The major Reformed Churches in Zimbabwe are:
- Reformed Church in Zimbabwe
- United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe
- United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
- Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
- Church of Central Africa Presbyterian
- Presbyterian Church of Africa
- African Free Presbyterian Church
- Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
The Reformed Church in Zimbabwe has 45 congregations, with 50 ministers and 11 evangelists who serve some 85,000 members and regular attendees. The churches meet every two years in a synod. They have adopted the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort as their doctrinal standards. The Reformed Church in Zimbabwe is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC entry), the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, and various alliances of Reformed Churches.
In addition to its various church activities, the church has a special concern for its school for the deaf and dumb at Morgenster, and the Margaretha Hugo School for the blind. The RCZ also sponsors a number of secondary schools, a teacher-training college and the Murray Theological College in Masvingo, as well as two hospitals and several clinics. For more information, see the Social Ministry section of this site. In 1995 they opened a new center in Dete, and in 1996 the church opened a new center in Binga among the Tonga people. They still intend to evangelize the Shonganese and Vhenda people near the southern boundary of Zimbabwe.
The first mission station of the Dutch Reformed Mission Church in modern Zimbabwe was established in 1891 at Morgenster by Andrew Louw. The order at most churches was that a service in Afrikaans was conducted in the morning with services in English and local languages held later in the day. Eventually, the African Reformed Church in Rhodesia came into being, as an indigenous and independent church, under the control of church councils, four presbyteries and a synod. In 1977 it became the fully autonomous African Reformed Church. Soon after the country’s independence in 1980, the name was changed to Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. Some historic church structures are still referred to as Dutch Reformed Churches and some white Reformed Church members still use that name.
United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe
The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe, with a membership of 30,000 believers, is in the Reformed Churches tradition. The UCCZ is composed of local churches, councils, conferences and the general synod. The Church has three conferences in the denomination each with a Church Superintendent as the Spiritual Leader: Eastern Conference – Rev. Fungai Mutsumbeyi with 35 Churches; Northern Conference – Rev Thomas Magumo with 18 Churches; Western Conference – Rev. Richard Gomendo with 8 Churches. The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe grew out of the work of the American Board of Foreign Mission of what is now the United Church of Christ (USA). It became autonomous in 1973.
The UCCZ is a member of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, the All Africa Council of Churches, and the World Council Churches. The UCCZ is active in evangelism, rural development, education and health care. Three evangelistic and revivalist movements contribute much to the life and witness of the church: the Volunteers (men’s association), Ruwadzano (women’s association) and the Youth Fellowship.
The American Board Mission (now UCCZ) established a church in Mount Selinda, a village and mission station in Manicaland some 30 km south east of Chipinge. This church had satellite churches at Beacon Hill, Emerald Hill and Mzite. The Mount Selinda Institute was a sister institution to the Chikore Mission located approx. 40km north west of Mt Selinda.
UCCZ facilitated the establishment of Nyanyadzi irrigation scheme. Currently the mission station in Mount Selinda has a boarding school, Mt Selinda High school and a hospital not far from the school. The boarding school accommodates both boys and girls. The mission hospital also does training of primary care nurses.
United Congregational Church of Southern Africa
The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa is the fruit of several missionary initiatives: the London Missionary Society, the American Congregational Church, the Congregational Union of South Africa, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Itself the product of church union, the UCCSA is deeply committed to ecumenical endeavour (see its WCC entry). The church is responsible for two high schools in Zimbabwe. Ministers are trained at the United Theological College in Zimbabwe and in neighboring countries. As of 1995 there were 160 congregations and 11,000 members; 16,700 people were affiliated with the church.
Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa
The Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) was formed and constituted in 1999 as the outcome of the union between the Reformed Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (history). The UPCSA is divided into Presbyteries and Synods, one of which is for Zimbabwe (see Wikipedia entry). In 1896 the first Presbyterian congregation in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was formed at Bulawayo and in 1903 another at Salisbury (now Harare). Several educational institutions such as David Livingstone Secondary School, Gloag Ranch and Mondoro Secondary School were also started. In due course, the two Presbyteries of Matabeland and Mashonaland were constituted. Today there are about ten congregations and between 5000 and 10000 members.
Church of Central Africa Presbyterian
The CCAP Harare Synod was founded in 1965. The church consisted mainly of migrant workers from Malawi but more locals are joining now. This Chewa-speaking group belongs with four other CCAP synods in Malawi and Zambia. It also has cordial, cooperative relations with the other Reformed churches in Zimbabwe. They have 21 congregations and 15 ministers who serve some 10,000 members. The churches meet every two years in a synod. They have adopted the Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, and Canons of Dort as their doctrinal standards.
The Presbyterian Church of Africa was founded in 1898 by the Rev. James Phambani Mzimba, who broke away from the Free Church of Scotland because of a misunderstanding between the black and white clergy. It has one presbytery in Zimbabwe.
African Free Presbyterian Church
The African Free Presbyterian Church of Zimbabwe began in 1953 as an indigenous breakaway formed by Rev Edwin Radasi, son of Rev John Boyana Radasi, the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia). As of 1995 there were 4 congregations and 2,100 members; 4,000 people were affiliated with the church.
Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland
The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland began mission work in Zimbabwe in 1904. As of 1995 there were about 30 congregations and 300 members; 400 people were affiliated with the church. Among its leaders were John Boyana Radasi and the Rev Aaronn Ndebele (1925-2004).