Religious teaching and rituals of the mutima church in Kasama district, Zambia

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Sendapu, Vincent
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University of Zambia
This study investigated the religious teachings and rituals of the Mutima Church of Zambia’s Kasama district. The study was necessitated by the knowledge gap on the religious practices and rituals of the Mutima Church. Studies that have been conducted by other scholars focused on the religious life of Emilio Mulolani, the founder of the Sweet Heart of Nimbus Church, popularly known as Mutima Church. The Mutima Church is a Zambian church with religious values deeply rooted in African Christian beliefs which greatly influence the interpretation of the bible. The objectives of the study were to: (1) explore the major religious teachings of the Mutima Church as a way of understanding its doctrines, (2) investigate the religious practices and rituals observed by the Mutima Church and (3) establish how the teachings and rituals of the Mutima Church have diverged from those of the Catholic Church. Mutima Church members living in Kasama district constituted the target population of the study. The sample size was forty. The study was qualitative in nature and used interviews as the main method of data collection. The interview method was supplemented by observing Mutima Church services and other religious rituals, and using focus group discussions with church leaders, ordinary church members, marriage couples, youths and two Catholic Priests. To arrive at the targeted sample, purposive sampling was used. Data was analyzed and grouped in topics and subtopics according to the research objectives. The study showed that the Mutima Church is a well established African Church with its own set of religious teachings and rituals that are regularly practiced by the congregation. The major religious teachings and rituals of the church largely draw on the theology of Emilio Mulolani, its founder. The major religious teachings of the Mutima Church include teachings on the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, death, resurrection, judgement and eternal life. On the other hand, the important rituals of the Mutima Church include dawn prayers and fasting, baptism and marriage. The findings of this study reveal that the Blessed Virgin Mary holds a higher place than Jesus in the teachings of the Mutima Church. This view is supported by the numerous prayers, hymns and rites dedicated to her. The study also showed that the Mutima Church has maintained some of the religious practice from the Catholic Church but interpreted them differently. This finding indicates that the Mutima Church did not embrace Christianity in the form it was articulated by the missionaries but has innovatively fused in their local religious/cultural beliefs or doctrine into their own version of Christianity. The study recommends that the Mutima Church should record and publicise its teachings and rituals so that people can read and understand them. In order to authenticate African Christianity mainstream churches should infuse local beliefs and practices into their liturgy. Moreover to avoid further splits, church leaders in AICs and mainstream churches should cooperate and pay greater attention to the physical and moral needs of ordinary members.
religious education