Philippines AG Celebrates 75th Anniversary
The 75th anniversary of the Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God was held at the Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City (part of metro Manila), April 28 - May 1, 2015. The conference theme was "Unrestrained" taken from Acts 28:31.
Rev. Doug Clay, general treasurer of the Assemblies of God, USA, Rev. David Mohan, general superintendent of the India Assemblies of God and vice chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, and Dr. Charles Self from AG Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, were the principal speakers.
Several services in the conference focused on the next generation with altar calls to missions and to church planting, challenging young adults to give their life to God's purposes. Hundreds came forward expressing their willingness to serve God in reaching the unreached. There was a strong commitment to "unrestrained" ministry.
"At one point, I encouraged people to just take some time to worship the Lord in their prayer language," Clay says. "The prayers went on and on, like a wave of worship in the Spirit. I believe it was reflective of their hunger and desire for things of the Lord."
The messages by the all speakers focused primarily on planting the church in places where it does not exist, and on unreached peoples. There was a video presentation and a call for Jumaa prayer (focused intercession for Muslims) and the major unreached groups in the Southern Philippines.
More than 5,000 people attended the opening night rally and services were full throughout the conference. "There was a strong spirit of unity throughout the General Council," Clay says. "There was an overall sense of anticipation in looking forward to what God had in store for the future."
Russ Turney, regional director for AGWM for Asia Pacific, states: "The 75th Anniversary was a time of great spiritual renewal, exceptional worship, prayer, and fellowship. Doug Clay, David Mohan, and Dr. Charles Self brought timely and powerful messages throughout the week."
"There was a strong sense of excitement about the vision and mission that was presented," Clay says. "Church planting is a high value still strongly embraced. I was also impressed by the youthfulness of those in leadership and at the same time the intentional honoring of seasoned leaders, the pioneers who established the foundation - it was an incredible culture of honor."
The Philippines was introduced to the Assemblies of God in 1926 when the first AG missionary couple, Benjamin and Cornelia Caudle, arrived in Manila. But due to health issues, the couple returned to the U.S. after two years. In fact, the most significant contribution to establishing the AG came as a result of Filipinos who had found Christ in the U.S. returning home and sharing their faith.
In May 1939, Rodrigo (Rudy) Esperanza, a Filipino, returned to the islands to bring the Filipino workers together to create a Philippines organization affiliated with the U.S. AG. In July 1940, the Philippines District Council was formed. In 1953, the organization ceased to be a district of the U.S. Fellowship and the General Council of the Assemblies of God in the Philippines was established, with Esperanza as its general superintendent.
By 1995, the Philippines AG had shown consistent growth as 3,846 churches and preaching points had been established with 122,760 baptized members and 2,900 national ministers.
However, since 1995, the church has seen exponential growth. Statistics from 2014 reveal the Philippines AG now has 14,868 churches and preaching points and 222,529 baptized members with an additional 430,642 attending adults and children (680,885 total members and adherents). The Philippines AG now also has 5,359 credentialed ministers and 3,057 lay ministers.
AG World Missions presented a plaque to the Philippines AG leadership honoring the Philippines Assemblies of God for 75 years of ministry.
"A strong foundation was laid by early pioneers, and growth has continued over these past seven decades," Turney said. "The national leaders, pastors, ministers, and registrants [at the 75th anniversary] were inspired to live Spirit-filled lives and finish the work Jesus gave His Church. AGWM personnel are committed to partnering with national workers in taking the gospel to the unreached and forgotten."
Clay agrees. "There is a great love and cooperation with our missionaries and the Philippines Assemblies of God," he said. "They (Philippines AG) have a great openness and appreciation to what missionaries bring to the table in the effort to reach the nation for Christ."
Bill Snider, area director for AGWM, said, "In over 25 years in the Philippines, this is one of the best General Councils that I've had the privilege to attend. There was a major focus on evangelism, church planting, and missions. The Holy Spirit was present in a strong call to the next generation to serve God. The future course for the Philippines Assemblies of God was clearly set. Each of the speakers added a significant component to the overall theme, 'Unrestrained.'"
During the final day and the business session, Rev. Reynaldo Calusay was returned to office as the general superintendent. The new assistant general superintendent is Rev. Walter Caput. Rev. Alex Fuentes was re-elected as general secretary as well as Rev. Rene Cagadas as general treasurer.
For more information about the Philippines 75th anniversary General Council, including photos, videos, and posts from the event, see the Philippines General Council Facebook page.