JOHANNESBURG – Bible in one hand and beer on the other, the Gabola Church says it prides itself as a holy home for those who feel uncomfortable going to mainstream churches, where drinking alcohol is condemned.
The church holds its services in drinking areas like bars, taverns, parties and depots amongst other places across Johannesburg and believers are baptised with beer instead of water.
The Bishop, Tsietsi Makiti, says he baptises all believers with the alcoholic drink of their choice adding that his church is attended by men over 20 only.
“Only men are allowed in my sermons because you know the behaviour of drunk men over women, we also need men over the age of 20 because they are more mature and understanding,” said the charismatic bishop.
Congregants in Orange Farm openly drink and pray, with the approval of their Bishop; and many say they have found solace, peace and a perfect place for worshiping.
“I love this church because it does not judge us (drinkers), we enjoy our beer, we pray and the Bishop is always there to help us with everything we might need,” said one enthusiastic believer.
With a new branch in Free State, the controversial church is embarking on its efforts to launch branches countrywide where drinkers can meet, drink and worship God at the same time.
Makiti begins his weekly sermons by praying and blessing a 4.5litre bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label before he sips on a generous measure of whisky.
Gabola, means “drinking” in Sotho-Tswana dialects.