SA’s most powerful Christian leader meets Israeli president in Israel
Lekganyane and his entourage were scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.He also met the South African Ambassador to Israel Sisa Ngombane, as well as other prominent Israeli leaders.
The ZCC is the largest African-initiated church in southern Africa with more than eight million members. The church’s headquarters are at Zion City at Moria in Limpopo Province.
The leadership of the Zion Christian Church have been in Israel since Tuesday on the tour which was organised by the South African Friends of Israel.
Reverend Emmanuel Motollo of the ZCC said: “The ZCC delegation shared with the President the history and growth and values of the church in the last 100 years in South Africa and the common aspirations of peace, progress and unity for all people.”
Ben Swartz, chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, who was part of the SA delegation, said of the meeting with the president: “It was an incredibly warm reception. The president shared his family’s personal presence in Israel for seven generations and shared his aspirations for co-existence with people in the region.”
The delegation had already met with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, in the Holy City. Said Swartz: “It was really great to have the delegation visit the mayor of Jerusalem. He shared his vision of the city and its celebration of all faiths.
“The delegation felt that there was a lot to be gained by further engagement between South African cities and Israeli cities.”
Mark Hyman co-chairman of the South African Friends of Israel, said: “He was delighted with the tour and particularly excited that the Bishop got to pray at the Kotel and insert a personal note in the wall. The personal aide of the Bishop, Shafick Jardine, said: ‘I felt drawn to the Wall and didn’t want to stop praying.’”
According to the ZCC, the mission is focused on “engaging and nourishing the spiritual life of the church and its Christian heritage.”
The ZCC said this week: “Much time will be spent in prayer at holy sites in communion with G-d.
“As is well known among believers, there are many blessings that flow from an immersion with the Holy Land.” said Reverend Motollo.
“At this time our own beloved country is in desperate need of many blessings such as rain, peace, prosperity and stability. The church will, as part of its mission, pray for the well-being of our country.
“The ZCC will meet with organisations and individuals with knowledge and expertise that Israel is famous for, including the fields of water, sustainable energy, education and agriculture, that can help develop our nation and people.”
The Zion Christian Church made the point that its church “is above politics”.
“His grace, Bishop Dr Barnabas Lekganyane, spreads the word of peace wherever he goes,” Motollo said.
“He will use the opportunity to convey a message of dialogue and continued engagement between Israelis, Arabs and South Africans and continued efforts for peace and stability in the world.”
Benji Shulman of the South African Israel Forum, who helped arrange the tour, said: “We have tried very hard to make sure the members of the ZCC delegation have had the opportunity to see Israel for themselves. This way they can gain a perspective on how Israel’s involvement can contribute to South Africa and how greater engagement can foster peaceful relations.”
Zion Christian Church Bishop Dr Barnabas Lekganyane with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.