Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae publishes articles in the discipline of Church History/History of Christianity with an African/South African perspective. Published by University of South Africa (UNISA), Research Institute for Theology and Religion.


The library contains articles of Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae as of vol. 43(2017) no. 2 to current.

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  • Church and Empire: Evangelisation by the OMI among British, Indians, Afrikaners and Indigenous People of Southern Africa (1852–1874)

    Henriques, Alan C (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2019-01-01)
    The British proclaimed the Colony of Natal on 4 May 1843. Therefore, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate entered a British Colony to begin their work among the indigenous people of southern Africa. There was further contact with colonial society during the Basotho Wars (1858-1868), when Blessed Joseph Gerard supported Chief Moshoeshoe. This explains the options taken by the Oblates to work in close collaboration with the indigenous people in their fight to defend their property and sovereignty. The period covered is from 1852 until 1874 when Bishop Allard was in charge of the Vicariate of Natal. This paper deals with why the Oblates were more successful in Lesotho than among the Zulu in Natal. Brief mention is made of Indians in Durban, British missionaries in Natal and Afrikaners during the Lesotho wars. The role of culture in the evangelisation of people is an important theme within missiology and pastoral theology today. There needs to be an investigation why this was not the case in the early stages of evangelisation in South Africa and Lesotho-as being considered within this study. The first steps of evangelisation among the Zulu and Basotho were quite different and indicate growth in awareness and strategy of the Oblate missionaries in the effort to evangelise the indigenous people. The works of Brain, Skhakhane, Levasseur and Zorn were consulted, and archival resources from the Hurley Archives (Missions 1867-1868) investigated. The correspondence of Bishop Allard and his Journal Failure and Vindication was also consulted in the research process.
  • Hymnal record of a missionary structure at Thabantšho (Gerlachshoop) of the Bakopa of Kgošhi Boleu

    Wade, Richard Peter (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2015-01-01)
    This research sets out to answer a problem involving whether or not the first church was established across the Vaal River in the 1860s at Gerlachshoop (Maleoskop). An incidental And of an unknown publication may corroborate an answer to the problem. Anecdotal notes in a hymnal songbook record the first inauguration of a bell of one of the earliest Berlin Missionaries north of the Vaal River. This may clarify the location within the landscape and whether the structure of a church at Gerlachshoop or Thabantsho was erected, as opposed to being a deception or a historical figment of imagination by a subsequent director of the Berlin Missionary Society. The national heritage value of such rare early documentation of European/African literature and the built environment is of great significance and serves as one of the earliest records of German translations into the Sekopa language almost 150 years ago, with several early hymns set to musical notation, that marked the occasion when the actual Sekopa hymns were sung at the event of the inauguration of an early church and its bell.
  • The evangelicalisation of black Pentecostalism in the AFM of SA (1940—1975): A turning point

    Mofokeng, Thabang; Madise, Mokhele (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2019-01-01)
    The Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of South Africa, a Pentecostal denomination founded in 1908 by an American missionary, John G Lake, attracted a large following of blacks in South Africa from its inception. This denomination contributed a large body of Zionist churches to the African Independent Church movement. Among its black members before and during the 1940s, it was Zionist-like-only undergoing changes between 1943 and 1975 resulting in it becoming outright evangelical. This was a turning point in the history of the AFM and black Pentecostals specifically, as it brought this large body of followers culturally closer to the dominant evangelical expression of Pentecostalism in the denomination. This article looks into reasons behind the changes as well as how they were carried out. Primary sources, available at the AFM archives, and secondary sources such as theses, articles and books with a bearing on the topic have been consulted. The article contributes to the growing body of South African Pentecostal history.
  • Light of Life Christian Group as a New Branch on Zimbabwe's Ecumenical Tree

    Mudyiwa, Misheck (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article examines the impact and implications of the Light of Life Christian Group's new theology of the Inner Church (Inner Circle) in southern Africa. The new religious movement's theology of the Inner Church shall be examined particularly in the light of Zimbabwe's heavily polarised Christian landscape. The Light of Life Christian Group (LLCG) is a new religious movement in Zimbabwe that is composed largely of members from mainline churches such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Salvation Army, Methodist, Baptist and Lutheran, among others. Fundamentally, the movement clings resolutely to the belief that the Inner Church or Inner Circle is the only true church and there is no other. For them, being a member of the Inner Church/Inner Circle implies Christ consciousness. It implies being perfect, as the heavenly Father is perfect. Thus, the movement roundly downplays and rejects the outward forums of religion and underlines that members of the Inner Church are the true disciples and representatives of Christ on earth, regardless of their ethnic or denominational backgrounds. The main argument developed in this article is that, even though the LLCG as a new branch on Zimbabwe's ecumenical tree is currently under constant scrutiny and perpetual stigmatisation, particularly from the Catholic and Anglican Churches (among others), the ecumenically composed movement suggests and advances a theology that is tailor made to minimise denominational parochialism and prevents churches from monopolising God, whose intricate and multifaceted nature is present in all religions, cultures and denominations ad infinitum.
  • Church Land Reform through a Combination of Examples and Theology of Spatial Justice

    Mlambo, Ntandoyenkosi (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    Land was one of the ways the colonialist venture as well as the apartheid regime used to divide people, as well as being a catalyst for superiority. Over hundreds of years, from the beginning of colonial rule until the end of apartheid in 1994, the indigenous people of South Africa were dispossessed from the land. With the end of the Truth and Reconciliation proceedings, it was clear from suggested actions that there should be restitution in South Africa to begin to correct the spatial and resultant economic imbalances. Churches in South Africa embarked on setting declarations on land reform ecumenically and within their own walls. However, little information is available on final reform measures that churches have taken after several ecumenical meetings in the 1990s. Additionally, there is little development in South African theology circles on a theology of land justice. Moreover, a praxis on land justice for churches has not been openly developed or discussed post-1994. This study aims to look at the history of the land issue in South Africa, particularly from 1948-1994, and will include the history of land ownership in the Roman Catholic tradition. In addition, it will look at examples of land reform in the Roman Catholic Church from 1999 until the present in the Diocese of Mariannhill. Furthermore, the article will consider the emerging praxis of spatial justice based on a hermeneutic view taken from black liberation and contextual theology. The article concludes with a look at how these examples and new praxis can develop the ecumenical church's quest for a prophetic voice and actions in South African land reform.
  • Plantatio Ecclesiae in Africa: From Tutelage to Maturity

    Iheanacho, Valentine Ugochukwu (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    Wladimir d'Ormesson, a French diplomat at the Vatican, in praise of Francois Méjan's 1957 book, Le Vatican contre la France d'Outre-Mer, expressed with bitterness and regret that the "civilisation" which French missionaries had helped to spread in mission lands had sadly turned against French interests. "[W]e are showered with ingratitude on all sides. We have spread civilization far and wide," he wrote. "[A]
  • The "Empty Land" Myth: A Biblical and Socio-historical Exploration

    Cezula, Ntozakhe Simon; Modise, Leepo (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    Persistent discourse on the contentious "empty land" theory remains relevant within a biblical and socio-historic milieu, especially in the history of a colonialised country such as South Africa. Seeing that there are still arguments in favour of the "empty land" theory, the authors of this article undertook a venture to engage with the "empty land" theory as a myth. This article consists of four parts: the first part discusses the myth of "empty land" in the Old Testament Bible in relation to the "empty land" myth in South Africa. Secondly the researchers will argue for the occupation of land by the indigenous people of South Africa as early as 270 AD-1830. The vertex for the third argument is of a more socio-economic nature, namely the lifestyle of the African people before colonialism. The article contends that people were nomadic and did not regard land as property to be sold and bought. There were no boundaries; there was free movement. Finally, the article explores the point of either recognition of Africans as human beings, or in a demeaning way viewing them as animals to be chased away in order to empty the land, thereby creating "emptied" land.
  • Settler-Missionary Alliance in Colonial Kenya and the Land Question

    Gathogo, Julius (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article sets out to demonstrate the hugger-muggers that oiled the existence of an unholy alliance between European settler-farmers and missionaries-the Anglicans and Presbyterians and/or the Protestant wing in particular-in 20th century Kenya and East Africa, and especially on land policies. With land for settlement being the key factor to both missionaries and settler-farmers, the land question undoubtedly became one of the major factors that glued them together in colonial Kenya (1895-1963). Was the settler-missionary alliance meant to hurt the same people whom the missionaries had come to convert to the God of Christendom? Most importantly, how did the missionaries relate with the African chiefs regarding the land question, especially with reference to Kirinyaga County of central Kenya? This further drives us to wonder: Was the Devonshire White Paper of 1923 and/or the Indian Question related to the land question? The article sets out on the premise that while land remained the most prized commodity in colonial Kenya (1895-1963) and the entire 20th century, the 21st century has seen the church-and especially the afro-Pentecostal wing of the church-focusing on money and wealth without necessarily focusing on land. In its methodology, the article has heavily relied on archival resources, unpublished works, and field work materials, especially with regard to Kirinyaga County of central Kenya where oral sources on missionaries and land acquisition were sought. It also reviewed existing literature regarding settler-missionary alliances, especially on land-related matters.
  • The Scramble for Land between the Barokologadi Community and Hermannsburg Missionaries

    Molobi, Victor MS (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article investigates the land claim of the Barokologadi of Melorane, with their long history of disadvantages in the land of their forefathers. The sources of such disadvantages are traceable way back to tribal wars (known as "difaqane") in South Africa. At first, people were forced to retreat temporarily to a safer site when the wars were in progress. On their return, the Hermannsburg missionaries came to serve in Melorane, benefiting from the land provided by the Kgosi. Later the government of the time expropriated that land. What was the significance of this land? The experience of Melorane was not necessarily unique; it was actually a common practice aimed at acquiring land from rural communities. This article is an attempt to present the facts of that event. There were, however, later interruptions, such as when the Hermannsburg Mission Church became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Southern Africa (ELCSA).
  • The Other Side of the Story: Attempts by Missionaries to Facilitate Landownership by Africans during the Colonial Era

    Simangaliso Kumalo, R. (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article provides a critique of the role played by progressive missionaries in securing land for the African people in some selected mission stations in South Africa. It argues that, in spite of the dominant narrative that the missionaries played a role in the dispossession of the African people of their land, there are those who refused to participate in the dispossession. Instead, they used their status, colour and privilege to subvert the policy of land dispossession. It critically examines the work done by four progressive missionaries from different denominations in their attempt to subvert the laws of land dispossession by facilitating land ownership for Africans. The article interacts with the work of Revs John Philip (LMS), James Allison (Methodist), William Wilcox and John Langalibalele Dube (American Zulu Mission [AZM]), who devised land redistributive mechanisms as part of their mission strategies to benefit the disenfranchised Africans.
  • The Leven House Factor in the Birth of Digo Mission and Christian Empire in East Africa

    Gathogo, Julius (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    Leven House, as it exists in the 21 st century in Mombasa city of Kenya, remains one of the most historic buildings in eastern Africa. In our focus on both the birth of the Christian Empire in East Africa (that stretches from the Kenyan Coast to the Democratic Republic of Congo), and the Digo Mission that began in 1904, Leven House becomes a critical issue. As the Anglican Diocese of Mombasa commemorated 114 years of the Digo Mission (1904-2018) in December 2018, serious issues emerged regarding the birth of Protestant Christianity in the region. One of the issues is the nature of English missions during the 19th and 20th centuries in Africa, where the Christian symbol of the flag was preceded by the British flag. The second issue is the nature of Arabic civilisation on the East African coast, which went hand-in-hand with the spread of Islam. Third is the conflict among the three ruling Omani dynasties (Yorubi, Busaidi, and Mazrui) as one major factor that ironically favoured Christian missions in eastern Africa. Fourth is the role of Mazrui-Omani Arabs, a Muslim society, in midwifing Christianity in East Africa. Was Christianity in East Africa mid-wifed by Mazrui-Omani Arabs via their provision of Leven House to the British soldiers in 1824? Was the feuding of the three Arab Omani clans a blessing in disguise that aided the establishment of the British Empire and the Christian missions that went hand-in-hand? In its methodology, the article historicises the issues at hand in order to retrace the events that paved ways for the establishment of the Christian Empire and the Digo Mission in particular. In a nutshell, the problem statement is: What is the role of Leven House in the establishment of the Digo Mission in particular, and Christian Empire in general?
  • The Pniël Land Dispute of the Early 20th Century

    Pienaar, Pascal (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    In 1834 the slaves of the Groot Drakenstein area were emancipated. They continued to work for farmers in the surrounding area and this resulted in the formation of a community where these farm workers, now able to leave their employer's land, would return to in the evenings and call home. This land was originally a donation of De Goede Hoop farm, intended mainly for the establishment of a mission station for recently freed slaves. Reverend J.F. Stegman was appointed by the Apostolic Union, a non-denominational Protestant group, as the first reverend of this mission station. At the end of 1834, the Board of Directors of the "Mission Institute Pniël," a body instituted under the auspices of the Apostolic Union with the initial aim of operating for the benefit of the local people, purchased the Papiere Molen farm. A major portion of the farm was then divided into 99 holdings and applicants from the community, who were accepted as occupiers of these holdings, were known as "erf-holders." In the following years it became a condition of tenure that they would pay a monthly rental to provide a salary for the Minister, which became the source of contention following the passing of Reverend Stegman. In 1905, local residents of Pniël spoke out regarding their desire to have more input in the operation of the mission station and usage of the land, and they questioned the overall authority of the current board of directors. This led to a court case in which the Board of Directors acted as the defendants. This paper will seek to examine the circumstances for this case as well as those surrounding its outcomes through the lens of a modern reader.
  • Historic Shifts towards the Decolonisation and Africanisation of Ordination in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa

    Williams, Donald M.; Bentley, Wessel (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The doctrine and practices of ordination in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) trace their origins from the Wesleyan Methodist Church. These initially adopted ordination practices proved to be culturally incongruent with ministry in the southern African context, raising the question as to whether the MCSA has made sufficient adaptations in its doctrine and practices to be culturally attuned to its context. Using a theoretical literary study, the article traces the colonial heritage of the doctrine of ordination and defines significant shifts and influences in the decolonisation and Africanisation of ordination in the MCSA. This article argues that while there have been significant changes, the doctrine and practices of ordination require further shifts to represent a truly African church.
  • Reframing African Ecumenical Development Discourse: Case of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) 2000-2018 (Part 2)

    Sakupapa, Teddy Chalwe (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This research explores the contribution of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) to ecumenical development discourse against the background of contemporary debates on the role of religion in development. It focuses on the period 2000-2008. Through a critical review of the AACC's engagement in development, the article offers an appraisal of the AACC's socio-economic justice approach to development. It also highlights the AACC's most recent appropriation of diakonia in its programmatic thrust on development. While such appropriation holds promise for an approach to development rooted in theological ideas, it begs further reflection on the place of local epistemologies of development in African ecumenical discourse. Arguing for the translation of diakonia, this research proposes the decolonial reframing of African churches' engagement in development.
  • Liberationist Icon or Conservative Leader? Ismael Mwai Mabiu's Afro-Pentecostalism and Ecclesiastical Leadership in Kenya

    Njogu,Geoffrey Karimi (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article sets out to retrieve the oral histories of a pioneer African Christian at Kagumo Full Gospel Churches of Kenya (FGCK), namely Rev. Ismael Mwai-Mabiu. Mwai-Mabiu offered exceptional leadership as he sought to revive the Mount Kenya region and the entire Kenyan nation, particularly in the mid-1940s-1980s and 2000-2012, through his oral "liberation theological discourses." These efforts were well captured in his preaching as a roving pastor in mass seminars and in evangelism. His Afro-Pentecostal theology, which he propounded in the FGCK (a church he co-founded), provided the forum that he used as a platform to launch and advance his liberationist Afro-Pentecostal approach. Was Mwai-Mabiu a liberationist or a conservative ecclesiastical leader in his theo-social doctrinal matters; or was he seeking to indigenise theological discourses in his Afro-Pentecostal outfit? The concern of this article is to unearth the nature of leadership that Mwai-Mabiu employed and to describe the relevance of his Afro-Pentecostal oral and liberationist theologies. What were his fundamental concerns? Was his "ministry" evangelised in a cultural vacuum, rather than an inclusive environment that relied upon already existing networks of the host area of ecclesiastical operation? The methodology of this article comprises interviews conducted in four phases: 1) with Mwai-Mabiu himself; 2) with his wife; 3) with three focus discussion groups (FDGs) in interviews between 2016 and 2018; and 4) by the researcher with people closely related to him, namely Bishop Joshua Kiongo Kimani, assistant Bishop Rev. Joseph Muriithi Karugendo, elder Joseph Munene, elder Benson Ngiri, and the pioneers of the FGCK. Later, in May to October 2019, the researcher conducted further research to seek clarification on some areas that did not come out clearly during the first interviews. A review of the relevant literature was also conducted.
  • Nigerian Pentecostalism, Alternative State, and the Question of Accountability

    Igboin,Benson Ohihon (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The debate on the status of the Nigerian state has been controversial, but it portends more towards a failing state, because it has low to very low levels of state capacity. Most state institutions do not have the capacity to inspire socioeconomic confidence in the citizenry. Coupled with prevailing insecurity and the inability of the state to address it, many people find an alternative source of hope and confidence within Christianity, and particularly an African Pentecostal state-like formation that makes its leadership a multinational and cross-regional political leadership of a sort. While the political leadership of the failing state would be examined as the main cause for thriving Pentecostalism, there remains the question of accountability on both sides of the spectrum; especially as both concern the same citizenship, whom I will argue are cheated both ways, and yet somehow hold ambivalent attitudes towards accountability. Since there is little attention devoted to demand for accountability at both state and alternative state levels, this paper will do a contrastive analysis of both leaderships and show that the issue of accountability remains unresolved at both ends.
  • Fledgling South African Anglicanism and the Roots of Ritualism

    Bethke,Andrew-John (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The early years of Anglican ministry in South Africa were primarily among English settlers. Their worship patterns, for the most part, reflected the general trends of English Anglicanism at the time, which itself was influenced theologically and materially by a moderate form of Calvinism. This article examines the ethos of the early generation of Anglicans, and highlights some of the possible reasons why a moderate Calvinistic stance seemed to suit the ordinary settler classes. However, the status quo was challenged by the arrival of Bishop Robert Gray in 1848. Thus, the article continues by exploring some of the reasons why Gray aroused such strong feelings in certain congregations. Among the most important reasons for the opposition against Gray were his Tractarian sympathies. While many historians have agreed that Gray was a high church cleric, most stop short of labelling him a Tractarian. This article critically examines Gray's sympathies and posits that while he started out firmly within the high church party of Anglicanism, he slowly moved closer and closer to Tractarianism. Finally, the article considers aspects of Gray's leadership which encouraged a gradual move from moderate Calvinism towards a more definite Tractarian and ritualist stance as the nineteenth century drew to a close.
  • Emerging Ecumenical Church Polity, 1965-2010: Lessons from Efforts at Church Unity in Zambia

    Msiska,Godfrey; Duncan,Graham (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    This article explores an emerging ecumenical church polity in Zambia from a church historical perspective. While church polity and church unity literature has acknowledged the role of church polity and church unity in Zambia, and its use for ecclesiological purposes, the growing use of church polity and the efforts at church unity in the period 1965-2010 in Zambia, have remained unexamined. This article thus explores qualitatively how church polity and church unity were viewed in church legislation and official church documents of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), the Anglican Church in Zambia (ACZ) and the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa (UPCSA) in Zambia. The article observes that ecumenical church polity has indeed been developed in Zambia and lessons from efforts at church unity in Zambia can assist in developing ecumenical church polity. This is demonstrated by comparing the church legislation and by studying lessons from efforts at church unity within the ranks of the UCZ, ACZ and UPCSA, among other ways. The article therefore advances the argument that ecumenical church polity can be developed by comparing the church legislation provisions and by studying the lessons from efforts at church unity in Zambia. This article contributes to the field of church history, church polity and ecclesiology.
  • Christianity in the Twentieth Century: A World History, by B. Stanley

    Duncan,Graham A (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
  • A Reconstruction of Matthew Jacha Rusike's Contribution to the Re-humanisation of Dehumanised Children in Zimbabwe 1950-1978

    Mujinga,Martin (The Church History Society of Southern Africa, 2020-01-01)
    The Mathew Rusike Children's Home (MRCH) in Zimbabwe is known for its philanthropic work of caring for orphans and vulnerable children. It is an institution viewed as a Christ-woven nest that re-humanises dehumanised children. This paper was motivated by the fact that, over the years, the MRCH has attracted partners and supporters locally and globally, thereby giving it international status. However, there is a gap in research that connects the founder, Rev. Matthew Jacha Rusike, and the institution. The gap is worrisome, because Rusike has been a pioneer in the history of Methodism in a number of ways. To start with, he was the first African Wesleyan Methodist minister to be appointed as circuit superintendent in a missionary-dominated church. Second, he was awarded the "Member of the Order of the British Empire" for his contribution to the formation of the first African children's home in a country whose cultural values denied the existence of orphanages. Third, he also supervised many schools; and yet there is little research about him. The other motivation for this study was to reconcile the historical Rusike and the institution. The paper concluded that Rusike had challenged the African epistemology that orphans and vulnerable children are the responsibility of relatives-even if those homes are not safe for children. The paper starts by discussing the personal life of Rusike, followed by a description of his ministerial journey; how he founded the children's home, and how the home developed from a family vision to be the church's Christian social responsibility.