The history, beliefs and practices of the voice of salvation and healing church, 1954-2012.
Adongo, Wilson Okonjo
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This study investigates the history, beliefs and practices of the Voice of Salvation and Healing Church (VOSHC), an African Initiated Church (AIC) which emerged in the 1950s. It is closely associated with the East African Revival Movement of the 1930s in terms of its beliefs and practices. The study is significant because it explored the various factors that led to the formation and establishment of VOSHC during the pre-independence period of Kenyan history. The study explored the uniqueness in the one-man leadership of VOSHC since 1954. The study also addressed the beliefs and practices of VOSHC that have brought coherence to its adherents as it has remained relevant to the present. The study was guided by a historico-anthropological-analytical design. This involved the use of a descriptive approach in examining the objectives of the study. Primary data was mainly from field research which relied on oral interviews (OIs), participant observations (POs) and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). The study sample comprised leaders and members of VOSHC. They were selected on the basis of gender, age, position in the church and length of membership. The instruments used to collect data were interview schedules, observation schedule and interview guide for FGDs. A total of sixty informants were interviewed. From the data analysis, the study has shown that VOSHC was founded under the influential African leaders led by Silas Owiti. VOSHC emerged from a mainstream church, now the Anglican Church of Kenya. It is evident from the study that both sociological and theological factors were clearly central in the formation of VOSHC. In particular, the church was founded on the emphasis on teachings about salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, divine healing and the in-filling of the Holy Spirit evident in the speaking in tongues as was on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). For the VOSHC adherents, understanding of the roles and manifestations of the Holy Spirit is central to the Christian faith. The study has shown that VOSHC has developed and grown amidst challenges over the years. This has been evident in its leadership organizational structure and spatial advancement into other areas outside the Luo Nyanza region where it was first established. From the findings, the study notes that: VOSHC could have made more impact in the society if it were not for some misunderstandings over certain sociological, theological, integrity and doctrinal issues which led to two major schisms in a span of ten years. Moreover, VOSHC could have spread all over Kenya and other parts of Africa, if the leaders could have been dynamic and ready to accommodate universal strategies of empowerment such as formal education, theological training of its ministers, among others.