Felix Manalo, born on May 10, 1886 in Taguig, Philippines, was baptized a Roman Catholic. In his teenage years, Manalo became dissatisfied with Roman Catholic theology. According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, the establishment of the Philippine Independent Church or the Aglipayan Church was his major turning point but Manalo remained uninterested since its doctrines were mainly Catholic. He started seeking through various denominations, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1904, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church, entered the Methodist seminary, and became a pastor for a while. Manalo left the Methodist church in 1913, and associated himself with atheist and agnostic peers.
On November 1913, Manalo secluded himself with religious literature and unused notebooks in a friend's house in Pasay, instructing everyone in the house not to disturb him. He emerged out of seclusion three days later with his new-found doctrines.
Manalo, together with his wife, went to Punta, Santa Ana, Manila on July 1914, and started preaching. He left the congregation in the care of his first ordained minister, and returned to Taguig to evangelize. In Taguig, he was ridiculed and stoned in his meetings with locals. He was later able to baptize a few converts, including some of his persecutors. He later registered his new-found religion as the Iglesia ni Cristo (Tagalog for Church of Christ) on July 27, 1914 at the Bureau of Commerce as a corporation sole with himself as the first executive minister. Expansion followed as INC started building congregations in the provinces in 1916. The first three ministers were ordained in 1919.
In 1922, the INC's first schism, led by Teofilo Ora, one of INC's first ministers, resulted in the loss of several congregations, along with their church buildings, in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. Ora founded Iglesia Verdadero de Cristo which was later changed to Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus. By 1924, the INC had about 3,000 to 5,000 adherents in 43 or 45 congregations in Manila and six nearby provinces.
By 1936, the INC had 85,000 members. This figure grew to 200,000 by 1954. A Cebu congregation was built in 1937—the first to be established outside of Luzon, and the first in the Visayas. The first mission to Mindanao was commissioned in 1946. Meanwhile, its first concrete chapel was built in Sampaloc, Manila in 1948. Adherents fleeing for the provinces away from Manila, where the Japanese forces were concentrated during the World War II, were used for evangelization. As Manalo's health began to fail in the 1950s, Eraño Manalo started to take leadership of the church. Felix Manalo died on April 12, 1963.
The first overseas INC mission was sent in 1968 on its 54th anniversary. The INC started operating a radio station in 1969. In 1973, the church established a congregation in Honolulu, Hawaii on July 27, and in San Francisco, California (both in the United States). The Ministerial Institute of Development, currently the New Era University College of Evangelical Ministry, was founded in 1974 in Quiapo, Manila. It moved to its current location in Quezon City in 1978. As of 1995, it had 4,500 students and five extension schools in Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga and Rizal. In 1971, the INC Central Office building was built in Quezon City. Fifteen years later, the Central Temple was added in the complex. The Tabernacle, a tent-like multipurpose building which can accommodate up to 4,000 persons, was finished in 1989. The complex also includes the New Era University, a higher-education institution run by the INC.
Eraño Manalo died on August 31, 2009. His son, Eduardo V. Manalo, succeeded him as executive minister upon his death.
In September 2011 the INC bought 59 parcels of land in Scenic, South Dakota for approximately $700,000.00. Scenic is a ghost town in western South Dakota. No plans for the land have been revealed by the church.
In February 28, 2012 the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) holds simultaneous Grand Evangelical Missions (GEM) nationwide as part of its campaign for the year 2012 for the intensive propagation of God’s words. One of the 19 venues for the Grand Evangelical Mission is the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. The INC’s five ecclesiastical districts in Metro Manila, along with the other districts in the provinces of Bulacan and the Calabarzon participated in this event. GEM held at the following venues: Isabela Sports Complex, Isabela; Jose V. Yap Sports and Recreational Complex, San Jose, Tarlac; Gloria Town Plaza, Oriental Mindoro; Pili Freedom Sports Complex, Pili, Camarines Sur; La Union National High School Sports Complex, San Fernando City, La Union; Paglaum Sports Complex, Bacolod City; Cebu City Fuente Osmena; Tacloban City Convention Center; Pagadian City Gym, Zamboanga del Sur; Limketkai Center, Cagayan de Oro City; Davao Agro-Football Stadium, Davao City; Gen. Santos City Gym; La Paz Plaza, Iloilo; Butuan City Sports Complex; Odiongan Sports Complex, Odiongan, Romblon; Puerto Princesa Coliseum, Palawan; Coron Gym, Palawan; and Sta. Cruz Plaza, Sta. Cruz, Marinduque.
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