Mozambique, United Methodist Church
Late in 1990, the Igreja Methodista Unida em Mocambique observed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of church work in Mozambique. The theme of the celebration was, “One Hundred years of preaching the Gospel and witnessing through words and deeds without ceasing.”
The United Methodist Church in Mozambique had its beginnings in the southern province of Inhambane in 1890. From a small group the church grew steadily in spite of (or because of) persecution by the Colonial Portuguese, Roman Catholic government. After independence in 1975, the strong Marxist government closed and made it highly undesirable to profess the Christian faith.
The works of the churches continued, sometimes clandestinely, and were allowed to reopen in 1982 when President Samora Machel invited the churches to contribute to the development of the country.
A civil war which raged in Mozambique from 1976 to 1992 brought unbelievable suffering to the Mozambican people and during those years many people fled to possibly more secure places to live as internal refugees. They took the message of salvation and new churches were started and continue growing in places where the church never before existed.
Since 1982 the government authorities for the first time in history allowed the construction of new church buildings and although Mozambique is considered the poorest country in the world, the church members contributed to the construction of places of worship worthy of praise and thanksgiving.
The first Mozambique Bishop, Rev. Escrivao A. Zunguza, was elected in 1976. He worked during a hard time for the churches in Mozambique. He was called to work as a pacifist within the church and between the churches and government. In 1988 Bishop Joao Somane Machado was elected as the third Mozambican Bishop and continues to lead this rapidly growing church.
Since the year 2000 the church exists in the whole country, divided into two conferences: North of Save Annual Conference, constituted by 6 Ecclesiastical Districts with 3,500 members, and South of Save Annual Conference with 14 Ecclesiastical Districts and 115,000 members. Church programs include: evangelization and development programs; construction of churches, pastoral housing, schools; development of transportation and communications with superintendents and pastors to minimize the problem of lack of transportation and communication caused by long distances and lack of communication facilities; a program of perceiving the moral, social and religious values in society; support of all children’s programs; support of women’s programs; to create the self-sustaining church program that will be sable to carry its mission in very responsible and productive ways.