THE DAVAO CENTRAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Now – THE CATHEDRAL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Glimpses of the Past (until2012) and Visions for the future
The birth of United Methodism in Davao City started in the early l950’s with the coming of some United Methodists from Luzon and nearby provinces like Cotabato province. Looking for greener pastures or for whatever other reasons that brought them top this place, only God knows. But one thing sure, these people were used by God to start His ministry in this place.
These early Methodists were Mr. Jose Collantes, then the Provincial treasurer, Mr. Paraso, Atty. & Mrs. Ramon Saura, and Mr. Laudivico Lardizabal, brother of Mrs. Manuela Valencia.
In l952, Bishop Jose Valencia, sent several pastors from Luzon to explore possibilities of opening Methodist work in Mindanao. Among these pioneer pastors were the Rev, Esteban Guillermo, the Rev. Felix Telan, the Rev. Calixto Garibay, The Rev. Rufino Tabiendo, and the Rev. Felix Gorospe.
It was the Rev. Felix Gorospe who got acquainted with the Collantes and Pasaro families and gathered and started them as a worshiping congregation in Davao City. Thus, on August 23, l953, the Rev. F. Gorospe organized the First United Methodist of Davao City. A full time pastor was appointed to minister to them in the person of the Rev. Vicente Rosete, with Mrs. Gertrudes Rosete serving as the first Woman Worker.
Without a church building yet, this young congregation rented a small place along San Pedro street where they conducted worship services every Sunday and other church activities. Four month after the appointment of Rev. and Mrs. Rosete, the church transferred to another place in Tomas Claudio Street, now the E. Quirino Avenue. The Saura family were actively involved in the church work at this time to the point of sacrificially but lovingly supported the church with their financial resources. It must be noted that there were two former deaconesses with the congregation; Mrs. Saura and Mrs. Mercedes Castro.
On 1954, the Rev. Atanacio Caramat was appointed as its new pastor but he stayed only for two months. The absence of a Pastor created problems for the young church and some members went to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines where they first attended worship services before the United Methodist Church came to this city.
In April l955, Bishop Valencia appointed the Rev. Limerio Garibay to Davao City. Through his evangelistic zeal and excellent pastoral leadership, the congregation was revived with more people added to the member¬ship roll, such as Mr. & Mrs. Lino Molina. Late in the year, paying for the rental of the house of worship became a heavy burden that the pastor and his family were forced to move to Tagum and put his residence there. Howev¬er, the work of the Lord continued despite of the limited resources. The pastor travels to Davao City on weekends and held worship services in the house of Mr. Andres Briz until May l956, when Rev. Limerio Garibay went back to Seminary to complete his schooling.
In June 1956, the Rev. Catalino Guzman was appointed pastor of Davao City. During this year, a church lot was purchased at W. Vinzon Street, Obrero, Davao City, where the sanctuary of the First United Methodist Church was constructed. The application of a building permit for the construction of the church building paved the way to meet other Methodists in the city in the person of Engr. Samuel Dumlao, then the City Engineer.
In the Annual Conference of l958, the Rev. Luis Tacadena was appointed as the new minister for that year. He only served for one year and was followed by the Rev. Limerio Garibay. Church membership continued to grow during these years.
Davao City is the educational center of the Davao provinces, if not the entire island of Mindanao. The church leadership saw the need for a student ministry to the growing universities in Davao City. A lot was purchased at C.M. Recto Street on October 5, l964 where the Davao Student Center was constructed and completed in l965. Student and young professionals served by the Davao Student Centered clamored for a church in the heart of the city.
The Birth of Davao Central United Methodist Church:
“Last November 24, l966 the new church at Claveria Street was inaugurated. The inauguration was purposely set during the Great Thanksgiving Day. It is now called the Davao Central United Methodist church. Starting the last Sunday of November, services were conducted in the new church.”(From Ms. Thelma Mariano’s report to Ms. Garrett). The church building was constructed in spite of very limited funds. Church members also generously donated construction materials to complete its construction. The members of Davao Central United Methodist Church during its organization includes the following: Engr. & Mrs. Marcelino Advincula, Mr. & Mrs. Teodoro Velasco Sr., Mr & Mrs. Teodoro Velasco Jr., Engr. & Mrs. Florante Bote, Mr. and Mrs. Victoriano Baltazar, Mrs. Mercedes Castro, Mr. & Mrs. Manuel Victorio, Mrs. Ruth Flores, Atty. Leonardo Galima, Mr. & Mrs. Elias Lucero, Mr. Ricardo Lozano, Ms. Leticia Conception, Mr. & Mrs. Restituto Diaz, Mr. & Mrs Conrado Antonio, Mr. Melvin Sales, and Mrs. Simplicia Largo. The first workers were : Rev. Limerio Garibay and Ms. Thelma Mariano. The Rev. Limerio Garibay served in this congregation until l971. An associate pastor in the person of Rev. Rolland French was appointed during the l970 Annual Conference, with Miss Victoria Piggangay as deaconess. During the term of Rev. Limerio Garibay, the main dormitory and the fellowship hall were constructed as a ministry to the students of Davao City. The construction of these two buildings were made possible through a generous donation of the family of the former Mayor Luis Santos.
Davao Central United Methodist Church at the 70’s
The Rev. Conrado Guiang became the administrative Pastor on June 1, l971, together with Ms. Vicky Piggangay and Ms. Mercy Muyco as women workers. Two significant things to be noted in l972 in the life of this church. The pastor, Rev. Conrado Guiang, and Mr. Francisco Bibay, a member of this church represented the Mindanao Annual Conference to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, last April 16-28, l972. It was also during this conference year that the parsonage of the church was constructed and later the Baltazar dormitory . Ms. Miriam Nacario was the deaconess during the 1972-73 conference year. In l973-74 Miss Israel served as a woman worker, which was followed by Ms. Mercy Muyco l974 until 1979. Before the termed of Rev. Conrado which ended May of l979, a motorcycle was acquired for the pastor’s use.
During the first ten years of this church when physical and spiritual growth needed a strong leadership, Mr. Teodoro Velasco Sr. as Chairperson of the Administrative Board from l967 to l977, provided the lay leadership.
The Rev. Conrado Guiang was succeeded by the Rev. Luviminda G. Domingo in l979, who served for one year. The frontage of the church building was constructed.
The Central Church during the 80’s
The Rev. Benjamin Soriano served the church as pastor from l980 until l984. With his leadership the concrete fence around the church compound was constructed, a Yamaha electronic organ was purchased and a second hand underwood typewriter was acquired.
Children’s ministry is a priority of our church program. Mrs. Ester Rufino who was appointed to work in our church as deaconess from l980 to l991 provided the caring and teaching ministry of the Lord through our Methodist Learning Center. This Kindergarten school of our church caters mostly to the poor children in our community, and at times some were given scholarship to families who are really very poor.
The Rev. Josue Guzman was appointed to served this church in l984 until l987 when he was appointed to the Superintendency of the Mindanao East District. Under his leadership the church continued to grow in membership and in its financial resources. The church budget went up overshooting the budgeted amount. Reserved fund for building fund construction/improvement was established, conference apportionment increased and kindergarten school facilities improved through the innovative efforts of Mrs. Esther Rufino. An ECLOF loan of twenty thousand pesos was secured from the NCCP for the construction of a dormitory.
A new leadership emerged with the appointment of the Rev. Francisco Bilog in l987. The Rev. Bilog administered both the Davao Central UMC and the First UMC congregations. In l988 he was given an associate pastor for the First United Methodist Church in Obrero in the person of the Rev. Delfin Andres.
With encouragement coming from Bishop Jose Gamboa Jr, the Methodist in Davao City envisioned the putting up of a cathedral in the heart of Davao to be the seat of United Methodism in Mindanao. This will not only be a house of worship, but will include offices for the officials of the church in the area and offer facilities that will cater or minister to the various needs of the people.
A Cathedral Committee was created to plan and bring the vision of a Cathedral to reality. Its first meeting was held on June 21, l987, where Engr. Emmanuel Sola was elected chairperson. The Cathedral Committee embarked on fund raising campaigns, the first of which was the Granadosin Brothers Concert held at the Central Bank Auditorium of Davao City last October 3, l987, which netted the amount of P123,000.00.
On September l987 a new one-door apartment dormitory was constructed beside the Baltazar dorm using the ECLOF loan from NCCP and subsidized by the local church building fund.
During the summer of l988, the pastor of this church, the Rev. Francisco Bilog represented the Methodist of Mindanao to the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
During the middle part of l988 the UMYAF felt the need for a comfort room for the church, so by October of that year they built a two door comfort room beside the church building.
In the Annual Conference of l989, the Rev. Francisco Bilog was appointed to the superintendency of the Mindanao South District. He was the second pastor who was serving the Davao Central UMC when appointed to the superintendency.
Davao Central Church During the 90’s
The Rev. Noe Valderama was appointed pastor of this church last l989. With his inspiration the church budget continued to increased to P225,000.00 and the church membership also continued to grow. In June of l991, an associate pastor was assigned to work with Rev. Valderama in the various ministries of the church, in the person of the Rev. Mario Pegalan. Also this year, two church worship services were being conducted. The Cebuano service which is conducted at 7:30 in the morning and the English service at 10:00 in the morning. A regular mid- week prayer meeting was also held every Wednesday at the church
The vision for the Cathedral continued to inspire the Methodist people of Davao City. They strongly supported fund-raising programs such as: Agape Meal, Sacrificial Meal and Musical Concert. The architectural design of the cathedral was made by Mr. Manuel Victorio.
Last November 18, l990, the cornerstone for the cathedral was laid in the proposed site and which also coincided with the Thanksgiving anniversary of the church of which Miss Doris Garrett was the speaker. Bishop Jose Gamboa Jr., resident Bishop of the Davao Episcopal Area, led in the ceremony assisted by Atty. Daniel E. Gadia, CUMC Administrative Board chairperson, Engr. Emmanuel Sola, Cathedral Committee chairperson and the Rev. Noe C. Valderama, CUMC Administrative Pastor.
In December 20, l991,the local chapter of the United Methodist Young Adult Fellowship donated a Weinstein Cur vex piano to the church. In February 21,l992 a Toyota Jeepney was bought in the amount of P80,000.00 as a service for the church various ministries.
On Nov. 30- Dec. 1, l991 the church celebrated its Silver Anniversary with much thanksgiving and vision for the next twenty five years.
It must also be noted here that the lay leadership which provided stability and growth during the decade of the 80’s was provided by Atty. Daniel E. Gadia who served as chairperson of the Administrative Board from l977 to l991.
A changed of workers were effected during the month of June of l992 when the Rev. and Mrs. Francisco Bilog were re-appointed as pastor and deaconess of this church. Under their leadership the membership roll continued to grow and its finances over-shot the approved budget at the end of each conference year.
During the middle of l992, the Visayan service was converted to an English early service to serve a wider community. The Wednesday prayer meeting continued and a vesper service was started every Sunday evening.
A systematic program of fund raising for the Cathedral was undertaken during the middle l993 Conference year. The construction of the Cathedral was planned by phases and continues as God provides us with funds. On November 15, l994, the construction of phase 1 started and completed on April of l995 with Mr. Manuel Victorio as the constructor. The construction for phase 2 started May 15, l996 and was completed September 15, l996. For this to be done the old church was demolished during the month of May and so our worship service was transferred to the new building last June 2, l996. Church members and friends have continued to support us with their second and third mile giving. We know their is no regret on their part for it is always a joy to serve the Lord specially when it is for God’s mansion.
Our local church hosted for the first time the East Mindanao Philippine Provisional Annual Conference last April 19-24, l994 with success. During the summer months of l994 and l995 we also hosted the School for Christian Youth Development. At the start of l994 Conference year we envisioned to revive Calinan UMC with a financial support of two thousand pesos monthly to support the worker. A full time pastor was assigned as missionary worker in the person of Pastor and Mrs. Edison Umayam which was followed by Pastor Abraham Perazol.
Lay leadership of the local church during the 90’s were provided by the following as chairperson of the Administrative Board: 1991-1993 by Atty. Bienvenido Mariano, and from 1993 to the present Mr. Benedicto Cruz, who is also the annual conference CFA chairperson.
Our local church also provided clergy and lay leadership in the district and Annual conference level. To mention a few:
Mr. Benedicto Cruz was elected as CFA chairperson for l993- l996;
Rev. Francisco Bilog served as C.O.M. chairperson for l993-l996; Chairperson
BOOM 1993-1996, 1996-present.
Miss Franelli Pableo as Conference Secretary for l993-l996 and EMPPrac
UMYAF president l993-l995; EMPAC Treasurer 1996- present
Miss Dana Pascua was elected president of the EMPPraC UMYF l995- 1997;
Mr. Virgilio Rosario became the EMPPrAc UMYAF president l995- 1997;
Mrs. Fidela L. Bilog is serving as District Chairperson for the District Board
of Pension and Chairperson of the Deaconess Service of EMPPrAC 1993-
Rev. Dave Pascua, Chairperson on EMPAC Council on Ministries 1996-2004,
Ms. Librada Lozano, EMPAC CFA Chairperson, and WSCS District President.
During the l996 General Conference three persons from our church were Elected to serve in three general agencies of the United Methodist church. The Rev. Francisco Bilog was elected to the General Board of Global Minis¬tries; Ms. Franelli Pableo to the General Council on Ministries and Miss Evelyn Diaz to the Youth on Focus, a special program under the General Council on Ministries. They will serve in these agencies representing the Philippine Church for the 1996-2000 quadrenium.
Two significant projects were undertaken by our church during the Conference Year l996: the “Bahay Dalangpanan” which give scholarship and material help to poor children in Davao city and an Agro-forestry project at Lepara, Magsaysay, where a ten hectare land was bought and planted with mangoes and mahogany trees.
June 1, l997 marks the beginning of another mission field for this church. She has turned her attention to Toril, a fast growing district of Davao city, as her mission field. Mrs Dinah Serrano was appointed as mis¬sionary to Toril. This church budgeted financial support and extended personnel service to this work. The decision to transfer our mission work in Toril was the failure to revived the church in Calinan which we have supported for 4years.
Gen. and Mrs. Jose Proceso Torrelavega permitted Mrs. Dinah Serrano to put up a small structure in their compound last July 1997 which served as a classroom for 15 pupils that attended weekday early childhood class that started last August 7, 1997.
A worshipping congregation started to worship in Toril last January 10, 1999, meeting at the residence of Mrs. Caridad Reinante. During the month of February 1999 a multipurpose building was built at a lot of about 300 square meters promised to be donated by the family of Mrs. Caridad Reinante. The building serves as a sanctuary and a classroom of the weekday pre-school program of the congregation. The lot has been surveyed and the donation papers is being processed.
The third phase of the Cathedral construction started last Nov. 10, l997 which completed the roofing during the early part of January 1998. The construction of the church slowly continued without let-up until the month of October 1999. Thus the window grills was up, followed by the cross steeple, finishing of the walls of the first and second floor. The gifts that we received from GBGM in the amount of $5,000.00 made it possible for us to build function guest rooms, kitchen, rest rooms and the ramp stairway during the month of March. While the gift in the amount of $5,000.00 that we received from the Chicago Temple UMC was used to put-up the altar, with a ceiling during the month of September and October 1999. The Fall meeting of the GBGM Board of Directors last October 1999 approved a budget in the Mission Opportunities the amount of $30,000.00 for the construction of the Cathedral. Meanwhile the church continues to raised enough funds to complete the construction.
We supported three pre-theological scholars since 1997, Jan-Jan Porquillo, Ike Pama, and Melvin Serrano. We are blessed that 5 clergy of EMPAC under special appointment or retired decided to make our church as their membership. They Revs. Josue Guzman, Dave Pascua, Delfin Andres, Hector Guzman, Mario Pekilan, while the Rev. Leo Soriano are also associate members.
Davao Central Church at the Start of the New Millennium
The CY 2000-2001 started with new hopes and dreams. An associate pastor was assigned for Toril worshipping congregation in the person of Jimmy Bigaran with the hope of sustaining the growth of the congregation and meeting the mission opportunities of the geographical area.
The enrolment of the Learning Center in Toril has grown so big that a school building was built from recycled materials from our demolished dormitory. A comfort room for the children was also constructed with the helped of the PTF of the Learning Center. Labor money for the construction came from the second mile giving of the members in the area ands donations from friends.
Several nurturing programs during weekdays were started designed to strengthen and equipped the church for greater mission. The programs includes the following: Tuesday Prayer Meeting; Wednesday evening Koinonia Fellowship; Friday Vesper Service and Prayer and Fasting every first Friday evening till Saturday morning of the month.
For the first time this local church officially endorsed and sent a Candidate for the Ministry to study at the Wesley Divinity School in the person of Melvin Serrano. Our local church budgeted an amount in support for his needs while various individuals and local organizations also promised to help him financially.
The final phase of the church construction also started last October 2000 and continuing till 2001 with the plan of completing the ceiling, the tile flooring, the glass windows, the painting, the stairs and the wall division of the ground floor. As of November 2001 only the painting of the outside wall of the church needs to be done. These constructions are made possible with the loving donations of the following: Engr. Ralph Greene, $1,000.00; Chicago Temple under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Winkler the Pastor, $5,000.00; GBGM, $30,000.00 and the sacrificial giving of the church members.
The year 2000-2001 also manifested increasing awareness of our mission as a church. Several young Professionals responded to the call for cross cultural missionary work and made themselves available through their applications to the GBGM mission personnel. It is our hope and prayer that their application be acted upon soonest.
The Conference Year 2001-2002 could be remembered by the following programs and activities: We acquired 120 new United Methodist hymnals, a donation from our friends from the Chicago Temple United Methodist Church. The hymnals are valued around $1,750.00. We also acquired 100 Holy Bibles now being used during worship services. The church hosted the session of the East Mindanao Philippine Annual Conference last March 21-24, 2002. It was during the Sunday worship of the EMPAC Annual Conference last March 24 that the Central United Methodist Cathedral was finally dedicated to the glory of the Lord.
The conference year 2002-2003 started with a new set of church workers. The Rev. Roberto Ladia was appointed pastor, with Mrs. Elizabeth Manzano deaconess for Christian Education and Mrs. Fidela L. Bilog, deaconess for Kindergarten work. Physical improvement was made with the repair and installation of interlinked wire on the eastern portion of the fence around the church lot. A new computer was also bought from the budget of the kindergarten school. Last November 12, one of the stalwart leader of the local church Atty. Daniel E. Gadia went home to glory which signified the turnover of the leadership from the older folks to the younger ones. This conference year Mr. Virgilio Rosario, a young adult leader was elected chair of the church council.
Church Anniversary and Thanksgiving Celebration
Our thanksgiving Worship today is a festival of faith amidst an on-going global and national crisis that is resulting in financial difficulties, and eroding the moral and spiritual life of society. Thus the theme is very revealing “Celebrate the Faith Amidst Global and National Crisis. Be Thankful Always for this is God’s will for you who belongs to Christ.” (I Thess. 3:18). Our celebration today also marks the 36th local church Anniversary of faith and witness in Davao City. During the past 36 years of our church, it has attained a kind of maturity that resulted in faithful stewardship as seen in the increased of finances every year; the long turnover of church officers and workers; the continuing increased of membership, and our notable contributions to the leadership of Methodism in the district, annual, national and global church.
God has laid down His plans for this church in His kingdom building. The faithful and witness of this church in the coming years are limitless. God looks forward with us for a wider and greater ministry. He is counting on us.
Let us step-out with Him as he leads us, and let us serve Him with our best, that is, our life and our all. AMEN.
(Rev. Francisco B. Bilog- November 2002)