Wednesday, July 23 2014
Filipino home-grown church, the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) is to celebrate its centenary on July 27, and the group opened a huge arena at a ceremony attended by Philippine President Benigno Aquino.
Aquino thanked the INC for its support on Monday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, northeast during the opening of the arena.
He cited Bible verses that drew loud applause from the audience in the indoor arena, said to be the world's biggest.
"It is written, whatever you did for one of the least [of these brothers and sisters of mine], you did for me," the president said, noting that in John 13:34-35, Jesus' followers were told to love one another "as I have loved you."
Aquino said a lot of organizations have great respect for the INC as an institution, not only in the Philippines but throughout the world since its establishment in 1914 by then executive minister Felix Manalo.
The INC is known for voting as a bloc during elections and backed Aquino during the 2010 presidential polls.
It has an estimated ability to draw five to eight million votes and has ministries in 102 countries, the Philippine Star online reported.
Of the Philippines estimated 107 million people, 83 percent are Roman Catholics, while about 3 percent are Evangelical Christians excluding the INC which is estimated to have around 3 million members.
The Iglesia ni Cristo is not a denomination or sect, it says on its website. "It is neither affiliated to any federation of religious bodies nor itself an assembly of smaller religious organizations," it says.
The Iglesia ni Cristo says it is "Christ's one true Church today.".
The opening marked a week-long anniversary celebration of Iglesia ni Cristo.
PRESIDENT PRAISES INC
In the speech, the president praised INC for its dedication and unity. He also said that the structure is a mirror of the victories of the Church over the past century.
The event was also witnessed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, other government officials, and foreign dignitaries.
The Philippine Arena is a $200 million project located in the midst of a 75-hectare (185 acre) complex and the building has an area of 74,000 square meters (796,529 square feet).
In a documentary produced by the Discovery Channel in 2013, architect Andrew James explained that the arena is "quake proof" and can survive Philippines' seismic forces.
Chris Sparrow of Buro Happold, the group behind the London Olympic Park, O2 Arena, and Dublin's Aviva Stadium, told GMA News that the project was a challenge considering its size and unique structure.
Aside from Buro Happold, INC also contracted Australian architecture firm Populous and South Korea's Hanwha Engineering Construction Corporation.
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