Iglesia ni Cristo
Church of Christ - Iglesia de Cristo

Kirche Christi
(German); Igreja de Cristo (Portuguese); Eglise du Christ (French)
The gathering of God's children in the Far West
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The gathering of God's children in the Far West started on July 27, 1968
in Ewa Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

How the pioneering brethren came together in Hawaii

It was with a whistle of the tune of  "Ako'y Iglesia ni Cristo " (I am a member of the Church of Christ) that pioneering   brethren of Honolulu Congregation   first  met and  were  brought  together.   Most of  them were  migrant    workers    from Philippines who had sought and found greener pastures in that part of the United States.

Longing to uphold their faith in this foreign soil, the brethren unrelentingly searched one another. Some would look for their fellow Christians even after work hours, during weekends and holidays. Through God's help, their number grew quickly. As early as 1967, the Iglesia ni Cristo migrants to Hawaii started conducting prayer group meetings and also kept a regular correspondence with the Church Administration in the Philippines informing them of the brethren's activities and their thirst for the spiritually  uplifting congregational worship services.

Knowing the great significance of the congregational worship services to their spiritual growth, the group held devotional prayers and wrote to the Church Administration requesting that a minister of the gospel be sent to their place to overee the brethren and attend to their spiritual needs. They were admonished by the Church Administration to continue praying to God, so that He may grant their request at the opportune time.

The great spiritual need of the brethren in the Far West

Looking back at the Church's historic gathering of brethren in the Far West, a precursory event was the visit made by some brethren from Hawaii to the Church's Central Office, then found at the FGR Building in Makati.  In their sincere longing for God, for the guidance of the Church Administration, and for their souls' spiritual nourishment they poured their hearts to Brother Erano Manalo. Tearfully, they requested the Executive Minister that a local congregation be established in Hawaii to formalize their being members of the body of Christ and be completely united with the Church Administration in the Philippines.

The answer given to them by the Executive Minister was the same as what Brother Felix Manalo used to say to brethren with similar requests before: It would be hard because there were not enough ministers then. Moreover, supervision would be difficult because the place is very far.

However, the brethren from Hawaii cried to him and said, "What now, Brother? Are we not going to be saved? We have not been able to worship."  When the Executive Minister heard this, he told them to set devotional prayers and God would make a way if it is His will that a congregational worship service be established in Hawaii-

Moved not only by the great spiritual need of the brethren in America but also by the spirit of prophecy, Brother Erano Manalo then summoned Brother Cipriano Sandoval and Brother Pedro Meimban and told them that it was time to give due attention to the petition of the brethren overseas. He instructed the two ministers to prepare for a long trip to America.

From the Far East to the Far West

The setting couldn't have been more perfect. Hawaii, America's 50th state is  also among its states in the Far West (The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1976, p. 88). That it was in this island state where the Church would establish its pioneering mission for its worldwide expansion was not a matter of coincidence, but of divine providence. Biblical prophecy decrees:

"From the far east will I bring your offspring, and from the far west I will gather you" (Isa. 43:5, James Moffatt Translation)

And so, it came to pass that in this Aloha State in the Pacific, particularly in its capital and economic center,   Honolulu,  the Church of Christ that emerged in the Far East made its propitious entry into the a Western hemisphere.

The initial gathering of God's Children in the Far west, in Honolulu, Hawaii

So, on July 27,1968, the Executive Minister, Brother Erano G. Manalo,  along with two ministers of the gospel, Brothers Cipriano Sandoval and Pedro Miemban set foot in Honolulu, Hawaii .  They looked for the brethren and gathered them in a small house at Ewa Beach , Honolulu, Hawaii. 

2-EGM Hawaii Brethren
2-EGM Trip Hawaii
Brother Erano G. Manalo along with his small entourage from the Philippines in the Far East or in the farthest region of the Eastern Hemisphere flew across the Pacific Ocean through the International Date Line (roughly following the 180° longitude) to the farthest region of the Western Hemisphere or the Far West where the Island of Hawaii is located.


On   the 54th year after the Church of Christ's re-emergence in the Far East, Brother Erano Manalo officiated at the  first ever worship service gathering   of the children of God in these last days outside the Philippines which marked   the   fulfillment  of   God's prophetic pronouncement about the gathering of His sons and daughters in the Far West, On a warm afternoon on July 27, 1968, at the residence of Brother Jesus and Sister Marciana Agapay, a small sugar plantation   house  situated   along Bond Street in Ewa Beach; Honolulu, Hawaii, more than 40 brethren gathered to worship the Lord God.

Thus, the second part of the prophecy in Isaiah 43:5-"from the far west I will gather you"—was fulfilled through the instrumentality of the Executive Minister of the Church, Brother Erano G. Manalo. He is God's instrument in establishing Honolulu, as the first local congregation of the Church in the Far West and in the Church's expansion in various parts of the world.

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The old house at 1782 Bond Street, Ewa Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii where the first worship service in the Far West was held
A  PROMISE   FULFILLED:  As  God foretold,  His children in the last days would be gathered in the far West Photos show Brother Erano G, Manalo white unveiling the scroll (right) declaring the official establishment of the local congregation of Honolulu, Hawaii.

2-EGM Hawaii Brethren2
Brethren in Honolulu, Hawaii after the First Worship Service outside the Philippines and in the Far West.
2-EGM Hawaii Scroll 

The gathering of God's Children in San Francisco, California
From Hawaii, the Executive Minister went directly to San Francisco, California. Brother Erafio  Manalo,  arrived in San Francisco as a shepherd out to gather the scattered sheep of the flock. He first came to this cosmopolitan city in America's Far West state of California on the late evening of July 29, 1968. The following day, he met with some of the San Francisco pioneers and admonished them to intensify their search for other brethren. By the time he returned to San Francisco after visiting some other brethren in Los Angeles and New York, Brother  Erano   Manalo had already appointed Brother Cipriano Sandoval as resident minister of the then newly established local congregation of San Francisco. A day before the Executive Minister returned  to the Philippines, he officiated at  the first congregational worship service of San Francisco Congregation on August 18, 1968. During that occasion, the first set of Church officers took their oath of office and a scroll was unfolded and signed by the congregation's founding members, similar to what was done weeks earlier in Honolulu, Hawaii, on July 27 of that same year.

2-EGM-first SFO worship2
2-EGM-first SFO worship
Above: The garage where the congregation's inaugural worship service was held on August 18, 1968 at which the Executive Minister Brother Erano G. Manalo, officiated.

<<<: Brother Erano G- Manalo (seated, center) with Brother Cipriano P. Sandoval (seated, second from left) pose with some of the founding members and the then newly inducted officers of the San Francisco Congregation in California

San Francisco Congregation was the first local congregation to be established in the US mainland. The proclamation was made on August 14, 1968 by Brother Erano G. Manalo at the last leg of his groundbreaking US visit that year (the same visit that establish the Honolulu Congregation in Hawaii), which marked the fulfillment of the prophesied gathering of God's children in the Far West.

The First house of worship in the US mainland

After the establishment of San Fran- cisco Congregation, the number of local congregations starting  out as committee prayer groups giew instantaneously in the West. But San Francisco was not to be outdone. The second eldest of the Church's foreign :ongregations set another record by  being the first congregation in US mainland to acquire its own house of worship.

It took San Francisco congregation only less than three years before it could have a house of worship of its own. By the end of 1970, under the leadership of Brother Eddie San Gabriel as resident minister, the building situated at the corner of Clay and Divisadero  Streets was purchased and converted into a suitable place of worship where the brethren would hold   their   religious services. The dedication service for the house of worship was held in February 1971.  The imposing edifice with trademark Ionic columns; also housed the Church's first district office outside the Philippines shores. The District of California established in 1976 as a supervisory arm of the Central Office over all local congregations not only in the state but also throughout western hemisphere  at  that time.



The Iglesia ni Cristo Chapel in the corner of Clay and Divisadero Streets in  San Francisco, California, U.S.A.  The first house of worship of the Iglesia ni Cristo in the U.S. mainland, purchased and renovated in the late 1970 and dedicated to God in February 1971.

 

The gathering of God's Children in the Hawaiian Islands

It is interesting to note that Oahu, in Hawaiian tongue, means "gathering place.  This island is where the first congregation (Honolulu) the Church of Christ in the Far West is located—which is also the first congregation outside the Philippines.  This mark the beginning of the gathering of the church's members in the Far West and to the rest of Western hemisphere and of other parts of the world.

From Oahu, it didn't take long for the Church to extend across the island of Kauai, with the birth of what is now known as the Kalaheo Congregation, and in the island of Maui, where the congregation of what is now named Wailuku Congregation started. Then arose the congregation of Keaau, whose establishment mark the church's entry to the volcanic Hawaii Grande or the Big Island. This was followed by the blossoming of the Maili congregation (also in Oahu) and Naalehu  congregation (Big Island).  Thus, on the first decade alone, since the historic signing of the scroll (the declaration of the church's setting foot in the Far West), the mission had already spread to four major islands of Hawaii, the 50th state of America.

In the following years, the Church  set foot on the Pineapple Island"——Laanai where an extension was opened named after the island itself. This,, plus two morecongregations in Oahuu (Wahiawa,established in October 1978,, and Waipahuu, January 1980) and one in the Big Island ((Kailua Konaa Extension in September 1983) and in Maui   (Lahaina in February 1986) mounted up to 11 the total number of congregations and extensions that emerged in the state within that period. On the first score of Church's mission in Hawaii, worship services were already being held in five of the state's eight major islands. .

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Lahaina House of Worship
2-chapel kalaheo
Kaaheo House of Worship
2-chapel maili
Maili House of Worship
 2-chapel honolulu
Honolulu House of Worship
2-chapel waipahu
 Waipahu House of Worship
2-chapel naalehu
Naalehu House of Worship
2-chapel waihawa
Waihawa House of Worship

During the next decade, four more congregations followed. These were the congregations of Kaneohe (March 1993) and New Era (July 1995) in Oahu; Lihue (February 1994) in Ka~_ ai; and Honokaa (June 1997) in the Big Island. This development came in time for the dawning of another milestone that highlighted the Church's 30th year of   global   expansion—the   restoration of the old house along Bond Street in Ewa, where it all began.  Click link to see the updated list of locales, congregations and GWS in Hawaii. Directory of Iglesia ni Cristo Places of Worship outside the Philippines.

The humble plantation house is now a museum

Today,  the   humble plantation house   amidst  sugar   cane   fields where the  first worship  service of the children of God in the Far  West took place stands as a symbol of the undying determination of the pioneer members to keep their faith and as a constant reminder to the next generations of the handiwork of God Almighty.

On July 23, 1998, in celebration of the 30th year of the Church of Christ in the West, that house in Ewa Beach was declared as a historical property and was established as a museum. That simple house was restored to its former simplicity after the Church had acquired it from the Hawaiian government. A team in Hawaii and another in the Philippines worked on its restoration. No less than the Deputy Executive Minister  of  the Church, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, led the unveiling of its marker.


NOW A HISTORIC PROPERTY: The plantation house where the first worship service of the Church of Christ outside the Philippines was held is now a site museum.  >>>>>
2-Museum Hawaii

God's planting in Hawaii has grown and will continue to grow

God's planting which first sprouted in Honolulu in the island of Oahu, Hawaii has blossomed to a full-grown ecclesiastical district that has since included under its jurisdiction all the congregations and sub-congregations not only within the Hawaiian islands but also in other remote territories, islands, and atolls across the Pacific.

Before the 30th year of the Church of Christ in the West, the Church Administration handed down a decision to consolidate all the  congregations in Hawaii together with  those in Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia, and American Samoa into one ecclesiastical district. Thus, by   the time the Church marked its diamond anniversary in the Philippines in 1989, the Hawaii-Pacific District Office was already functioning. Among its initial roster of congregations, extensions and group worship services outside the Hawaiian State were those of Harmon and Apra Heights (Guam);   Saipan, Tinian,  and  Rota   (Northern   Mariana Islands); Yap (Micronesia); Ebeye and Majuro (Marshall Islands); and Pago- Pago (American Samoa).   2-district hawaii 
The office building of the Hawaii-Pacific District

Indeed, Hawaii will forever be etched history of the Church as the place where the spark of its westward and global expansion was ignited. But here's definitely more to it than that. For, the expansion of God's ends of the earth mission has never stopped in Hawaii; it has only been this land whose, "life" according to the  the   state's motto, is "perpetuated in righteousness".  

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