La Verne Mercado was born and raised in a parsonage in Magalang, Pampanga. His father was a Methodist pastor, and his mother a deaconess. He was ordained minister of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in 1961, served as executive secretary of the UMC’s board of education from 1959 to 1973 and became general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) until 1987.
He served as director of youth and student work of the UMC’s Philippines Annual Conference from 1950 to 1954, as national president of the National Christian Youth Council of the Philippines from 1952 to 1954, and first national president of the Methodist Youth Fellowship of the Philippines, also from 1952 to 1954.
He served in international and local organizations involved in children’s development, social action, justice and peace, human rights, ecumenism, Christian literature, and Bible distribution. Bishop Mercado coedited the book Human Rights Violations in the Philippines, published by the World Council of Churches in 1986, and wrote a chapter in the book Rice in the Storm: Faith in Struggle in the Philippines, published in 1989.
He was ordained elder in 1962, and served as pastor in local churches, and in various capacities in his church’s national offices. He grew to become an influential person, particularly when he became general secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines, during a period when the country was wracked by militarization and repression under martial law.
As its general secretary from 1973 to 1987, he led the NCCP into becoming the mouthpiece of its member-churches in denouncing the abuses of those in power, as part of his church’s prophetic role in society. At a time when it was most dangerous to do so, NCCP issued public statements on issues such as human dignity, national sovereignty, church-state relations and morality in government, among others, and inspired its staff to boldly implemented programs that served victims of injustices, including political detainees and their families.
Bishop Mercado, along with some NCCP staff and guests, were detained by martial law authorities in June 1974, with NCCP accused of “aiding the enemies of the state.” This triggered such an outrage among churches and ecumenical bodies in and outside the Philippines that President Marcos himself ordered the bishop’s release.
Bishop Mercado combined diplomacy and statesmanship, skills which saw him through the difficult task of keeping NCCP member-churches together during the turbulent years of martial law. His gentle and friendly demeanor and his unquestioned integrity inspired respect and deep admiration among church leaders and colleagues.
Bishop Mercado firm advocacy for human rights and for church involvement in the Filipino people’s struggle won him the friendship of many and the respect of even his critics.
Bishop La Verne Mercado died of natural causes in July 2003.
Born 4 December 1921 in Magalang, Pampanga
Died 23 July 2003 in Metro Manila
Parents : Constancio Mercado Sr. and Juana Diwa
Spouse : Nellie Mercado
Education : Elementary –
High School –
College – Bachelor of Theology, Union Theological Seminary, magna cum laude
Master of Arts in Religion, Garrett Theological Seminar, Northwestern University, Illinois, USA
Doctor of Humanities & Letters, honoris causa, Central Philippine University, Iloilo City