The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has three episcopal areas: Davao Episcopal Area, Baguio Episcopal Area and Manila Episcopal Area. The Davao Episcopal Area has six annual conferences: Mindanao, East Mindanao, Northwest Mindanao, Visayas, Palawan and Mindoro. The Baguio Episcopal Area also has six conferences: Central Luzon, North Central Luzon, Northwest, Northeast, Northern and Pangasinan. The Manila Episcopal Area also has six annual conferences and one provisional conference: Philippines, Philippines East, Middle Philippines, West Middle, Bulacan, Dampango and Bicol Provisional. The Philippines Central Conference has three incumbent bishops individually assigned as resident bishop to each area.
The work is served by ordained elders, deacons, lay pastors, diaconal ministers and volunteer lay preachers. Women’s children’s and youth work is carried on in all levels: local parish, district and annual conference, with the help of deaconesses and pastors. Social welfare work is administered by five social centers and student services are managed by twelve student centers. Urban and rural community development, community-based comprehensive primary health care program, environmental are and protection program and agricultural development projects are mainly served by lay and clergy persons-in-mission. In response to rising issues of indigenous people’s rights, human rights, justice, peace and integrity of creation, active prophetic social involvement is carried on by the Board of Church and Society of the annual conferences.
Formation of church workers is served by three seminaries, seven Bible Schools, and one college for deaconesses. The general educational program includes two universities, three colleges, five high schools and a significant number of kindergarten and elementary schools. The educational program is administered and supervised by administrative heads, faculty and staff members who are national leaders. Missionaries assist national leaders in various ways.
The strength of the self-support programs of the church in the Philippines is its emphasis in Christian education, stewardship, mission and evangelism, resource development and social concerns. Well organized program agencies include church schools, daily vacation church schools, school for Christian youth development, lay institutes, United Methodist Youth Fellowship, United Methodist Men, United Methodist Women and Clergy Spouses Association. Leadership in ecumenical activities is provided from the local church level as well as at national and international levels.
The Iglesia Evangelica Metodista En Las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) was founded in 1909 and will soon celebrate its centennial anniversary of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, mostly to Filipinos in the Philippines and elsewhere in the globe. As a connectional Church, it has local congregations throughout the Philippine islands, in America, and in some parts of the world.
The Church was founded in the desire of Filipinos for freedom from alien control. When the Americans came to the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, they brought with them the more enlightened evangelical faith which was welcomed by Filipinos with great enthusiasm. After a decade of mission work under American missionaries, a group of Filipino preachers wanted to carry on evangelistic work in the Philippines under the leadership and aegis of Filipino evangelists. The Americans tried to dissuade the group, advising them that they were still much too young in the work to be undertaking such a bold and radical move.
The Filipino group, however, felt that the time was ripe. Led by the first-ordained Filipino Protestant minister, the Rev. Nicolas Zamora (who was a nephew of the immortal Gomez-Burgos-Zamora triumvirate of martyred priests executed by the Spaniards for patriotic leanings), this group of Filipino preachers seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church and founded the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines) on February 28, 1909 as an evangelical Church that is self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting.
Since the leadership of Bishop Zamora, ten more General Superintendents have steered the Church through many troubled waters. Even now as it faces the 21st century, the Church restates with even more firm commitment its main mission of spreading the Word of God in the Philippines and throughout the world, so that man will “know Christ and the power of His resurrection”, worshipping together and serving others in love.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was formed on May 25, 1948 from an organic union of different Protestant denominations, mostly from those which came from the United States during the early part of the twentieth century. The traditions of the Disciples of Christ, the Presbyterians, the Congregational, the Evangelical United Brethren, the Philippine Methodist, and several autonomous congregations from the UNIDA and IEMELIF (Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas) all contribute to UCCP’s unique identity.
The UCCP now has grown to over 2,500 local and worshipping congregations and outreaches, 20 church-related schools and universities, and 5 church-related hospitals/health centers throughout the Philippines. It has three mandated lay organizations, the National Christian Women’s Association, the National United Church Men, and the National Christian Youth Fellowship. The 1994 National Census has pegged the UCCP membership at close to a million members. Of the 65 million Filipinos, more than 10 percent form its constituency.
Under a new constitution and by-laws (1993) the church is governed by the General Assembly which meets every four years to charts its ministry and elect its National Council. It is at present grouped geographically into four jurisdictional areas, each headed by a jurisdictional bishop; the jurisdictional area is in turn grouped into a total now of 38 conferences, each headed by a conference minister. There are close to 3,000 church workers, classified as ordained, lay church workers, deaconesses/Bible women.
Ecumenical in nature, the UCCP is a member of local and international bodies such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Christian Conference of Asia, the World Council of Churches, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Christian Peace Conference, the World Methodist Council and recently, the United Evangelical Mission. It has also a number of international covenants with other churches such as the United Church of Christ in Canada, United Church of Christ in USA, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, Presbyterian Church of USA, Suomen Ekumeenisen Kasuatkuksen, Yhdistys of Finland, Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand, Dienste in Ubersee of Germany and the Uniting Church in Australia.
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines, as expressed in its Statement of Faith, is a growing and transforming organization of people whose creed is to live out God’s will for all of life and creation as epitomized by Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. In 1998 the Golden Jubilee and the 100 years of Protestant witness in the Philippines was celebrated.