Nazareth Baptist Church members ready for pilgrimage

Nazereth Baptist Church spokeperson Enoch Mthembu says that worshippers are expecting to reach the top of Mount Nhlangakazi by the end of the week.

FILE: Close to 50,000 followers of the Nazareth Baptist Church, also known as the Shembe Church, leave their church in Ebuhleni, 45km, north of Durban for their pilgrimage. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Thousands of members of the Nazareth Baptist Church are expected to be on their way to Mount Nhlangakazi in Durban for their annual pilgrimage.

Members of the church believe that God spoke to Isaiah Shembe on the mountain, instructing him to start the church in the early 1900s.

The church is one of the biggest indigenous churches in South Africa.

Nazareth Baptist Church spokeperson Enoch Mthembu says that worshippers are expecting to reach the top of Mount Nhlangakazi by the end of the week where they will start their 12-day pilgrimage.

Mthembu says that the 72km walk is very tough, however members are committed to continuing this tradition.

"Because we are committed and dedicated to following in the footsteps of the founder, they didn't reach the mountain on the first day. The only place where he stopped and slept, we also stopped at."

Meanwhile President Jacob Zuma has sent out his well wishes to those embarking on the pilgrimage.

Presidency spokeperson Bongani Ngqulunga: "President Jacob Zuma conveys his best wishes to the Nazareth Baptist Church members as they begin their pilgrimage."

The Nazareth Baptist Church recently made headlines because of leadership battles within the church.

(Edited by Zunaid Ismael)