Church growth and self-reliance in Zambia : the indigenous United Church of Zambia
Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) was the last Central African territory to be evangelised by the Protestant Misssionary Societies. The study investigates the process from mission churches of four Missionary Societies (the London Missionary Society, the Church of Scotland Mission, the Methodist Missionary Society and the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society) to the indigenous United Church of Zambia, and the UCZ attempt to establish a sustainable growth and development towards self-reliance. The stated policy of the Protestant Missionary Societies was to establish independent local churches, self-governing, self-supporting and self-propagating. The three basic methods of achieving the above objectives were, the founding of mission churches, the establishment of schools, hospitals and medical services. However, the pioneering period to 1925 saw no significant progress towards the realisation of missionary objectives, and there was little evidence that mission policies were implemented. The second epoch (1925-1955) of Missions' operations in the territory was characterised by an attempt of the Protestant Missionary Societies to co-operate in the areas of evengelism, education, and social action. The co-operation effort was not successful, having failed to achieve any of its objectives. In the mean time, there was little progress in the training and development of local church leadership, and there was no attempt to indigenise the mission churches. Instead, missionary control of the local church was increased. The third epoch (1955-1965) witnessed the attempt of the Missionary Societies to establish an indigenous multiracial church of Northern Rhodesia, a notion parallel to the political formula of Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. During this period, when the mission churches were firmly under the control of missionaries, the Missionary Societies failed to transfer authority and responsibility from the mission to the local church. There was still no real trained African ministry and leadership of the local church. However, the attempt to establish a multiracial indigenous church did not succeed, and the Missionary Societies were forced by circumstances to form the United Church of Zambia in January 1965, Northern Rhodesia having become the Republic of Zambia the previous year, following political independence in Otober 1964. The study examines how between 1965 to the present, the indigenous United Church of Zambia has attempted under difficult circumstances, to establish its own national identity, and set in motion the dynamics for a sustainable growth and development towards self-reliance.