IPHC to hold three Easter mass wedding services for first time
The 2019 Easter mass weddings at the International Pentecost Holiness Church (IPHC) will take place at three different church branches for the first time in history.
This unprecedented move follows the power struggles that have ravaged the church since its leader Bishop Glayton Modise died in 2016.
At the centre of the leadership war are the late Comforter Modise's two sons Leonard and Tshepiso, as well as Michael Sandlana, who is believed to be Modise's son out of wedlock. The three will each hold separate wedding ceremonies at different churches where they are leaders.
The weddings are expected to take place at the church's headquarters in Zuurbekom (Silo), south of Joburg, with others in Springs on the East Rand and at the Jerusalem branch in Pretoria.
Previously, the mass weddings were only hosted at the church's headquarters in Zuurbekom.
The IPHC mass weddings have been part of the church's tradition since its inception and in some cases at these weddings men would marry multiple wives at the same time as the church embraces polygamy.
The Modise family and the church leadership have been divided after the demise of its leader in 2016, with the war being waged with fists and guns as well as through the courts.
The IPHC is one of Africa's biggest churches. Modise left no will at the time of his death, which led to factional divisions in the church over the leadership, while his family that includes two wives bicker over his multimillion-rand estate. The fights have been so intense that videos of fist fights and gun battles by members in uniform have been regularly posted on social media.
Priest Joshua Mambo, speaking for the Sandlana faction, dismissed claims that the weddings will happen at three different churches.
"The multi- weddings have been a major phenomenon of the IPHC since it was founded in 1962. Therefore... the status quo remains. I can, without hesitation, confirm that the weddings will take place during Easter weekend and will be conducted by His Excellency Honourable Comforter M Sandlana. As per church protocol, I am not at liberty to disclose further details."
Tshepiso's spokesperson Emmanuel Lekgau also confirmed that Tshepiso will conduct mass weddings at his church in Springs.
Leonard, who leads the main church in Zuurbekom, was not available for comment.