MY PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION OF BRO. EDUARDO V. MANALO TO SUCCEED BRO. ERAÑO G. MANALO AS EXECUTIVE MINISTER OF THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO (CHURCH OF CHRIST)
By Arnel T. Tumanan
ON May 6, 1994 I took part in a very vital event in the history of the Church. It was Friday at around 7 o’clock in the morning when the Special Meeting of the Church Council was called to order by the former General Evangelist, the late bro. Teofilo Ramos Sr. I assisted him in that meeting being the General Secretary then. In attendance were 92 members of the Church Council, which is composed of district ministers, and top leadership of the Church. Bro. Eraño G. Manalo, the Executive Minister at that time, was represented by the Secretary for Legal Affairs, Catalino Castillo Jr.
One of the matters discussed and resolved in that Special Meeting was the creation of the position of Deputy Executive Minister/Presiding Elder (Pangalawang Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan) who shall primarily serve as the Right Hand of Fellowship of the Administration. This position is to be ranked between the positions of Executive Minister and General Evangelist. The council unanimously voted for the creation of the said office. Bro. Glicerio B. Santos Jr., General Auditor, nominated Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo who was then the District Minister of Northern Metro Manila for the position of Deputy Executive Minister. No one else was nominated. And through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Church Council unanimously affirmed the election/designation of Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo as the Deputy Executive Minister of the Church.
Other matters were discussed and resolved, but before the Special Meeting adjourned, the Presiding Officer called on Bro. Catalino Castillo Jr. to take the floor and discuss the intention of the Executive Minister. He then read the letter of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo addressed to the members of the Church Council wherein he declared his intention to elect his successor based on Biblical, Historical and Legal precedents. Bro. Erdy cited the Biblical example of Joshua who was chosen by God to succeed Moses years before Moses passed away so that Joshua may be prepared for the gargantuan task of leading God’s nation. Then he told about the precedent started by God’s messenger in these last days, Bro. Felix Y. Manalo when in 1953, 10 years before he passed away, he also convened the Church Council and declared his intention for the council to elect his successor though he was still able and willing to carry out the functions of his office so like Joshua, his successor would also be prepared in administering the flock. Lastly, Bro. Erdy explained that the By-laws of the Church necessitate such a move (Article II, Section III of the Amended By-laws).
There was not a dry eye among those in attendance upon hearing the letter of the Executive Minister. The presiding officer, realizing the gravity of the task entrusted upon them, led the prayer asking the Lord God for guidance through the Holy Spirit in order that the Church Council be able to choose and elect the one whom God anointed for the position.
After the prayer, the nomination for the successor of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo as Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo was opened. I took the floor and nominated Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo. Some of the reasons I cited were: Bro. Eduardo is already the Deputy Executive Minister, he excellently administered the biggest Ecclesiastical District of the Church (Metro Manila), and the brethren already give him almost the same respect that they have for the current Executive Minister. Then, Bro. Bienvenido C. Santiago who was the Secretary for the Propagation of the faith at that time moved that the nomination be closed, duly seconded by Bro. Homer Tiomico who was then the district minister of Batangas. Bro. Richard Rodas, seconded by the late Bro. Vivencio Pineda, moved to submit the election of Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo as Successor to the Executive Minister to a vote.
By the UNANIMOUS vote of ALL the members of the Church Council, Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo was elected as SUCCESSOR of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo as Executive Minister/Presiding Elder.
I was then tasked to lead the prayer, and I humbly thanked God for what has transpired during the meeting and prayed for His continued blessings on the Executive Minister and the Church in its entirety. After the prayer, as motioned by the members of the Council, Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo delivered a short speech. He thanked the Church Council for the overwhelming support and confidence reposed upon him. He further said that with the help of the prayers of the Council and the Church as a whole, he shall be able to succeed in performing the duties reposed upon him. He likewise added that he is one with the Church in praying that succession be made unnecessary and instead the Executive Minister, Bro. Eraño, be with the Church until the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The following day, May 7, 1994, in the worship service and ordination officiated by Bro. Eraño G. Manalo at Templo Central, Ka Eduardo took his oath as the Deputy Executive Minister of the Church of Christ. The oath-taking was administered by Ka Erdy himself. As Bro. Eduardo solemnly pronounced his vows, the Holy Spirit filled the hearts of everyone in attendance. It was a very moving experience for everyone who was witnessing history unfolding before our eyes. It brought comfort to us for even though Ka Erdy was in effect saying his good bye, he is also in effect saying to the Church that there is no need to worry for there will never be a vacuum in the Church’s leadership if and when the inevitable shall happen to him.
For 15 years, Ka Erdy trained and prepared Ka Eduardo to lead and administer the Iglesia Ni Cristo. In most of those years I was blessed by God to be there by their side and in my personal conversations with ka Erdy discussing the future of the Church, it was clear that there is no one else in his heart and in his mind who would take his place if death shall come upon him. It is ka Eduardo and ka Eduardo alone. This is what all the ministers know. This is what the Church knows. No pronouncement from Ka Erdy, no notice to the Church Council, and no amendment to the Church’s By-laws say otherwise. There is without a doubt that Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo is the legitimate successor of Bro. Eraño G. Manalo.
Praise be to our Almigthy God! He has fulfilled every promise he made to His nation in these last days and He continues to lead the Church through the Administration He has placed to never ending victories! And I faithfully believe that God has more blessings in store for the Church, the greatest of which is the salvation He will surely give to everyone who has remained faithful until the end!