Zion Christian Church

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The Zion Christian Church (or ZCC) is one of the largest African initiated churches in southern Africa, with members belonging to ZCC star and members belonging to the Saint Engenas ZCC. [1] 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 Saint Engenas Lekganyane, the grandsons of its founder.


The ZCC was formed in 1924 by Engenas Lekganyane.[1] After receiving a short education at an Anglican mission, Lekganyane was converted to Zionism around 1913 in Boksburg. He joined the Zion Apostolic Church and eventually became a preacher of a congregation in his hometown during late WWI.[2] After falling out with the ZAC leadership, Lekganyane went to Basutoland to join Edward Lion's Zion Apostolic Faith Mission in 1920. After some time he returned to the Transvaal as the regional leader for Lion.[3]

Lekganyane ZCC members trace the founding of the church to a revelation which Lekganyane is said to have received from God on the top of Mt Thabakgone around 1923 or 1924.[4] The church was initially based in Lekganyane's home village of Thabakgone, near Polokwane in South Africa's Limpopo Province. After clashes with his chief, Lekganyane was determined to obtain land, and between 1938 and 1942 he eventually obtained title to Maclean Farm near Thabakgone. The ZCC 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 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.

The ZCC changed fairly dramatically following his son Edward Lekganyane's assumption of control of the church in 1948. Edward was a highly educated, flamboyant figure who eventually obtained a degree at an Afrikaans divinity school.[5] In contrast to his father, Edward relied less on faith healing and oral testimony in services, and moved towards a more biblically based doctrine. Under his leadership the all-male Mokhukhu organization developed. This group, which initially formed to protect Edward during hostilities that pitted him in a war of succession against his brother Joseph, eventually came to include all male members of the Church. Wearing khakis, police hats, and the Star badge, the Mokhukhu in each congregation engaged in ritualized dancing, singing, and praying three times a week according to a preset schedule.[6] An additional feature of Edward's control of the ZCC was the rapid growth of Zion City Moria as a pilgrimage site. Using the Boyne Farm that his father had purchased in the 1940s, Edward instituted annual pilgrimages that have gone on to become massive southern African-wide events. Each year during Easter Holidays Church members bus en masse to Moria, Polokwane (between 4 an 5 million members) to meet the Bishop and to pray for blessings.[7]


Zion Cristian Church St. Engenas and Star medals on Green background.


Members of the ZCC generally believe [3] that:


  1. ^ South African government guide
  2. ^ Anderson, A., 1999. "The Lekganyanes and Prophecy in the Zion Christian Church", Journal of Religion in Africa, xxix - 3
  3. ^ Hanekom, C., 1975. Krisis en Kultus : Geloofsopvattinge en seremonies binne 'n Swart Kerk, Academica: Kaapstad en Pretoria
  4. Motshwaraganyi Tlhako "The two largest churches in Southern Africa", 2010 'Maltipular Senior Publishers'


  1. ^ E.K. Lukhaimane, “The Zion Christian Church of Ignatius Engenas Lekganyane, 1924 to 1948: An African Experiment with Christianity (MA Dissertation, University of the North, 1980), 1.
  2. ^ Lukhaimane, "The Zion Christian Church," 15-22.
  3. ^ "Who Was Engenas Lekganyane/" http://deanministries.page.tl/Who-Was-Engenas-Lekganyane.htm
  4. ^ Lukahaimane, "Zion Christian Church," 23-4.
  5. ^ Hanekom, C., 1975. Krisis en Kultus : Geloofsopvattinge en seremonies binne 'n Swart Kerk, Academica: Kaapstad en Pretoria
  6. ^ M. Ramogale and S. Galane, "Faith in Action: Mokhukhu of the Zion Christian Church." http://www.folklife.si.edu/resources/festival1997/faithin.htm
  7. ^ R. Muller, African Pilgrimage: Ritual Travel in South Africa's Christianity of Zion. London: Ashgate Press, 2013. 978-1-4094-8164-5