But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

2 Corinthians 4:7


The History of Christ Community Church

Original City of Zion Seal

Over 100 years ago, John Alexander Dowie, a Scottish minister, envisioned building a "city of God" where he hoped to bring into existence under the guidance of God, a place where the social, industrial, commercial, educational, political and religious ideals and principles of the Kingdom of God would be put into practice. This "city of God" was to be the headquarters for the Christian Catholic Church (now named Christ Community Church), where Dowie could continue his ministry of preaching and healing that he had begun when he came to Chicago in 1893.

John Alexander Dowie

The Christian Catholic Church was formally organized on February 22, 1896 in Chicago, and in 1899, Dowie announced that he had purchased six thousand acres which were to be the City of Zion, eventually established on July 15, 1901. The centerpiece of the city, where all the boulevards would lead, was the Tabernacle, the home of the Christian Catholic Church, completed in 1902 with a capacity of 8,000 people.

The Shiloh Tabernacle

The early years of the church were heavily influenced by Dr. Dowie and, to a great degree, were intertwined with the city itself. While Dowie continued to travel and preach, the city he established continued to grow and prosper. During this time, there appeared to be a great future for Zion and the Christian Catholic Church. Christian people were attracted to the city and many brought their money to be used in the development of the community. Due to ill health, and finally a stroke in 1905, Dowie turned to one of his associates, Wilbur Glenn Voliva, to assist him in the operation of the church and city.

After Dowie's death in 1907, long-standing financial mismanagement overtook the church and swept away the dreams. Voliva was called upon to succeed Dowie. That same year, the church filed for bankruptcy. It was held in Receivership from 1907 until 1922, when under the leadership of Voliva, the church was revitalized and repurchased many of its former assets.

In 1935, during Voliva's term as General Overseer, the Zion Passion Play was written and first performed. The church's ministry also expanded into worldwide missions and a radio broadcast. In 1937, the church suffered a tragic loss when the original Shiloh Tabernacle was destroyed by fire. Plans were soon underway for a new building, the Zion Auditorium, with a seating capacity of 2,000. Reverend Voliva passed away in 1942, and was succeeded by Reverend Michael Mintern.

The 1936 Passion Play

Between 1942 and his retirement in 1959, Reverend Mintern's accomplishments included incorporating the church and electing a Board of Directors. Reverend Mintern loved the outdoors and in 1946, through his vision and that of several church members, land was purchased and Camp Zion was established in Door County, Wisconsin. He also strongly supported the radio ministry and the Zion Passion Play.

But tragedy was to strike the church again when a second fire destroyed the Zion Auditorium in April, 1959. Reverend Mintern, 78 years old at the time, realized that younger leaders should be making the decisions concerning the new church building, and ordained Carl Q. Lee to be the General Overseer on April 26, 1959. In 1961, the congregation of the Christian Catholic Church under Overseer Lee's leadership gathered in their new sanctuary, a handsomely modern building erected at the site originally designated by Dr. Dowie for the huge temple. Click here to read more about the sanctuary. Reverend Mintern passed away in his sleep at Camp Zion on July 11, 1961.

Christ Community Church 2004

In 1976, Reverend Lee installed Roger Ottersen as General Overseer, who served as pastor of the headquarters church and General Overseer of the Christian Catholic Church worldwide until 1994. Following his retirement, a series of interim pastors served until 1997, when Dr. Kenneth Langley was called to pastor the Zion congregation. At that time, the congregation approved changing the name of the congregation in Zion to Christ Community Church, while maintaining the Christian Catholic Church corporation to embrace both the local church and the worldwide missions.

From the beginning, the Christian Catholic Church, now called Christ Community Church, was meant to be a church home for all believers in Christ. Christ Community Church serves approximately 1100 members and numerous mission partners worldwide.