Ironicschmoozer’s Weblog


TERM PAPER PART 8–Universalism in Negros: Story of An Accidental Apostle


As young man, Toribio S. Quimada moved with his Roman Catholic family from the Visayan island of Cebu to nearby Negros.  They lived with a Presbyterian uncle, who had a Holy Bible.  The young man read the Bible for the first time and became a Protestant.  Later he got involved with a Pentecostal movement and joined it.  He became a preacher and musician, spreading its message in island villages.  One day in the mail Quimada received a package of books wrapped in an American newspaper.  On the paper was a directory listing of churches.   Looking for his Pentecostal denomination, Iglesia Universal de Cristo, he noticed instead the Universalist Church of America.  Sounds close!  This Universalist church was located in Wisconsin.  He wrote a letter to it and waited for an answer.  Nobody answered.  A few years later, he looked in an almanac, and again he saw the Universalist Church.  He wrote another letter, this time to Massachusetts.  A reply came this time, and a long-distance friendship began.

Though he had been a Pentecostal, Quimada found the message of this American church to match his own views.  What Universal salvation means is that everybody’s going to heaven.  He loved the gospel of this church:  God is love.  Everybody is a child of God.  Quimada wanted to spread the word, so he wrote the Americans:  “Will you send us missionaries?” Well, we don’t have missionaries, they said but they will help.  They sent worship and education materials, Bibles and other books, and a little money.  Toribio put his life into this new ministry, traveling from village to village on horseback, or hiking on foot.  He would preach for an hour in front of market places, playing his guitar, making friends.  People listened to him, some argued, and some of them came to church.  Quimada gathered church members, recruited men to be ministers, and started new congregations.   To the poorest of the poor on this island, they spread the message:  Be joyful!  God is love.  You are a child of God![1]

As Toribio spread the faith in the peasant class of his island, over in the United States the once-numerous Universalists were in decline.   The Universalist Church of the Philippines was incorporated in 1955.  The Universalist Church of America ended six years later, when it merged with the larger and wealthier American Unitarian Association, in 1961.

 

 


[1] To learn more about the ways Christianity spreads, and further insights on the UUCP, I plan to consult Andrew F. Walls, The Cross Cultural Process in Christian History (Maryknoll, N. Y.:  Orbis Books, 2002).

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