Yellow leaves were falling, signs of Autumn, when I was driven home past twelve noon by Reverend Noel Lapatha with his wife, Manang Rosina after the worship service conducted in the rented Studio Room of North Central Recreation Facility at 90 Sinclair Street. The blowing Prairie wind is getting cold; but, my heart is exultant and warm. A new congregation is in the offing sans regional distinction and denominational affiliation.
The original enablers made a covenant among themselves to come together on the common ground that only by God’s grace whereby humankind is saved. In Christ Jesus there is neither Ilocano, nor Hiligaynon, Tagalog, Sugbohanon, Waray, Kapampangan, Bicolano, Pangalatok. Affiliation of Methodist, Presbyterian, or Baptist; or Pentecostal does not matter as long as the person is looking for a church to worship.
Rev Ed Capillar explained he was prodded of a soft whisper to form a new congregation affirmed by the two other “retired” ministers, Reverends Noel Lapatha and Rolly Vinluan, concurred by Rev Jacob Pedrina, the designated Pastor of the soon to be registered new congregation. The 25th of September, is the first Sunday the congregation gathered.
The four ministers took turns in leading the congregation in her first Sunday of worship service. Rev Vinluan led the Invocation and he prayed, “O God, our Creator, we gather in this place together seeking to know you. We gather together as a community of your people to know your will and your way. Grant unto us, O God, the comfort of your grace and the power of your presence. Look not what we have done wrong in the past, but accept us as we are and where we are. Lead us to where you would have us go to do, and what you would have us do. This we pray, in the name and Spirit of the Risen Christ our Saviour, Amen!”
Followed by congregational singing, Rev Capillar led the Hymn, “To God Be the Glory”, with Paul Vinluan accompanying with his portable organ.
To God be the glory great things he has done
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son
Who yielded His life atonement for sin?
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
The pastoral prayer was delivered by the Pastor designate of the newly formed congregation. Rev Jacob Pedrina interceding in behalf of the people prayed, “We are grateful Oh Lord for the presence of each and every one of us to gather in this place. You called us from different places of this city to unite. To unite our spirit in You in spite that we have different background, different experienced and status quo in life. Hindi naging dahilan upang kami hindi magkatipon kungdi upang ipakita na may Kristong tumatawag sa amin na magkaisa at magawang matanggap ang isat-isa”
The word was delivered by Rev Lapatha. The privilege and honor was given to him not because he is the most senior among them all; but, it is a recognition to what he had done for the Filipino Community in Winnipeg. Rev Lapatha is the pastor that first started forming a Filipino congregation when they arrived in Canada. Rev Lapatha prefaced his message by recalling the history – not His Story – how the evangelicals and the mainstream Protestant denominations like Presbyterians, the Methodists, and Lutherans started in the Philippines when the Americans came after defeating Spain.
That American missionaries came together and arrived to an agreement, which was known as Committee Agreement. The Methodists were assigned to the north (Luzon area), the Presbyterians went to Central Visayas, while the Baptists was assigned in Western Visayas. Mindanao is free for all.
“Why are you here”, Rev Lapatha posed the question. Are you here because of fellowship? Or, are you here to sing hymns, or hear a sermon, or pray? “You are here”, continued the Speaker, “because you come to worship God”. The essence of God’s people why they gather together is to worship Him.
In the denouement Rev Lapatha briefly expounded the passage in the Book of Corinthians and another passage in the Book of Ephesians. That the church is like a human body,she has many functions. That the work of the church is carried out by people endowed with various spiritual gifts. Some are evangelists, some are teachers, and some are apostles to equip the members of the church.
After the worship service, exchange of ideas circulated on the question what would be the name of the new local congregation. Owing to the demographics of those that joined the first worship service, what seems to float around is the term “cosmopolitan” descriptive of the profile of those that joined the launching of the new church.
Regardless of the corporate name the new congregation will adopt the common concession about the name is, it ought to be inclusive. Denominational differences is recognized, amazingly, however, no one have difficulty singing in exaltation the closing hymn, “Victory in Jesus, my Saviour forever…”
My personal appreciation to Jonalyn, a kababayan, the staff on duty that ushered us in welcoming as we enter the gymnasium….maraming salamat po, Kabayan.