DESPITE a notable decline in the number of active Christians in America, the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ), a religious congregation composed mostly of Filipinos, continues to gain ground in the US and elsewhere in the world.
In an interview over radio station dzRH on Friday, INC spokesman Brother Edwil Zabala revealed that the INC is set to inaugurate eight new houses of worship abroad early next year.
“Six of these are located in the US, namely, Bakersfield in California, Jersey City in New Jersey, Orange Park in Florida, Corona in Southern California, Highpoint in North Carolina and another in Virginia. INC is also set to open its new churches in Canada and in Ibaraki, Japan,” Zabala said.
“Most of these pieces of property were purchased from other religious groups whose active memberships were on the decline,” he added.
Based on the Religious Landscape Study by Pew Research Center conducted last year, the Christian share of the population in the United States fell from 78.4 percent to 70.6 percent between 2007 and 2014.
The study said this was “driven by declines among mainline Protestants and Catholics.”
Just this year, INC had inaugurated more than 500 new chapels in the Philippines and overseas from January to November, or equivalent to roughly 11 chapels a week.
Zabala said the church had experienced an “unprecedented growth” over the past six years under the leadership of Executive Minister Eduardo Manalo.
A total of 1,091 chapels have been built and renovated all over the country since Manalo took over the church’s leadership in September 2009 after the passing of his father, Eraño Manalo, in August 2009.