“As far as I know, Rev. Bernales is the first minister ordained by a confessional Reformed church in the Philippine,” writes Rev. Nollie Malaybuyo (URCNA missionary and church planter of Pasig Covenant Reformed Church in Metro Manila).
About 90 people, primarily members of United Covenant Reformed Church, attended the afternoon service held at Soli Deo Gloria Christian Church in Davao City.
Rev. Nap Narag (UCRCP church planter in Laguna Province) preached on “God’s Message to a Called Man” from 2 Timothy 4:1-5. He spoke of the need for the minister to be faithful and committed to his call to preach the Word of God regardless of time or circumstances.
Rev. Edwin Puzon (pastor of the UCRCP in Las Pinas City) officiated during the ordination and installation. In his charge to the congregation, he quoted from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, 1 Timothy 5:17, and Hebrews 13:17 as he reminded members of the congregation of their responsibilities to love, honor and obey their pastor in the Lord. In his charge to the pastor, he asked him to accept the oversight of the congregation and “faithfully and conscientiously” perform his duties to foster the “fold” in the “grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.”
During that day’s morning worship service, Rev. Malaybuyo preached on “The Duties of Members Toward Their Pastors and Elders,” based on 1 Timothy 5:17-25.
Other church leaders participating in the service were Ojie Bicaldo and Allen Ostique (both elders of the UCRCP in Davao City) as well as Jose Cabugao (an elder of the UCRCP in San Carlos City).
This ordination came relatively soon after the denomination’s first classis meeting in March of this year, but it did not come quickly or easily in Vic Bernales’ life.
Rev. Malabuyo explains that Rev. Bernales came out of an “evangelical Missionary Alliance background, so his newfound Reformed beliefs were not accepted by most of his family and friends. But he persevered in the ministry and through his seminary studies, and God is now giving him the fruits of his labors.”
Vic Bernales has persevered, by God’s grace, through a decade of service to the church and two separate seminary experiences. He helped found the Davao City church in 2000 and has been involved with it ever since; first as a Sunday school teacher and exhorter, then as an elder and finally as a pastor. In order to better serve the church, he studied at Mid-America Reformed Seminary for one year (2001-2002) and later returned to complete his training (2006-2008). His ordination service was a long-awaited confirmation of God’s call to ministry.
“It has been my desire to serve the Lord in the church,” he says. “I wasn’t thinking of becoming a minister, but a teacher or an elder. The Lord providentially led me to pursue the ordained ministry as I grew in my knowledge of Him and in my desire for the congregation here to have an ordained minister. It was such a joy for me and, I believe, for the congregation when I was ordained and installed as a pastor. Ten years seems to be long, but it’s worth the wait. I’m so grateful to the Lord for His grace throughout this experience.”
Rev. Bernales hopes to minister more effectively to the congregation, particularly since he is now able to administer the sacraments. But he and other church leaders have hopes for the Reformed faith in the Philippines that are not limited to one congregation.
“We also have plans to begin reaching out to the other districts of the city and neighboring cities with the gospel through radio ministry and an outreach program,” he says. “I am hoping that by God’s grace in the next five years, we would be able to plant a new congregation in Davao City or on Mindano Island.”
© Glenda Mathes, 2010