HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 49 no. 1-4 (2003)

Presbyterian Protestantism in the City and Province of Cebu from 1901-1938

Emelio S. Pascual



Claiming that the acquisition of the Philippines by the United States was a signJrom God, the different Protestant groups, without delay, organized evangelical missions to the Islands. To prevent competition among themselves, the different American denominations in the Philippines signed a Comity Agreement and divided the Philippine provinces according to particular missionary fields. Together with the Baptists, the Presbyterians were assigned to work in the Visayas. Deciding to concentrate on the Island of Cebu, Presbyterianism then became the main form of American Protestantism introduced to the Cebuanos before the outbreak of World War II.


Initially concentrating their activities within the City of Cebu, the Presbyterian missionary work eventually fanned throughout the entire Island. At the close oj 1938, almost every town in the Island had a congregation and a chapel with the biggest number of churches and congregations in the city. Besides the direct methods of introducing the gospel to the local populace, the Presbyterians employed various approaches, like medical missions, training Cebuano speaking pastors, establishing student dormitories and student centers, as well as working with the ethnic minorities (Chinese and Europeans) of Cebuano society.


After more the three decades of missionary work in the City and Island of Cebu, the Presbyterian missionaries have made a permanent imprint in the religious landscape oj Cebu. Nevertheless, the number of Presbyterian Protestants remained a mere 0.06% of the entire population in Cebu in 1938. The Presbyterian congregations and churches have endured the test of time, therefore making them one among the more tangible results of American colonialism in Cebu.