The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe which originated in Wesleyan British Methodism came to Zimbabwe under the leadership of Rev. Owen Watkins and Rev. Isaac Shimmin, who arrived at Fort Salisbury on September 29, 1891.
The first mission stations were established at Fort Salisbury (1891); Hartlyton (1891); Nenguwo (Waddilove) (1892); and Kwenda (1892). The work at these stations was made possible by the arrival of the Rev. George H. Eva and eight African evangelists and teachers from the Transvaal and Cape colony of South Africa in August 1892. Rev. Isaac Shimmin welcomed these evangelists and teachers because he believed that the evangelization of Africa could best be done by the Africans witnessing to Africans. A new mission station was established in Matebeleland in the western part of the country in 1894 at Makokoba in Bulawayo.
The first Synod was in Harare in Mashonaland in 1895 under the chairmanship of the Rev. George Weavind – Chairman of the Transvaal District of the Methodist Church in South Africa. By this time Synod noted that already 3,000 adults regularly listened to the gospel and 700 children attended Sunday School.
From Owen Watkins and Isaac Shimmin a succession Chairman of District under the British Conference followed – namely John White, Frank Noble, Herbert Carter, Jesse Lawrence and Andrew M. Ndhlela (1965). Andrew Ndhlela marked the end of white leadership in the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe but the church only got its autonomy from the British Conference in 1977 – Andrew Ndhlela becoming the first President of an Autonomous Church. He was succeeded by President Crispin Mazobere, Caspen Makuzwa and Farai J. Chirisa who became the first bishop in 1989. Rev. Cephas Z. Mukandi came after Bishop Chirisa and was the first Presiding Bishop. He retired from this office in 2004 and Reverend Margaret M. James was the Acting Presiding Bishop in 2005. She was succeeded by the current Presiding Bishop, Reverend Simbarashe Sithole.
Over the period of now 115 years the Methodist Church has been involved in preaching the gospel throughout the country involving Men’s Christian Union, Women’s Fellowship organization, Boys Christian Union, Girls Christian Union and a vibrant Youth Department to cater for work among young people and children. The church has been involved in agricultural work, primary and secondary education. The church runs eleven primary schools, two secondary schools and eight high schools. It is planning to establish a Southern African Methodist University in the Mashonaland Province.
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