1st Protestant Church in PH Celebrates 123rd Anniversary of Founding

THE Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) congregation celebrates its 123rd founding anniversary in March.

It is the first Protestant church in the Philippines located along TM Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila, established on March 5, 1899 during the American occupation.

It was originally called the Central Methodist Episcopal Church and was referred to as the “American Church” or the very first “English-speaking Church” in the Philippines.

Its first wooden chapel was completed on December 23, 1901 where future US President William Howard Taft used to attend services while serving as Governor General of the Philippines.

The chapel was replaced with a concrete structure in November 1906. In 1932 it was rebuilt as a cathedral.

During the liberation of Manila in 1945, Central UMC was badly damaged and rendered inoperable by the fighting between the combined Filipino and American troops and the Imperial Japanese forces and until 1949 it was rebuilt with the same design by the architect Juan Arellano in its original site. along TM Kalaw Street.

Since then, CUMC membership has grown rapidly from a predominantly American population to a mixed Filipino and American population. Well-known members to name a few were Dean Jorge Bocobo, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, Senator Camilo Osias, Dr. Gumersindo Garcia, Maximo Gimenez of Max Fried Chicken, Sec. Asuncion Perez, Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos and First Lady Ming Martinez Ramos.

In 1914, however, a large number of American members separated and joined the Presbyterian congregation to establish the Union Church of Manila now in Makati. In 1933 another separation occurred, but this time a majority of the Filipino congregation formed the Cosmopolitan Church of Manila along Taft Ave.

During this month-long celebration despite the global situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, the anniversary is inspired by a theme “Faithfulness and Resilience on Mission and Service of God”. It will begin with a Communion Sunday on March 6, 2022 in all worship services following its regular worship schedule which will begin at 8 a.m. with the Tagalog congregation, the Ilocano congregation at 9:30 a.m., the English congregation at 11 a.m., the Christian community of the children of God. at 2 p.m. and Vespers Service at 5 p.m.

On March 13, 2022, all services will be devoted to International Women’s Sunday with guest speakers in each congregation.

March 20, 2022 will be the anniversary Sunday with a joint worship of all congregations beginning at 9 a.m. with Bishop Rodolfo Juan as guest speaker.

Juan is a longtime minister and missionary. He is currently the Resident Bishop of the Davao Episcopal Area of ​​the United Methodist Church. He will run for public office as the second candidate in the 2022 national elections under the slate of the Filipino Educators Alliance for Community Empowerment (#53 Peace) party, which will focus primarily on education as a forefront of our national priorities.

Juan was also a former instructor and chaplain of the Philippine Military Academy, where he is credited with building the PMA Chapel in 1998, and a chaplain in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Bishop Juan has a long history of community service and development, and is heavily involved in training a new generation of servant-leaders.

One of the highlights of Anniversary Sunday is the blessing of the newly installed church aisle carpet in the cathedral and the Yamaha grand piano. Both are gifts of Justice and Mrs. Ruben T. Reyes and family, longtime devoted members of the church.

After the joint anniversary worship, a church-wide online communion will follow in the afternoon at 1 p.m. Later in the afternoon at 5 p.m., the anniversary Sunday will conclude with a joint worship service by God’s Children Christian Fellowship and Vesper Congregation. .

March 27, 2022 will be the post-anniversary Sunday for all worship congregations following their regular worship schedule. (RP)

Martha J. Finley