Mystery Worshipper: Pewpotato
Church: Greenhills Christian Fellowship
Location: Pasig City, the Philippines
Date of visit: Sunday, 30 December 2007, 11:00am
A modern, 10-storey building. An armed security guard meets visitors alighting from their cars and guides them into a big high-ceilinged lobby that looks like an atrium at a shopping mall. At the centre of the lobby is an information desk made of steel and wood, and mounted on the wall is a huge plasma TV that shows what's going on in the worship centre. The worship centre is on the third floor and one gets there either by elevator or three flights of escalators. The escalator ride is fun because it is close to the curtain glass windows with a full view of the street and the surrounding skyscrapers. The worship centre is a fan-shaped, 2100-seat auditorium. I have never seen a church with so many projection screens all throughout the auditorium. The sanctuary is huge but there's a really nice and discernible homely feeling to it. There are several more floors for Sunday school classes or child care on weekdays, a youth centre, a fitness centre, and a huge gym on the top floor. And before I forget, there's another worship centre with 1100 seats at the other wing of the building used for "smaller" gatherings.
They are affiliated with the Conservative Baptist Association and the Southern Baptist Convention. This church is quite popular in the Philippines. I was informed that the membership includes a number of business tycoons (no wonder there are armed guards all over) and many rich, upper and middle-class folk, as well as diplomats, politicians, educators, businessmen, development workers, missionaries, athletes and actors – foreigners as well as locals. There are 15 other Greenhills venues in the Metro Manila area.
Pasig City is one of the municipalities comprising Metro Manila. Greenhills sits at the very heart of Ortigas Centre, one of the fastest growing and most important commercial centres in the Philippines today – and a location not very many Philippine churches are able to afford! The immediate neighbourhood is posh. Skyscrapers, business and commercial complexes surround the church. A little beyond the buildings are the palatial homes of some of the wealthiest people in the country. I counted at least eight fashionable shopping malls within three square miles. Several blocks away is the Roman Catholic Shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace (known as the EDSA Shrine after its location on Epifanio de los Santos Avenue), a church capped by a giant bronze statue of the Virgin Mary and a symbol of the Filipinos' deep-seated Catholic culture.
The Revd Dr Luis Pantoja, Jr, senior pastor; a gentleman identified only as Pastor John (may have been the Revd Jonathan Las, pastor for Exalting Ministry); an all-women singing group known as 4Word; and an unnamed gentleman who led the call to worship, the giving, and the scripture reading.