MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) is holding a massive worldwide evangelical event at the 55,000-seater Philippine Arena located in Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan on Sunday, May 22.
Dubbed “Reconnect: Worldwide Intensive Propagation”, the event is being officiated by INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo. The Iglesia-run Eagle News Broadcasting said "Reconnect" will also be "beamed live" to about 2,900 remote sites all over the world.
On Sunday morning, North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) management reported heavy traffic at the Bocaue northbound exit. The rest of the NLEX only had light traffic.
As of 10:06 AM, slow moving at Bocaue NB exit with 300 meters build up. Rest of NLEX is fast moving. Ingat po! pic.twitter.com/TZIPxUmRdG — NLEX Traffic (@nlextraffic) May 22, 2016
INC spokesperson Brother Edwil Zabala earlier said he hopes "there would not be much of a traffic problem in the area around the Philippine Arena." The Iglesia also asked for understanding from commuters and motorists for any inconvenience that may result from the evangelical event.
Past noon, traffic was already light on both directions of the NLEX.
As of 12:24 PM, light traffic on both NB/SB directions of NLEX including all Toll Plazas and Interchanges. Ingat po! pic.twitter.com/WfpN8wDjoL — NLEX Traffic (@nlextraffic) May 22, 2016
Eagle News said the huge event is the second time that an evangelical mission is being held simultaneously by the INC across the globe.
"A big gospel choir will also sing hymns of praises to God during the event where another Guinness record attempt will be made," it said.
Test of unity
The first worldwide evangelical mission took place also at the Philippine Arena September 26 last year. Zabala said at the time it was the biggest evangelical mission in the 101-year history of the INC.
The Philippine Arena is known to be the world's largest mixed use indoor theater. Built on a lot area that spans 74,000 square meters, the estimated $200 million Arena was built in time for the Iglesia's centennial celebration in July 2014.
That big event came shortly after the worst crisis that hit the church in July 2015 when Eduardo’s brother, Felix Nathaniel or “Angel”, exposed alleged corruption among the church’s leaders.
Since then, the church was depicted as divided, its unity tested and seen in the outcome of so-called bloc-voting in the recently concluded elections.
Zabala, however, was quoted by Eagle News as saying there is a biblical basis for the holding of the event. "The event is called 'Reconnect.' The word comes from Isaiah 49:8 wherein God calls on His people to 'reconnect the people with Me."
Iglesia brethren around the world, Zabala said, have invited non-Iglesia members to listen to the "Dakilang Pamamahayag" or evangelical mission. No different from last year, the grand evangelical mission targets non-INC members who want to know more about the church.
The event will attempt to reconnect people using modern technology to hear the INC executive minister and teachings on salvation.
Earlier this week, a portion of Commonwealth Road in Quezon City was also closed down on Tuesday, May 17, for an INC outreach event.
The stretch of road from Sandiganbayan to Litex was blocked off 24 hours from midnight, as the religious group gave away clothes and shoes, and provided medical and dental assistance for its "Lingap sa Mamamayan.” – with reports from Patricia Evangelista/Rappler.com