In the post-World War II era, the world was in the midst of dramatic change. It was a time when individuals from across the globe were heeding a higher calling, often in far-off lands. This is the story of Rev. and Mrs. John E. Jackson, a couple whose journey from China to the Philippines led to the birth of the first Southern Baptist Church in Mindanao, Immanuel Baptist Church (IBC).

A Divine Calling and a Widened Mission

Rev. and Mrs. John E. Jackson had initially dedicated themselves to missionary work in China. However, their spiritual journey took an unexpected turn when they received what they believed was a divine calling to move to the Philippines. Their original plan was to reach out to the Chinese community in Davao City. However, it became evident that God had a broader purpose in mind, one that encompassed both the Chinese and Filipino communities.

A Modest Beginning

On July 15, 1951, the seeds of faith were sown as the first worship service took place at the Jacksons’ residence on Tomas Claudio Street. At that time, separate services were conducted for the Chinese and Filipino congregations. As the congregation grew, they moved to a rented building on Legaspi Street.

Organizing for the Future

Just over a year later, on September 14, 1952, the members of the budding Southern Baptist Church gathered for their first organizational meeting, with Rev. J.E. Jackson as their pastor. However, it wasn’t until October 5, 1952, that the Immanuel Baptist Church (IBC) was officially adopted as the name of their growing community of faith.

A Home of Their Own

God’s providence continued to shine upon IBC as a lot at Jacinto-Mapa Streets was miraculously provided less than a year later. With the support of Southern Baptist Churches in the United States, a beautiful IBC building was constructed and dedicated during their first worship service in September 1953.

Branching Out

The Chinese community, originally part of IBC, soon organized into what is now known as the Davao Chinese Baptist Church, located at Guerrero Street, right in front of San Pedro College.

Planting Seeds of Faith

The following pioneering members of IBC were instrumental in spreading their faith to various areas of Davao City.

Mr. & Mrs. Liberato Bantug
Mrs. Priscilla Molinos and children
Mr. & Mrs. Cresencia Onggao
Mr. & Mrs. Vicente Onggao
Mr. & Mrs. Eduardo Fortuna, Sr.
Mr. & Mrs. Alfonso Olorosisimo
Mr. & Mrs. Severo Beciera
Mrs. Benedicta Pacificar
Mr. & Mrs. Magdaleno Caballero
Mr. & Mrs. Ignacio Dinapo
Miss Alice Padernal
Miss Angelina Java

Soon members started planting churches in various areas of Davao City. Among which were:

  • Bunawan Baptist Church
  • Zion Baptist Church
  • Matina Baptist Church
  • Redeemed Baptist Church
  • Gen. Roxas Baptist Church
  • Caridad Baptist Church
  • Amazing Grace Baptist Church
  • Pampanga Christian Community
  • Sasa Baptist Church
  • Cogon Baptist Church
  • First Buhangin Baptist Church
  • Hope Baptist Church
  • Canaan Baptist Church
  • Indangan Baptist Church
  • Immanuel Baptist Church – New Valencia

Shepherds of the Flock

Throughout its journey, IBC was led by a succession of dedicated pastors, each contributing their wisdom and leadership to the congregation.

Rev. John E. Jackson 1952 – 1953
Rev. Bill Solesbee 1953 – 1956
Rev. Abraham Paler 1956 – 1957
Rev. Eliseo Sarcos 1957 – 1958
Rev. Bill Solesbee 1958 – 1961
Rev. Zacarias Dayot 1961 – 1964
Rev. Rolando Raganas 1964 – 1968
Chief Deacon Celso Navales 1968 – 1969
Rev. Leslie Hill (Interim) 1969 (Jan-March)
Chief Deacon Celso Navales 1969 – 1970
Rev. Angelino Alfaras 1970 – 1976
Rev. Romeo Jardinel 1976 – 1980
Rev. Arturo Pabellon (Interim) 1980 – 1981
Dr. Zacarias Dayot 1981 – 1986
Rev. Jesus Misa 1986 – 1990
Dr. Karl Babb (Interim) 1988
Dr. Donald Jones (Interim) 1988 – 1989
Rev. Arnel Tan 1989 – 1993
Rev. Manuel Ojoylan (Interim) 1993 – 1995
Rev. Arturo Pabellon 1995 – 2000
Rev. Lucivar Laurico 2001 – 2004
Rev. Patrick San 2004 – 2012
Rev. Rolando Raganas 2012 – 2013
Rev. John Gacasan (Senior Pastor) March 2016 – present
Rev. Resurrecion Arcenas (Associate Pastor) March 2016 – present

Immanuel Baptist Church stands today as a testament to the faith, dedication, and perseverance of its founders, members, and leaders. Its remarkable history, from its humble beginnings in the Jacksons’ home to its widespread impact on the Davao City community, is a shining example of the power of faith and God’s guiding hand in shaping the course of history. To God be the glory!