Methodism came to South Africa with the British garrison in 1806, but the mission was launched by Barnabas Shaw who reached the Cape in 1816 and William Shaw (unrelated) who arrived in 1820 with the British settlers and rapidly established a chain of mission stations between the Cape Colony and Natal.
Methodism spread to all parts of Southern Africa and drew its membership from all sections of the community. It was a non-racial church from the outset, although it was deeply affected by prevailing social customs, and is still endeavoring to give true affect to this character.
Six missionary districts of the Wesleyan Methodist Church became an affiliated conference in 1883. An independent conference was constituted in 1927 and enlarged in 1832 to include the Transvaal District and the Primitive Methodist Mission.
Census figures reflect a Methodist community over 2.1 million, most of whom claim affiliation to the Methodist Church of Southern Africa. According to a church census conducted in 2000, there are 683 ministers, 5,078 congregations and 2,888 preaching places.
The mission statement of the MCSA reads: “God calls us to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ for hearing and transformation.” The church’s vision statement is “A Christ-healed Africa for the healing of nations.”
An inventory of some of the ministries of the connexion include: pre-school, ministries to the homeless, ministries to informal settlements, hospice type ministries, ministries to prisons, HIV/AIDS ministries, poverty alleviation projects.
Through membership in the World Methodist Council, World Council of Churches, All Africa Council of Churches, South Africa Council of Churches and Christian Unity Commission we endeavour to develop relationships with other Christians churches in South Africa and throughout the world.