Iglesia ni Cristo breaks 2 Guinness records

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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(UPDATED) Dubbed by a sociologist as a religion 'in the world,' the Iglesia ni Cristo now holds 8 record titles with the Guinness World Records

GLOBAL SPOTLIGHT. The Iglesia ni Cristo receives the certification of its two new record titles with Guinness World Records on July 27, 2014, the Christian church's 100th anniversary. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

BULACAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) broke two Guinness records on Sunday, July 27, as it marked its centennial in its newly inaugurated Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan.

In a program after the INC’s worship service, a representative from Guinness World Records announced that the INC has broken world records for the following:

  • Largest mixed-use indoor theater in the world, the Philippine Arena; and

  • Largest Gospel choir, which sang during the INC’s worship service on Sunday

The INC opened the Philippine Arena on Monday, July 21, to mark the week-long celebration of its 100th anniversary Sunday. Guinness World Records recognized the Philippine Arena for accommodating up to 51,919 spectators. (READ: Aquino, 50k INC members in ‘largest theater on Earth’)

Some 4,745 members sang during INC’s worship service. The previous record-holder had 1,171 Gospel singers.

BIG EVENT. More than a million people gathered to celebrate the centennial of the Iglesia ni Cristo on July 27, 2014 in Bocaue, Bulacan. Photo by Josh Albelda/Rappler.

For the Philippines, too

Guinness World Records said the INC now holds 8 record titles.

One of these is a record for the largest charity walk, which the INC achieved during its walk for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) survivors in February. 

Speaking to reporters, INC spokesman Bro Edwil Zabala said the INC’s achievements in Guinness bring honor not only to their church, but also to the Philippines.

Zabala explained: “Pinakikita natin na sa kabila ng katotohanang maraming negatibong balita – at kayo mismo alam na alam ninyo yon, maraming problema – meron din namang nangyayari dito sa Pilipinas na maganda, masarap ibalita, sapagkat maganda ang naging layunin sa likuran ng pangyayari.”

(We’re showing that despite the fact that we have lots of negative news – and you yourselves know this; we have many problems – there’s a lot of good news happening in the Philippines because of the good intentions behind the events.)

For sociologist Jayeel Cornelio, the Philippine Arena “is an establishment, is a marker, of what they are right now in the 21st century.” (READ: Philippine Arena shows INC’s ‘global’ stature)

“They’re not a religion in the Philippines. They’re a religion in the world,” Cornelio said.

The INC, which wields political influence, is also known for its “strictness” that has contributed to its success. (READ: The rise of INC: ‘Stricter religions grow stronger’) – Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.