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North Central Mindanao Conference, old building

Photo courtesy of North Central Mindanao Conference archives.

North Central Mindanao Conference

By Reuel Almocera, and Benedicto R. Borja

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 Reuel Almocera

Benedicto R. Borja, Ph.D. in educational administration (Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Bukidnon, Philippines), is a licensed professional teacher (LPT) and a professor in the School of Theology of Mountain View College, Mt. Nebo, Valencia City, Bukidnon. Philippines Borja is an ordained minister born in Pastrana, Leyte. He worked as a district pastor in the Negros Oriental-Siquijor Mission prior to his current teaching assignment in the School of Theology at Mountain View College (MVC). He is married to Maria Venus F. Borja and they have three children.

North Central Mindanao Conference is a part of the South Philippine Union Conference in the Southern Asia-Pacific Division. It started as Mindanao Mission on December 1, 1937. It was reorganized in 1950, 1958, 1966, upgraded in 1987, renamed in 2012, and reorganized in 2018.

Territory: The provinces of Camiguin and Misamis Oriental; the municipalities of Baungon, Manolo Fortich, and Talakag of Bukidnon Province; in Lanao del Norte Province, the cities of Iligan and Marawi and the municipalities of Baloi, Kauswagan, and Linamon; and Amai Manabilang in Lanao del Sur Province.

Statistics (June 30, 2020): Churches, 242; membership, 37,786; population, 2,277,529.1

Adventist institutions within the territory of North-Central Mindanao Conference include the following: Mountain View College,2 Valencia City, Bukidnon; Adventist Medical Center-Valencia, Valencia city Bukidnon; Lake View Academy, Don Carlos, Bukidnon; Mindanao Adventist Medical Center, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte; Mindanao Sanitarium and Hospital (MSH) College of Medical Arts, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte; Mindanao Mission Academy, Manticao, Misamis Oriental; and Gingoog Adventist Hospital, Gingoog City, Misamis Oriental. The headquarters of North Central Mindanao Conference is located at Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.

Origin of Adventist Work in the Territory of the Conference

Similar to much mission work around the world, the first Adventist message to reach this conference was through the literature ministry.3, 4 It was in August 1905 that Robert Archibald Caldwell,5a colporteur from Australia, started distributing Adventist literature in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. However, the earliest recorded confirmation about the presence of Adventist literature in Mindanao was in 1918 when C. C. Crisler, the division secretary of the Asiatic Division based in Shanghai, China, reported that copies of Philippine Adventist literature were “finding their way to Mindanao.”6,7 Given that the Philippines was colonized by Spain for 300 years up to 1898,8 and given that the Philippines was under the American administration during the first few decades of the 20th century,9 it is highly probable that copies of Adventist literature in Spanish and in English reached this territory as early as 1905.

The first missionaries who set foot in Northern Mindanao were the missionary couple from the United States, Carlos (Charles) and Ellen Fattebert. They visited the cities of Iligan in Lanao del Norte and Marawi in Lanao del Sur during the summer months of 1919.10 This missionary couple visited Northern Mindanao from their mission headquarters in the Visayan Island of Cebu where they pioneered the work among the Cebuano speaking people since February 15, 1914.11In July 1920 the Fatteberts went back to Northern Mindanao. They opened the new “Mindanao Mission Station” in the city of Misamis (now Ozamis city).12

The Fatteberts discovered in Misamis that mostly migrant people from the Visayan Islands were receptive to the Adventist message. Just one year later, in August 1921, upon their return to the United States, the Fatteberts published a photograph in the Asiatic Division Outlook of a Sabbath-keeping congregation. Along with the Fatteberts the photograph displays the images of 16 adults and 18 children in Misamis.13This congregation was officially organized into a church two years later during the general meeting of the newly named East Visayan Mission (previously known as Cebuan Mission) held in Cebu City on August 24-27,1923.14

After migration from the Visayan Islands, colporteur work and aggressive pastoral evangelistic activities immediately followed the initial success of the Fatteberts in Northern Mindanao. From a congregation or two that started to sprout around the Misamis area in 1920, several congregations were added in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, Camiguin, Sindangan, Dipolog, and even in Cagayan de Oro in December of 1925.

Encouraged by the rapid growth in Mindanao, East Visayan Mission, which covered the territory of Mindanao at that time, fielded more evangelistic workers to reach the provinces surrounding Misamis. Under the coordinated leadership of Manuel Kintanar, the mission sent Ruperto Somoso to work for Agusan province based in Cabadbaran, Agusan Norte; Mamerto Yorac for the province of Bukidnon based in Malaybalay; Alberto Cabardo to Lanao Province based in Malabang; and Lanao del Sur and Wenceslao Rodriguez to Zamboanga provinces based in Zamboanga City.15

Organizational History of the Conference

In April 1936 East Visayan Mission became the largest in terms of membership and territory among the six missions in the Philippine Union Mission. The mission’s membership of 4,637 accounted for 32 percent of Philippine Union’s membership. In view of the large territory covered by East Visayan Mission and the fact that the majority of its members reside in Mindanao, Philippine Union Mission voted to separate Mindanao from East Visayan Mission. Thus, Mindanao Mission was organized with about two thousand five hundred members. It became the seventh mission in the Philippines. The forerunner of North Central Mindanao Conference was born. The headquarters of the new “Mindanao Mission” was located at Cagayan de Oro City. The first mission director was W. B. Riffel.16

In December 1940, just before the Second World War, the membership of the three-year old mission stood at 2,823 in 35 churches,17in a population of 1,462,401. This is a ratio of 1:529. Then the Second World War broke loose. Foreign missionaries were either detained, deported, or died. The proverbial flock in Mindanao were scattered. The leadership of the Adventist work in Mindanao went into the lap of a few Filipino workers led by Apolonio Somoso. Despite the war, the young mission survived under very trying circumstances.

After the war the church in Mindanao recovered slowly at first. The Seventh-day Adventist yearbook registered the membership of Mindanao Mission at 3,561. This was an increase of only 738 in five years (1941–1945). The number of the churches and companies, however, tripled; from 35 churches in 1940 it went to 103 in 1946.18

During this time Adventist institutions began to be established in Northern Mindanao. Mindanao Mission Academy (MMA) started operation in 1946. MMA accommodated the Philippine Union College Extension Division that later on was separated from Philippine Union College (now Adventist University of the Philippines) and was organized to become Mountain View College on April 22, 1952.19 Lakeside Clinic was also started by R. T. Santos in Marawi City in 1948. This clinic eventually became the Adventist Medical Center in Iligan City.

The scattering and difficulties during the war seem to have contributed to the rapid growth of the church in Mindanao. By 1946 pockets of Seventh-day Adventist congregations could be found in the Eastern Province of Surigao and in Mindanao’s Southern Provinces of Davao and Cotabato. Given that the road network, communication facilities, and transportation services were not yet in place at that time in this so called “Frontier Island of the Philippines”; it was deemed best for the expansion of God’s work and on account of rapid membership growth, to establish two church administrative units in Mindanao mission, namely: Northern Mindanao Mission and Southern Mindanao Mission. This bifurcation took effect on January 1, 1950.20

Due to this division, Northern Mindanao Mission’s territory was reduced to the provinces of Surigao, Agusan, Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Lanao, Misamis Occidental, Northern Zamboanga Province, and part of Zamboanga del Sur. Membership stood at 4,237 in 66 churches. The population of the territory was estimated at 1,427,569. This was a ratio of 1:338. Northern Mindanao headquarters remains at Cagayan de Oro City. Eugenio Capobres, who was the incumbent president of Mindanao Mission since 1947, was reelected president of the newly organized Northern Mindanao Mission.21

The rapid church growth continued in Northern Mindanao. In November 1957, for reasons of effective administration and expanding church membership, it was decided by the seven-year-old South Philippine Union Mission based in Cebu City to put the churches in the provinces of Zamboanga, Misamis Occidental, Western part of Lanao Province, the island of Basilan, and Sulu Archipelago under another administrative unit called “Western Mindanao Mission.” Thus, by January 1, 1958, Northern Mindanao Mission’s territory was reduced again to compose the provinces of Agusan, Surigao, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, and some portions of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte. The mission’s membership in this reduced territory stood at 8,826 in 90 churches. The population of the territory was listed at 1,897,795. This is a ratio of 1:219. M. G. Yorac continued to serve as president of the newly reorganized mission.22

By the year 1965, the membership of Northern Mindanao Mission breached the 10,000 mark. Thus, it has become necessary to again reduce the territory for efficiency in church administration. Hence, the South Philippine Union Mission executive committee (now having its central office at Davao City) voted a resolution (action numbered 65-361) to request the Far Eastern Division to authorize the division of Northern Mindanao Mission into two separate missions. The churches in the provinces of Agusan, Surigao, and Dinagat islands will be administered by a new administrative unit called “North-Eastern Mindanao Mission,” headquartered in Butuan City. The newly configured Northern Mindanao Mission retained the territory comprising portions of Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte and the whole provinces of Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, and Bukidnon. At the time of territorial adjustment in 1966, Northern Mindanao Mission membership was at 6,439 in 50 churches. The population of the territory was recorded at 1,047,000. This was the ratio of 1:163. The president for Northern Mindanao in 1966 was Teofilo A. Layon.23

The good Lord continued to increase the work in Northern Mindanao in such a way that in 1987, the Far Eastern Division granted it a conference status. The name was officially changed to Northern Mindanao Conference in 1988.24 Its membership stood at 37,613 in 102 churches. Population was at 3,208.330. This was a ratio of 1:90. The president of the new conference was Rudy Yap.

There was no territorial adjustment since 1987, but when it has become necessary to obtain a separate legal identity for Northern Mindanao Conference,25the constituency voted to take the name North-Central Mindanao Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists. This name is more accurate in describing the geographical territory of the conference. The certificate of registration from the Security of Exchange Commission, a government agency of the Republic of the Philippines, was dated Sept 26, 2011. Constitution and by-laws were ratified by the constituency in March 2012. Aner Tero was the president of the conference when this historic milestone was achieved.

Presidents

W. B. Riffel (1937–1941), A. A. Somoso (1942–1947), E. A. Capobres (1948–1955), M. G. Yorac (1956–1959), T. A. Layon (1960, 1961), F. M. Arrogante (1962, 1963), T. A. Layon (1964–1968), L. A. Yutuc (1969, 1970), B. P. Moralde (1971–1974), C. P. Ranario (1975–1979), R. B. Bermudez (1980–1983), A. A. Villarin (1984–1986), R. R. Yap (1987–1990), J. H. Pagunsan (1991–1996), P.V. Fondevilla (1997–2001), J. S. Ramos (2002–2004), E. M. Bacus (2005–2007), S. M. Galarpe (2008–2010), A. A. Tero (2011–2013), A. A. Lacapag (2014), W. C. Catolico (2015, 2016), E. M Bacus (2017–).

Sources

Agoncillo, T. A. History of the Filipino People. Quezon City, Philippines: R. P. Garcia Publishing, 1960.

Crisler, C. C. “Unentered Regions: “Mindanao and Sulu – ‘Moroland.’” Asiatic Division Outlook, March 1-15, 1918.

Crisler, C. C. “The Provincial Meeting in Cebu.” Asiatic Division Outlook, October 1923.

Gates, Edward Harmon. In Coral Isles. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923.

Figuhr. R. R. “A New Mission is Born.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1, 1938.

“From Mindanao.” Asiatic Division Outlook, August 1921.

Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, “Minutes of the Fourteenth Biennial Session of the Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists.” Pasay English Church, Pasay City, Manila, March 14, 1951.

Porter. R. C. “The Philippines.” Asiatic Division Mission News, May 1, 1914.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Southern-Asia Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists. “Minutes of the 2018 Year-end Session of the Executive Committee of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division approving the division of North-Central Mindanao Conference to North-Central Mindanao Conference and Central Mindanao Mission which includes the territorial boundaries of the province of Bukidnon.” San Miguel II, ByPass, Silang, Cavite, Philippines: Southern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, November 5-7, 2018, 2018-079.

South Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, “Minutes of the First Meeting of the Board of Trustees of Mountain View College.” Cebu City: South Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, April 21-22, 1952.

South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, “Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee of South Philippine Union Conference recommending to the Southern-Asia Pacific Division the division of the Northcentral Mindanao Conference to two conference/mission.” Cagayan de Oro City: South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, September 26, 2016.

South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, “Ministerial Association 2019 Second Quarterly Report.” Cagayan de Oro City: South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, July 2019.

South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, “Publishing Ministries Department June 2019 Summary Report to the Southern Asia-Pacific Division.” Cagayan de Oro City: South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, June 2019.

South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, “Ministerial Association 2019 Second Quarterly Report.” Cagayan de Oro City: South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, July 2019.

“Statistical Closing Report of 2018-2019.” Cagayan de Oro City: South Philippine Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, April-May 2019.

Ullysis, Charles and Ellen Fattebert. “Argao, Cebu, Philippine Islands.” Asiatic Division Mission News, June 1, 1914.

Ullysis, Charles and Ellen Fattebert. “A New Mission Station in Mindanao.” Asiatic Division Outlook, November 1919.

Woodword, Nanie L. “Notes from Philippine Union.” Asiatic Division Outlook, December 15, 1919.

Notes

  1. “North Central Mindanao Conference, Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2021), https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13123.

  2. Now in the territory of Central Mindanao Adventist Mission, see Southern-Asia Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, “Minutes of the 2018 Year-end Session of the Executive Committee of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division approving the division of North-Central Mindanao Conference to North-Central Mindanao Conference and Central Mindanao Mission which includes the territorial boundaries of the province of Bukidnon,” San Miguel II, ByPass, Silang, Cavite, Philippines: Southern Asia-Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, November 5-7, 2018, 2018-079.

  3. C. C. Crisler, “Unentered Regions: Mindanao and Sulu – ‘Moroland,’” Asiatic Division Outlook, March 1-15, 1918, no. 5, 6, 3.

  4. Ullysis Charles and Ellen Fattebert, “Argao, Cebu, Philippine Islands,” Asiatic Division Mission News, June 1, 1914, 1-2.

  5. Edward Harmon Gates, In Coral Isles (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923), 249. See also, William A. Spicer, Our Story of Missions (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1921) 331.

  6. Crisler, “Unentered Regions,” 3.

  7. Ibid.

  8. T. A. Agoncillo, History of the Filipino People (Quezon City, Philippines: R. P. Garcia Publishing, 1960), 71-75, 212.

  9. Ibid., 437.

  10. Nanie L. Woodword quoting Ullysis Charles and Ellen Fattebert, “Notes from Philippine Union,” Asiatic Division Outlook, December 15, 1919, 8.

  11. R. C. Porter, “The Philippines” Asiatic Division Mission News, May 1, 1914, 2.

  12. Ullysis Charles and Ellen Fattebert, “A New Mission Station in Mindanao,” Asiatic Division Outlook, November 1, 1919, 3.

  13. “From Mindanao,” Asiatic Division Outlook, August 15, 1921, 6.

  14. Ibid

  15. C. C. Crisler, “The Provincial Meeting in Cebu,” Asiatic Division Outlook, October 15, 1923, 4.

  16. G Hugh Murrin, “Occupying a Field Hitherto Unentered,” Asiatic Division Outlook, February 1, 1928, 8.

  17. R. R. Figuhr, “A New Mission is Born,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, February 1, 1938, 5.

  18. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1941), 129.

  19. South Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, “Minutes of the First Meeting of the Board of Trustees of Mountain View College,” Cebu City: South Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, April 21-22, 1952, 1-3.

  20. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (1944), 115.

  21. Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists, “Minutes of the Fourteenth Biennial Session of the Philippine Union Mission of Seventh-day Adventists,” Pasay English Church, Pasay City, Manila, 14 March 1951, 1.

  22. SDA Yearbook (1951), 129.

  23. SDA Yearbook (1958), 103.

  24. SDA Yearbook (1990), 129.

  25. Northern Mindanao Conference holds the distinction of being the first mission that gained conference status in the Philippines during the postwar era. The first local conference in the Philippines was the short-lived Central-Southern Luzon Conference organized on December 14, 1916. See also, J. E. Fulton “Organization of the Central-Southern Luzon Conference; First local conference organized in Asia” Asiatic Division Mission News, January 15, 1917, 1.

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Almocera, Reuel, Benedicto R. Borja. "North Central Mindanao Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed June 19, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8AR6.

Almocera, Reuel, Benedicto R. Borja. "North Central Mindanao Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8AR6.

Almocera, Reuel, Benedicto R. Borja (2021, April 28). North Central Mindanao Conference. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8AR6.