In Full Bloom
by Victoria Lauron
The work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Southern part of Mindanao had grown wider that closer supervision of churches was imperative. Church leaders had no choice but to divide Southern Mindanao Mission into two. Cotabato Provinces carried the old name, Southern Mindanao Mission (SMM), while Davao Provinces was named Davao Mission (DM).
In December 1965, DM was born. It kept the SMM’s old office at corner Mapa-Mabini Streets, Davao City; SMM was moved to General Santos City.
The territory of DM comprises of Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, and Davao Oriental that had a total population of only 1,168,000 at that time. It had by then 52 organized churches and 3,651 members.
Presently, DM has four provinces under its jurisdiction.
An energetic young evangelist, Pastor Abner A. Villarin was elected as first president with the cal-spirited Pastor Alejandro G. Bofetiado as secretary-treasurer. They were compatible partners in making the young Mission grow. Pastor AG Bofetiado, however, served only until 1967. Another mission field needed his services. Daniel J. Celiz who worked until March 1969 succeeded him. FR Marcilla, from Luzon, followed him. He worked for only a short time, from April to September 1969.
Secretary-treasurers were fast in succession because the need was great. In October 1969, Benjamin L. Sullano succeeded FR Marcilla. BL Sullano worked with Pastor Villarin until 1971. These four secretary-treasurers worked harmoniously with Pator AA Villarin in building the Mission. They were all instrumental in its growth.
Burdened with making the young Mission grow, Pastor Villarin made intensive promotions during association and federation rallies. Through his untiring effort, spirituality of church members was strengthened. This eventually led to the building of churches as many were converted through the brethren’s efforts.
But it was not all success. On May 7, 1970 something happened. As DM workers were on their way to attend a crusade in Tagum, the mission vehicle met an accident. Davao Mission lost six lives as a result of the tragedy.
Pastor Villarin ended his term in Davao Mission in 1971 with the number of organized churches rising to 63 and membership to 11,414.
Pastor Delfin A. Brion took the reins. Two secretary-treasurers worked with him: BL Sullano, who continued his services until March 1973, and Pastor Antipolo D. Lazaro, who served from April to December of 1973. Although the leadership of DA Lazaro did not last long, he had done something to increase the number of organized churches to 65, and church membership to 13,374.
Pastor Benjamin P. Moralde was next to take over the helm in 1973-74. Pastor AD Lazaro continued to serve as secretary-treasurer from January 1974 to June 1975. As a leader, BP Moralde wanted so much to see that God’s emblem of His work, the church building, would rightly represent the work.
Beautification of church buildings was one of his concerns. It was during his term that the second storey of Davao City Central Church in JP Camus Street was constructed. Until now it stands as a memory of Pastor Moralde’s effort.
BP Moralde was eloquent speaker. He conducted evangelistic crusades that led many to the Master. One organized church was added during his short term and the church membership reached 14,664.
In July 1974, Pastor Josue A Layon succeeded him. AD Lazaro was still the secretary-treasurer when JA Layon was elected president. He continued his service until September of 1975. Pastor Pablo G. Frasco, who worked from October 1975 to September 1977, later succeeded him. After PG Frasco,
Pastor Reuben M. Alavanza served in October 1977 to December 1979. These three secretary-treasurers were true to their duty in protecting the properties of DM and in keeping full control of the Mission’s finances.
The leadership of JA Layon from 1974-1979 had accomplished big things. He was a builder. In his time the old Southern Mindanao Academy administration building was constructed, improvement of dormitories were done, many big churches were built, and church planting program was accomplished. With his partner, Pastor Levy B. Tabo, the Sabbath School director, they visited churches day and night to see to it that apostasy would never prevail in DM territory.
Pastor JA Layon, though misunderstood sometimes because of his personality, was a kind, loving, thoughtful, and generous father. When workers ran short of food supply, he would offer to give them his own because he did not want workers’ children to suffer from hunger. During workers’ meeting or fellowship with workers’ families, he would go around checking whether the children had enough food.
During his term, 18 organized churches were added and church membership totaled to 20,804. After his term in 1979, Pastor Alejandro G. Bofetiado was elected president. He served the Mission from 1980-1987.
Though soft-spoken and calm, AG Bofetiado was firm in his decisions. Working with him as secretary-treasurer was Baltazar B. Aca-ac.
With his good spirit, AG Bofetiado won the love and cooperation of his workers. He made much improvement of the Mission compound by the construction of the physical fitness area, which becomes a tennis court and volleyball court where workers did their physical exercises. A duplex was also constructed to help in the housing problem of workers.
At the end of his term, the number of organized churches rose to 130, church companies to 204, and church membership to 38,917.
A professor from Mountain View College, the young eloquent speaker Pastor Wendell M. Serrano, was the next president. He served from 1988-1990. BB Aca-ac continued to serve as secretary-treasurer under Pastor Serrano.
A revivalist and evangelist, WM Serrano was very aggressive in soul winning and witnessing. When he left Dm in 1990, it had 144 organized churches, 211 church companies, and 44,464 members.
Succeeding him was Pastor Vicente S. Paypa. With his humble spirit and winning smile, both workers and constituents learned to live him.
VS Paypa, led the Mission in fulfilling God’s commission. He guided and corrected many workers in handling church problems. Efficiency and honesty in doing the task assigned were greatly emphasized. He was much respected by everybody as a godly leader and as father to the young workers.
VS Paypa was a consultative leader. He always asked opinions from his fellow workers for him to be able to weigh things. He delegated responsibilities to others but always checked whether they were done or not.
Extensive seminars and information drives were conducted with the brethren. He was also a dreamer. He dreamed that DM would have an office building apart from the offices vacated by SPUM. He dreamed that Davao Sanitarium Clinic would become a hospital. He dreamed that Southern Mindanao Academy would become a college.
Today these dreams are realized. SMA is now South Philippine Adventist College, Davao Sanitarium Clinic is a secondary hospital category, and a new Davao Mission office is under construction. He started the promotion and solicitation of donations. Letters were sent to the leadership of SPUC and SDD appealing for financial assistance. Praise God! Many brethren, workers, friend from here and SSD, responded positively to the request.
Three secretary-treasurers worked with VS Paypa during his term. They were Malakias D Ferenal (1991-1995), Alberto D. Alojado (1996-2000), and Daniel R Iyo (2000-2001). In January 2002 to May 2003 Pastor Ephraim E Gersava became the executive secretary; DR Iyo remained the treasurer.
VS Paypa served Davao Mission from January 1991 to May 2003. During his leadership, the organized churches reached 271, church companies 202, church membership 83,010.
The position vacated by VS Paypa upon his retirement was taken over by SPUC Sabbath School director, Pastor Leonardo R Asoy. Young and brilliant, LR Asoy gained the trust of his constituents. The brethren and workers of DM elatedly welcomed him.
In his short term of six months (July-December 2003) 1,847 persons were baptized and two church companies were formed. DM was also able to own a brand new Toyota Grandia, as well as construct the president’s house within the compound.
Presently, Pastor Robert G. Jimenez serves as president. Working with him are Pastor Jose G. Castromayor as executive secretary and Daniel R. Iyo as treasurer.
In July 2004, only a few months into his term of office, the court dismissed a case involving a church school in favor of DM.
RG Jimenez spends more time in the field emphasizing the message of stewardship. The stewardship program long before introduced and forgotten, is gaining momentum. Financially, the Mission is gaining progress, as brethren are encouraged to fulfill their monetary obligations. Slowly yet surely the construction of the office—very soon the ground floor will be finished and the administration can transfer there temporarily—continues toward completion.
As June 2004, statistical report shows a record of 272 organized churches, 208 church companies, and 85,230 members.
Progress is the apparent trend from the birth of this Mission to the present. We give credit to God whose leadings continue to carry His work toward completion.
Glory be to God! The once-upon-a-time young mission is now in full bloom.
[source: The South Philippine Union Conference Centennial Book: 100 Years of Adventism in the Philippines]
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