The Zion Christian Church (or ZCC) is the largest African Initiated Church in southern Africa, with four million members. The church’s headquarters are at Zion City Moria in Limpopo Province, South Africa, and the two congregations that compose the church are led by Barnabas Lekganyane and Engenas Lekganyane, the grandsons of its founder.
The ZCC was formed by Engenas Lekganyane, a former member of the Free Church of Scotland[disambiguation needed], Apostolic Faith Mission and Zion Apostolic Church. ZCC members trace the founding of the church to a revelation which Lekganyane is said to have received from God in 1910. The church was initially based in Lekganyane’s home village of Thabakgone, near Polokwane in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, and was officially registered as a church in 1942, by which time congregations had additionally been established in Botswana and Zimbabwe. The early church was strongly influenced by the doctrines of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church of John Alexander Dowie, based in Zion, Illinois in the United States of America, and by the teachings of the Pentecostal missionary John G. Lake, who began work in Johannesburg in 1908.
Characteristics of the ZCC:
The ZCC is distinguished from traditional Christianity by characteristics which are typical of African Initiated Churches and which include:
The belief that the religious and administrative leader of the church (or bishop) is a mediator between the congregation and God; that, like Christ, he can perform supernatural acts and faith-healing.
The belief that senior officials in the ZCC (known as prophets or moruti) can use the power of the Holy Spirit to perform healing and make the wishes of the ancestors known.
The use of different mechanisms for faith-healing. These include the laying-on of hands; the use of holy water; drinking of blessed tea and coffee; the wearing of blessed cords or cloth and the burning of blessed papers called mogau.
Members of the ZCC generally believe that:
* A person may contact God through direct prayer, or through intercession by Christ, bishops of the ZCC and the ancestor spirits.
* Purification from sins may be obtained through prayer and other rituals.
* The bishop of the ZCC to some degree replaces the figure of Christ as the Messiah.
* The bishop of the ZCC preaches on peace and respect, humble of Jesus Christ.
* Spirit possession may be the work of either the Holy Spirit or of ancestor spirits.