Christianity in Zimbabwe

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Christianity is one of the major religions practiced in Zimbabwe. The arrival of Christianity dates back to the 14th century by missionaries such as Robert Moffat of the London Missionary Society (LMS). Christianity is embraced by the majority of the population. It is estimated 85 percent of Zimbabweans claim to be Christians, with approximately 62 percent regularly attending church services.[1] Christian faith plays a very important role in the organization of our society; the bible is regarded as the only source of hope and truth. It is highly esteemed and its writings considered sacred.

Heads of the Christian Denominations in Zimbabwe is an association made up of some of the common church bodies; Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.[2] However, recent years saw a large increase in the number of new denominations: notably "Apostles" or "Mapostori". Most of these denominations derive their teachings from the bible and attach greater emphasis on prophecy, demonstration of power and fasting in the wilderness. Some reputable apostolic churches include Mugodhi, Mwazha, among others. Still, there are some "Apostles who disregard the Bible and believe in Messengers from God". There has been debate over the Western-formed churches including Anglican and Roman Catholic, over the truthfulness of the apostles' doctrine. While some apostles truly follow the Way of Christ, some violate bible principles through polygamy and false prophecy. In addition there has been a growing number of Christian Ministries, including Prophetic Healing and Deliverance and United Family International Church, who are also criticized for overemphasizing the prosperity gospel and giving- while increasing the wealth of the leaders.


Roman Catholic missionaries were the first to arrive in Zimbabwe. The first attempt to introduce Christianity to the Shona [tribe of Zimbabwe] was made by a Portuguese Jesuit missionary, Gonçalo da Silveira, at the court of the Monomotapa dynasty until he was murdered as a result of court intrigues in 1561.[3] Although at least a dozen Catholic churches were planted, they all disappeared by 1667, when Portugal’s power was waning, leaving “no discernible trace of Christianity.” This remained the situation until the movement of Protestant missions arrived in the nineteenth century.

In 1799 Johannes Van der Kemp helped launching a missionary society called London Missionary Society (LMS). One of the LMS missionary who helped launch Protestant missions into Zimbabwe was Robert Moffat and his wife Mary. One of Moffat’s greatest accomplishment for missions in Zimbabwe was his friendship with Mzilikazi, king of the Ndebele tribe. Moffat’s son-in-law David Livingstone had several expeditions in Zimbabwe around 1859.[4]

In 1890 the 'Pioneer Column', Jesuit Catholic missionaries and the Anglican Canon Belfour entered Lobengula's territory.[5]

Indigenous religious movements[edit]

  • Andries Mtshede (d.1929) was a nephew of King Lobengula, who became a policeman and court interpreter and later a Methodist minister.[6]
  • John Maranke (1912-1963) was a Zimbabwean Christian leader, prophet, and founder of the African Apostolic Church of John Maranke.

List of churches in Zimbabwe[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Zimbabwe. United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (September 14, 2007).
  2. ^ religion in Zimbabwe
  3. ^ Marshall W. Murphree, Christianity and the Shona (London, England: The Athlone Press, 1969).
  4. ^ A History Of Protestant Missions In Zimbabwe
  5. ^ A History of Christian Missions in Zimbabwe, 1890-1939 By ChengetaiJ. M. Zvobgo. Gweru, Mambo Press, 1996.
  6. ^ Thorpe, C. Limpopo to Zambesi, London 1951 p.33-5

External links[edit]