RelZim.org articles about Methodists in Zimbabwe
The Methodist missionaries have been in Zimbabwe since the 1890s, especially active in the eastern part of the country. A number of Methodist clergy were politically prominent in the first years of Zimbabwean independence. Methodist church sponsors Africa University, one of the leading private universities in Zimbabwe.
The major Methodist Churches in Zimbabwe are:
- African Methodist Episcopal Church
- Free Methodist Church (Holiness)
- Methodist Church in Zimbabwe
- United Methodist Church
Faithful in Zimbabwe are under the 20th Episcopal District of this worldwide community, under the pastoral care of Bishop Julius Harrison McAllister. The district has 6 Conferences: Malawi North, Malawi South, Malawi Central, Northeast Zimbabwe, Southwest Zimbabwe and Central Zimbabwe. A leading figure of the AMEC during the 1970s was Bishop H.H. Brookins.
Free Methodist Church (Holiness) began in Zimbabwe in 1938 when the Ralph Jacobs family arrived, establishing missions in two main areas, Chikombedzi and Lundi in southern Zimbabwe. As of 2005 there were 31 congregations, 25 ordained ministers and 3,200 members. Zimbabwe became a General Conference in September 2004 and elected Abner Chauke as their bishop. See Free Methodists and Other Missions in Zimbabwe, by Tillman A. Houser (2009).
The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe counts more than 110,000 faithful in over 1,000 congregations. It is a member of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the World Methodist Council, the All Africa Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches (since 1985). The MCZ diaspora has a dozen fellowships in Great Britain (Edinburgh, Leicester, London, and Slough).
The MCZ has eleven primary and nine secondary schools. In addition, there are four multipurpose community centres which are used for work among women, youth and non-church groups. The schools and centres, though belonging to the MCZ, are used ecumenically.
The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe is the fruit of British Methodist mission activity in former Southern Rhodesia which began in 1891, while the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe is of American origin. The church gained its autonomy from the Methodist Church in Britain in 1977. It suffered greatly during the military struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe. It is estimated that during the decade of the 1970s church membership declined almost 50 percent. Since independence in 1980, the MCZ has been making strong efforts to build up its membership again. In order to cope with the growing needs of the members, there has been a great emphasis on training and about 90 percent of the MCZ clergy have been trained since 1987. Whereas in 1982 there were just over 16,600 young people participating in church activities, in 2003 the number was almost 54,000. Their centennial history A Century of Methodism in Zimbabwe, 1891-1991 by Canaan S. Banana was reviewed (pdf) in Zambezia. Canaan Banana, a Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) minister, was the first president of Zimbabwe (1980-1987).
The United Methodist Church has about 200,000 members from different cultures in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area, which is divided into two Annual Conferences (Zimbabwe East and Zimbabwe West) and 13 Districts. The Episcopal leader of this area is Bishop Eben Kanukai Nhiwatiwa. There is a also a community in the UK. The Church entered Zimbabwe from Mozambique in 1897 under the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which became the Methodist Church in 1939 and the United Methodist Church in 1968. Bishop Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa, Methodist bishop and nationalist leader, was prime minister of the coalition government called Zimbabwe Rhodesia.
The UMC Health Board was formed in May, 2010 and will be the governing board for all health issues within the UMC in Zimbabwe. By Dec. 2010 several clinics were supplied with drugs, linen, crutches, beds and other medical supplies. These include Nyanga Clinic in Chipinge (Chimanimani district), Mt Jenya Clinic in Mutasa (Nyunga district), Chikwizo Clinic in Mtoko (Mudzi district) as well as Chepiri Clinic in Gutu (Masvingo District).
The Church’s ‘School kits Distribution’ project included: Anoldine primary school. Premier Primary school, Dendera Primary and secondary schools and Chikwizo Primary and Secondary Schools. Other projects include: Lydia Chimonyo Water Project, various educational support programmes at Hartzel Primary and Secondary School, Mt Makomwe Primary School, (in cooperation with Anna K Wood Trust) supporting children at Clare Primary and Secondary School. As well as Cindy Kyser support-in 2011 this support will start with 5 form one children at Chapanduka Secondary School. Also funds to finish a classroom block at the school are being raised.