Simon Kimbangu (12 September 1887, Nkamba, near Thysville, Congo Free State - 12 October 1951, Élisabethville, Belgian Congo) was a Congolese religious leader noted as the founder of Kimbanguism. His followers consider him to be the special envoy of Jesus Christ as quoted in the fourteenth chapter of the biblical Gospel of John.
The son of a traditional religious leader, he became a Baptist in 1915, and worked as a catechist for several years before beginning his own ministry in early 1921. According to his disciples, Kimbangu cured the sick, raised the dead back to life and his ministry developed a large following, causing suspicion amongst the Belgian authorities. His ministry of preaching and miraculous healing lasted from April to September 1921. He attracted such large crowds that both the Protestant and the Catholic religious establishments became alarmed. They appealed to the colonial authorities who sought his arrest.
On 12 September 1921 he was arrested and charged with sedition. Convicted, he was sentenced to death. However, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment with 120 lashes. He died in prison on 12 October 1951.
During his thirty years of imprisonment, he continued to be regarded as a spiritual leader, despite being denied contact with his followers, and also became a symbol of Congolese nationalism.
In 1959, the Kimbanguist Church was recognized by the then Belgium government and could then conduct prayer freely. Today, the Kimbanguist Church is well established in many countries. However, when Kimbangu passed on, his son Joseph Diangienda took over the Church ministry. Joseph Diangienda (chief spiritual) organized the contemporary Church. Diangienda (born 22 March 1918) died on 8 July 1992 in Switzerland and his son, Simon Kimbangu Kiangani, is the spiritual leader based in the Church's headquarters in Nkamba.
- See http://www.dacb.org/stories/demrepcongo/kimbangu_simon.html, article reprinted from Dictionary of African Historical Biography, 2nd edition, copyright © 1986, by Mark R. Lipschutz and R. Kent Rasmussen, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California.
- Dr. Bertram Melbourne, Acts 1:8 and the Gospel in Africa in "2000 Years of Christianity in Africa", edited by Dr. Emory Tolbert, published by The Sabbath in Africa Study Group.
- http://www.kimbanguisme.net/sk/JDK/jdk1.htm (in French)
- Bethel University site
- Encyclopædia Britannica
- Dictionary of African Christian Biography: Simon Kimbangu, article reprinted from An African Biographical Dictionary, copyright © 1994, edited by Norbert C. Brockman, Santa Barbara, California.