This article examines the succession of leadership within the Nazareth Baptist Church of South Africa, a prophetically grounded Afro-Christian Church. Over its near century of existence, the church has changed central leadership on three occasions. Successful claimants have all been male relatives of the founder, Isaiah Shembe, and have all demonstrated an ability to prophesy and heal. Each successful claimant has used the content of prophetic dreams and visions to bolster his candidacy. This article argues, however, that the source of those prophecies, and not merely the content, was a critical part of leadership decisions. This point is best seen in the second transition of leadership, a transition that was stormily contested between Londa Shembe and Amos Shembe. Amos Shembe was ultimately successful because he effectively convinced the membership that his candidacy was in accordance with the wishes of Isaiah. In contrast, Londa only received prophecies from the previous leader (his father) J. G. Shembe. The most successful claimants to central leadership have been, and will likely continue to be, those who most convincingly lay claim to the prophetic mantle of the founder, Isaiah Shembe.

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