Church History in the Philippines

early protestant in philippines

Christian Church History in the Philippines

5121, Roman Catholicism in the Philippines

In 1521, the Portuguese navigator and explorer Ferdinand Magellan under the service of Spain (Spanish Expedition), was in a mission to discover the “Spice Islands.” He came across the island of Cebu and met Rajah Humabon. The Rajah had an ill grandson whose recovery was credited to Magellan. In gratitude, Humabon allowed himself and 800 of his subjects to be baptized. After Magellan died, Spain sent Miguel López de Legazpi and introduced Christianity. Roman Catholicism remains the dominant religion in the country and the fifth largest Christian country in the world.

Protestant Reformation and the Great Awakenings

Roman Catholic Priest Martin Luther began to “protest” the teachings of the Pope in 1517. It fuelled a movement known collectively as “Protestant Reformation.” It shook the Catholic foundation of Europe and gave birth to several protestant denominations. Out of this movement came the “transdenominational movement” that introduced what we generally know now as “Evangelism” (public preaching of the gospel) led by “Evangelical Christians.”

Evangelical preachers like George Whitefield began the “spiritual revivals” in Britain and its thirteen colonies between the 1730s and 1740s. America became the beacon of these revivals (or awakening,) known as the “Great Awakenings.”

1898, Missionaries in the Philippines

Several Protestant missions from USA and Europe came to evangelize the Philippines. From 1898 to 1930, these mission agencies made a comity agreement that included, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists to name a few. Eventually, the agreement became intricate and split happened because of differences in personality and cultural tensions.

1921, Government Registration

About nineteen independent denominations were formally registered with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), and important splits occurred among between the major groups. It gave birth to smaller denominations.

Unity of the churches was still a goal and in 1929, the United Brethren, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches formed the “United Evangelical Church” in the Philippines.

During World War II, the “Evangelical Church of the Philippines,” that combined thirteen denominations was formed. However, the Methodist, Episcopal, Unida and other independent churches refused to join.

1949, NCCP

The United Evangelical Church (UEC), the Philippine Federation of Evangelical Churches (PFEC), and the Iglesia Evangelica Unida de Cristo formed the Philippine Federation of Christian Churches, now called the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP).

1965, PCEC

A group of Christian leaders mostly coming from non-denominational and independent Christian churches formed the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches* (PCEC) in 1965. Today, it is one of the largest Christian groups in the Philippines who is involved in evangelism and nation politics among others.

* Information not available.

Religious Demographics as of 2018

DenominationPercent out of 106M in 2018
Roman Catholics77.1%
Christians ‘Believers’13.9%
Ethnic Religion 3.2%
Agnostics or Atheists1.8%

* Joshua Project

Religious Demographics as of 2000

DenominationPercent out of 77M in 2000
Roman Catholic82.9%
Christians ‘Believers 4.5%*
Islam/Muslim 5.0%
Evangelical Protestant2.8%*
Iglesia ni Kristo2.3%*
Aglipayan 2.0%
Agnostics or Atheists1.7%

* Index Mundi
* Christian Believers may refer to ‘Born-again Christians’, Evangelical Christians, or Believers.

Growth of followers of Jesus

(All Judeo-Christian)
(Born again Christians and non-traditional Catholics)

Christian Believers, Mega-Church Movements from 1970 to 1990s

This period can be considered as the spiritual revival or the “Great Awakening” in the Philippines, because of the birth of megachurches, independent of each other but united in one purpose. Given that the Catholic population of the Philippines is more than 80%, statistics give us approximately 95% of Filipinos who adhere to the Judeo-Christian faith.

FoundedChurch MovementDenomination InfluenceEst. Members as of 2018
1978, founded by Eddie Villanueva through a Bible StudyJesus Is Lord Church (JIL)Pentecostal – Evangelical2 Million*
1978, founded by David and Patty Jo YountGreenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF)Conservative Baptists10K
1980, 1980, started by Gerry Holloway through a Bible StudyWord for the World Christian Fellowship (WWCF)Evangelical20K+
1982, founded by Butch Conde through discipleshipBread of Life Ministries (Bread)Evangelical30K
1984, founded by Peter Tan-Chi through a Bible StudyChrist’s Commission Fellowship* (CCF)Evangelical60K
1984, started by Steve and Deborah MurrellVictory Christian Fellowship (VCF)Pentecostal – Evangelical30K
1984, founded in 1947 by Frank Porada of Free Gospel Missionary SocietyChurch of God World Mission (COG)Pentecostal – Evangelical30K
1985, founded by Eduardo “Ed” Lapiz through a Bible StudyDay by Day Christian Ministries (DBD)Non-denominational30K
1987, originally founded by American missionaries in 1899Presbyterian Church of the PhilippinesEvangelical15K
1991, started by Paul and Shoddy Chase through a Bible StudyLight HousePentecostal – Evangelical10K
Others (Reformed)Other Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Adventist and full gospel churches 1 Million
Others (Non-traditional Catholics)Charismatic groups that remain under Rome, but are considered followers of Jesus 5 Million
OthersReligious organizations that claims to follow the Judeo-Christian Bible “Christians but with questionable doctrines 2.5 Million

* Membership as of 2017 was 5M, according to JIL founder but we could not verify actual data. CCF membership is steadily rising with more than 1M followers in Social Media in 2018 from 300,000 in 2016.

Church Umbrella Organizations

The National Council of Churches in the Philippines

Apostolic Catholic Church (ACC)
Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC)
Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP)
Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippine Islands (IEMELIF)
Philippine Independent Church (PIC)
United Ecumenical Church (UNIDA)
Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP)
The Salvation Army (TSA)
United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)
United Methodist Church of the Philippines (UMC)

Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches

* Information not available.
* Please refer to our partial list of Evangelical Christian churches in the Philippines.



  1. Hello. Would I please be able to get a copy of the above article for personal use only? I am working on my family history. You mention in 1947 Frank Porada went to the Philippines to help. He is my grandfather. I have the original document for my father when he registered in Manilla; he was 10 at the time. My intentions is to include your article in my family history.

    Frank so loved his work there and any information about then and how the church is growing is precious to us. His faith was passed down to all his kids, grand kids, and great grandkids.

    In Christ,



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