The United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo has undergone dramatic changes in the past few years, including reverting from the country name of Zaire to the earlier name, Congo. Because of the rapid growth of Methodism in this area there are now three Episcopal areas and three bishops.
Methodist missions in the Congo were initiated by the U.S. Methodist Churches, North and South. Therefore, until 1930 there were two Methodist areas in the Congo. Then the two groups in the United States united, one Episcopal area was formed in Zaire with the first Zairian bishop elected in 1964.
After hearing stories of political tension, travel difficulties and fact that more than one half of Africa Central Conference Methodists live in the country of Congo, the 1992 United Methodist General Conference authorized the Africa Central Conference to create the new Zaire Conference.
The country is nearly one million square miles in area and residents speak at least 36 languages. Church institutions include hospitals, serving a large network of dispensaries, pastors’ schools, a theological school, a technical school, many women’s schools, primary and secondary schools. The schools are under the direction of the government but staffed by Methodist teachers in church-owned facilities. Several agricultural and industrial projects are sponsored by the church.