- Statue in Zurich of Ulrich Zwingli(1484 - 1531)founder of the Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland (InstituteforThe London Missionary Society (Congregational-ists) established the first work in what is now Zimbabwe among the Zulus in 1859, but the work was limited. in 1888, the British government allocated some land in the area to the Universities Mission to Central Africa, a group that had arisen in direct response to David Livingstone's appeal for attention to the African interior. It became the base for a mission to both the Zulu and shona peoples.British Methodists arrived two years later, and along with their America colleagues (who came in 1896), Methodism thrived. The British worked primarily among the white settlers and the Americans among the native Africans. The American work, still attached to the United Methodist Church as its Zimbabwe Conference, later played an important role in the political life of independent Zimbabwe. Abel Muzorewa (b. 1925), the first Zimbabwean consecrated a bishop, briefly served as the country's prime minister in a failed attempt to build a biracial postcolonial government. in the 1990s, the United Methodists founded the Africa University in Mutare.The Salvation Army arrived soon after the Methodists; their work expanded greatly in the 20th century, then rivaling that of the two Methodist groups. Also arriving in the 1890s were the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the Central African Christian Mission (affiliated with the American-based Churches of Christ and Christian Churches), which both did well.A host of additional protestant missionary groups fanned out across Zimbabwe in the 20th century, but none of them have had the response of the African Initiated Churches, especially the African Apostolic Church of Johane Maranke, the Zion Christian Church, the Zion Apostolic Churches, and the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa. Pentecostalism came to Zimbabwe in the 1920s through the two Zion churches, based in South Africa. The Zion Christian Church has now become the largest Protestant body in the country, and the only one with more than a million members.Johane Maranke (1912-63), who had received revelations in dreams and visions, at first worked with the leaders of the two Zionist churches. in 1932, he was told by a voice that he was to be "John the Baptist, an apostle." He was to preach and teach observance of old Testament laws (including Sabbatarianism). Founding his African Apostolic Church, he began a ministry throughout Zimbabwe and neighboring countries. it is now the second-largest church in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa was founded by former members of the Apostolic Faith Mission, another South African Pentecostal body, which began work in several Zimbabwean urban centers in 1959. This newer church has now become the third-largest Protestant body in Zimbabwe.Many of the older Protestant churches in Zimbabwe are associated in the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, affiliated with the World Council of CHURCHES, including the Church of the Province of Central Africa (Anglican), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Zimbabwe, the Methodist Church of Zimbabwe, the Reformed Church of Zimbabwe, and the United Church of Christ of Zimbabwe, all of whom are members of the World Council in their own right. More conservative churches are members of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the WoRLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE. Larger than either the council or the fellowship, however, is the Conference of African Initiated Churches. Zimbabwe reports a majority of its residents as Christian (about 68 percent), most of them members of the Protestant communities. The rest remain affiliated with traditional African religions.See also Africa, sub-Saharan.Further reading:■ M. L. Daneel, Zionism and Faith Healing in Rhodesia: Aspects of African Independent Churches (The Hague: Mouton, 1970)■ C. E Hallen-creutz and A. Mayo, eds., Church and State in Zimbabwe, vol. 3: Christianity South of the Zambesi (Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1988)■ C. J. M. Zvobgo, History of Christian Missions in Zimbabwe (Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press, 1996).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.