FIRST PROTESTANT CHURCH IN THE PHILIPPINES
Every time I go the Rizal Park to practice Tai Chi, I used to take the Light Train Transit and use to pass this simple but beautiful church. The structure was built at a corner street and from the view up the train one can see the north-side view including its tranquil garden.
Central United Methodist Church is the first Protestant church in the Philippines, located at T.M. KalawSt. Ermita, Manila. It was founded on March 5, 1899 during the American occupation of the country. It was named Central Methodist Episcopal Church, but was presently called Central United Methodist Church (CUMC). Central United Methodist Church, the first Protestant Church in the Philippines was referred to as an American Church of the first "English Speaking" church in the Philippines.
The history of Central United Methodist Church is closely related with that of the Knox United Methodist Church because these two chirches were built of Filipino-American tie during the battle and surrender of Manila in 1898. Since there were no natives that can understand American languages and mostly resides outside of the Spanish strongholds including Ermita, Malate (the address of CUMC), Americans decided to build its own Methodist Church that would speak its native language, then Knox was established for the necessity. Knox UMC was constructed outside of the Spanish stronghold much preferably where there are many Filipinos.
Knox United Methodist Church is the first Filipino Methodist Church located along Rizal Avenue, Sta. Cruz Manila and Central United Methodist Church is the first Protestant and Methodist church in the Philippines located at the corner of T. M. Kalaw and Taft Avenue. Some members of Central UMC separated and established some of the well-known Protestant churches in the Philippines: The first Protestant Chinese Congregation in Binondo 1900s, the Cosmopolitan Church in Taft Ave. in 1933 and Union Church in Makati in 1914, a union with the Presbyterian Church.
The first Protestant worship service in the Philippines was held on August 28, 1898 and was functioned by Rev. George C. Stull and was attended by both American soldiers and Filipino civilians.
During the Battle of Manila in 1945, the combined Filipino and American soldiers and the Japanese Imperial forces, the Central UMC was severely damaged an the structure was unusable. The congregation again reunited with Knox UMC and until 1949, Central UMC was reconstructed on its original site in T. M. Kalaw, Manila. From then, the protestant members of the central UMC has grown from a largely American congregation to a mixture of Filipino and Americans.
In front of the church is this inscription:
FIRST PROTESTANT CHURCH in the Philippines, established to preach to the Americans and the Filipinos, March 5, 1899, inaugurated the first chapel named Central Methodist Episcopal Church, December 23, 1901. Replaced with stone structure, 1906, renamed Central Student Church, 1916. Cathedral designed by Juan M. Arellano, inaugurated, 19 June 1932 occupied by the Japanese and destroyed during the Battle of Manila, 1945. Renamed Central Church, 21 February 1949, rebuilt following the original design: inaugurated, 25 December 1949, presently known as central United Methodist Church
All photos by Ron Siojo.