Pioneer Filipino district superintendent passes away

Tabuyoc, Philippines

From left to right: Ernesto Rulloda, Mission Director Bob McCroskey Sr., Pastor Ricareda Valenzuela, and DS Andres Valenzuela

Andres Valenzuela,  a pastor, pioneer superintendent of the Luzon District, and the first Flipino superintendent of the Metro Manila District, passed away 30 October in Urdaneta Pangasinan, Philippines. He was 85 years old.

Valenzuela was born 17 March 1933 in Tabuyoc, Philippines, into a Roman Catholic family. Valenzuela was the oldest son of the late Francisco Valenzuela and his wife, Marina Valenzuela. 

After graduation from high school, Valenzuela enrolled in the second class of the Fitkin Memorial Bible Training School (now Philippine Nazarene College) in La Trinidad. During his time at Fitkin, Valenzuela pastored a church in Baguio City, and he and several other students helped plant a church in Barangay Cabaroan in San Fernando City.

In March 1958, Valenzuela graduated from college and was the youngest among the first seven Filipino men who were ordained during the 4th Philippine District Assembly.

After graduation and ordination, Valenzuela was appointed pastor of the Caboroan Church of the Nazarene and served for two years with his younger brother Patricio. In 1960, Andy married Ricareda Verceles just after her graduation from Nazarene Bible College. One year later, Andy and Rica accepted the call to pastor the Church of the Nazarene in Agbannawag. During this pastorate, Andy founded the Tabuyoc Church of the Nazarene in the Pampanga province. 

In March 1967, Andy was elected assistant district superintendent of the Philippines District on the third ballot. After a year traveling with Philippines Mission Director Robert McCroskey Sr., Valenzuela was elected the first Filipino district superintendent in the Philippines in a near-unanimous vote. In 1971, Rica became the first woman to be ordained as an elder in the Church of the Nazarene in the Philippines and served as pastor in Binalonan, Laoac, and Tabuyoc churches. 

When the Philippines District was divided in March 1973, Andy became the first superintendent of the new Luzon District, which encompassed the largest and most populous island in the Philippines. In June 1976, Rica was elected as the first Asian representative to the Nazarene World Mission Society Council (now Nazarene Missions International) of the Church of the Nazarene. She served for two terms in this position until June 1985.

Andy was elected superintendent of the Metro Manila District in 1980. While serving in Manila, Rica pastored the Central Church of the Nazarene in Cubao and was also the first district children's ministry coordinator. 

The Valenzuelas both dual enrolled at Asia Theological Seminary and at Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary when it first opened in November 1983. Andy received Distinguished Service Awards from the Metro Manila District in 1983 and from the Luzon District in 1987. 

After graduation from APNTS in 1986, Andy resigned as superintendent of the Metro Manila District and the Valenzuela family migrated to northern California to plant and pastor Filipino churches. The Valenzuelas co-founded the New Life Church in Vallejo, California, serving there until they retired in 2014. Andy also served as the USA/Canada Filipino Ministry facilitator for the Church of the Nazarene from 1991 to 2014.

In June 2017, they returned to live in their hometown in the Philippines. The Valenzuelas were honored in a special service at the Tabuyoc Church in August 2017, and they were presented plaques by Philippines Nazarene College as outstanding alumni in October 2017. 

Andy Valenzuela is survived by his wife, Rica, their two children, Abner Valenzuela and Brenda Valenzuela Fortune, and their five grandchildren.  

--Asia-Pacific Nazarene Theological Seminary via NCN News submissions

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