The origin and development of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in Zambia, 1882 - 2004

Chilenje, Victor (2007-12)

Thesis (DTh (Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2007.


This study deals with the origin and developments leading to the formation of the CCAP Synod in Zambia 1882 to 2004. Above all, it is an in-depth ecclesiological analysis and evaluation of the Livingstonia Mission from 1882-2004. The study was motivated by the need to contribute to the Church a proper historical record of the CCAP in Zambia. Historiographically, as far as I could establish, this is the first attempt to examine, scrutinise and chronologically write about the Livingstonia Mission’s activities in Zambia from a holistic point of view up to the birth of the CCAP Synod of Zambia in 1984. It needs to be noted that between 1884 - 1956 the Livingstonia Mission of the Free Church of Scotland carried out an extensive missionary work in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), especially in the Eastern, Northern, Central and Copperbelt Provinces of Zambia. From 1956- 1984 the Livingstonia Mission work was continued in Zambia by the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, a product of the Livingstonia Mission and the local Zambian people. Historically, the spread of the gospel from Scotland via Malawi into Northern Rhodesia revolved primarily around a particular congregation or around ethnic communities with multiple congregations. Therefore, the extensive work of the Livingstonia Mission up to the birth of CCAP Synod of Zambia rendered it necessary to arrange the subject matter, into chapters dealing with certain time periods. As a matter of fact, the dissertation begins with the background to the study. This is followed by the Livingstonia Mission activities in Central Africa from 1875-1975. The formation of the CCAP Synod in 1924 and its aftermath is also discussed in order to establish the fact that CCAP Synod of Zambia is a member of a larger Reformed Presbyterian family. The church union negotiations in Central Africa from 1923-1965 are one of the subject matters for discussion. Following these church union discussions, the reader will be able to understand the reasons for the existence of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian in Zambia. The similarities and differences in ecclesiological life of the missionary work of various bodies involved are documented and analysed. The study also discusses the role of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) from 1956-1984, systematically and chronologically. In addition, the extension of the CCAP mission work from the rural areas to the urban areas characterised by the missiological ecclessiological dimension of the Reformed Presbyterian tradition in Central Africa is also discussed, as it is the reason for many misunderstandings and questions regarding the origin and existence of CCAP Synod of Zambia. Then the extension, similarities, differences and limitations of the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia’s work in Zambia is extensively discussed. It is from the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia, a product of the Livingstonia Mission and the Free Church of Scotland that the CCAP Synod of Zambia finds its roots historically. Results of the study suggests that the existence of the CCAP in Zambia is questioned and misunderstood due to the following reasons; First and foremost, was the difference of opinion regarding the order in the church and order for the church within the different Reformed Presbyterian Churches found in Central Africa. Secondly, it is due to theological differences between the Livingstonia Mission and the Dutch Reformed Church Mission on matters of ecclesiological. Thirdly, it is an issue of failure to resolve conflict in the church at Matero Lusaka between some members, office bearers and church assemblies. The critical issue here was that the rights of the members were not protected, but violated. Fourthly, an important role was played by the selfish motives of the CCAP and the PCZ missionaries serving in Zambia before 1984. This group failed to solve their differences even after the two synods, the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia and the Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa had formed a liaison committee to take care of the problems of the two sister churches. Fifthly, colonialism affected the missionary churches in Central Africa in such a way that at times missionaries were serving the interest of their home governments. Sixthly, the growth of nationalism and democratisation influenced the churches. Many Africans wanted self-government, meaning that the churches were to be led by local African people. Ecumenically, the CCAP is a sister church to the Reformed Church in Zambia (RCZ), United Church of Zambia (UCZ) and Uniting Presbyterian Church of Southern Africa (UPCSA). The church is a member of Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), Theological Education by Extension in Zambia (TEEZ), Bible Society of Zambia (BSZ), Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC), Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and Council of Reformed Churches in Southern Africa (CRCSA). The church is also in partnership with Presbyterian Church USA (PC USA) and Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI). From 1984-2004, the church has seen a tremendous growth from 8000 communicants to 42,000. From 16 congregations it grew to 47 and from 4 ordained ministers to 34. The church is also involved in the deeds of mercy e.g. towards those suffering from HIV/Aids. Besides a strong emphasis on evangelisation and spiritual nurture of congregation the church strives for a holistic ministry with two rural health centres, 14 schools, community schools, home based care centres and agricultural project.

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