Manila: New Apostolic life in a melting pot of religions

Six metropolises – six continents – six congregations. What is New Apostolic life like in the major cities of the world? has done some investigating. Today we will make a stop in Manila.

Manila – Philippines – Asia

Manila, the capital of the Philippines is huge. The population of the city proper is “only” 1.7 million. But the population of Metropolitan Manila, the National Capital Region—which is comprised of another 16 cities in the immediate area—is about 12 million. And all of this takes place on just 650 square kilometres.

The City of Makati is one of the cities that make up Metropolitan Manila. It lies south-east of the city proper and has a population of about 530,000 people. The City of Makati is the financial and economic centre of the Philippines. The Philippine Stock Exchange is located in the city, as are major banks, corporations, department stores, and foreign embassies. The city is divided into 33 districts. The year-round temperatures are between 25–30°C.

Makati: a place to call home on Sundays

Makati also has a New Apostolic congregation and its own church. The church building is large and has a gallery. On a typical Sunday morning, about 120 come to worship. This is the only congregation in Metro Manila. On Wednesdays, the brothers and sisters visit smaller congregations on the outskirts of the city, since the heavy traffic during the week does not allow for divine services in Makati.

Many young Filipinos are leaving the rural areas for a better life in the city. This also affects the congregation, which is growing thanks to this influx. Among the migrants are, of course, also New Apostolic Christians. They are happy to find a congregation in the city they can call home. The Philippines is a Christian country, and Christians can generally practice their faith freely.

Melting pot of religions

But also here there are challenges. There is a huge religious market in this island archipelago with many hundreds of Christian denominations. And all of them somehow believe in God and Jesus Christ—in a variety of different ways. The Philippines, Manila, and Makati are a religious melting pot beyond compare.

The economic wealth of the city is remarkable too. Here too it can be said that prosperity is not always good for the religious sentiment of the people.

A congregation that has everything

The Makati congregation has everything a congregation needs: children, young people, ministers, a choir, concerts, public relations work. The congregation is growing, because people from rural areas are moving into the city. District Apostle Urs Hebeisen, who has lived in Manila for decades, will one day make Makati his home congregation.

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Peter Johanning
International, Music