Wimbainashe Zhakata Post Correspondent—
THE International Apostolic Ejuwell (Jekenishen) church has suffered a debilitating split following irreconcilable differences in interpretation of the church laws, prompting one of the high ranking officials to form a splinter ministry.The splinter sect is called Apostolic Ejuwell Jekenishen led by Philip Changonona who was the High Priest and deputised Arch Bishop Eljah Tom Nyikambaranda in the parent church. Arch Bishop Eljah Tom Nyikambaranda was appointed in 2015.
The two leaders differed on the interpretation of laws governing the church on matters like consumption of alcohol and other intoxicating substances, adultery and polygamy. The rival factions are now fighting over the church’s sacred shrine, which has since spilled to the courts.
High Priest Changonona on Monday dragged Arch Bishop Nyikambaranda and his followers to Mutare Civil Court accusing him of denying his faction access to their sacred shrine.
The parties appeared before Mutare Magistrate Mr Lazarus Murendo, who postponed the matter to a later date so that he has to go through a video clip of the inauguration of Arch Bishop Nyikambaranda, which was tendered as an exhibit, to establish if he owns the church.
In an interview Mr Jushua Mashamaire, a member of Arch Bishop Nyikambaranda’s faction accused the splinter faction of trying to bend church laws to satisfy their nefarious motives.
“Our church is led by the Holy Spirit and it is the duty of each every one of us to follow the rules of the church rules. What happened is that the laws of the church are being strengthened and people who can not fit the bill are leaving voluntarily.
“When Arch Bishop Nyikambaranda was anointed to lead the church in July 2015, efforts were made revise and tighten laws of the church. We expect all congregants to follow these laws as they resonate with the church’s founding principles of 1935,” said Mr Mashamaire.
He also said when the law were strengthened, some of the congregants led by High Priest Changonona were not happy with the old law which prohibited members of the church from taking intoxicating substances, committing adultery and indulging in polygamy.
Mr Mashamaire also dismissed High Priest Changonona’s faction as mere rebels. He said it consists of about 60 congregants from the main church.
“The conflict arose when a faction of our church members, led by Philip Changonona, who was the high priest, went against the dictates of the Jekenishen and formed a rival ministry. It started about a year ago yet Arch Bishop Eljah Tom Nyikambaranda was appointed leader of the original Jekenishen in July 2015,” he said.
Though efforts to engage High Priest Changonona’s faction were fruitless, a founding affidavit they deposited at Mutare Civil Courts claimed that they have a clear right to use the church shrine for church purposes and gatherings.
They want the court to endorse their demands so that they convene at the shrine at the beginning of July of every year for their Passover conference. High Priest Changonona also claimed to have resolved to evict Arch-Bishop Nyikambaranda and his congregants from the shrine.
Currently Arch-Bishop Nyikambaranda and his faction are occupying all houses while High Priest Changonona and his followers have been using the sect shrine for prayers. Sometime in June, High Priest Changonona and his followers went to the church shrine to conduct church activities but were barred by Arch-Bishop Nyikambaranda’s faction. High Priest Changonona want the court to bar Arch-Bishop Nyikambaranda’s faction from interfering with their activities at the church shrine which they claim belong to their Apostolic Ejuwell Jekenisheni Church.