Eight months ago, Gabola Church was founded in Gauteng, in a South African city for the intention of praises alcohol to win new members.
“We are a church for those who have been rejected by other churches because they drink alcohol,” Gabola founder and self-proclaimed pope Tsietsi Makiti told The Associated Press.
“The Gabola Church is established to recover those who are rejected, who are considered sinners. We drink for deliverance. We drink for the Holy Spirit to take possession of us.”
“Our goal is to convert bars, taverns and pubs into churches,” says Makiti “and we convert tavern owners into pastors”.
AP reports that Gabola means “drink” in Tswana, one of the official languages of South Africa and Gabola church now has 30 members in the Township of Orange Farm, about 56 kilometres south of Johannesburg.
The congregation sings hymns praising the positive effects of alcohol. Three new members of Gabola were baptized with beer that was poured on their forehead and ran down their faces.
Dressed in his red cassock and gold mitre, the clergyman pours whiskey into his hollow hand and anoints the forehead of the man sitting before him and said: “you are hereby invested as a minister… This is a double dose,” he says, speaking of the whiskey remaining in the chalice.
He gives the chalice to the new minister, who drinks it. “Hallelujah!” Chanted the members of the congregation who, loudly, sing songs and dance steps by engulfing bottles of beer.
Of course, this unique place of worship is criticized.
“Gabola has nothing to do with the word of God. It has nothing to do with religious services,” said Archbishop Modiri Patrick Shole, director of the Council of Independent Churches of the Union of South Africa.
“They use the Bible to promote taverns and drink alcohol. It’s blasphemous. It is a heresy and totally against doctrines.”
The archbishop said he would attack Gabola for breaking municipal bylaws that churches should not be located near bars.