I. History of Christian Church
Early spread of the church: The Methodist church started in the 18th Century as a revival movement with the “Anglican Church” by John Benjamin Wesley. He recruited workers who preached to “common people”, putting emphasis on salvation by faith.
– The Christian Church began among the Jewish “converts” who used to gather at the Pentecost, the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:42-47).
– Emperor Domitian declared himself: divine” and ordered all subjects of the Roman Empire to worship him as God, Christians of course refused. The Jewish and Emperor Domitian’s persecution forced Christians to flee to other cities, start new congregations in these places. Through the discipleship of Apostles, the Gospel began to spread in Europe, North Africa and Middle East.
-Emperor Constantine, 313AD became Christian and gave Christians their autonomy, but was invaded by wrong people who politicized and retarded its growth. The Roman Empire was split mainly over doctrinal disputes into 2 factions, the Eastern governed by Constantinople (Istanbul) and the Western faction governed by Rome.
-The birth of Mohamed (570-632AD) in Mecca (Saudi Arabia) was followed by the rise of Islam. Armed Muslims swept through the Arab world persecuting and driving advancing Christians out of the churches in Palestine, Middle East, and Egypt. Seven Centuries of Christian work development was destroyed, leaving the church concentrated mainly in Europe, Italy and Greece.
Reformation – By the early 16th Century, the Roman Catholic Church (from the Western stream) and the State were heavily intertwined. Corruption and ignorance from Kings and politicians was rife. Martin Luther [1483-1546) (Germany) and other religious leaders rebelled against those malpractices.
They began to teach about the basic truths of Christian faith i.e. (a) Salvation by faith alone, (b). The Bible is the supreme guide in the Christian religion and the church and wanted it available in common people’s languages (not only in Latin) and (c) “Priesthood of all believers”.
The Protestant Reformation – led to the formation of at least three church groups:-
à The Lutherans (under Martin Luther).
à The Calvinists (under John Calin in Geneva) – stressed on the doctrine of predestination.
à The Anabaptists – believed in practice of adult or believers baptism.
The English Reformation – In 1534, Henry VII broke all ties wit home and declared himself head of the church in England. This was partly because the Catholic Church had refused him to divorce Catherine of Aragon. Their emphasis took a middle road between Lutherans and Rome.
The Evangelical Revival – This took place in the 1700’s, during the time of “English Industrial Revolution”, spearheaded by John Wesley (1703 – 1791), an Anglican priest.
The Anglican Church rejected this renewal movement (of salvation by faith) and banned preachers of the “new doctrine”.
à After John Wesley’s death, the split of Methodism as a separate church happened.
II. Methodism coming to Southern Africa
– Methodism came to Southern Africa in 1820 with the soldiers of the British garrison stationed at the Cape in the early years of the 19th Century. In 1815, Rev. Barnabas Shaw and early Methodist missionaries started their work before the Great Trek (inland movement) and notably established famous Lily fountain mission. Methodism became firmly established with the arrival of the 1820 British Settlers, many of whom were Methodists.
– Rev William Shaw moved along the Eastern Part of the Cape, establishing the following mission stations:-
* Wesley Ville (first mission in Ciskei; 1823);
* MountCoke – 1824;
* Butterworth – 1827;
* Morley – 1829;
* Clarke bury – 1835;
* Shaw bury – 1835;
* Maclear, Fletch Ville and Tsitsana -1864.
– Rev Samuel Broadbent founded the mission station at Makwasi (1822) Free State, while Rev James Archbell and Rev John Edwards established mission stations in Thaba Nchu, Platberg, Lishuane, Mpukane, Mpherane (near Ficksburg). The spread continued to Kwa Zulu Natal and Transvaal up to Mozambique.
– The Methodist church received its autonomy from the British Conference in 1882. The South African Conference exercised its jurisdiction and carried out its functions subject to the stipulations made by the British Conference until the year 1926 when the South African Conference resolved that it would be in the interests of both that the affiliation and control should cease.
– Early mission stations had schools; printing presses 9e.g. Mt Coke, Platberg and Makwasi); hospitals (e.g. Moroka, Mt Coke, Manguzi and Bethesda).
– The Methodist church in South Africa had 2 factions viz.
* Native (for the Africans).
* Weslian (Europeans).
These 2 streams (result of apartheid) had different service books, hymn books and administration. They later united to become one multiracial and multicultural church (MCSA).