Council of African Instituted Churches

Church family:African Instituted churches
Based in:South Africa
Present in:

About membership

Statistics of church membership, number of churches, congregations, pastors, etc. are those given by the churches and organizations, unless otherwise indicated. WCC member churches have various ways of defining their membership: state churches in which virtually every citizen is baptized and thus counted as a member, churches which include in their membership persons who are baptized but not actively participating, churches in which only adult baptized or communicant members are counted, etc. No attempt has been made to classify the membership figures in such categories, because agreed upon indicators to so do not exist.

Member of:
 WCC (1998) 
Associate member of:

The Council of African Instituted Churches (CAIC) is a federative body made up of ten member associations. Each association groups a number of member churches. Some of these are denominations, others are single, independent congregations. Together the member associations of CAIC cover the whole of South Africa. The CAIC is governed by an annual conference composed of representatives of the associations, and an executive committee.

The CAIC does not have a statement of faith or creed to which the member bodies must subscribe. The preamble to the constitution speaks of "propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ by the African Independent Churches to the Black African masses", and the main constitutional objectives are: creating fellowship, fostering theological education, promoting unity, and mutual assistance. The churches belonging to the CAIC adhere to the basic doctrines of the Christian faith: the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds, the Holy Trinity, the lordship of Jesus Christ as Son of God and Saviour. They accept the authority of the scriptures and practise baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These churches celebrate holy communion, but not very often. Their great strength is their spirituality, and their closeness to African cultures. Prayer, singing and dancing are prominent in the worship services. Healing through prayer and the use of blessed water is a powerful ministry of these churches. In the townships and rural areas, the independent churches meet the spiritual and physical needs of the people, and empower them to face the problems of their daily life, which is marked by poverty and hardship.

The CAIC member churches have archbishops, bishops, pastors (or priests), evangelists, deacons, etc. These ministers or spiritual leaders are people chosen by the community. There are no requirements in terms of theological formation or standards of education. Some churches admit women as spiritual leaders, others not. Almost all the bishops, pastors, etc., have a secular job and exercise their ministry in the evenings and during the weekends. Only a few of them have had some formal theological training. There are no reliable statistics on the number of churches, clergy, and Christians represented through the CAIC. The figure of three million members is an estimation.

Last updated: 1.1.2006