The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines or PCP (official name: The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines) is a growing evangelical, Bible-based Reformed church in the Philippines. It was officially founded in 1987 and the General Assembly was organized in September, 1996.
United Church of Christ in the Philippines
Main article: Protestantism in the Philippines
A previous Presbyterian church denomination was founded in 1899 by American missionaries led by Rev. James Burton Rodgers but that merged with other American-begun mainstream Protestant denominations to form the United Church of Christ in the Philippines in 1948. In 1901, the earlier American (USA) missionary-founded Presbyterian group entered into comity agreement with other denominations founded by American missionaries—the Methodist Episcopal Church, Northern Baptists, United Brethren Church, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Disciples of Christ, and Congregational churches. They agreed to "delineate the geographical work allotments for each church" and use the common name "Evangelical Church". The comity agreement eventually collapsed. There were attempts to replace it but none prospered. Finally in 1948, the Presbyterian denomination merged with other Protestant denominations to form the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
Previously in 1932, some Presbyterian congregations broke away to form the United Evangelical Church of Christ, or Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo, which is still in existence.
New Presbyterian denomination
The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines was founded by missionaries sent by the Presbyterian Church in Korea (HapDong). A new Presbyterian movement was inspired by the Reverend Choi Chang-Young, who worked in the Philippines with the Bible Society between 1974 and 1977. He was sent by the Presbyterian Church in Korea (TongHap) In 1977, Rev. Kim Hwal-Young was sent to the Philippines from Vietnam by the Foreign Mission Board of Presbyterian Church of Korea (Hapdong). However, he was unable to establish constructive relationship with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Thus, they founded the Evangelical Presbyterian Mission to restore Presbyterian Church, and was registered with the Philippine government. By this time, there were 266 Korean missionaries in the country.
More Korean missionaries joined the work. They agreed to establish a new Presbyterian denomination in 1981. The Evangelical Presbyterian Mission founded 4 local congregations by 1983. However, as the number of Korean missionaries increased, the tension among them also grew, along with conflict between the missionaries and the local Filipino church. This led to the first split from the Presbyterian Church in 1989. The formation of a breakaway congregation known as Reformed Presbyterian Church of the Philippines was led by Rev. Yooshik (Joseph) Kim, who has been a missionary sent by the Presbyterian Church in Korea (HapDong) in Manila in 1979. The Evangelical Presbyterian Mission established the Presbyterian School of Theology in 1983 (later changed to Presbyterian Theological Seminary) to train future leaders of the new Presbyterian movement.
The Reverend Theodore and Grace Hard, longtime missionaries of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in the United States who were formerly stationed in Pusan in South Korea since 1954, joined in the educational work of the new theological institution as professors and library consultants. In 1986, an agreement was reached by the leaders of Evangelical Presbyterian Mission (Hapdong), Reformed Church of the Philippines (TongHap), Presbyterian Mission in the Philippines (Koshin) and HapdongBosu Mission declaring their unity and cooperation to establish a single Presbyterian denomination in the Philippines. Later, Mission to the World of the Presbyterian Church in America joined the cooperative effort. The Reverend Lemuel Dalisay was the first Filipino to be ordained as minister. The first Presbytery was created on June 27, 1987. On September 16, 1996, the first General Assembly was held at Los Baños Presbyterian Church in Los Baños, Laguna. The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines was then organized into four presbyteries.
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church is the highest governing body and judicatory of this denomination. The General assembly meets annually during the third full week of October since 1996. In 2002, the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines participated in a series of dialogues with other Presbyterian denominations and groups in the Philippines that included Reformed Presbyterian Church of the Philippines, Daeshin Presbyterian Church in the Philippines and some independent Presbyterian groups. The dialogue resulted to the creation of an ecumenical body, the Council of Presbyterian Churches in the Philippines (CPCP) in 2003. The leadership of the council was distributed among member denominations with the Reverend Reynaldo Eusebio, who was the General Secretary of the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines at the time, as the founding Chairman.
In the early 2000s the denomination had about 150 congregations and more than 5,000 members. The worship is in English, Filipino and local dialects.
The denomination adopts the following as its official doctrinal standard :
Solas of the Reformation
The Presbyterian Church in the Philippines teaches the Solas of the Reformation.
The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines adheres to the principle of plurality of leadership/ There are two classes of officers in the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines
- teaching elders, also called Ministers of the Word, are ordained by the Presbytery after satisfying lengthy ordination process and requirements that include a strong sense of calling, an educational degree in theology, ordination trials that include oral and written assessment of biblical and doctrinal conviction, readiness and background check. They are installed in the congregation that called them. Presbyterian Church of the Philippines does not set a term limit for Teaching Elders to serve in a local church.
- ruling elders are members of a local congregation that are elected and ordained by church Session to serve for a definite term.
Both the teaching elders and ruling elders govern a local church and have equal authority in governance. The teaching elder is always the Moderator of the Session. Every congregation is represented by an equal number of teaching and ruling elders to the Presbytery and General Assembly. A church is classified organized only when there is a teaching elder and at least two ruling elders. Unorganized churches are under the direct care of the Presbytery.
The deacons are members of the local congregation that are elected and ordained to take charge of temporal affairs of the church.
The denomination consists of about 300 churches and 10 regional presbyteries.
- 1. Northern Luzon Presbytery: Moderator - Rev. Pablo Wangale
- 2. Central Luzon North Presbytery: Moderator : - Rev. Jose Pindea Jr.
- 3. Central Luzon Presbytery: Moderator - Rev. Faustino Oraye
- 4. National Capital Region Presbytery – North Metro: Moderator- Rev. Nelson M. Dangan
- 5. National Capital Region Presbytery – South Metro:Moderator- Rev. Angelito Carillo
- 6. Southern Luzon Presbytery: Moderator – Rev. Roderick Lanuza
- 7. Visayas Presbytery: Moderator – Rev. Manuel Maca
- 8. Western Visayas Presbytery : Moderator - Rev.
- 9. Mindanao Presbytery: Moderator – Rev. Valeriano Geloca
- 10. Cavite Presbytery: Moderator – Rev. Nelson M. Carillo 
The headquarters of the church is located in Metro Manila. The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country.
Seminary and Theological Education
The Presbyterian Theological Seminary was established primarily to train future leaders of the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines. The seminary was previously called Presbyterian School of Theology. The seminary opened its doors to leaders of other denominations and other nations. The seminary trains Filipino ministerial candidates as well as foreign students from Myanmar, Kenya, Nigeria, Korea, Bangladesh, Kenya, Gambia, Palestine and Vietnam.
History of the seminary
The School of Theology was started in 1983 with ten students. The original name Presbyterian School of Theology, was changed to Presbyterian Theological Seminary (PTS) in 1985. It is located in Dasmarinas, Cavite since 1987. PTS is the official ministerial training school of the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines. While there are regional bible seminaries operated under the denomination, its graduates are required by the church to take additional courses at PTS. This policy has been contested in the General Assembly. To date, every motion to change the policy is defeated by majority votes.
- 1983 Presbyterian School of Theology
- 1985 Presbyterian Theological Seminary
- 2010 PTS College and Advanced Studies
Member of the World Reformed Fellowship and the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.
Practices and Challenges
Presbyterian Church of the Philippines is a confessional church. It is conservative in its theology and evangelical in its mission. It maintains a high view of the Bible as infallible, inerrant and inspired word of God in every part and its entirety. Pastors diligently teach the Reformed faith to new adherents. New members are initiated through membership classes with emphasis on Calvinistic doctrines. Biblical teaching and preaching characterizes pastoral ministry. Leaders are carefully selected based on spiritual maturity and giftedness instead of popularity and social status. Many churches still do not have ordained elders and deacons. However, churches that do not have ruling elders are under the care of the Presbytery through a minister who has been assigned as interim Moderator. More than half of all churches do not have elders. It is required for ministers to obtain a degree in theology as a requirement for ordination. Hymns and contemporary gospel music are used in worship. It practices church discipline. It does not allow ordination of women as a matter of church policy but some churches have Bible-women who are basically women pastors. Only ordained Ministers are authorized to administer baptism and Lord's supper or communion. Normally, baptism by sprinkling or pouring is administered to infants of believing parents. In some cases, baptism by dipping or immersion is done. A profession of faith in Christ is required for new members. It receives new members without requiring rebaptism those who previously received trinitarianbaptism in other churches including the Roman Catholic Church. Communion is open to any baptized adults and older children who were confirmed by the Minister through a profession of faith but excludes individuals who are under church censure.
Despite the phenomenal growth of this denomination, PCP had a relatively long list of weaknesses. Among the challenges the denomination faces is the lack of connection to other Presbyterian bodies outside the Philippines. Ministers who migrated to other countries are not readily absorbed by local Reformed and Presbyterian bodies due to the absence of PCP's mutual connections with those denominations notwithstanding their theological affinity. This situation forces migrant ministers to join other denominations, instead, like Baptists, Pentecostals, Methodists, etc. which are more open and accommodating. Those who opted to join Presbyterian denominations in the United States were required to go through their ordination process. To date, the sending denominations of the missionaries in the Philippines have not affirmed the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines as their coequal and fraternal church but only as a mission field. PCP's affiliation with World Reformed Fellowship (WRF), which is a fellowship and not a council, is based on agreement on Reformed orthodoxy and partnership.
Native leaders complain about the paternalistic attitude of many foreign missionaries who are continually trying to control the denomination and churches. Foreign mission groups have difficulty working together for a common cause. The lack of cooperation between mission bodies also threaten the unity of the Filipino church leaders especially those who are loyal to their respective "patron-missionaries". Tension among missionaries are also evident. Some missionaries duplicate the errors of the many Western missionaries in the early years of Protestant Christianity in the Philippines such as spirit of superiority and lack of trust on the local leaders' financial management ability. The proliferation of theological institutions within the denomination attest to the denomination's lack of control over the mission agencies that operate them.
The Presbyterian Church of the Philippines, unlike other Presbyterian and Reformed denominations such as the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo(The United Evangelical Church of Christ or the Unida Christian Church) in the Philippines and Christian Reformed Church, does not have official stand on socio-political issues. However, individual members can freely express their personal views on those issues.
On June 11, 2013, a special General Assembly was held to approve and launch the new 7-year vision of the denomination "PCP RINGS 2020". It is an acronym for "Relational, Indigenous, Numerical, Global and Social growth", a thrust of PCP for the next seven years. It also recommended the establishment of a mission program called "Diaspora ministry" which aims to rally the support and cooperation of many PCP members in other countries and establish PCP congregations in those countries.
- Guillermo, Merlyn L., and L. P. Verora. Protestant churches and missions in the Philippines. Philippines: World Vision Philippines, 1982.
- Kim, Hwal. From Asia to Asia: A history of cross-cultural missionary work of the Presbyterian Church in Korea (Hapdong), 1959-1992 (D.Miss. Dissertation). Jackson: Reformed Theological Seminary, 1993.
- Kwantes, Anne C.. Presbyterian missionaries in the Philippines: conduits of social change (1899-1910). Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1989.
- Nam, Hu-soo. Missions strategies of Korean Presbyterian missionaries in Central and Southern Philippines: In Light of Paul's Missions Strategies. Cheltenham Pa.: Hermit Kingdom Press, 2006.
- Park, Timothy Kiho, Missionary Movement of the Korean Church. Seoul: Institute for Asian Mission, 1999.
Presbyterians in the twenty-first century have a vision of ministry that is vibrant and inviting and reflects the love and justice of Jesus Christ.
The denomination has set four mission priorities for the next phase of our life as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
Evangelism and Witness – We are called to invite all people of faith, repentance, and the abundant life of God in Jesus Christ, to encourage congregations in joyfully sharing the gospel, and through the power of the Holy Spirit to grow in membership and discipleship.
Justice and Compassion – We are called to address wrongs in every aspect of life and the whole of creation, intentionally working with and on behalf of poor, oppressed, and disadvantaged people as did Jesus Christ, even at risk to our corporate and personal lives.
Spirituality and Discipleship – We are called to deeper discipleship through Scripture, worship, prayer, study, stewardship, and service, and to rely on the Holy Spirit to mold our lives more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Leadership and Vocation – We are called to lead by Jesus Christ’s example, to identify spiritual gifts, and to equip and support Christians of all ages for faithful and effective servant leadership in all parts of the body of Christ.
With the knowledge that in life and death we belong to God, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues the journey with hope and confidence as we move toward a third century of witness and service to a world in need of love.