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African Church of the Holy Spirit

Church Family : African Church of the Holy Spirit
Based in : Kenya
Present in :
Membership : 700,000
Pastors : 3,780
Congregations : 1,260
Member Of :
Associate Member Of :
WCC Member Since : 1975

The African Church of the Holy Spirit came into being in 1927, as the result of a split in the Friends African Mission. This was caused by a Pentecostal revival led by a missionary who baptized people in the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands. Converts spoke in tongues. They were expelled from the mission and the ACHS was officially established as an independent church in 1933. In the years following, the church faced great hardships and persecution. It was registered as a religious community in 1957. The ACHS is a Trinitarian church which believes in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and confesses Jesus Christ who died and rose again for the salvation of humankind. The church accepts the scriptures as the supreme rule of faith and life and the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds as containing the substance of faith of the church. It practises baptism in the Holy Spirit of adult persons upon repentance. Holy communion is not celebrated because the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer takes the place of the eucharist as a constant remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ACHS believes in dreams, visions and prophecies and takes African culture and tradition positively.

The leaders of the church are elected by the members and carry the title of high priest. Members are identified by a cross on their clothes. Men wear beards and turbans. Apart from the regular Sunday services, each congregation holds a monthly meeting. Quarterly meetings bring people from several congregations together, and a yearly meeting is held at the headquarters of the church. Sunday services start with the singing of hymns and reciting of Psalm 1:1-6, and the collection of alms. Drums and clapping of hands are used to accompany the singing. Church elders drive out the evil spirits while the congregation kneels. The pastor preaches a sermon, which is followed by prayers and hymns. The order of the service may change under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who inspires prophecies and visions. It is believed that the Holy Spirit can heal all cases of sickness. Those who are not healed are allowed to go to the hospital for treatment.

The church takes part actively in the ecumenical organizations to which it belongs. It runs several schools and is involved in relief work in the border region between Kenya and Sudan. Among its priorities are evangelization in remote areas, the training of the clergy and the construction of a Bible college. The membership of the ACHS comes from a range of different ethnic groups.

*These statistics differ considerably from data sent earlier by the church, which corresponded with its status as associate member church.