The African Methodist Episcopal Church came to Central Africa in the late 1800s and was officially established by the General Conference of 1888.
Those who played a significant role in the growth and development of the church include: Bishop Henry M. Turner, who was instrumental in accepting the Ethiopian Church into the denomination; the Rev. Hanock Phiri who was instrumental in spreading the church from Southern Africa to Central Africa; and the Rev. W. J. L. Membe who was instrumental in planning the church all over Zambia (formerly northern Rhodesia).
The various enterprises of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Central Africa include church centers and educational projects from day care to elementary and secondary schools. There was established in 1937 under the leadership of Bishop Richard R. Wright, Jr., the Wilberforce Institute of Higher Education and the R. R. Wright School of Religion. Both institutions have provided the leadership for church growth in this part of the world.
Church unity in Zambia dates back to the country’s first General Missionary Conference held in Livingstone in 1914. But even more significant, as far as church unity is concerned, is the 1931 General Missionary Conference held at Kabwe (Broken Hill). This conference approved the formation of United Missions in the Copperbelt which would provide pastoral services to Christians flocking from rural churches for work at the emerging copper mines. Thus the Union Church of the Copperbelt was virtually initiated by mine workers themselves. Missions involved in the United Missions on the Copperbelt were: The Church of Central Africa Mission, represented by Rev. R. J. B. Moore; the Church of Scotland; The Methodist Church; and The Baptist Church, represented by Rev. A.J. Cross.
The Church of Central Africa Mission, the Church of Scotland and the Union Church of the Copperbelt formed the Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia. Further groups joined in the formation on July 26, 1958, of the United Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia.
Continued union negotiations with the Methodist Church eventually led the Methodists and the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society to join the UCCAR in 1965 to form the United Church of Zambia. Rev. Colin Morris became its first president with Rev. Doyce Musunsa as the Synod Clerk.
The United Church of Zambia is the largest Protestant church in the country and despite short-lived schisms it has continued to grow numerically. The United Church of Zambia, among other tasks, seeks to create more awareness in the nation of the presence of the church as a missionary and prophetic institution.