We hope you didn’t base your gaming calendar around Skull and Bones, the other multiplayer-focused pirate title. Ubisoft has revealed that the game has been delayed again, this time until sometime after the company’s fiscal 2019-2020 (that is, after March 2020). The game won’t be showed at E3 2019, either. The company didn’t go into great detail explaining the move, although producer Karl Luhe noted in an explanatory video that the team was focused on “quality first.”
That’s a long time to wait for a game that was first unveiled in 2017. This latest delay might be easier to understand than the last, however. Ubisoft’s main competitor, Sea of Thieves, struggled in part because there wasn’t much to do at first — it took months of updates before the game had a lot of variety for digital swashbucklers. The additional time might ensure that Skull and Bones has a smoother start and lives up to its potential relatively quickly.
Administering a global Church—with its wide-ranging concerns such as propagation of the faith, edification of its members, selection and training of Church officers, construction of worship buildings and Church offices, among many others—is a great challenge and an enormous task; it is no ordinary undertaking.
Rising up to the challenge, the Executive Minister does not cease laboring for the sake of the brethren but responds with an inspired and dynamic leadership—always trusting in God—the welfare of the Church always in his heart and mind. In fact, love for the Church is what motivates him to share even his life for the brethren, as what Apostle Paul said: “Because of our love for you we were ready to share with you not only the Good News from God but even our own lives. You were so dear to us!” (I Thess. 2:8, Today’s English Version).
In addition, God bestowed on the Church Administration the authority to preach God’s commandments: “I have become its minister, according to God’s administration that was given to me for you, to make God’s message fully known” (Col. 1:25, Holman Christian Standard Bible). Thus, the Church Administration, through the help of ministers and ministerial workers, thoroughly teach and counsel the members—primarily through worship service lessons—in order to present each one perfect before the Lord Jesus on His Second Advent (Col. 1:28-29).
The Church Administration has also constructed buildings to serve as offices for the effective and efficient supervision of the members in their services to God. Foremost of these are the Church’s Central Office and other administrative buildings within its vast complex in Quezon City, Philippines. It has two main offices for its ecclesiastical districts in the Americas, one in England for Europe, and one in Japan for Northeast Asia.
Held weekly by each group of neighboring households, heads of the families gather to receive biblical instructions and announcements from the Church Administration through the group overseers. The heads of the families, in turn, relay these instructions to their respective families.
INC Family Hour
A once-a-week bonding activity where family members are able to talk and spend quality time with one another, bounded by Christian prayer and biblical message from the Church Administration.
Christian Family Organizations
The CFOs aim to strengthen the brotherhood within the Church and make every Iglesia Ni Cristo household worthy of salvation by promoting among its members a vibrant spiritual life. Through various worthwhile activities, the CFOs help instill Christian values to strengthen family relations toward a peaceful, secure, and happy life together.
Buklod (“bond”), the organization for married members envisions a strong husband-and-wife relationship leading to a family that is steadfast in faith and active in serving God. For this, it conducts activities for the strengthening of the bond of the husband and wife. It also assists them to learn and engage in noble and gainful livelihoods and encourages them to help in Church activities.
KADIWA or Kabataang may Diwang Wagas (Youth with Noble Intent), the organization for single members 18 years old and above, aims to prepare them for a bright future as well as for a married life under God’s blessing. It encourages them to participate in the multifarious activities of the Church, especially in disseminating and edifying the faith.
Binhi (seedling), the organization for baptized members 12 to 17 years old, instills in the youth the importance of knowledge and education while guiding them in right living and proper conduct. It also assists in tapping and honing their talents and skills in various disciplines such as literature, music, and arts.
Pagsamba ng Kabataan (PNK) or Children’s Worship Service (CWS) caters to the members’ children, 4 to 11 years old. Through the guidance of CWS officers, the Church Administration trains the children the proper worship of God and teaches them His words using age-appropriate methods to make it easier for them to understand the biblical lessons. The organization also carries out activities that edify their faith.
Christian Brotherhood International. The CBI caters to the youth of the Church who are studying. Activities are geared toward assisting them in their studies, helping them face life’s challenges, become responsible citizens, and most importantly, become strong and faithful Church members who never depart from the commands of God.
Christian Employees Association. CEA aims to promote harmonious relationship among employees and laborers and raise their level of efficiency in their respective work, based upon the tenets of the Bible.
Christian Medical Dental and Paramedical Society. CMDPS aims to create a network of Church members from the allied health professions for organizing free medical-dental and other health missions in every ecclesiastical district as part of the Church’s Aid to Humanity project.
Christian Society for the Deaf. Through the CSD, the Church provides a safe environment for the deaf and other differently-abled persons, embracing them with brotherly love and acceptance for their spiritual growth and self-development.
Society of Communicators and Networkers, International. SCAN consists of licensed radio communicators advocating the responsible use of amateur radio communication in helping save people’s lives by, among others, assisting in emergency response and rescue operations during disasters and the like.
The Church holds sports activities through the INC Unity Games. Promoting not only health awareness and physical fitness, this multi-district, multi-sport event nurtures the love of brotherhood and further solidifies their Christian unity, inspiring them to a heightened fervor in serving God. The EVM Cup caters to ministers, ministerial workers, and volunteer workers with the INC Central Office and in the ecclesiastical districts.
Arts and Music
The Church Of Christ helps its members polish their creative talents in music and the arts and encourages them to use their gifts in giving praise to God. The Church conducts competitions and presentations to showcase its members’ creative works that highlight the true Christian way of living such as the following:
INCinema, where brethren in the districts hone their cinematic talents by producing original low-budget but quality films and stage plays that promote genuine Christian values. In recognition of such efforts and talents, the Excellence in Visual Media Awards (EVM Awards) are given to participants who excelled in different aspects of filmmaking and stage play production.
INConcert, musical presentations highlighting the brethren’s strong faith in the Lord God and the Lord Jesus Christ through original and inspirational song compositions.
INC Life, an exhibit of photographs that show the history of the Church and depict its continued success.
Essay and Poetry Writing Contest, wherein the brethren are able to express in writing their firm conviction as members of the Church.
Oratorio, a musical narrative about the Church Of Christ in these last days told purely through overtures, solos, recitatives, and choruses.
EVM Art, a contest in painting, drawing, and sculpture expressing the vision and mission of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
INC International Piano Competition, launched for brethren who love classical piano music and where compositions of some of the world’s greatest composers are interpreted.
INC Voice Competition, aims to advance and promote excellence in the art of singing arias and art songs by world-renowned composers.
Songs of Faith, Love, and Hope, a singing competition for the various family organizations in the Church that highlights contemporary Christian Music.
Concerned with the welfare not only of its members but also of society in general, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) undertakes programs and projects in its various fields of endeavor, which are guided by and at the same time promote Christian values.
Aid to Humanity
The Aid to Humanity (Lingap sa Mamamayan) outreach program has provided immediate assistance to multitudes of people, from calamity victims to indigents and indigenous peoples, and all others who are in need. Through its implementing arm, the Felix Y. Manalo Foundation, the Church seeks to give aid to the needy in all parts of the world.
Resettlement communities commonly consist of housing units, livelihood sites, and a house of worship. The first one, Barrio Maligaya in Laur, Nueva Ecija, Philippines, was developed to provide refuge for victims of religious persecution. Barangay Bagong Buhay, in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, was established for displaced survivors of the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991. Sitio New Era in Barangay Langit, Alangalang, Leyte was established for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda).
A resettlement community with livelihood sites was developed each for the Kabihug of Paracale, Camarines Norte and the B’laan in Barangay Danlag, Tampakan, Cotabato South, both indigenous peoples in the Philippines.
Proper and safe shelter is provided for the Church’s volunteer workers, and even to their widows and children. Some of these are the housing projects in the vicinity of the Church’s Central Office in Quezon City; in Rodriguez, Rizal; Dasmariñas, Cavite; and Tagaytay City, Cavite.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo’s livelihood projects have provided job opportunities and gainful employment for many, members and non-members alike.
Aside from its ten ecological farms throughout the Philippines, the Church also maintains eco-farming facilities in Ladybrand, South Africa and in Shoshoni, Wyoming, USA.
The Unified Livelihood And Development Initiative (UNLAD) manages garment and food processing factories. Established in 2012, UNLAD International is the socio-civic and livelihood skills training arm of the Iglesia Ni Cristo.
New Era General Hospital
The New Era General Hospital in the Philippines not only caters to the health concerns mainly but not exclusively of ministers and members of the Church; it also helps in mobilizing volunteers for the Church’s medical missions. Together with the Social Services Office, it conducts free medical-dental missions, blood donations drives, health seminars, and other related campaigns.
New Era University
The New Era University (NEU) offers basic to post-graduate programs in its various campuses throughout the Philippines. It also promotes the Alternative Learning Systems (ALS) program for out-of-school youths, and offers free Summer Pre-Kindergarten Program.
INC Museum and other buildings
The Iglesia Ni Cristo Museum in Quezon City, Philippines is a five-story state-of-the-art edifice that features historical timeline, and thematic exhibits, as well as information about the history and milestones of the Church and a children’s museum.
The Church’s heritage sites also preserve its history and culture. Among them are the old house of worship in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila (where the first converts came from), originally built in the 1930s and now converted into a museum as a reminder of the Church’s humble beginnings; and the museum in New Era, Hawaii, the very place where the Church’s first worship service outside the Philippines was held in 1968.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo built the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena and the Philippine Sports Stadium in Ciudad de Victoria in Bulacan, not just to accommodate its members during large gatherings, such as its centennial celebration in 2014, but also to share it with the Filipino nation and the international community.
Tree planting and clean-up activities form part of the Church Of Christ’s ongoing program on environmental protection and preservation. It has also supported the Earth Hour and promotes eco-farming, among other environment-friendly practices.
A solemn gathering of the faithful, the worship service of the Iglesia Ni Cristo is usually held twice a week in the house of worship and consists of hymn-singing, prayers, voluntary offering, and the study of God’s words to guide the true Christians in their daily living.
Houses of worship
To meet the needs of its constantly increasing number of worshipers, the Church Of Christ carries out a vigorous chapel construction program, extending to remote villages in the countryside.
Through the years, the Church has built about 5,000 houses of worship worldwide. Many of them have served as distinct landmarks in the locality.
Children’s Worship Service
A weekly worship service for children aged 11 years and below, using age-appropriate methods in biblical instruction.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo was preached by Brother Felix Y. Manalo, God’s Messenger in these last days, and was registered in the Philippines on July 27, 1914.
Brother Felix Y. Manalo (1886-1963), God’s Messenger in these last days, preaching the pristine gospel
The old house of worship in Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila
From its first local congregation in Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila, the Church quickly spread not only throughout the metropolis but also to the neighboring provinces in Luzon and across the islands of Visayas and Mindanao.
Brother Felix Manalo (center) in one of his pastoral visitations
When Brother Felix Manalo passed away on April 12, 1963, the Church had already established ecclesiastical districts in more than half of all the provinces in the country.
In 1968, the Church, led by Brother Eraño G. Manalo, the Executive Minister then, successively established the first two local congregations outside the Philippines—Honolulu, Hawaii and San Francisco, California in the USA.
Thus began the Church’s expansion in the Far West and eventually around the world.
Brother Eraño G. Manalo (1925-2009) (left), holding the scroll proclaiming the establishment of the congregation of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in Honolulu, Hawaii, July 27, 1968
From then up to the end of the ‘70s, the Church went on to spread throughout the continents of North America (establishing local congregations and group worship services [GWS] in other states and territories, such as New York and Guam in 1969, and Canada in 1971); Europe (the first local congregation, London [now Battersea], was established in 1972); Australia, mid-‘70s; Asia (China, by way of Hong Kong in 1974; Thailand in 1976; and Japan in 1977); and Africa (Nigeria and South Africa in 1978). By the end of the ‘80s, there were local congregations and GWS in the Scandinavian countries and their neighbors.
The first local congregation in Latin America was established in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 1990. Congregations were also established in world cities that are of great relevance to the history of Christianity— Rome, Italy on July 27, 1994; Jerusalem, Israel on March 31, 1996; and Athens, Greece on May 10, 1997.
Brother Eraño Manalo in Athens, Greece, May 10, 1997
At the dawn of the new millenium, the Church’s mission reached South America with the establishment of GWS in Brazil and Peru. Before Brother Eraño passed away on August 31, 2009, the Church had been spreading continuously in different parts of the world.
Through the leadership of its present Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Church continues to progress and succeed. Its membership has been constantly increasing.
Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, current Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo
Thousands of ministers and Church officers are being added worldwide. The construction and renovation of houses of worship, Church edifices, and other structures also continue, not only in the Philippines but also in other countries.
The houses of worship in Washington, DC; Barcelona, Spain; and Amsterdam, The Netherlands are just a few of those outside the Philippines that were dedicated to God in recent years, thus strengthening the Church’s presence in other countries worldwide.
Brother Eduardo Manalo in one of his pastoral visitations in South Africa
Greeting the brethren after a worship service
On July 21, 2014, the Iglesia Ni Cristo inaugurated the Philippine Arena, currently the world’s “largest mixed-use indoor theatre.” This megastructure that sits in Ciudad de Victoria, Bocaue, Bulacan was the venue of the Church’s centennial celebration held on July 27, 2014, which was attended by millions of its members from all over the world.
Brethren waving flags of the Iglesia Ni Cristo in the Philippine Arena, Bocaue, Bulacan