The UCZ is known to have existed in unity and social action for more than fifty years, hence living up to its tagline “All One in Christ”
The UCZ, its mission schools and health facilities has had an influence on most Zambians, including politicians. The first President Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, the current Vice President and most Cabinet and Members of Parliament belong to the UCZ. It is a symbol of national unity.
Our Lord gave to His Church the Great Commission to carry the Good news of salvation to all lands and peoples. The history of the United Church of Zambia is greatly influenced by the following countries: England, Scotland, France, Canada and South Africa. At the end of the 18th century the following Missionary Societies set out for the work of world evangelism:
1.The London Missionary Society (L.M.S) in 1795 in South Pacific Islands, India, Ceylon, China, Madagascar, South and Central Africa.
2. The Methodist Missionary Society (MMS) This was the union of the Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists. The Wesleyans began their work among the ILA people [Chipembi Girl’s Secondary School in 1912, 17 miles east of Chisamba. The Wesleyans established village (social) work amongst the Lenje, East –west, South and North of Chipembi and also begun urban work in Broken Hill (Kabwe) and Lusaka.
3. The Church of Scotland (C.S) Mwenzo first station in Northern Rhodesia was opened in 1897. In 1913 Chitambo was occupied 60 miles from where Livingstone died. It was a grandson of Livingstone, Dr Malcolm Moffat, who established the work there. The outcome of this was that the Lubwa Mission opened. Foundations work here had already been laid by Mr. David Kaunda, a Livingstonia evangelist (father of Dr Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of Zambia).
4. The Paris Evangelical Missionary Society (PEMS) established Mwandi (Sesheke) and Sefula mission stations. It later became the Church of Barotseland.
5. The Baptist Missionary Society (B.M.S) Kafulafuta and Fiwale mission and many free Churches on the copperbelt were part of the Union.
The final and third union phase was when the Methodist Church, a 1931 union of Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and the P.E.M.S.who had only been observers at early negotiation meetings, joined the UCCAR at union commemoration service at Mindolo, on 16th January 1965. This resulted in the formation of the United Church of Zambia (U.C.Z). The first two (2) phases of Union (1945 and 1958) facilitated for Zambia’s October 1964 independence. The UCZ has been a CWM (LMS then) affiliate since its inception.1
Active Partnerships: The UCZ has had very active partnerships with the WCC, WCRC, CEVAA, CCZ, METHODIST CHURCH, CHURCH OF SCOTLAND, and AACC, to name a few. At the moment, we are in the process of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the UPCSA- Zambia for stronger working cooperation.
CWM Programmes: The UCZ has since its affiliation benefited from various programmes such as Training In Mission (TIM) for our youths; Education in Mission (EIM); Helping People to Act(HEPETA); Face to Face(for both Theological Students as well as Ministers –Fiji, India, Zambia etc.); grants and scholarships. The UCZ has also participated in sharing human resource/personnel by sending and receiving missionaries to/from the CWM family.
The following activities have been undertaken:
Our Hospitals: Mbereshi Mission Hospital – a 100 bed capacity serving a catchment population of 70,000 people founded around 1915 by the LMS. In 1929, a Maternity Training and Child Welfare Clinic was established, which later developed into the School of Nursing. The other one is Mwandi Mission Hospital with an 82 bed capacity serving a population of 27,068. It was first started as a Dispensary in 1884 by the Paris Evangelical Society. In 1928 the first custom built hospital was completed. In 1986 the Presbyterian Church (USA) constructed and provided electricity to the present hospital. The main hospital was renovated and opened in April 2015.
Our Clinics/Health Centres: Chipembi Rural Health Centre (RHC) serving a Catchment Population of 15,519], Jagaimo RHC situated inside the Maheba Refugee Camp serving Catchment Population 4,123; Kafue RHC serving Catchment Population 11,861, Masuku RHC serving Catchment Population 8,153 and Njase Peri Urban Clinic serving Catchment Population 5,435 (CSO) 14,974 Head count
Our Schools/University: UCZ University; Chipembi Girls Secondary; Kafue Boys Sec; Nambala Sec; Sefula Sec; Mabel Shaw Girls Sec; Mbereshi Primary; Senga Hill P; Senga Hill Sec; Mwenzo Girls Sec; Lubwa P; Mwandi P; Mwandi Sec; Kanchindu; Masuku Sec and Njase Girls Sec.
Jubilee celebrations: Successfully celebrated the Silver Jubilee on 16th January 1990, and the Golden Jubilee on 16th January 2015.
Annual Evangelism Campaigns & Retreats: All UCZ Congregations observe a week of outreach and spiritual self-examination, while Ministerial and Diaconal students go out for evangelism in a selected presbytery each year.
Constructed the Synod Investment and Office Complex at Woodlands, Mosi-O-Tunya, Plot number 895, Lusaka.
Other Projects: The UCZ is involved in honey processing (Mpongwe), offering hospitality services (Diakonia Centre), radio broadcasting ( United Voice, Lusaka & Radio Chimwemwe, Ndola), publications(UCP) and has established a Synod Documentation Centre in Lusaka.
Sensitization sexual reproductive health and Social Behaviour Change (SSBC) for adolescents: School and Community groups-in four districts of Mwansabombwe, Kawambwa, Nchelenje and Samfya within Luapula Province; peer education training for two Schools ie. Chibolya and Chisokone in Samfya, Kazembe, Chinyanta and Mabel Show Secondary Schools increasing the number of peer educator groups to 12 in School and 8 community groups within Luapula Province of 20 per group; teaching the girls sexual reproductive health and rights to reduce the prevalence of HIV in the country.
Training for Transformation: Re-training of diaconal workers to meet new community demands.
Food relief program in Mwandi: 2015/2016 Food relief project for 4,500 households in terms of food supplements, farming inputs and social cash transfer to keep the local economy alive for the local marketers; Food Basket involved Mealie-meal, 5kg sugar, 1kg salt, 2.5 ltrs cooking oil, 5kg beans and 5 kg fried small fish.
Wafer Making Machine: Diaconal workers make wafers for Holy Communion.
Missional Congregations Project linked to the livelihood of people in 10 Presbyteries: In 2016/2017, conducted final participatory review meeting for the Bishops, some Ministers and Deaconesses with success stories and our sister church, the Reformed Church in Zambia, learning from each other’s best practices.
Luapula Self-Help Groups (SHG): The first meeting for orientation for the self-help concept for key stakeholders that included traditional leaders and head men in April 2017; SHG concept training for 183 women was conducted and has since formed 17 groups of 15-20 members each; SHG were started in Matero, Kafue, Mbereshi and Kazembe; conducted training for 34 Book Writers and 17 community facilitators from 17 formed groups; purchased a laptop for projects officer and 30 bicycles for the SHG facilitators; have funded Lusaka presbytery Self-Help groups K12, 500 and for the implementation of activities.
Future Plans: Distribution of sanitary towels to poor school-going girls in rural communities; establishment of a scholarship fund for daconesses, orphans and vulnerable children; and the construction and establishment of the Makeni Mother and Child Support Program Centre; roll out Missional Congregations concept in all UCZ Congregations by 2018.
1 Union History: The United Church of Zambia came into being as a result of a union of churches. This happened in three phases. After the LMS encountered a series of challenges in 1909, a private approach was undertaken to the Livingstonia (Scottish) mission committee, asking if that mission would take over the L.M.S work in Northern Rhodesia. But it was discovered that the Scottish Mission itself was in difficulties and had contemplated asking the L.M.S to take over the station and hospital at Mwenzo. Dr Laws of Livingstonia Mission visited the L.M.S area in 1905 and gave useful advice on church organization. The close contact established between the L.M.S. and the Scottish mission helped prepare the way for the first phase Church Union, though that was only achieved 40 years later. In the 1930s mining explorations began on the Copperbelt creating employment opportunities for the rural people. This brought developments along the rail way line, particularly in Lusaka, Kabwe and the Copperbelt. This attracted migration of people from rural areas to towns. The Church Fathers/mothers had plans to have a United Church of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
1st Phase: Seeing this was not possible, in 1945 the Church of Scotland congregations in Northern Rhodesia, the L.M.S congregations and the congregations of the Union Church on the Copperbelt entered into full union. As a sign that they still looked forward to union with the Nyasaland Church they adopted the name, merely substituting “in Rhodesia” for “Presbyterian”. So there came into being at Chitambo on 1st December 1945 the Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia (CCAR). At this point the Methodist Church had only showed willingness to join but was not part of the union.
2nd Phase: The second phase of the union took place when in 1958 the European congregations of the Copperbelt Christian Council (C.B.C.C) approached the C.C.A.R with a request to be admitted into that Church. The application was received with deep gratitude to God and enthusiastically granted; with the word “UNITED” being added to the name of the Church to mark the admission of the European congregations which had formerly been organized as a separate body. Earlier in the same year permission was granted to the Methodist Church and a Church Union Negotiation Committee was set up, comprising representatives from the U.C.C.A.R and the Methodist Church, with observers from the Anglican Church and the Church of Barotseland (PEMS). On 26th July 1958 at Mindolo, the United Church of Central Africa in Rhodesia (UCCAR) came into being. This union only incorporated the Church of Scotland, the London Missionary Society, the Union Churches on the Copperbelt, some Baptist congregations on the Copperbelt and the Copperbelt Free Church Council of European Congregations.