In 2022, there are less than 50 Ahmadi’s in all of Zion, the missionary is also unknown, this is evident by simply surfing the @Ahmadiyya_Zion twitter handle. Nevertheless, the Khalifa is coming to visit. The Khalifa is coming to inaugurate this tiny mosque for this tiny community of Ahmadi’s. The real reason is that this is a show of marketing, a show of pomp, of victory. MGA’s challenged Alexander Dowie, Dowie refused and his city was taken over by his chief lieutenant, Wilbur G. Voliva. By the 1930’s Wilbur G. Voliva had lost control of the town altogether. By the 1950’s it seems that they changed their name to the “Christ Community Church” and lost control of Zion. The Ahmadiyya Movement saw this and tried to buy property in Zion, which they finally did after the 2000’s (it took 25 years of planning). As of 2008, the “Christ Community Church” has about 3,000 members in the United States and Canada. Missionary work is conducted in Japan, Philippines, Guyana, Palestine, Indonesia, and the Navajo Nation. Missionary work continues among the African Zionists under the banner of Zion Evangelical Ministries of Africa (ZEMA). ZEMA’s goal is to convert the African Zionists from syncretism to mainstream Christian theology.
In typical Ahmadiyya style, they have spent million of dollars on building a mosque in Zion, ill. Ahmadiyya leaders told the press that Ahmadiyya women collected the money for this project themselves, however, this is normal ahmadiyya marketing, they have said this about many famous mosques like the one in Germany and London. They have named it “Fath-e-Azeem Mosque”, which means “The Mosque of the Great Victory”. They gave it this name since MGA challenged Alexander Dowie to a prayer duel. Dowie never accepted nor did he exchange unpleasantries with MGA and his team. In 1901, Dowie claimed to be the spiritual return of the Biblical prophet Elijah, and styled himself as “Elijah the Restorer”, “The Prophet Elijah”, or “The Third Elijah”. In 1896 Dowie disbanded the International Divine Healing Association to form the Christian Catholic Church in Zion. He renamed it as the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church in 1903. In 1905, he suffered a stroke, and traveled to Mexico to recuperate. While absent from Chicago, he was deposed from his business affairs by Wilbur G. Voliva, his chief lieutenant. Alexander Dowie repented of his claims in 1907, however, he died soon thereafter while living in Zion on retirement salary, he was succeeded by Wilbur G. Voliva.
Wilbur G. Voliva renamed the religious organization as the “Christian Catholic Apostolic Church.” By careful management he rescued Zion from bankruptcy, gaining the support of the church members. He kept tight control on his some 6,000 followers, which made up the community, even up to the point of dictating their choice of marriage partners. The city of Zion was effectively controlled by the church; all of its real estate, while sold at market rates, was conveyed under a 1,100 year lease, subject to many restrictions and to termination at the whim of the General Overseer. Religions other than the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church were effectively banned – visiting preachers from rival sects were harassed and hounded out of town by the city police force. Voliva diversified Zion Industries, an industrial concern owned by the church that manufactured Scottish lace, to include a bakery which produced the popular Zion brand fig bar cookies and White Dove chocolates. Zion was a company town and its workers were paid substandard wages. Voliva introduced many new rules for members and notices were placed around the town with stern warnings that the independents (who didn’t belong to the church) resented and often burned. But the city was established as a safe space for those within its boundaries.
Like his predecessor Dowie, Voliva increasingly developed an overtly lavish lifestyle, which began to alienate his followers, especially after the hardships brought on by the Great Depression, which forced the town’s sole employer, Zion Industries, into bankruptcy. In 1935 Voliva tried to revive the flagging fortunes of the church by instituting the annual Zion Passion Play, along the lines of the famous one in Oberammergau. However, in 1937 a disgruntled employee set the church’s huge Shiloh Tabernacle, where the play took place, ablaze. Shortly thereafter, Voliva was forced into personal bankruptcy. In 1942 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, Voliva made a tearful public confession to his followers that he had misappropriated church funds for his personal use and committed other misdeeds. Shortly thereafter on October 11, 1942 he died, and the church all but dissolved.
A small remnant was reorganized under the leadership of Michael Mintern but a second fire destroyed the Zion Auditorium on April 11, 1959. At this time the Robson family from England were living in an apartment in the building. They were out of the building at the time. Had they been at home they would have perished, as the fire appliances were not able to reach the fourth floor. This was felt to be God’s provision as He kept them out of the building that day. The church in Zion was later renamed to Christ Community Church.
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