Southern Africa

A Methodist society was formed among soldiers in Cape Town in 1806 and W. Shaw accompanied the 1820 settlers from Britain to the Eastern Cape, while from 1816 work among Africans was initiated by Barnabas Shaw. William Shaw opened a chain of mission stations among the Xhosa people, and missionaries accompanied the Barolong on their migrations.

By the time a Southern African Conference was created in 1883 there were Methodist churches throughout the country, though work in Transvaal and Swaziland remained under the British Conference until 1931. In the face of apartheid the Conference in 1958 declared the Methodist Church of Southern Africa to be 'one and undivided', but Church leadership remained a white prerogative until, and even after, the first black President, S. Mokitimi, in 1963. Only with the appointment in the 1980s of M.S. Mogoba first as Secretary and then as President of the Conference did the MCSA become a recognisably non-racial body. The President became the Presiding Bishop with the introduction of a functional episcopate in 1990. The Methodist Church of Southern Africa comprises six countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. A Methodist, Nelson Mandela, became the first democratically-elected President of South Africa.

  • G.G. Findlay and W.H. Holdsworth, The History of the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, vol. IV (1922)
  • J.A. Millard, 'Pioneer African Preachers of Wesleyan Methodism in the Transvaal', in Richard Sykes (ed.), Beyond the Boundaries: preaching in the Wesleyan tradition (Oxford, 1998) pp.136-54
  • Ronald Aitchison, 'The Wesley Deaconess Order in the Transvaal, 1894-1953', in WHS Proceedings, 58 (May 2011) pp.62-71

Entry written by: JRP
Category: Place
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