Original Research

Ritual, myth and transnational giving within the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa

John Ringson, Admire Chereni
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 76, No 3 | a5860 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v76i3.5860 | © 2020 John Ringson, Admire Chereni | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 October 2019 | Published: 27 April 2020

About the author(s)

John Ringson, Department of Social Work, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Admire Chereni, Centre for Academic Technologies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

This article interrogates how rituals and myths may reshape Pentecostal ideology and practice in ways that resonate with the practical concerns of born-again congregants in an exclusive foreign labour market. It draws on a series of field observations conducted in Johannesburg, at two congregations of the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa (ZAOGA) – a born-again movement with roots in Zimbabwe – between 2009 and 2016. The authors critically examine the shifting architecture of the ritual of Working Talents and its contradictory use of myths. The authors consider the intended consequences of both the ritual of Working Talents and often contradictory myths used to bolster it, for the transnational growth of the church and its involvement in the development of the nation. A phenomenological observation qualitative research was utilised to establish the experiences, feelings and behaviours of the ZAOGA congregants regarding the gospel of Working Talents at two of their assemblies in Johannesburg. A key finding was that Working Talents contains ethical action and empowerment narratives, and it aspires to create Pentecostal congregants with collective cultural identities, disposed to give money to support the causes of the church. In doing so, myths and rituals have reshaped the ZAOGA Pentecostal ideology into a nuanced version of the Prosperity Gospel, one that emphasises notions of indigenisation, empowerment and self-propagation.

Keywords

ritual; myths; transnational; Pentecostal; talents; Zimbabwe; Johannesburg

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