Our church’s colorful history contains some good and some not so good. But none of it’s boring! Today we look like most other Bible-believing evangelical churches. But we started as an unusual experiment at the turn of the twentieth century. In the late 1800s, John Alexander Dowie, a Scottish minister, envisioned a “city of God,” where social, industrial, commercial, educational, political and religious principles of the Kingdom of God would be put into practice. In the middle of this city would be the Christian Catholic Church (now Christ Community Church).
The church was formally organized on February 22, 1896 in Chicago, and in 1899, Dowie announced that he’d purchased six thousand acres which were to become the City of Zion (incorporated July 15, 1901). Sure enough, the centerpiece of the city was the church, built to accommodate 8,000 people.
Dowie’s unusual ministry (he was an energetic, visionary leader who prayed for healing – and saw healing – for thousands) attracted people from all over the world. They came to be part of what God was doing in Zion – both the church and the city, which in those early days were inextricably related.
After Dowie’s death, Zion suffered financially for some of its leader’s mistakes. Utopian dreams had to be scaled back to match reality. But the churchcontinued a tradition of innovative thinking. Under Wilbur Voliva, Dowie’s successor, the Zion Passion Play and Zion Conservatory of Music were created. Under Michael Mintern, the next pastor (then called “overseer”), Camp Zion was developed in Door County, Wisconsin. Carl Lee led the church into rebuilding after fire destroyed its worship space. Click here to read more about the sanctuary. During Roger Ottersen’s tenure, the church revived a significant work begun in the early 1900s among millions of southern Africans who trace their spiritual roots to Zion.
During the interim between Ottersen and current Senior Pastor Ken Langley, our name was changed to Christ Community Church. “Christian Catholic Church” still serves as the name for our world-wide fellowship of congregations and mission works.