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Congregation, sacredness, and community have been transformed and expanded in El Shaddai contexts to create forms of religious experience that are very different from those of the mainstream Church. Most notable are the ways El Shaddai’ followers see their relationships with God and with others in the religious community, their experience of ritual, their emphasis on the spiritual manifestations of God, and their orientation toward Brother Mike as a conduit to God. By using mass media and open air rallies, Brother Mike also puts El Shaddai ministries in a strategically favorable position with the Church institution, allowing El Shaddai to remain both independent and under the wing of the Church at the same time. This gives El Shaddai a perceived distance from Catholic orthodoxy, while allowing it to capitalize on the sense of legitimacy derived from its Catholic identity. El Shaddai members’ use of religious programming, combined with their participation in mass rallies, extend the sacred and ritual sphere beyond the immediate locale into the home and the body, blurring the boundaries between mass mediated religious experience and more temporal forms of religious practice. Interestingly, on August 20, 2009, Brother Mike opened the El Shadddai International House of Prayer, a $20 billion worship structure with a floor area of one hectare (more than two acres) in the Brother Mike-owned Amvel City San Dionisio, Paranaque City (within metropolitan Manila). The structure reportedly has a seating capacity of 15,000, with a standing-room capacity of 25,000, and an overflow capacity of 200,000. It claims to be the biggest place of worship in Asia. Will this alter the essential nature of the El Shaddai religious experience? Will El Shaddai continue to be as distinctive and relevant? What is the future of the open-air, boundless El Shaddai with a church?



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