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Yesterday, July 27, was the 98th anniversary of the foundation of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ). This big milestone, shy of two years of being around for a century, is celebrated by INC congregations around the world.
In Sydney, the INC faithful gathered in The Hills Centre in Castle Hill to celebrate the event.
My 93-year old mother and I were fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend this big event, named “You’re Invited” after the Evangelising musical it featured in the celebration’s program which started at 6.45pm.
The Hills Performing Centre was abuzz with happy conversations and laughter as a big crowd of people waited to go in.
As my mother and I were ushered in the hall, I noted that the choir (which I later learned was 120-strong), all dressed in white tops or jackets, were already on the stage. There was an information video with interesting details being shown. It was interesting to know that since INC was founded and formally registered in the Philippine Government by Felix Y Manalo on July 27, 1914, at present it is now in 93 countries and seven territories comprising 110 nationalities.
Some minutes later, the INC ministers from various Metro Sydney localities went up the stage and seated in front of the four rows of singers. Then the choir led the crowd in singing hymns.
INC in Australia District Minister Ranniel Serreno read parts of the bible and other books which prophesied the establishment of the church in a place made up of islands in the Far East and that church being INC.
Mr Serreno’s reading of the passages of the bible foreshadowing the church also growing to the Far West and at the same time reminding the followers of the end of the earth, was spell-binding. As the auditorium-capacity crowd listened in silence, one could not but feel an almost ethereal sensation. His emotion-laden prayer which thanked and asked God for more blessings to the INC, all the members, and guests was responded to by INC members with “yes” or “amen”.
The preaching and prayer were followed by a video showing INC’s various initiatives involving the community in different parts of the globe.
Then the awaited musical “You’re Invited” — with performance by the young members of the church. The musical depicted how the young people learn to form a relationship with God through being involved in bible study groups. The group had the crowd enthralled with their powerful rendition of songs and precision-synchronised choreography, and no doubt appreciated the messages of God being loving and waiting for the believers to join him in the Kingdom in heaven.
Aside from enjoying the presentation, Mother and I were glad to also meet Mrs. Senen Alma, the 92-yeard old mother-in-law of Romy Cayabyab. It was great to meet up again with Romy’s wife, Verma, and see as well a few members of the Filipino-Australian media and community organisations: Neria and Doc Tito Soliman, Tom and Rowena Baena, and Bobby Lastica.
Congratulations to everyone in INC on this important milestone as well as for a very successful celebration.
I am a Catholic but feel comfortable to say that INC plays a great role in the community through worship and initiatives which build lives. My view is that both religions promote the Holy Presence.