by Rosanny Encoy
PGCAG started as a district under USAG when the Philippines was a colony of the United States but Pentecostal works began even before PGCAG was organized. In fact, Filipino Pentecostal churches were branded as cults because of the lack of government recognition. As US policy, any organization must register with the US Consul General in Manila to operate in the Philippines. The organization’s head in the country must be a missionary or church leader appointed by the home body in the US. Thus, it was a high time for Pentecostal ministers to officially organize themselves and secure government recognition in order to avail of legal protection, rights, and privileges, such as the authority to solemnize marriage. They also believed that the organization would help them stabilize the fellowship and unify their efforts of spreading the Pentecostal message guided by standard doctrine and practice.
The Philippines District Council of the Assemblies of God (PDCAG)
Meantime in the US, Rodrigo Esperanza and Esteban Lagmay made a formal request to USAG to send a missionary to the Philippines to organize AG work in the country. USAG Foreign Missions Department granted the request and sent Leland Johnson for the task. Also, Esperanza returned to his hometown Pozzorubio and helped in gathering unaffiliated Filipino Pentecostal ministers pioneering in the country which paved way to organizational convention held on March 21-27, 1940 in San Nicolas, Villasis, Pangasinan. Aside from Johnson, who was appointed head by the USAG, the following were elected as executive officers at the convention: Superintendent – Leeland Johnson (Appointed); Secretary – Rodrigo Esperanza; Treasurer – Pedro Castro; General Presbyters – Rosendo Alcantara, Hermogenes Abrenica.
The body also decided on the following sectional divisions for the country, each with its own set of officers: Section 1 – Ilocos Norte and Cagayan Valley; Section 2 – Ilocos Sur and Abra; Section 3 – La Union and Mountain Province; Section 4 – Pangasinan to Albay and Sorsogon; Section 5 – Eastern Visayas Islands; Section 6 – Western Visayas and Islands; Section 7 – Mindanao and Islands.
The Philippines District Council of the Assemblies of God (PDCAG) was duly registered at the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on
July 11, 1940.
Hardly had the newly organized group taken off when the Philippines became one of the battlegrounds of World War II. All missionaries were imprisoned in concentration camps for the duration of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Church members were scattered despite the Filipino pastors’ efforts to continue the ministry. After the war, the missionaries were released and sent back to the US. Meanwhile, the Filipino pastors lost no time in picking up the work interrupted by the war.
The Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God (PGCAG)
With the new freedom, the work expanded to other provinces and missionaries started coming from the US to aid the work. On Wednesday, April 21, during the 1953 annual convention, the body in session unanimously accepted the resolution to turn the District Council into a General Council independent of the mother organization in the US. The following were elected executive
officers thereafter: Superintendent – R. Esperanza; Assistant General Superintendent – J. Maypa; Secretary – S. Obaldo; Treasurer – C. Barcena; General Presbyter – B. Mangingan, G. Dunn, P. Masuecos.
The Philippines General Council of the Assemblies of God (PGCAG) was duly registered with the SEC on September 23, 1953. This time, PGCAG’s geographical divisions, called as districts, were named after the 3 island regions of the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, each of which had its own set of officers. Each district was further divided into sections, again with its own set of officers.
The strength of PGCAG as a denomination is the empowered local assemblies. The movement grows as churches fulfill the priority reason for being of the organization to which they belong. The PGCAG By-laws recognizes two kinds of churches: sovereign and dependent. A sovereign church is duly organized and affiliated with the PGCAG through the District where it is located. It must have at least 15 active members with a duly elected church board, and it must be self-supporting and governed by a church code that is patterned after the District Charter, PGCAG Rules of Church Government, Articles of Incorporation, and By-laws. A dependent assembly, meanwhile, had less than 15 members and is under the jurisdiction of the District.
Although, PGCAG is a cooperative fellowship, its member churches were “not an isolated and absolutely autonomous entity but an integral part of the body of Christ.” However, through the years, many local assemblies have modified their church structure. But one thing remains unchanged: PGCAG is still “a cooperative fellowship” striving “to recognize and promote Scriptural methods and order of worship, unity, fellowship, work and business for God…endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”