Welcome to Ahmadiyya Muslim Community
Zion, IL, USA
We welcome you to the City of Zion, which was founded 100 years ago as a Christian utopian society by Dr. John Alexander Dowie, a powerful orator, and charismatic leader, who claimed to be Elijah the Prophet.
The religious foundation of the City of Zion was designed by its architect and visionary, Dowie and his Christian Catholic Apostolic Church. He was the self-anointed General Overseer over the officers and members of the church. In Zion, the city lots, acre tracts, residential properties and farms were all conveyed and legally held by Dowie.
According to Christian Catholic documents, “all real estate is conveyed under an 1,100 year lease, which contains numerous restrictions for the protection of all parties concerned. There is not a restriction in the lease which does not appeal to all persons who have the desire in their hearts to build a City of Zion.
“…and every restriction placed in the lease is for the purpose of insuring, as far as human being with their limited knowledge can insure, the sure and firm establishment and maintenance of the City of Zion.”
The vision, as put forth by Dowie, was that Zion would be a “clean” spiritual domicile and the property would belong to God – Dowie was at first the “General Overseer,” ultimately he announced his prophethood in 1903.
In Zion, restrictions were plentiful including a ban on places to “sell opium, alcohol, tobacco or any other poisonous drug; that they shall not sell or use tobacco; that they shall not sell pig (pork), and they shall not sell the filthy scavenger of the sea, the oyster; that there shall be no harlot’s dens, no gambling halls, no theatres, nor Secret Society lodges.
Under the tight-fisted rule of Dowie, a theocracy was established that was loyal to the United States government, but determined by example to demonstrate a better form of government. Dowie would proclaim often in speech and in his publication, “The Leaves of Healing:
“Zion declares that the Kingdom of God must be established upon the earth and that the Flag of Jehovah must be established above every flag, and be supreme over every nation.”
This website was created to introduce “seekers after the truth” to an incredible American story with its roots in the history of Zion City with a symbiotic link to a small remote and then unknown village in India – Qadian.
Zion City at the turn of the 20th Century was more than just a small city sitting on Lake Michigan between Chicago and Milwaukee. It was a magnate for Christians from around the world, who heard of and believed the message of Dowie, who preached a message of the “Restoration of All Things.”
Zion was a prosperous city with a diverse group of creative city planners, businessmen, lawyers and financiers, who created Zion institutions and industries that included the following: Zion educational and athletic buildings, the largest wood framed hotel, the Zion Home; administration buildings for legal, real estate and city business; a huge printing and publishing house; a baking business known worldwide for its creations; a apron, handkerchief and lace curtain industry; the Zion creamery, meat market, fuel yards, feed store, livery stables, automobile garage and blacksmith shop.
It was and still is a unique city created by Dowie with a vision for Christians who invested their finances, along with hearts and minds dedicated to the belief that this was God’s Kingdom on earth.
Dowie was able to attract people from all over the world. It was to be a city of refuge for his followers seeking to preach the gospel of salvation, healing and holy living. They were not interested in making profits to enhance their lives. The people of Zion simply sought to establish a Christian city where they could obtain employment and enjoy the educational opportunities in fellowship with Christian people.
Today the city retains much of its history but very little is spoken about Dowie. A visitor to Zion, especially someone not familiar with the history, would be curious as to why some of the streets and boulevards are named after a person or place in the Bible.
It was Dowie who personally chose the street names during the planning of the city. In 1900, Zion was one of the few cities in the entire nation to mapped out street by street and laid out in a symmetrical fashion.
According to information from City of Zion tourist website: “The city street network was planned with two points in mind. The major thoroughfares were to lead to the center of town, which was the site of the Christian Catholic Church, and each street was to be named for something in the Bible.
It should also be noted that many of the descendants of families – former followers of Dowie – continue to reside in Zion, which is located in the County of Lake. Today the mayor of the city, Laine Harrison, is one of many African American families who flocked to Zion for religious, economic and in an effort to participate in the American Dream as an equal in the eyes of God.
There is much to learn at this website! We pray that you will keep an open mind and appreciate the documented information that we have captured from the perspective of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, USA.