Celebration: Iglesia Filipina Independiente's 113th founding anniversary.
Founded 113 years ago on August 3, 1902, by Filipino labor leader Isabelo F. de los Reyes, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), also called Philippine Independent Church or Aglipayan Church, after its first Obispo Maximo (Supreme Bishop), the Most Rev. Gregorio L. Aglipay, has grown in influence and membership to become one of the largest Christian denominations in the Philippines. De los Reyes (historically referred to as Don Belong) and Aglipay were both leaders of Union Obrera Democratica, the country's first federation of labor unions.
IFI's founding is considered a milestone in the history of Filipino libertarian struggle and one of the most tangible products of the 1898 Philippine Revolution. Through the two leaders' efforts, it strengthened and spread its influence throughout the country and abroad. Aglipayans have grown in number, with latest nationwide membership placed at two million, mostly in Northern Luzon, particularly Aglipay's Ilocos region. Congregations are found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is called Siwawayawaya nga Simbaan ti Filipinas in Ilocano, the Malayang Simbahan ng Pilipinas in Tagalog, and Simbahan Hilway nga Pilipinhon in Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon. Its central office is at the National Cathedral of the Holy Child on Taft Avenue, Manila, where there will be a pontifical mass to celebrate IFI's 113th anniversary.
Currently headed by Obispo Maximo XII Ephraim S. Fajutagana, IFI has 40 dioceses today, including the diocese of United States and Canada. Since 1960, it has been in full communion with the Episcopal Church and since 1965, with old Catholic and Anglican churches. IFI espouses a theology based on nationalism and science, guided by its principles of "scripture, charity, knowledge, liberty." Its Articles of Religion consist of doctrinal teachings about salvation, holy scriptures, the Creeds, Holy Sacraments, and Holy Eucharist. Aglipayans believe in the Holy Trinity and Apostolic teachings of the Lord.
The Supreme Council of Bishops, consisting of all serving and retired bishops, defines doctrinal orthodoxy, adopts and prescribes the liturgy, and addresses the pastoral and moral needs of the faithful, through regional Episcopal bishops' conferences in North Central Luzon, South Central Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. Members affirm commitment to IFI's historical mission and ministry in empowering the poor, the deprived, and oppressed, through missionary work here and worldwide. The National Lay Council, composed of men, women, and youth delegates from all the dioceses, promotes and enhances the participation of the laity in church governance and affairs.
The Aglipay Central Theological Seminary in Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, serves the North Central and South Central Luzon dioceses, offering a bachelor's degree in Theology and Divinity for those aspiring to enter the IFI ministry.