The Secretary's Files
Mrs. Lourdes M. Cepeda
I. LAND PREPARATION
The Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) experienced a lot of difficulties planting churches in some parts of Mindanao. Other denominations have already established their religious empires, thus making our church planting look like sheep stealing. As fishers of men our church planters fished not on the multitude of unbelievers but on the churches of other religious sects. Despite the challenging sceneries within the mission work in Mindanao, many church planters were eager and bold enough to take on the challenge. Others have genuine motives to serve God, while others have other agenda. The golden years of mission work in Mindanao is yet to come, but during the 80’s the mission field in Mindanao seem to be very appealing both to local and foreign support. Those who received support ( financial) continued, and those who didn’t eventually would either stop or move to other areas which are receptive to their mission. Names of pioneer pastors that stood out particularly in the South-Eastern area of Mindanao were Rev. Eddie Sancho, Pastor Castillo and Pastora Lucy Buizon. However, church planting mission set its focus on Gen. Santos, Marbel, and other tribal missions. Guihing was not seen nor heard of within the halls of CPBC. But how did Convention Baptist Center Church (CBCC) come into existence? The question that needs to be answered maybe is not “ who started CBCC ? But the right question is “ who were the people that made its birth possible?” Looking back through the years and with thorough investigation would lead us to appreciate the friendship between Pastor Melvin Velasco and Mrs. Inday Maquiling. Mrs. Maquiling was also an alumna of Convention Baptist Bible College (CBBC) . Instead of focusing on pastoral ministry and handling church works, she devoted her time helping her husband and raising her children.
After Pastor Velasco’s term/ contract ended with his previous church, he decided to move to Mindanao with the vision to extend Support An Orphan (SAO) ministries and to plant a church. The moment his family arrived in Mindanao, the person whom he looked for first was Mrs. Inday Maquiling. With the help of Pastor Castillo, he was then reunited with his classmate. Pastor Velasco expressed his desire for church planting and asked for Mrs. Maquiling’s support on this endeavor.
The genesis of CBCC was made possible through the collective efforts of the CPBC members from Visayas who migrated to Guihing, the Christian “sympathizers” and of course, Pastor Velasco himself. In 1981, Pastor Velasco, together with other Christian believers held the first fellowship in the house of Mr and Mrs. Rufino C. Raut who were also very accommodating and supportive to Christian ministries. Then and there, the Bandiola and Maquiling families also responded to support the house church held regularly at Raut’s residence. After six months, they moved to nearby coconut plantation ( west side of barangay Guihing). There, in that place, Mrs Velasco started a preschool ministry. Despite financial scarcity, Mrs Velasco still taught the children for free. Ten children with ages ranging from 5-6 years old enrolled under that program. Back then the preschool ministry was supported by Mr and Mrs. Roy Lippert, Christian philanthropist of Modesto, California, U.S.A.
Their experimental location was short-lived, however. They continued the fellowship in that place. The preschool also continued. But their facilities and location were not conducive to worship and learning. So again, they moved back to the house of Mr. and Mrs. Raut. It was also in that place where they held the first graduation of the kindergarten.
Gradually the fellowship keeps growing. Through the support of Christian believers, the fellowship put a Christian seal in the hearts of the community of faith. It cannot be stopped - a church is born!
In 1983, Dr. Domingo Diel Jr. (CPBC Gen. Sec.) together with Rev. Alfred Tupas ( Field Missionary for Mindanao) came to visit the fellowship led by Ptr. Velasco. This was a very significant event and memorable year for all the members. The church was formally and officially accepted as member of the CPBC. It was vindicated with the name Convention Baptist Center Church. It was really rewarding. With the great efforts of Pastor Velasco and the sacrifices of the congregation, the CBCC has paved its way to CPBC mission map. During the year a church building was constructed in its own lot. This became possible through the support of the Lippert couple. The year 1983 was also the outset of SAO ministries.
The non –government organization (NGO), Support An Orphan (SAO) from Australia had been a great mission partner to CBCC. SAO ministry on its jumpstart had made CBCC its center in the locality of Guihing. Their program strategy worked well both for the community and the Church. The SAO implementers required the recipients to attend worship services and other programs of CBCC. SAO ministry attracted many unbelievers to receive Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
On the other hand, there were those who came only for the benefits that they could get and there were those who adapted to the church’s principles and still continued their support up to the present.
In 1984, CBCC celebrated its First Foundation Anniversary with Pastor Melvin Velasco as the speaker. CBCC continued growing under Pastor Velasco’s leadership until 1986 when he got ill. He and his family went back to Visayas. One of the highlights of that year was the first election of Church Council officers. Elected were Nicasio Cortez, Council Chairman; Mrs. Letecia Eltagonde, Vice Chairman; Mrs. Betty Patanao, Secretary; Mrs. Teresita Llanos, Treasurer; Mr. Jessie Lusoc, Auditor; and Mr. Andrew Patanao, P.I.O. For the Board of Deacons Mrs. Elena Maquiling was elected as Chairman and the members were Mr. Camilo Elatagonde and Mrs. Shiana Viran. Designated as Sunday School Teacher ( Christian Education Director) was Mrs. Rosalinda Bacule. CBCC’s Property Custodian was Mrs. Lily Molina.
Before leaving , Pastor Velasco saw to it that everything at CBCC was set in place. Due to his worsening condition and his plan of moving back to Visayas, he sought the help of Pastora Teresita Dulay Lusoc a native Kalagan. She was one of Mindanaoans who enjoyed the privilege to study at CPU for free. Together with the other underprivileged Mindanaoans, Dr. Johnny Gumban granted a scholarship to Pastora Lusoc. After graduation and few years of fieldwork in Visayas, Pastora Lusoc and her family moved to Mindanao.
In 1986, 27th day of July, CBCC’s Foundation Day, a written call was given to Pastora Lusoc and right on that occasion, she accepted the one-year contract. Pastora Lusoc’s forward thinking and her “ binalaybay” style of preaching caused CBCC to bounce back. She was outgoing, attending conferences here and abroad, actively participating ecumenical forums and joining the community in social services. One of her legacies was the creation of the Pulpit Committee. She trained Mrs. Dolly Ibanez, Mrs. Rosalinda Bacule, Mr. Nicasio Cortez and Mrs. Letecia Eltagonde. It was also that year wherein Mr and Mrs. Albert King opened their residence as a Bible Center.
IV. PRUNING: THE RISE AND THE DECLINE
For some reasons Pastora Lusoc decided not to continue serving God and the Church since she had a degree in Social Work. That was the turning point when she decided to work in the government instead. Her decision was abortive as it seemed because the congregation of CBCC badly needed her to continue the programs which she had started.
The year 1987-88 ended Pastora Lusoc’s contract. It was also marked as one of the darkest moments of CBCC. Pastor Alquiza tried to continue Pastora Lusoc’s program. However, he barely finished a year of pastoral work in Guihing because of his health conditions. The aerial spray of a nearby banana plantation according to him worsened his condition. Pastor Alquiza and his family later moved to Zamboanga. ( A volunteer pastor replaced Pastor Alquiza). Reverend Eddie Sancho knew about CBCC’s plight so he suggested Pastor Manoba to continue the ministry.
Pastor Manoba’s ministry was rather short-lived because he was linked to a scandal. This ordeal summoned once again the presence of Dr. Domingo Diel to resolve the issue. They scheduled a closed-door meeting with Pastor Manoba in the house of Mrs. Herminia Bandiola. Consequently, a disciplinary action was meted out, to suspend Pastor Manoba from his pastoral duties.
On August 12, 1989, with the help of of Rev. Alfeo Tupas, a new pastor was called. Pastor Remias Salmeron accepted the call. For some, he was a hefty five-foot seven pastor with a rather severe mien, but was actually a very diligent and resourceful man. He was from Iprog, Passi. His previous mission before coming to Guihing was at Nagasi Baptist Church. During his time, CBCC renovated and expanded the church building. His dedication also resulted to the baptism of some SAO recipients’ parents. During his time, Pastor Salmeron was receiving a meager salary from the church. Instead of relying on the church income, he applied for a job in Lapanday Group of Companies. He was hired as a harvester in the company; that was his tent-making. Later on, he fell in love with Ms Ellen Rodriguez. He took his wife-to-be to Iloilo to be married there. Pastor Salmeron’s term ended.
In 1991, another new pastor came. Pastor Melgar Esclares replaced Pastor Salmeron. In November of the same year, fifteen souls received Jesus Christ and were baptized at Aplaya beach administered by Pastor Melgar, as he was fondly called by some members. The baptism was also in consonance with the Thanksgiving celebration held traditionally every November.
Pastor Melgar was a sports-lover. As a matter of fact, he formed a basketball team among male young people who were members of the church.
As another year began,in 1992, new set of Council officers was elected to help Pastor Melgar in his ministry. It’s quite interesting this time since the Church Council was dominated by female officers. The chairman was Salome Reducto; vice chairman, Teresita Llanos; secretary, Lilibeth Francisco; treasurer, Shiana Viran; financial secretary, Betty Patanao; auditor, Aurora King; business manager, Cecilia Gallardo and the advisers were Nicasio Cortez and Rosalinda Bacule. For the Board of Deacons Chairman was Rosalinda Bacule and at the same time designated as Christian Education Director. Members were Dolly Ibanez, Teresita Llanos and Nicasio Cortez,who was also the Sunday School Superintendent.
In 1993, CBCC faced another challenging task by hosting the 6th Eastern Mindanao Kasapulanan at Guihing. Each year was a challenge and inspiration to the members, as well as Pastor Melgar as the Foundation anniversary and Thanksgiving day were celebrated. Then in 1995, Pastor Roger Esclares, the brother of Pastor Melgar was invited to be the speaker during the Thanksgiving celebration.
People, officers, come and go as years pass by. On December 1997, as provided in the constitution and by-laws another election for new set of officers was held. This new set of officers were elected for two terms and had to serve the church until 2001. Mr. Danny Devalgue was the new chairman; vice chairman, Nicasio Cortez; secretary, Mary Ann Devalgue; treasurer, Shiana Viran; auditor, Aurora King; business manager Dolly Ibanez and Lilibeth Francisco; P.I.O, Ana Llanos; Sunday school superintendent, Betty Patanao; property custodian, Jecila Cortez. For the board of Deacons, Dolly Ibanez was elected as chairman and the members were Naty Viran,Rosalinda Bacule, Victoria Espiritu, Nicasio Cortez, Shiana Viran and Ceferina Maniago.
Pastor Melgar served CBCC for seven years from April 1992 to April 1999. Thereafter, the congregation then opted to call a new pastor for a change. Pastor Vic Concerman was called when he left Dipag 2. He served Dipag 2 at Tugbok, Calinan, Davao City before his Guihing assignment He was from CBBC in Negros Occidental. For some, he was a strict and conservative pastor who most of the time was authoritative in his dealings and management. He got married to Ms. Dorie Lavida, a lass from Guihing. After two years, Pastor Concerman, having a family to support decided to leave his pastoral ministry at CBCC and applied for a job at CCT, a lending company. Although he was no longer the host pastor, he still remained as member of the church. He had served CBCC from 2001 to 2003. The following year, Pastor Napoleon Ochia took the place of Pastor Vic Concerman. And as the term of Council officers ended at the close of 2005, another election was held. This time the Council Chairman was Nicasio Cortez; vice-chairman, Lourdes Cepeda; secretary, Mary Ann Devalgue; assistant secretary, Sheryl Sarcauga; treasurer, Lilibeth Francisco; auditor, Aurora King; business manager, Jecila Cortez; P.I.O. Ireneo Cobol; property custodian Alicia Ochia; Sunday School superintendent, Danny Devalgue. For the Board of Deacons, chairman was Samuel Garcia Sr., and the members were Letecia Eltagonde, Lourdes Cepeda ,Betty Patanao, Ireneo Cobol.
Another highlight for CBCC was the hosting of the 11th SEMBC annual conference on March 3-5, 2006.
The term of Pastor Ochia ended after three years of serving the church. Since the church coffers cannot support the pastor’s honorarium wherin at some point experienced financial difficulties, the congregation and the Council came to a decision not to call a full-time pastor. Three pastors who remained as members of the church volunteered to help in the ministry, Pastor Melgar, Pastor Vic and Pastor Remias . They took turns in the pulpit every Sunday.
Year 2007 – 2008 was a sort of waning years for CBCC since the church had no Pastor to lead the ministry. It was one of the causes that some members lost their passion in the ministry. For almost two years the church had no pastor. The Church Council having felt the need to revive the waning attendance of the members, decided to call a full-time pastor. With the help of Nonnie Francisco and Miss Scarlet Panado, the council drafted a letter to call for a young, single pastor and also good in music. This was approved by the congregation.