Davao Mission is one of the seven regional administrative offices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the south Philippines or better known as, Mindanao—one of the three main island groups of the Philippines. Its headquarters is located along Palm Drive, Bajada, Davao City and operates under the South Philippine Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Davao Mission covers the Davao region or Region XI territory comprising five regional provinces, namely: Davao de Oro (formerly Compostela Valley), Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao Occidental, and Davao Oriental. It also includes six major cities, to name: Davao City, Tagum City, Digos City, Mati City, Panabo City, and the Island Garden City of Samal.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority the region has a population of 4,893,315, as of August 1, 2015 by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
As of December 2018, Davao Mission has a total membership of 108,986 with 332 organized churches and 274 companies.
The Davao Mission was organized in 1965 after the Southern Mindanao Mission was divided and moved its headquarters to General Santos City. For years, the Davao Mission office occupied the basement of the Adams Center Adventist Church.
However, it was in only January 2005 when the church administrators moved into the new office building’s first floor. The operation continued with the departments still housed in the Adams Center’s basement and the construction went on for the second floor of the new building. It was on May 2008 that the three-storey was used during the SPUC-wide LEAD Conference.
An energetic young evangelist, Pr. Abner A. Villarin was elected as first president with the missionary-spirited Pr. Alejandro G. Bofetiado as secretary-treasurer. They were compatible partners and very much responsible in making the young Mission grow. Pr. 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.
Challenged with making the young Mission grow, Pr. 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.
Pr. Villarin ended his term in Davao Mission in 1971 with the number of organized churches rising to 63 and membership to 11,414.
Pr. Delfin A. Brion took the reins. Two secretary-treasurers worked with him: BL Sullano, who continued his services until March 1973, and Pr. 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.
Pr. Benjamin P. Moralde was next to take over the helm in 1973-74. Pr. AD Lazaro continued to serve as secretary-treasurer from January 1974 to June 1975. As a leader, Pr. 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 Pr. Moralde’s effort.
Pr. 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, Pr. 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. Pr. Pablo G. Frasco, who worked from October 1975 to September 1977, later succeeded him. After PG Frasco,
Pr. 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, Pr. 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.
Pr. 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, Pr. 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 Pr. Wendell M. Serrano, was the next president. He served from 1988-1990. BB Aca-ac continued to serve as secretary-treasurer under Pr. 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 Pr. 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.
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 Pr. 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.
Succeeding Pr. VS Paypa was Pr. Robert G. Jimenez who served as president from June 2003. Working with him were Pr. 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.
In 2010, RG Jimenez was elected as the new Stewardship Ministries director of the South Philippine Union Conference in Cagayan de Oro City. As their term ended, Davao Mission found themselves with newly-elected administrators: Pr. Jerry Patalinghug as president; Pr. Edwin Magdadaro, executive secretary; and Mr. Laurence Lamera as the new treasurer.
The new set of leaders assumed office with more challenges, specifically on the LCM issues. However, physical and spiritual development has made its way to augment faith-based and community-based events such has Evangelism Campaigns and Medical Missions. Coupled with more local church trainings on the difference areas of the church services, Davao Mission has slowly, but surely gained grounds both in the finances and spirituality of the church.
The new leadership, too has seen the potential of going into media evangelism. The Century Broadcasting Network donated a frequency in Mati, Davao Oriental for the church’s use for radio evangelism. This was inaugurated in June of 2012.
In December of 2012, Typhoon Pablo (International: Bopha) ravaged Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro (Compostella Valley), and part of Davao del Norte. Lives and livelihood were lost. However, whatever the calamity had brought into, still, the Lord provides and gives each of our brethren every means to give back to the Lord. Thus, Typhoon Pablo has everyone in the mission territory gave support to the affected churches through the, Adopt-a-Church initiative, where individuals, organizations, mission/conferences and other Adventist institutions took part in helping to rebuild lives and churches and livelhoods.
The establishment of Hope Channel in Davao has paved the way to hire Mr. Rhoen Catolico, formerly of the Adventist World Radio Asia/Pacific, to look into the operations and productions of this church-owned media initiative. In 2013, another FM station was put up in Tagum City to bring the gospel through the air in major parts of Davao del Norte. In 2015, another FM station was built and operated at the campus of South Philippine Adventist College, Matanao to bring the Gospel through air in many parts of Davao del Sur and part of Davao Occidental.
In 2015, during the General Constituency at the Adventist Church headquarters in Mindanao, the three administrators were reelected into office to serve for another 5 years.
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.
In the middle of 2018, with the election of the Pr. JC Patalinghug to the South Philippine Union Conference (SPUC) as Ministerial Secretary, Pr. Edwin Magdadaro was elected into presidency. Pr. Alex Necesario, became the executive secretary.
In early 2019, Pr. Alex Necesario was elected as the new Ministerial secretary of SPUC and he was replaced by Pr. Reynaldo Merin as DM Executive Secretary.
Today, the mission compound along Palm Drive is home to the regional office of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, HopeChannel Davao, AWR HopeRadio Davao headquarters, Literature Ministry Seminary (LMS), and the Mission Foods, a center of influence, and Adams Center Adventist Church.
The Church has been embattled by natural calamities but it stood its ground. The church was not shielded from the wiles of apostasy. However, God has been gracious enough to spare and kept His church stand the test of times.
As the church grows, the spiritual needs of the members had become more demanding. As the coming of the Lord draws near, the demands of spiritual guidance had become more and more needed to better serve the members for the world to come!
The Lord be praised for such blessings! The Lord be praised for He has guided each one in the territory to be vigilant of His coming! Praise the Lord!
• Davao Mission In Full Bloom, by Victoria Lauron
• Pr. Seth Suan, Communication director, January 2015 -March 2017
• Mr. Rhoen Catolico, Communication director, April 2017 – present
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