Mount Zion Filipino Church History
by: Ben & Evelyn Regoso
The Early Beginnings
In 1989, the Filipino-Canadian Seventh-day Adventist Church at 788 Sheppard Avenue W., Downsview, then under the ministry of Pastor Efenito Adap was experiencing "growing pains". The membership had reached over 500, and exceeding the church capacity. This prompted the church to plan for a faith project of “church planting”. On January 1991, the financial plan was made and the missionary team of the church, the "Action Team" led by Priscella Comilang and Felipe Movilla accepted the challenge of supporting the church planting in Vaughan area. Pastor Efenito Adap was then appointed Associate Stewardship Director for the Ontario Conference on June 30, 1991, and was also given the permission to pursue the Church Planting project. The project materialized when the group had their first Sabbath meeting at Glen Shields Public School located at 150 Glen Shields Ave., Concord on July 27, 1991. The group temporarily named themselves “York Region SDA Congregation”. On that same day, the Sabbath School "small group" concept was implemented.
The first business meeting was held that afternoon attended by Elder F. Maitland, Ontario Conference Ministerial secretary, and Pastor Abel Pangan. Evelyn Regoso was voted as Interim Secretary and George Solijon was elected to sit as one of the six consultative committee members for church planting. Other appointed members of the committee were Elders Bacchus, Corkum and Maitland (for the conference), Pastors Pangan and Adap (for the local church). The company moved to Thornhill Presbyterian Church located at 271 Centre St. in September of 1991. On September 14, 1991, Ontario Conference President Elder Rick Bacchus officially organized the company with Eliseo Lagazo as the First Elder. In the same afternoon, the "Maharlika Pathfinder Club” was born. A new name "Mount Zion Filipino" was voted unanimously and adopted on September 21, 1991.
On October 9, 1991, Pastor Efenito Adap was appointed as a full pledge pastor of the Mount Zion SDA Company. Barely two months after the company was organized, Pastor Adap with the "Action Team", assisted in organizing the fourth Filipino congregation — the "Scarborough Filipino Mission Group", known today as Scarborough Filipino Church.
The occasional unavailability of a meeting place, equipment or facilities did not at all deter the congregation from moving forward in their church program and activities. On the contrary, the many inconveniences mellowed their self-sufficiencies and magnified the many caring ways of the Lord. During this time, Willowdale Seventh-day Adventist Church graciously offered one of their rooms to be used for regular mid-week prayer meetings.
Seeing the urgent need of a home church, the newly formed company embarked on a 2 million dollar church building project on December 21, 1991. Six months after its inception, the company of 225 charter members was formally organized into a church on March 28, 1992. Elder George Atiga, Associate Director for Asian Ministries, North American Division, led in the candle lighting ceremony assisted by Ontario Conference leaders: Elders Rick Bacchus, Ken Corkum, Nelson Tabingo and Fitzroy Maitland. The first baptism held at the Filipino-Canadian church (Reggie Ganzon, Rhodney Regoso, Mely Eugenio-Titus) was recorded on January 7, 1992.
Realizing a Home Church
On December 5, 1992, the congregation moved to Willowdale Christian Reformed Church located at 70 Hilda Ave., a beautiful building that seats approximately 500. This was to be their temporary church for over a year. It was during the months of 1992 that the search for church property went intensive with Pastor Adap and Eliseo Lagazo paving the way. Confronted with reality that real estate in Thornhill (Vaughan) is costly, an industrial building for sale at 140 St. Regis Cres. was considered and recommended to the Ontario Conference.
The property was purchased on December 16, 1993 for $608,000 from Donadio Investments, Inc., and Phase-1 renovation work commenced immediately thereafter. "Free labour" was pouring in in massive proportions from church members, the neighboring three Filipino Churches and friends. "Workbee on Sunday", became the buzz word and a good number of people were literally working six days a week, and for some, weeknights. While in the renovation stage, the church availed free usage of the Edithvale Community Centre at Edithvale & Finch Avenue West for their other meetings and activities.
It was with great anticipation when on February 4, 1995, the "Wandering Jews" finally settled in their own "home", and yes, with something comfortable to sit on. The church was blessed to "inherit" 31 well padded pews from the congregation of the Warden Full Gospel Assembly, and several used fluorescent lightings in square casing from the client of Jun Imperio. The Phase-1 renovation project was completed for an additional cost of about $400,000. Phase-II renovation (church facade) was undertaken in July 1996 in preparation for the church inauguration on March 28, 1997. This project was completed by October of the same year at the cost of over $60,000.
MIRACLES OF GOD'S LEADING
"We have no fear of the future, unless we forget how God has led us in the past". Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the church will endeavor and continue to proclaim, lead, nurture, and equip her royal priesthood of believers, so each is empowered to glorify God from within Mt. Zion and beyond - till Jesus comes.
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!