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NICOLAS V. ZAMORA (1875-1914) First Filipino Protestant Pastor Founder of the Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas (IEMELIF), or the Evangelical Methodist Church, Nicolas V. Zamora was born on September 10, 1875 in Intramuros, Manila. He was the eldest child of affluent couple, Paulino Zamora and Epifania Villegas. After finishing his early education from the school of Maestro Pedro Serrano in Intramuros, an uncle, Fr. Pablo Zamora, parish priest of the Manila Cathedral, enrolled him at the Ateneo Municipal where he earned his bachiller en artes. He pursued Law at the University of Santo Tomas and became one of the distinguished debaters and orators. Zamora left the university and joined the revolutionary army when the revolution broke out in 1896. Having proven his worth, he was appointed teniente mayor under General Gregorio del Pilar. It was during the outbreak of the Revolution that he met Isabel de Guia, a charming lass from Bulacan, whom he married on March 2, 1897. Their union was blessed with eight children: Trinidad. Isabel, Jaime, Augusto, Caridad, Nenita, Manuel and Esperanza. When the American Presbyterian missionaries came to the Philippines in 1899, Zamora's family was among the few Filipinos who readily embraced Protestantism. The first meeting of the Presbyterian mission was held in their house in Intramuros, Manila, where the family members were baptized by Protestantism by Dr. James Rodgers. From then on, the family became enthusiastic in studying the Holy Scriptures. It was interesting to note that the Filipinos who have been immersed with the Catholic faith did not readily welcome protestant missionaries. What could have attracted the Zamora's family to embrace the new religion was their bitter history with the powerful Spanish priests and the liberal teachings of the Scriptures. Zamora's relative, Father Jacinto Zamora was one of the three Filipino secular priests martyred in 1872. His father was exiled to Cheferino, a small island in the Mediterranean, for possessing a copy of the Bible, which was then prohibited by the Catholic Church. During the early American period, the Soldiers Institute, which looked after the spiritual needs of the American soldiers opened its doors to the Filipinos, who have found teachings of the American missionaries liberating. This caused the increase in its membership and attendance in all its gatherings. On one occasion, Don Paulino was asked to speak to the congregation, but he graciously refused and, instead, delegated the task to his son Nicolas, who articulately delivered a message from the scriptures. In this event, he was discovered to be a good preacher. Hence, preaching assignments were given to him and even the administration of the Soldiers Institute for the Filipinos. To equip him of his new calling, Zamora studied at the protestant seminary in Shanghai. On March 10, 1900, Bishop James Thoburn appointed him deacon of the Episcopal Methodist Church. In 1903, he was appointed as the first pastor of the Methodist Church in Cervantes, now the Knox Memorial Church. That same year, during the annual gathering of American Methodist Missions in the country called the Philippine Islands District Conference, Bishop Wiliam P. Oldham named him presbyter. The history of Methodism in the Philippines will never be complete without mentioning the successful preaching of Pastor Nicolas, especially in evangelizing. He was such a gifted speaker that many Filipinos converted to Methodism. In time, Filipinos who had embraced the new religion began to feel the need for establishing a truly independent church in the country. They thought of their first native pastor to lead them in this endeavor. A nationalist who was jealous of freedom, Zamora accepted the mandate, determined to prove that Filipinos were capable of building and governing their own church without assistance from the Americans. Thus,

on February 28, 1909, the first Philippine independent Protestant church named Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en las Islas Filipinas, was born. The American Episcopal mission tried to persuade him to return to the old church by offering to send his family to the United States and provide free education for his children but he politely refused and remained firm in the course of action he had chosen to take. All the pains, the hardships, persecutions he had encountered paid off. The IEMELIF grew and became famous through his able leadership. Many Filipinos from among his flock responded to the heart of evangelism. He sent pastors and preachers to different places to evangelize. Zamora proved his calling to be of God by deliberately preventing his members from calling themselves Zamoristas for he wanted the praise and honor to be given to God alone. A former revolutionary, Zamora served his country with selflessness and courage. As a pastor, he served God and his ministry with zeal and devotion. That he was a true Christian was demonstrated by his words and actions. He spent the inheritance he got from his parents generously for the church and in helping needy members. He died on September 14, 1914 at the age of 39. His death was mourned by thousands of people, including foreign missionaries. As a tribute to his exemplary leadership and service to the ministry, he was given the posthumous award of "Bishop of IEMELIF". Reference: Quirino, Carlos. Who's Who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Book, 1995


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Microsoft Word - religion.doc