- Kimbangu, Simon
- (1889-1951)founder of the Kinbanguist ChurchSimon Kimbangu, an African Christian prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth through the Prophet Simon Kimbangu (or Kinbanguist Church), was born in Nkamba in what was then the Congo Free State of Central Africa (later Belgian Congo and now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). He converted to the Baptist Church and was baptized in 1915. He had only a rudimentary education and could not read much of the Bible, which kept him from becoming a Baptist preacher.In 1918, he began to have visions that announced a calling as a healer and a prophet. He tried to escape them, but in 1921 he began a public ministry of faith healing that garnered an immediate response. Large crowds attended him in his village, and people came from as far away as Leopoldville. The Belgian authorities became alarmed and feared that this movement could turn political and even revolutionary, and he was arrested.By all accounts, Kimbangu preached a traditional orthodox form of Protestant Christian faith. He attacked polygamy and traditional Congolese religion and told followers not to participate in African ceremonies. He told them to refrain from palm wine, a popular alcoholic drink. He did make a place for the ancestors, important figures in African society.Though he had preached obedience to authority, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to be executed. A protest by missionaries saved his life, but he spent the next 30 years in jail and died there on October 12, 1951. This date is observed annually as a memorial to the church's founder.The church that developed from his brief three-month ministry became one of the largest of the African Initiated Churches. When the Belgian authorities tried to suppress the movement, members took the persecution as part of their life in identification with Christ. The disruption of their main gathering point in Kimbangu's hometown had the effect of spreading the teachings into new areas. The church was finally recognized in 1959. In 1970, it was admitted to the World Council of Churches.See also Africa, sub-Saharan.Further reading:■ Allen H. Anderson, "Kimbanguist Church (Congo)/Église de Jésus Christ sur la terre par le prophète Simon Kimbangu" in J. Gordon Melton and Martin Baumann, eds., Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices (Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 2002)■ Adrian Hastings, The Church in Africa: 1450-1950 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994)■ Wyatt MacGaffey, Modern Kongo Prophets: Religion in a Plural Society (Bloomington: Indiana university Press, 1983)■ Marie-Louise Martin, Kimbangu: An African Prophet and his Church (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1975)■ K. Gordon Molyneux, African Christian Theology: The Quest for Selfhood (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.