Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), a prominent and unified religious organization from the Philippines, will celebrate its 97th founding anniversary.
In 2010, INC had grown to more than 5,000 congregations in the Philippines and more than 600 abroad. The INC now has local congregations in 96 countries and territories, and its members belonging to more than 102 nationalities and ethnic groups,as quoted from an earlier report.
UNOFFICIAL BRIEF HISTORY
The Iglesia ni Cristo started its first locale in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila in 1914. In 1924, pampanga became its first ecclesiastical district. In 1968, the Church crossed the Pacific Ocean to establish its first foreign missions in Honolulu, Hawaii, in the U.S. Its central Office complex was inaugurated in 1971, and in 1984, its largest edifice of worship, the Central Temple in Diliman, Quezon City was consecrated. In 1994, it reached Rome, Italy, and in 1996, returned to Jerusalem, Israel, considered its original home. In 1997, it extended its reach to Athens, Greece.
In less than 100 years, therefore, the Iglesia ni Cristo has grown Phenomenally in the Philippines and abroad. This astounding growth and development from obscure beginnings has elicited both admiration and bewilderment. Its 83-year existence in the archipelago may be divided into two distinct periods: first, the almost half -a-century stewardship of Brother Felix Y. Manalo from 1914 to 1963, which saw the mushrooming of congregations, converts, and chapels in almost all barangay all over the country, second, the contemporary 34-year administration of Brother Eraño G. Manalo as executive minister, which was witnessed the ascent of the church to greater prominence, stability, and prosperity. Under the supervision, the Iglesia ni Cristo has been transformed from a local to a global church.
Growth and success have made the Iglesia ni Cristo an institution capable of contributing to national development, nationalism, and spirituality. In both the spiritual realm and the material field, the Iglesia ni Cristo has become an integral part of the Philippine society and history in the 20th century.
The existence of congregations dotting the archipelago, identified by the Gothic-like edifices of worship, has attracted visitors, who see the uniquely-structured chapels as neither Catholic, Protestants, nor Islamic appearance. The church advocated Filipino as the medium for propagation, institution, and edification, thus contributing to the development of a viable national language across the regions speaking diverse dialects.
In converting different ethnic groups to become “one in Christ,” the Church has forged solidarity among the different regional groups, enabling a solid unity that is much admired. Its palpable concern for society’s marginalized sectors – the dispossessed, the needy, and the deprived – is demonstrated through its vast network of community-service projects known as Lingap sa Mamamayan. Its modest contribution to knowledge and learning is made through the New Era University, which attends to the educational well-being of young people. The New Era General Hospital caters to the medical needs of members and nonmembers alike. Its agrarian reform and resettlement projects benefit low-income groups and the victims of natural calamities and disasters.
The uniqueness of the Iglesia ni Cristo as a religion has attracted multiracial, multilingual, and multi-geographical membership in six continents. Biblically-based, doctrinally conservative, solidly unified, and centrally administered, its highly diversified adherents emanate from all sectors of society, specially the poor. Members from many cultures, races, and backgrounds all over the world have converged as brothers and sisters in the faith, setting aside cultural differences and value systems. Church doctrines override personal values. The centralize administration stresses unity amidst diversity. Its fundamental scriptural doctrines shows striking similarities to the first-century Church of Christ where there as “neither Greek nor Jew.” It has stressed the necessity of upholding faith in the one true God in contrast to the Trinitarian formula of orthodox Christianity.
The Iglesia ni Cristo teaches the need for the Church as the sole means of salvation, similar to the Ark of Noah, prior to the approaching of judgment. It believes in the paramount value of the Holy Scriptures as the guide to man’s behavior, livelihood, existence, and future life. Its tenets of the Holy Bible, has galvanized its members to be God-fearing citizens whose moral fiber has been strengthened by faith, obedience, and devotion to the words of God.
A WORKING SPECIAL HOLIDAY
On May 27, 2009, an act was approved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines declaring July 27 of every year as a special national working holiday in recognition of the founding anniversary of the Iglesia ni Cristo in the Philippines.
On July 7, 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared July 27 as “Iglesia ni Cristo Day,” a national working holiday commemorating the founding anniversary of the sect.
In Section 2 of Republic Act 9645, “It is the declared policy of the State to observe the founding anniversary of the Iglesia ni Cristo every 27th of July in recognition of its exemplary feat of leading its members towards spiritual enlightenment and good citizenry.”
You can download a copy of RA 9645 or “Commemoration of the Founding Anniversary of Iglesia ni Cristo Act“.
For more information about Iglesia Ni Cristo doctrines, check the aforementioned link.