union church of manila’s sanctuary

Here are more views of Union Church of Manila’s Sanctuary area, taken last Sunday. I shot this through glass, from the Cry Room (for nursing mothers and infants, where I was assigned as an usher) on the second level, before the Traditional (second) service started, as the church was filling up.

The UCM Chancel Choir warms up before the service starts.

Towards the back of the Sanctuary is another projection screen (for the convenience of pastors/speakers), behind which is the Control Room for sound and video, a “traffic operations center” (TOC) as we would say in broadcasting. To the right on the second level is the Overflow Chapel, where we seat latecomers when the Sanctuary is full. On the level above that, screened by wooden lattices, are the pastors’ and administrators’ offices.


The Overflow Chapel is not glassed-in and overlooks the Sanctuary. Beside it is the TOC. UCM is blessed to have good equipment for it. Beyond that is a Columbarium, all done in cream and beige marble. It’s a serene place.


The UCM Columbarium

Since it was the first Sunday of April, it was a Communion service, so one of the kitchen helpers brought up cubes of wheat bread and little plastic cups of grape juice and wine in silver holders. Looking closely at the dish for the wine holders, I was intrigued by the inscription:

Presented to beloved former pastor Rev. S. B. Rossiter, D.D., by friends of the North Presbyterian Church of New York City for use in the Presbyterian Church in Manila, P.I. Dec 27th 1903.

Perhaps the Presbyterian Church of Manila was one of those which merged or united to create UCM in 1914. This silver dish is almost 105 years old, and since then presumably has been in continuous use for the church. I was struck by the continuity of the church across time and space.


In his sermon, Pastor Steve (Rev. Steve Ruetschle) unveiled the new UCM logo, created for free by a Christian graphics designer based in Seattle, WA.


From a century-old silver Communion dish to a brand-new logo designed with the latest graphics software, UCM is blessed to have received so many gifts of love from so many people from all over the world since it was first founded.

Going back to the logo, the various colors represent the diversity of people at UCM; the circular design bisected by a symmetrical cross echoes that of the Sanctuary cross on the ceiling, as do the “shards” that make up each quarter. The symmetrical cross is an ancient Christian device and hearkens back to Byzantine religious art, the Maltese cross, the Celtic cross, and other such depictions.


UCM Sanctuary Ceiling Cross

For the past four Sundays or so, I’ve been assigned to usher at the Cry Room or the adjoining Conference Room (which takes in the overflow from the Overflow Chapel) and am quite comfortable with the work. “Crowd control” of this kind is very easy compared to what I’ve had to do in events management for horseracing, where people are generally more difficult to deal with moreover since the activities are of a  worldly nature.

That Sunday, as Pastor Steve discussed chapter 4 of Ephesians on “spiritual gifts”, tying it into Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church’s “SHAPE” (Spiritual Gift – Heart – Abilities – Personality – Experience) concept of service from his book “Purpose-Driven Life”, I realized that God gave me this “experience” in work, and many others in life, so I would be able to use them in church to serve others.

After Traditional service, I ran down to the Sala to serve as a “First Friends” greeter. It was a very sunny day, and I could not resist taking a snap of the rock garden just outside the Sala window. Lush foliage is just one of the many benefits of living in a tropical country!


Union Church of Manila is at the corner of Rada and Legazpi Streets, Legaspi Village, Makati.


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1 Comment on union church of manila’s sanctuary

  1. Robin Haines Merrill
    22 May 2008 at 9:29 am (4437 days ago)

    Thank you SO MUCH for this photo essay! Your shots are perfect….I tried last summer to shoot some of the same areas, without success from my lame camera. So I am VERY HAPPY to see your photos, and to be able to share with some folks here. My husband Mark and I were in the design team that designed the whole building, but had to leave for medical reasons, before it was built. I was able to return in 2006 & 07, but Mark has never seen it. Your photos and writing will more helpful to him than my photos were. THANK YOU and God bless!

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