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You may have heard of the Kimbanguists, the Christian denomination primarily based in DR Congo that celebrated Christmas on May 25.
That they don’t celebrate Christmas on December 25 like much of the rest of Christendom is of course surprising, but it isn’t really something unique; many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan 7, and Jehovah Witnesses do not even celebrate the day.
Why they celebrate Christmas in May is what would baffle many other Christians.
See, the core tenets of their belief is that the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ have come back to earth in human form, with the Holy Spirit doing so twice.
This reincarnation of the Divine into human form started with the founder of the faith, Simon Kimbangu, who was born in 1887 in the then-Belgian Congo. It is said that he accomplished many miracles as a youngster, but asked those who had witnessed these miracles to be quiet about them.
Simon Kimbangu was raised a Baptist, and qualified to be a Baptist catechist.
Kimbanguists believe that Jesus Christ revealed himself to Simon Kimbangu when he was about 29, and Kimbangu fled his hometown, Nkamba, for Kinshasa, feeling inadequate to the task.
When he finally returned to Nkamba, he performed many miracles, including reviving the dead, healing the sick and giving sight to the blind.
Whether or not these were indeed happening, his following had become quite significant, and had thus made the Belgian colonists very nervous.
In 1921, he was arrested and ultimately sentenced to life imprisonment. He died after 30 years in a prison in Lubumbashi, far removed from Nkamba, which is located close to Congo-Brazzaville.
He was the first manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and appeared to his followers several times after his death.
Christ reborn in 1916
Simon Kimbangu had three children, but they weren’t conceived normally; as the Church’s official history states,
“At the time chosen by God, Maman Mwilu Kiawanga Nzitani (May 7, 1880 – April 27, 1959) went in a bush and came back with a very handsome boy.”
As so Jesus Christ came back to earth like a shooting star; his given name was Salomon Dialungana Kiangani, the second son of Simon Kimbangu, born on 25 May 1916.
Salomon Dialungana suffered a terrible road accident in 1985, which the Kimbanguists equate to the act of Jesus Christ shedding his blood at his crucifixion for the redemption of humankind.
Despite this belief, and the freedom to practice their faith since 1959, Kimbanguists only changed their official Christmas Day in 1999, claiming that prophetic visions had led them to this decision; this was reinforced by a self-revelation Salomon Dialungana had the following year, confirming him as Jesus Christ.
Of note is that Salomon was the influential Spiritual Leader of the church, and had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the early 90s.
The Kimbanguist church is currently headed by Simon Kimbangu Kiangani, a grandson of Simon Kimbangu.
As he was born around the same time as his grandfather passed on, he is believed to be the reincarnation of the Holy Spirit.
So, should you head to the church in Nkamba, you shall refer to him as Holy Spirit Simon Kimbangu Kiangani.