"By the year 2018, we envision a dynamic and vibrant church of caring, witnessing, and mission-oriented parishes"
THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES
The Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP) is an autonomous Church in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It is one of the Church Provinces of the Anglican Communion – the global fellowship of autonomous Anglican Churches or Church Provinces in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and with one another. The Anglican Communion consists of some 40 autonomous, national or regional Churches spread across more than 160 countries and has a membership of over 75 million.
The ECP virtually began with the first Episcopalian worship service conducted in the Philippines by the Rev. Charles Pierce, an Episcopal Church chaplain of the U.S. Armed Forces that occupied Manila in 1898. This service was conducted on September 4, 1898 for the Americans and other English-speaking residents in Manila. The first Episcopal Church worship service conducted for Filipinos took place on December 25, 1898.
In April 1899, Hugh Nethercott and James Smiley of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew arrived to assist the American chaplains in their work. In September 1899, Frederick R. Graves, who was then serving as the Bishop of Shanghai in China, visited Manila. Appointed to oversee American church work in the Philippines and later, bishop-in-charge, he held worship services in the home of a British couple. He confirmed five English-speaking persons and advised his congregation to build a church. He also received the first seven Filipinos into the Episcopal Church.
The first Episcopal Church baptisms in Manila were done in 1900 by U.S. Army Chaplain John Marvine when he baptized three Amoy-speaking nationals and, 12 more by the end of the year. These baptisms formally started Episcopalian mission work among the Chinese in Manila.
This Church started out as an outreach chaplaincy of the Episcopal Church chaplains of the U.S. occupation armed forces in the Philippines. Temporarily placed under the oversight of Bishop Frederick Graves, it was officially created as the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the U.S.A. (PECUSA) by the PECUSA General Convention held in San Francisco on October 4-11, 1901. The same Convention elected the Rev. Charles Henry Brent as bishop. In December 1901, Brent was consecrated and became the first bishop of the Missionary District under the jurisdiction of PECUSA.
From October 11, 1901, when this Church was officially established in the Philippines, it took the church almost 36 years to produce its first Filipino clergymen with the ordination of Eduardo Longid, Albert Masferre, and Mark Suluen to the Sacred Order of Deacons on Jan. 25, 1937. It took another 22 years to produce the first Filipino Episcopalian bishop with the consecration of Benito C. Cabanban as Suffragan Bishop on February 24, 1959.
In October 1937, the Missionary District of the Philippine Islands was renamed Philippine Episcopal Church (PEC) through the action of the House of Bishops of PECUSA’s Cincinnati General Convention. This signified a change in status of the Philippine Church from that of a missionary district to a ‘diocese’ under PECUSA. Thirty-four years later (in Oct. 1971), PECUSA granted the PEC request to divide the lone diocese into three dioceses – the Dioceses of Central, Northern, and Southern Philippines. Each had a Filipino diocesan bishop – Bishop Cabanban, Bishop Eduardo Longid, and Bishop Constancio Manguramas, respectively.
With three dioceses, the PEC was organized and operated like a Church Province in the Anglican Communion. However, unlike the other Church Provinces, the PEC did not have a Metropolitan Authority because it was still under the jurisdiction of PECUSA. The three dioceses were considered dioceses of both the PEC and the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. (ECUSA).
As a diocese, the PEC had its own Constitution and Canons, National Council, National Biennial Convention, House of Bishops, and National Office, among others. Perhaps, ECUSA allowed the PEC to operate in such manner in anticipation of its becoming an autonomous Church.
Indeed, on May 1, 1990, the PEC was officially weaned from its Mother Church, ECUSA. On that historic day, it was inaugurated as an Autonomous Church and took its place as a Church Province in the Anglican Communion with the name: Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP).
When this Church was admitted as a Missionary District, its first missionary bishop – Charles Henry Brent – apparently considered it to be a church for the American and English-speaking expatriates, and later, for the unchurched in the Philippines. Bishop Brent referred to himself as chaplain to his fellow-expatriates. He wrote: “From every point of view, the most important part of our work … is among Americans and other English-speaking people.” One of the first things he did was to build a church for their spiritual needs. In concept, this was the forebear of the Church of the Holy Trinity located in the upscale ‘village’ of Forbes Park, Makati City. Holy Trinity’s priest or rector from its beginning had always been an expatriate and its congregation was and is composed mostly of expatriates. Structure-wise, this was the forerunner of the present Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John in Quezon City.
For the physical health needs of his constituency, Brent also established St. Luke’s Hospital (initially named University Hospital, now known as St. Luke’s Medical Center). He also endorsed and supported the establishment of St. Luke’s Nursing Training School (now St. Luke’s-Trinity College of Nursing) to answer the need for well-trained nurses to serve the hospital.
For the educational needs and in response to requests from the American parents for a boarding school for their children, Bishop Brent founded a school in Baguio City for American boys. First called the Baguio School and later Brent School, this school is now known as Brent International School-Baguio. At present, it is one of four Brent International Schools under the umbrella of a mother corporation called Brent International Schools Inc. The others are Brent International School-Manila/Laguna, BIS-Subic, and BIS-Boracay. In addition to children of expatriates, a good number, if not the majority, of enrollees in the Brent Schools are Filipinos from well-to-do families.
With regard to starting missionary work and establishing a church for and among the unchurched, Bishop Brent was against proselytization. Having observed the extensive work of the Roman Catholic Church in the islands, he decided not to “put up an altar over and against another altar”. He adopted a policy of “non-interference under ordinary circumstances with the adherents of other churches”. Along this line, he decided to concentrate the mission work of the newly established church on the Americans and other Caucasians in the country as well as on those geographic areas where there were non-Christians or where the unchurched were not being served by any church.
At that time, most non-Christians in this country could only be found among the migrant Chinese in Manila and the indigenous people in the North and in the South as well the Muslims in Mindanao. The ‘pagan natives’ of the North and of the South and the Muslims, living in communities in mountain jungles, had fought against the subjugation and rule of the colonial Spanish regime and had not effectively fallen under the rule and governance of Spain. It was to these people and communities that this Church went to seek its members through conversions and baptisms.
This Church succeeded in its mission and evangelism work among the indigenous people but failed among the Muslims. It converted only five young Muslims girls by uprooting these girls from their communities in Mindanao and bringing them to the Cordillera in the North, where they lived and grew with the missionaries in Christian communities. They were educated, got married, and settled in the Cordillera and did not go back to their Muslim roots in the South.
Bishop Brent’s policy of not putting an altar against another altar and the initial and subsequent concentration of missionary work on areas inhabited by non-Christians explains why most of the members of the ECP are predominantly from tribal communities. This also explains why the ECP’s work is concentrated in the northern and southern regions of the country. In like manner, it explains why it took almost four decades for this Church to produce its first Filipino clergymen and more than half-a-century to produce its first Filipino bishop, all of whom were from tribal communities. It was this Church that introduced literacy among these people and communities. It was this Church that first established schools, hospitals, clinics and roads in these oft-neglected communities. In time, the government was able to establish public schools, hospitals, and rural health centers for these communities. As a result, this Church phased out some of its schools and clinics in favor of the government providing such basic services needed by these communities.
In 1997, this Church went into visioning and crafted its VISION 2007 (which is to be attained by the year 2007 and beyond) – The Episcopal Church in the Philippines shallbe a renewed church, fully self-supporting and reaching out to proclaim God’s love throughout the nation. With this vision, the ECP can no longer be satisfied with confining its work among the unchurched and tribal people or only in particular regions where these people live. This Church needs to reach out to all Filipinos and to all regions in the country.
Towards the attainment of its vision, the ECP held a national Church Summit Conference in November 2002. The Summit aimed to review, evaluate, and assess the ECP’s performance since it became an Autonomous Church in 1990 and determine WHAT ARE TO BE DONE in terms of fresh strategies, concrete targets, and doable measures to accelerate the attainment of the vision.Toward this end, the Church Summit adopted a COVENANT OF ACTION based on the assessment. A National Clergy Conference followed in September 2003 for the continuing and concerted implementation and attainment of the three-fold elements of the ECP VISION, namely RENEWAL, REACHING OUT, and SELF-RELIANCE.
At present, the ECP consists of six dioceses – five in Luzon and one in Mindanao. A seventh diocese in Mindanao is on deck with the approved division of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines into two dioceses. An 8th diocese in the Visayas is also being contemplated, starting with the new congregation in Cebu City.
The ECP exists to declare with integrity the fulfilling of God’s mission in this world by proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God; baptizing, teaching, and nurturing new believers; responding to human needs with loving service; and seeking to transform unjust structures of society.
By the year 2018, we envision a vibrant, dynamic and mission oriented parishes.
DIOCESES - 6
1. The Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) with See in Manila
2. The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Philippines (EDSP) with See in Cotabato City
3. The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP) with See in Bontoc, Mt. Province
4. The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (EDNL) with See in Tabuk, Kalinga
5. The Episcopal Diocese of North Central Philippines (EDNCP) with See in Baguio City
6. The Episcopal Diocese of Santiago (EDS) with See in Santiago City
Ø The ECP Mission Center in Cathedral Heights, Quezon City is the National Headquarters of the ECP;
Ø Another diocese is in the making with the approved division of the EDSP;
Ø There is an ECP Area Mission in London and the rest of Europe with the Rev. Canon Missioner Alfonso Camiwet as in-charge;
Ø The ECP Fil-Aussie Area Mission in Sydney, Australia under the Rev. George Gayagay was turned over to the Archdiocese of Sydney;
Ø The intended diocese of the Visayas still remains to be a dream. However, there is already an organized mission in Cebu City and EDCP has began a worship service in Iloilo City.
2014 Episcopal Church Philippines