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The Silliman Church on Its 100th Year

Merell Lystra Recta

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It was not so long ago when Dr. and Mrs. David and Laura Hibbard founded Silliman University. It was not so long ago when this university which started as an elementary school for boys first held its classes. It was not so long ago when the church was officially established as a separate congregation serving the Sillimanians now and always.

The Silliman University Church which ministers an evangelical ministry to all Sillimanians and their families, friends and neighbors, regardless of personal beliefs or religion, started with the coming of the American Presbyterian missionaries in the year 1899. From the very first classes of the university, there were already regular services even though the evangelical congregation existed as early as 1903.  It was only later realized to have a regular church on the 6th of December, 1911 known as the Dumaguete Evangelical Church consisting of both the city’s townspeople and the Silliman community. However, due to the conflict of different interests and ministries, they reorganized a separate congregation, later known as the Silliman Student Church with Dr. Paul Doltz as its first serving pastor in the year 1916.

With a hundred years now of service to the students, faculty, staff, and alumni as its central concern, it calls for a wonderful centennial celebration this year. On its 100th year, let us acknowledge how the Silliman Church was able to withstand everything by knowing some unique features of the church only in Silliman.

Here are some interesting facts you might not know about the Silliman Church:

The university certainly gives utmost value to the Church evident with the fact that the church’s tip is the highest point in the university. Thus, no other building of the university must exceed this tip. Also, it is fascinating to witness how no building obstructs the view from the church to the sea.

The construction of the Silliman Church was not that thorough. Before the construction was finished, an unexpected bombing of the Philippines due to the rivalry between US and Japan left the construction of the church with the walls and the roof in place only.

The very first Church service was held in the year 1950 right after the construction was finished by December 1949. The Church building miraculously survived the war.

The first ecumenical service in the Philippines strengthening the Protestant-Catholic relations was held on this very church of the university. It was made possible with the efforts of Dr. Paul T. Lauby, President Cicero Calderon, and other members of the Silliman community.  The church played a vital role in establishing this relation with the Catholics.

The university serves as the host to the annual gathering of hundreds of the members of United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the Church Workers Convocation.

Overall, the Silliman church is a worshipping church where a proclamation of faith in Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. It is also an inspiring, serving and an equipping church where it provides an avenue for the whole body spiritual growth being able to function as the living bodies of Christ.

The Silliman Church on its centennial year might just be a not so long time ago for us all.

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