This article examines the Moemedi Pentecostal Church, a small, recently established group outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, it reviews the origins and theology of the church with particular emphasis on members' assertion of Jewish identity. The Moemedi Pentecostal Church (MPC) emphasizes the Old Testament and biblical Jews in a manner common to many Zionist churches in Africa. While it is common among Zionist churches for congregants to believe they are God's "new chosen people," MPC members take the additional step toward self-identification as Jews, even while claiming no historical Jewish identity. The Moemedi Pentecostal Church broke off from the International Pentecostal Church (IPC) after its founder, Frederick Modise, died in 1998. While continuing to embrace Modise's teachings, members of the new group eschew the divine messianic qualities many in the IPC attribute to him. The result is a complex blend of Zionist and Jewish elements in the MPC. This article suggests that the claim to be Jewish made by the members of the Moemedi Pentecostal Church is related to their assertion that they have a true understanding of Moemedi's function as a human messiah, as opposed to the divinity attributed to Moemedi by members of the IPC.
- ©© 2009 by The Regents of the University of California