Isabelo de los Reyes was one of the initiators of the separation, and suggested that former Catholic priest Gregorio Aglipay Since 1960 the church has been in full communion with the Episcopal Church in the United States, and through it, the entire Anglican Communion.Members commonly believe in the rejection of the exclusivity right to apostolic succession by the Petrine papacy, the allowing of priestly ordination of women, optional clerical celibacy, tolerance of Freemasonry, lack of requiring in believing transubstantiation and the Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and support for contraception and same-sex civil rights.Some factions formally joined other denominations including the Episcopal Church and the American Unitarians.
Visiting other churches while traveling abroad, Aglipay developed his theology, coming to reject the divinity of Jesus and the concept of the Trinity and becoming theologically Unitarian.
Other IFI officials refused to accept this revised theology.
The church is the second-largest single Christian denomination in the country after the Roman Catholic Church (some 80.2% of the population), comprising about 2.6% of the total population of the Philippines.
Most of the members of the church, like the founders Aglipay and De los Reyes, are political activists, often involved in progressive groups and advocating nationalism, anti-imperialism, democracy, as well as opposing extrajudicial killings.
He was a guerilla leader of Ilocos Norte during the Philippine–American War with the rank of Lieutenant General.
Following the Philippine–American War, Aglipay and De los Reyes founded the Philippine Independent Church in 1902.
The Executive Commission meets regularly during the ad interim period.
The Obispo Maximo presides as ex-officio Chairperson of the Executive Commission.
Aglipay drew upon the Masons for some concepts of theology and worship.
He was supported by Miguel Morayta, the Grand Master of the Spanish Orient Lodge of Freemasonry in Madrid. Schumacher contends that Morayta and other non-Filipino laymen pushed Aglipay toward schism with the Catholic Church because of their resentment of the activities of Catholic religious orders in the Philippines rather than Filipino nationalism.
The church or its members are referred to by the acronym IFI as well as by a variety of names in the various languages of the Philippines, such as Ilocano: Gregorio Aglipay was an activist and a Roman Catholic priest from Ilocos Norte who would later be excommunicated by then Archbishop of Manila Bernardino Nozaleda y Villa for fomenting schism with the Pope.