 27, 1914. INC members believe that Felix Y. Manalo is the fulfillment of the prophecy on the “last messenger of God.”
On Aug. 2, an evangelical mission was held inside the Philippine Arena attended by at least 60,000 people. The bible exposition expounded on the church’s teachings especially the biblical prophecies on why its church members believe that this is the “one true Church” that will be saved on Judgment Day. This capped the week-long centennial celebration of the INC.
But through all these events, there is one motivation for the church members in celebrating the INC Centennial in a grand way. According to them, this is to give thanks and praise God Who has blessed His church in the last 100 years in fulfillment of His promise on the re-emergence of the church established by Christ in the “far east” and in the “ends of the earth”(Isaiah 41:9-13; Isaiah 43:5-6; Isaiah 46:11-13; Isaiah 62:11-12).
For the INC Executive Minister, Eduardo Manalo, all the unimaginable victories happening to the Church of Christ could be explained by one thing: this is God’s work.