SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.31 issue2Marriage, sexuality, and holiness: aspects of marital ethics in the Corpus PaulinumPower and authority in Matthew's Gospel author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


Acta Theologica

On-line version ISSN 2309-9089
Print version ISSN 1015-8758

Acta theol. vol.31 n.2 Bloemfontein Jan. 2011


Penteoostalism & schisms in the reformed church in Zambia 1996-2001: contextual and identity changes1



H.J. HendriksI; L. SokoII

IProf. H.J. Hendriks, Faculty of Theology, 171 Dorp Street, 7600 Stellenbosch, South Africa. E-mail:
IIDr Lukas Soko, RCZ Kalulushi Congregation, P.O. Box 260246, Kalulushi, Zambia. E-mail:




This article analyzes the historical, contextual and identity changes that took place in the RCZ between 1996 and 2001 in order to find an answer to the question why it happened. The hypothesis is as follows; The leadership style of church leaders was influenced by the one-party state with its autocratic presidential powers that continued the missionary legacy of autocratic rule. The autocratic leadership style met head on with a new globalizing culture and with the Pentecostal tendencies in society. This created the conflict that caused the schisms. Pentecostal/charismatic tendencies challenged the long-inherited tradition with its autocratic church leadership style of mainline churches in general and the RCZ in particular. Subsequently, Pentecostal/charismatic movements caused intense conflict in the church between the pro-conservatives and pro-Pentecostals. In the RCZ, this led to the formation of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in 1999 and the Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA) in 2001.

Keywords: Reformed Church in Zambia, Schism, Pentecostalism, Church leadership in Africa, Church conflict, The Bible Gospel Church in Africa, Identity

Trefwoorde: Gereformeerde Kerk in Zambië, Kerkskeuring, Pentekostalisme, Kerklike leierskap in Afrika, Kerklike konflik, The Bible Gospel Church in Africa, Identiteit




This article provides a descriptive and practical-theological assessment of the RCZ schisms, relevant to the understanding of one of the most salient contemporary issues in the church in Africa, namely the growth of Pentecostalism (Cox 1995:243-262; Martin 2002; Kalu 2008). The research was undertaken because of the researchers' interest in making an in-depth investigation and analysis of schisms in the RCZ.

The researchers believe that a better understanding of the cause of the differences in worship can help the leadership of the church to develop preventive strategies. History helps us to understand the identity of the church and the contextual changes that took place and changed that identity. Thus, history reveals the growth and influence of Pentecostalism and the way it led to the schisms in the RCZ. The motivation to do this research emerged from the researchers' direct involvement in the RCZ in Lusaka, one as a serving minister at the time of the split, and the other through NetACT.2



The RCZ experienced two schisms that followed each other within a period of five years. The first started in 1996 and continued to 1999, when a minister was expelled and a number of members followed him. They formed their own church called the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). The first split occurred due to a small constitutional matter. The presbytery leadership accused the Mtendere congregation of insubordination when they rejected the minister whom the synod had sent to them. The presbytery insisted that the synod's authority was final and non-reversible (Soko 2010:105-120).

In 2001, nine ministers in nine RCZ congregations were expelled, together with members who supported their new worship practices. They formed the Bible Gospel Church in Africa (BIGOCA). The second schism occurred due to a violation of the tradition of the church regarding worship. In urban areas, many congregations started new ways of worship. Individual ministers in various congregations started what was perceived as a violation of the established liturgical order that was gradually being abandoned. It was replaced with altar calls, singing of choruses and the clapping of hands, dancing, skipping of the Lord's Prayer, repeated shouting of "hallelujah" and "amen," mass prayers and speaking in tongues. Thus, the constitution of the church was refuted (Soko 2010:81-104).

Up to the end of the research project (2010), the church had not attended to the root causes of the problem. The research question is: What caused the schisms, and how can they be prevented?



The research was conducted as a practical theological study (Heitink 1999; Hendriks 2004). The descriptive and analytical dimensions of the research captured the perspectives of the causes of the schisms. The investigation started by looking at the problem from a historical perspective using the available literature to understand the identity and context of the RCZ and how it was changing. Second, the researchers studied official documents of the church such as minutes and letters that had been written and printed media such as local newspapers that covered the period 1996-2001 (Soko 2010:80-120). Third, an empirical investigation took place by using a questionnaire and focus groups discussions to listen to first-hand recollections of the ministers and congregations involved in the schisms (Soko 2010:121-160). This article concentrates only on the first - the historical - perspective (Soko 2010: 14-79).

The study as a whole worked with the following hypothesis: The leadership style of church leaders was influenced by the one-party state with its autocratic presidential powers that continued the missionary legacy of autocratic rule. The autocratic leadership style met head on with a new globalizing culture and with the Pentecostal tendencies in society, which caused the conflict and schisms.

The logical first step in the investigation was to give a short outline of the RCZ's identity and story since its establishment in the colonial period. The schisms took place because the conservative group vehemently guarded against any changes in the reformed identity of the church.

Secondly, apart from the identity and story of the RCZ, the article aims at describing some contextual factors that changed the Zambian society in many ways. Economic, political and social influences of globalization had a direct influence on society, transforming it and changing its identity. It was impossible for the church to escape these influences. The hypothesis assumes that the schisms took place because leaders of the church failed to adequately understand and address the global and contextual changes that influenced the Zambian society.



The purpose of this section is to examine how the political and missionary legacy has influenced the RCZ's present tradition and identity, causing it to have a rigid hierarchical structure that could not handle the intense emotion and conflict caused by the growing influence of Pentecostalism.

The introduction of the gospel to the Eastern Province of Zambia, which culminated in the establishment of the present RCZ, dates back to 1898 (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:41). In that year, while on leave, one of the native evangelists of the Kongwe mission station in Malawi asked for permission to visit Chief Mpezeni's country, west of the mission station. The evangelist brought the good news that Chief Mpezeni had agreed that the missionaries could visit his country.

In June 1899, approximately 200 people, mostly Africans from the Mvera congregation, Malawi, and two missionaries left Kongwe and finally made camp at the source of the Bua River on July 5, 1899. They named this place Magwero - meaning "the origin." The DRC mission of the Orange Free State in Zambia recorded this date and place as the beginning and establishment of the RCZ (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:41; Rotberg 1965:152).

The establishment of this mission station was not free from influences that can be called "global trends" in today's terms. Three of these factors are worth mentioning.

The first was the coming of British rule in chief Mpezeni's area. It was believed that gold deposits attracted the British (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:43). Consequently, they established a boma as the centre of their local administration, called Fort Jameson (now Chipata), which later became the provincial headquarters of the Eastern Province. Magwero was close to Fort Jameson, which grew rapidly and soon turned into a township and a meeting place for the small white population.

The second factor was that this period coincided with the movement of people, particularly the Chewa, from Chief Mpezeni's area. When he accepted the British rule, it brought freedom to all who had been like prisoners of war, so they could return to their homes (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:43). The new British rule wanted to clear land to pave the way for white settlers, and this led to the relocation of people.

The influential third factor was the DRC missionaries' critical voices of the practices of the British South Africa Company (BSAC) and the Rhodesian Native Labour Bureau (RNLB). As from 1891, Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia) was already under BSAC administration until the UK took it over in 1923 (History of Church activities in Zambia, 2008/04/11: online). In this area, labour recruitment started to enlist men for the police service, mines and plantations. This situation was interpreted as a thirst for money. The missionaries felt that labour recruitment was a threat to their work. For the missions, this threat lay in the negative impact of the recruitment, as it influenced social cohesion and family life. When the men were away from their homes they were exposed to negative influences, such as drinking and sexual licence (Pauw 1980:140,141).

As the RCZ was growing, it passed through periods that contributed, in one way or another, to its ecclesiology and identity. Three such periods followed, which helps one to understand the problems at the centre of the controversy when the schism occurred. The periods are the colonial period (1899-1964), the independence period (1964-1990) and the democratization period (1990 to date).

4.1 The colonial period, 1899-1964

This section is not about party politics. The assumption is that it is impossible to understand what confronts the present Church in Africa without paying considerable attention to the political drama of that period. The church remains an association among other associations, i.e. it is both social and sacred (Hendriks 2004:70; Taylor & Lehmann 1961:121). Second, most churches in Africa were founded by foreign missionaries whose traditions, culture and identity did not reflect the African identity. Third, the missionaries entered Africa when the "scramble for Africa" took place. Africa was unknown to the "civilized" person of the West (Nutting 1970:15).

Colonialism had an impact on the missionaries. In the 1880s, when the scramble for Africa took place, Africa was unknown to people of the West (Nutting 1970:15). Nutting (1970:32) points out that the Dutch involvement in Africa originated from strictly commercial motives not connected to evangelical ambitions to convert the heathen to Christianity. Missionaries entered Zambia at a time when Africa was still regarded as the "dark continent". During the period of the scramble, the rise of the missionary zeal was motivated partly by the expansion of European empires that opened up unknown territories and brought other cultures to the attention of the newly formed mission societies (One World net. online).

The leadership style of the missionaries is crucial for understanding the RCZ's identity, which lies at the root of contemporary leadership styles and strategies in conflict management. The basic assumption is that the context and the personality of the individual profoundly influence his leadership style (Gibbs 2005:25). Europeans at that stage looked down on Africans as uncivilized and treated their "subjects" in such a way. Administrative and communicative structures were hierarchical - authority was "at the top" and needed to be obeyed. During that period, the missionary policy with regard to African leadership was to follow a "hasten slowly" agenda (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:100). Leadership was completely in the hands of the missionary, together with the colonial masters. The "hasten slowly" policy meant that, as long as you were black and an African/Zambian, you fell under the missionary's supervision.

The colonial period, which influenced the missionaries profoundly, viewed the African native as one not gifted for leadership. In the RCZ, the missionaries maintained the principle of segregation, accepted by, for instance, the Union of South Africa (Taylor & Lehmann 1961:183). The "hasten slowly" policy meant that a native minister could not be ordained.3 It took the DRC mission 30 years to accept a Zambian into ordained ministry. However, the DRC was the first of all the missions in Zambia to ordain a Zambian (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:150). The ordination of Rev. Justo Mwale at the Madzimoyo congregation on 29 September 1929 did not change much. He became an assistant to the missionary (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:149-152).

Towards the end of the colonial period, the nationalistic movement gained momentum. The goal of the movement was independence. The indigenous people and the churches to which they belonged manifested the same loyalties. The Zambian people's heightened sense of cultural, historical and territorial identity was awakening (Roskin et al. 1991:28).

Some missionary circles advocated that the church should take an active role in the political and social emancipation of the new generations of progressive Africans. Others advocated that religion and politics should not mix (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:227). At that time, the church in Zambia was divided on this matter. This was clear at the African Christian Conference in June 1953 (1982:228).

Most of the missionary leaders sided with the colonial rule. More often than not, the missionaries and colonial powers were allies in oppression, and became partners in the crime of imperialism (Conradie 2004:152). Missionaries ruled the church even while Africans were capable of leadership. Because of paternalism, the African was regarded as a child of the missionary (Paas 2006:131; Shaw 1996:207-208). Suffice it to say that the missionaries indoctrinated the natives in a narrow, pietistic way. Their emphasis was on spiritual and inner aspects of life. Political and social aspects were not to be discussed in the church.

Thus, the missionaries increasingly dominated Africans when the independence conflict developed. This had an influence on the development of the RCZ. With the growing nationalism and the need for self-actualization, the missionaries set two examples: Rebellion was met with rigidity, and authoritative, top-down treatment of that rebellion took place. However, the rigidity of the missionaries was slowly weakening because of the prevailing circumstances in which they had no choice but to make concessions. In an uncanny way, this example was followed by political and church leaders one generation later.

4.2 The influence of the independence period on the RCZ

The focus of this section is on the implication of the independence period on African church leaders. Between the 1950s and the 1960s, the decolonization process brought national independence to most African countries (Hastings 1979:175; Isichei 1995:323; Paas 2006:154; Shaw 1996:26). In this period, Africans reclaimed their dignity. Zambia became independent on 24 October 1964 under the United National Independence Party (UNIP) government, with Kenneth Kaunda as the first president. This period of independence is important to understand the current position of the RCZ. Unfortunately for the church, their joy and hope for a new Africa and an independent Zambia was short-lived.

The RCZ received its autonomy from the DRC during this period and became a self-governing denomination on 23 April 1966, its Church Independence Day (Verstraelen-Gilhuis 1982:306). Soon after independence, on 13 December 1972, Zambia was declared a one-party state, and a state of emergency was enforced (Erdmann & Simutanyi 2003:3-4; Ranker 2003:52). Subsequently, in 1988, President Kenneth Kaunda imposed a ban on the registration of new churches (History of church activities in Zambia, 2008/04/11: online). In that period, civil society started to challenge the one-party state, and most African countries realized that there was not much difference between colonial rule and a one-party system. Thus, the same paradoxical pattern is clear: a leadership style that, when conflict occurred, became rigid and authoritative, leading to unrest and "rebellion" from below and eventually forcing the hierarchically structured leadership to compromise.

The RCZ experienced a number of challenges to its autonomy during the period immediately after independence. First, the RCZ experienced the abrupt departure of the missionaries.4 It started in 1958 and continued during the critical years of nationalism preceding independence. The abolition of the colour bar was one of the immediate reasons for the missionaries' departure.

Unlike the colonial period, where the nationalist movement influenced the church towards autonomy, the independence period was a time in which the political system was predominantly bureaucratic. From 1964 to 1991, a state of emergency prevailed (Erdmann & Simutanyi 2003:4), which influenced the leadership style in the RCZ to continue along the lines of the missionary paradigm.

Thus, during the independence period, the RCZ settled into a pattern where its autocratic and bureaucratic power went unchallenged. Carroll (2000:28) states that, in such times, culture constructs broad, well-established strategies of action, which become tradition that anchor and integrate their lives and shape their identity. The ban on the registration of new churches is an example of the outcome of a settling period that the RCZ enjoyed to its own advantage.

4.3 The post-independence period, 1990 to date

The previous two phases illustrate how the historical context influenced the church in Zambia. When the colonial era was drawing to a close, the RCZ took advantage of the independence movement to obtain its autonomy from the DRC. During the second period, the one-party system and authoritative style of the new Zambian leadership influenced and cemented the identity traits of the RCZ in becoming set in authoritative hierarchical structures, which thus turned out to be a variation on a theme set by the missionary tradition.

Like many other African countries, social and economic decline characterized Zambia since the 1970s (Erdmann & Simutanyi 2003:9; Van der Walt 2006:29). Ranker (2003:44) notes that Zambia was one of the most industrialized and urbanized new nation states in Africa. Two decades later, Zambia became one of the poorest countries on the African continent. From 1975 to 1991, the average per capita income declined by 2.5% per annum. Its external debt rose from US$627 million in 1970 to US$7.2 billion in 1990.

With the economic decline, confidence in the one-party system diminished. It became more difficult to contain the patronage capacity of the regime and to appease dissidents. In the 1990s, among others, high levels of unemployment, shortages of essential commodities, poor infrastructure and corruption created the desire for a change of government in Zambia.

During that period, the churches in Zambia lost their trust in the UNIP and Kaunda. Although the churches maintained their non-partisan role, prodemocracy political sermons became frequent in many churches (History of church activities in Zambia, 2008/04/11: online). The pro-democracy mood in the churches became so vivid when the three ecumenical church bodies - the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) and the Christian Council of Zambia (CCZ) of which the RCZ is a member joined to form a Christian Monitoring Group. Amongst others, the aim was to train people at grassroots level to observe all the electoral procedures at polling stations (Ndhlovu 2008:62, 268).

Another reason why the churches supported these changes, besides the economic problems, was Kaunda's unorthodox theological position when he became interested in Eastern religious beliefs. President Kaunda became involved in a new religion with a Dr M.A. Ranganathan and erected a temple at State House, called the "David Universal Temple" (History of Church activities in Zambia 2008/04/11: online). Later, Kaunda launched a television project with the Marharishi Mahesh Yogi, called "Heaven on Earth". The churches viewed this as a contradiction to Kaunda's policy to ban the registration of new churches. Eastern religions were unacceptable to Zambian Christians.

On 31 October 1991, Zambians went to the polls to elect a new government. The Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) had a landslide victory over the UNIP. With new hopes of economic recovery, everyone was happy. The MMD government under Fredrick Chiluba had the support of the Christian fraternity and immersed itself in this relationship.

In December 1991, within two months in office, the president singlehandedly declared Zambia a Christian Nation (Erdmann & Simutanyi 2003:13) without consulting his cabinet. The new government, installed by popular vote, brought a number of changes in an effort to erase the image of the UNIP.

This "Christian nation" declaration implicitly meant that the ban on the registration of new churches was lifted. The establishment of a Religious Desk at State House caused a flood of all kinds of new churches in Zambia. The establishment of a Vendors' Desk at State House meant that anyone could do business anywhere. Within a short period during Chiluba's presidency, street trading became legalized. These developments created freedom of association, voluntary separation from an institution and a desire for selfidentity. Institutions perceived as non-profit oriented were ditched or liquidated. The new wave of freedom to do whatever one wanted also found its way into the church in Zambia. In post-independent Zambia, mainline churches such as the UCZ, African Methodist Episcopal Church and the RCZ became immediate victims of this mood.

4.4 New waves of nationalism in the RCZ

In the colonial and independence periods, people mobilized for political and economic freedom. Since 1990, however, two radical groups emerged in the RCZ. The one group was the "Pentecostals" whom the church viewed as liberals. They wanted congregations and members to be as free as possible from the constitutional and liturgical framework of the RCZ. They argued that the church was best when it released its hold on the constitution. One assumption was that of a spiritual drought in the RCZ. The church was accused of enforcing the missionaries' inherited traditions too rigidly and was viewed as having departed from the Word of God by regarding the constitution as the highest authority in the church. They went with the mood and views stimulated by Pres Chiluba. It was carried by the wave of Pentecostal influence.

The other group was the traditional one that conformed to the set identity of the RCZ described above. They saw the new challenge as one threatening the identity and tradition of their church. A strong component of the general membership (regardless of age) and clergy supported this quest.

Questions arise about what exactly motivated those developments in the RCZ. On what grounds did the new movement gain support from the congregants? Why was the mood for change so strong, even among the ministers in the congregations? To answer these questions, the next section will discuss the traditions of the RCZ.



Most problems with tradition in the RCZ and its effect on Christians centred on how the Sunday services were conducted. In the RCZ, rituals had become standard habits and beliefs. Hendriks (2004:137) states that rituals are an entire intricate belief system, a worldview and faith that act as textbooks of culture and identity.

The RCZ has developed its worldview in and through its missionary legacy. Hendriks (2004:133) refers to a worldview as "a type of coping mechanism that a society develops and shares over time". The RCZ can be described as an institutional church. Its view on unity is based on obedience. Any diverse view of the mission of the church is taken as contrary to the regulations that are laid down. Because of this worldview, the church found it difficult to engage with the Pentecostal practices. The church quickly turned to its constitution (Book of Church Rules -Zolamulira), not the Gospel, to evaluate the new waves of change.

In this age of globalization, our world is changing so fast that it has become difficult to continue holding on to this worldview. Culture and identity are always evolving. One needs to understand these changes in the Zambian society.

5.1 The macro aspects that influence the Zambian society

The infighting in the RCZ about differences in worship cannot be explained without understanding the influence of global Christianity in Zambia and Africa at large.

Hendriks (2004:77) refers to the globalization as change on a macro level brought about by global coverage by media and information technology that made it possible. Friedman (2007) points out to what extent the world has become flat, meaning the playing field is equal for all while time and distance no longer keep people apart. No congregation can escape these influences. Miles and Scott (2002:3) say that macro-level aspects are the overall or aggregate implications of tens of thousands of individual decisions that companies and households make that generate outcomes of macro-level aspects. A better understanding of the RCZ context in which problems evolved in the church implies realizing the evolving mix of political, economic and social variables that all influence the ecclesiological agenda and, consequently, challenge its traditions.

Thus, global Christianity is challenging Zambia. According to Jenkins (2002:1) and Walls (2002:85), global Christianity is one of the transforming movements in the history of religion worldwide. Both note that, over the last century, the centre of gravity in Christianity worldwide has shifted southwards, to Africa and Latin America without any possibility of stopping its impact. As such, it challenges especially the mainline church leadership to distinguish between its different forms and to comprehend the continued diversities in the mission orientations of the movements within Christianity. This challenge calls for discernment and wisdom to reform itself in life and doctrine to face new challenges and opportunities. In Zambia and Africa at large, three main movements are worth mentioning: the dying of the Christendom, the growth of African independent churches (AICs) and American Pentecostalism with its overtones of the prosperity gospel. This article does not intend to discuss it in detail, but will highlight some points of departure.

First, the term "Christendom" has been used to refer to the medieval European age of faith, of passionate spirituality, a pervasive Christian culture and churches that could be plotted on a map (Jenkins 2002:12; Walls 2002:36). In essence, the vision of Christendom was that of a Christian theocracy, a government devoted to the enforcement of Christian values. Walls (2002:36) says that to be a Christian was to belong to a specific territory. Jenkins (2002:12) notes that Christendom collapsed in the face of the overwhelming power of secular nationalism. During this period, the concept of Christendom became less defined in the West. Because of a new spirit of nationalism, religious power and political power were no longer evident as being on the same footing. Walls (2002:37) noted that, with this development, Christendom became complicated because of the accumulated developments of individualism and pluralism, which were forcing religion increasingly into the sphere of private judgment. President Chiluba's announcement that Zambia was a "Christian nation" was well meant, but terribly outdated (Ndhlovu 2008:62, 168).

Second, the phenomenon of the African independent churches. In the 20th century, especially the latter half of the century, most of the expansion of Christianity in Africa has been the result of missionary efforts of African independent churches, sometimes called "African instituted churches," or "African indigenous churches". The term "African independent churches" (AICs) will mean, in general, churches founded by Africans for Africans (Anderson 2004:104; Kalu 2005:312-313; Paas 2006:140; Shaw 1996:92). They are of great interest to this study, because the two schisms in the RCZ were reactions against the tradition and modes of worship that came from the Christian tradition of the RCZ.

In Africa, during the height of independence from 1950 to 1960 (Shaw 1996:253; Kalu 2005:280; Paas 2006:151), rapid growth of these movements was experienced. The AICs initially broke away from mainline denominations; thus, one finds that they bear some characteristics of churches coupled with local culture and beliefs. However, they are all influenced profoundly by the Pentecostal movement. As such, it is not easy to give a historic overview of each of these myriads of churches. The common grounds that many scholars such as Kalu (2005), Shaw (1996), Martey (1993), Paas (2006) and Turner (1979) attest to can be summarized as follows:

• They represent the golden age of independence. They are a sign of the awakening of African nationalism and the rediscovery of themselves and their own kind of life (Kalu 2005:280; 2008:87-165). Shaw (1996:233) notes that the explosive growth of independent churches in the 20th century is adequate proof that colonialism had inhibited the gospel in many parts of Africa.

• The missionaries' notions of racism and their attitudes of superiority brought paternalism to church affairs (Shaw 1996:236), because of which leadership was not easily shared with Africans. Charismatic African leaders led the breakaway movements, reclaiming power for themselves (Kalu 2008:23-40).

• The AICs are an African response to emergent needs. Most Africans felt that Western Christianity had not adequately met their needs. Kalu (2005:281) and Paas (2006:142) point to the problem of deliverance from evil. The missionaries tended to view evil philosophically, whereas the Africans regarded evil functionally. During the independence period, healing movements led by prophets played an important role. This was not just to counter Western philosophy, but was an emerging spirit of the liberation struggle in which Africans vowed to take charge of their affairs of life to provide contextualized Christianity in Africa (Anderson 2004:122).

5.2 The beginning of the end of patriarchy

The advent of global Christianity in Zambia and Africa has continued to give rise to a paradigm shift in leadership and worship, particularly in the mainline churches. In the RCZ, an example is what Castells (2004:192) calls the "end of patriarchalism". According to him, patriarchalism is the male-dominant structure of society. At the turn of the millennium, there were processes of transformation towards women's participation in all spheres of public life. This implies a reconstruction of patriarchal institutions. This global transformation process has given rise to local responses, all of which have affected the Zambian society and Christian community by affecting its leadership and worship. In both areas, women now play a much more prominent role (Kalu 2008:147-165).

This social movement in global Christianity has affected the RCZ. The collapse of traditional male dominance in leadership and ordained ministry began in the 1990s. By 2000, women were allowed to become pastors (RCZ Synod Pastoral Letter August 2000). As such, global Christianity had turned towards challenging traditional church structures and dogma, which led to a reconstruction of the role and identity of women in communities (Castells 2004:194). The impact of social movements, especially feminism, on gender relations was a global shock wave. The norm of heterosexuality was called into question, and gay and lesbian movements surfaced (2004:195). This generated much debate and fears about the erosion of values in African societies.

Faced with these intensely emotional transformation processes the RCZ is faced with a dilemma. Either it yearns for the security of traditional values and institutional blueprints, or it embraces the new order at what it perceives as a very great cost: losing its reformed identity. Not only is the church as an institution affected, but the country is in the same predicament concerning its global relations. The point should be clear: There is tension and conflict in the air and it cannot be avoided. High emotions and even physical fighting that broke out in many Lusaka congregations should be interpreted against these macro societal transformation processes. The macro shifts in the context and culture of Zambia need down-to-earth elaboration of how the lives of ordinary citizens were influenced.

5.3 Zambia's foreign relations and its influence

Zambia's support and membership of various international bodies have positive and negative implications for the Zambian community. One still wonders what influence globalization has exerted in Zambia. To answer this question, one can refer to Apparadurai's (1996:33-42) five-fold conceptual framework for the analysis of globalization:

• "Ethnoscapes" can be described here as the flow of people. This is regarded as human capital. Flow happens through different means: immigration, migration, emigration, deportation, war, employment, investment, tourism and natural calamities, to name a few. The impact of ethnoscapes is in its diverse effect on social change in reshaping social identity. It leads to global and local processes of inclusion and exclusion, which lead to new identity formation in society (Apparadurai 1996:33).

• The concept of "financescapes" describes the global flow of money. It is often driven by interconnected currency markets, stock exchanges and commodity markets. The liberalization of the Zambian economy has witnessed increased investment in mines, agriculture, transport and communication. In nearly all nine provinces, Zambia has chains of shopping malls of South African origin.

• "Ideoscapes" refer to the global spread of ideas and political ideologies. Zambia, as a member of a number of international bodies, is called upon directly to be part of the global world and to support most of its policies. An example to quote is the ban on the sale of ivory in order to save the rhinoceros and elephant species. The presence of international and SADC observers during presidential and parliamentary elections is a global requirement to which Zambia adheres.

• "Mediascapes" refer to the global distribution of media images that appear in newspapers, on television and computer screens and that can be heard on the radio. Mediascapes are the most influential distributors of global culture. Sklair (2002:42) says that a homogenizing mass, media-based culture, in turn, threatens local cultures and identities. The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) broadcasts foreign movies and programs. DSTV has free access to air channels that broadcast almost all the South African television channels. Charismatic electronic churches have more time on Zambian national television than the mainline denominations.

• "Technoscapes" refer to the influence of technology. Today, the need for improved technology is sweeping the entire world. In agriculture, modern technologies with more drought-resistant seed varieties that mature early and produce a high yield per hectare are increasingly replacing traditional methods of farming. Through poultry technology, chickens are bred ready for consumption in at least four weeks, while a traditional Zambian free-range chicken can take at least six months to be regarded as ready for human consumption. In addition, since people are encouraged to venture into various entrepreneurships, this has become a lucrative business, even in remote parts of Zambia.

The above-mentioned framework on globalization has led to a variety of social issues that have become part of an increasingly diversified living space. This mobility and the unforeseeable relation between globalization and the daily experiences of life define the shift in Zambian culture. There is no way that the church can escape it. It is a new world that requires a new style of leadership and being church (McLaren 1998:11).

Caught between the past, present, and future, churches in Zambia and Africa at large are tempted to avoid any engagement with these realities. This is evident in the discussion of the rise of Pentecostalism as another wave of globalization.



The Pentecostal movement is, by far, the largest and most crucial religious movement of our time. Cox (1995:4) states that the story of the first Pentecost has always served as an inspiration for people who are discontented with the way religion in the world in general is developing. Cox argues that people turn to Pentecostalism because of its promises about transforming the present. He states that people desire an experience of a God who does not remain aloof amid life's turmoil (1995:5). He further points out that, because of the social and cultural disarray in our present context, Pentecostalism is booming almost all over the world. Its origin can be traced back to 1906 in the United States. The distinctive worship and praise of Pentecostal churches comprised shouting and dancing, speaking in tongues and non-traditional music. It created a new form of worship that had become extremely appealing to disinherited and deprived people in America and in other nations of the world, even until today. Kalu (2008:vii-xiv) contends that it is a major force in African Christianity and it is constantly adapting. At present, African Pentecostalism is influencing the rest of the world (Kalu 2008:vii-xiv).

The rise of Pentecostalism in Africa must be viewed in a historical perspective against the background of globalization that continues to influence traditions and reshape our identities all over the world (Kalu 2008). In Africa, many factors have had an influence: political views, ethnicity, poverty, cultural orientations, theological views and possibly the alignment (or not) of mainline churches with local governments. Almost throughout the history of the church, there were repeated schisms that arose from differences in worship, theology, church order and leadership (Kung 1968:275; Kalu 2008).

A closer investigation highlights a number of factors that can be attributed to the rise of Pentecostalism in Africa:

• Democratization. At the beginning of the 1990s, most countries in Africa turned to multiparty-ism. This wind of change in politics gave rise to freedom of association. In 1991, the MMD government, under President Fredrick Chiluba, declared Zambia a Christian nation (Anderson 2004:262; Jenkins 2002:176-177; Paas 2006:156; Africa Files: online). He quoted 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves... then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sin and I will heal their land." His belief in this declaration was that a nation whose leader fears God prospers economically.

At that time, Chiluba was influenced by the Pentecostal prosperity teaching that was gaining influence in Zambia through contacts with American evangelists and, increasingly, by the mass media. With this (seemingly) sound scriptural backing, Chiluba could ask his Christian supporters to endure hardship. This stance brought Kaunda's UNIP government to its knees. Chiluba and the MMD political party brought about the widespread identification with the Pentecostal movement in a very favourable light. In the empirical part of the research (Soko 2010: 81-160), these sentiments were clearly evident.

Chiluba's rise and the multiparty system of democracy created a major shift with regard to the freedom of association. Thus, the church experienced a variety of social issues that became part of an increasingly diversified space for religion. RCZ leaders were faced with the reality that they could no longer depend on total loyalty from their members. The combined forces of globalization and Pentecostalism evident in all spheres of life, especially politically, were gaining momentum and insisting on transformation.

• Politicization. When heads of African states were experiencing political crises and were criticized by mainline church leaders, they often turned to Pentecostals for religious and moral legitimization. Pentecostal leaders were usually eager to provide this support. In 2001, Fredrick Chiluba turned to the Pentecostals to support his third-term bid in office. Independent churches in Zambia campaigned for Chiluba and viewed him as the "second Moses" to liberate Zambians from economic slavery. In the early 1990s, Gerry Rawlings of Ghana and Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya received legitimacy by Pentecostal and Evangelical Church leaders for praising their godly leadership and urging followers to support their presidency (Freston 2001:146-47). The point is the Pentecostal movement had wide support. The schisms in the RCZ took place in a context of conflict and high emotions.

• Localization and laity leadership. Through local community mobilization, the Pentecostal movement gains more rapid support than mainline churches. According to its understanding of discipleship, members listen to the spirit rather than church polity. They believe that every action that contributes towards building the community of faith is, basically, a service that the Holy Spirit empowers. Unlike mainline churches whose leaders undergo long years of theological training, Pentecostals regard all believers to have been empowered by the Holy Spirit.

• Ethnicity. Mostly, the missionary denominations were established along tribal lines (Rutoro 2007:76; Munikwa 2011:91). The RCZ drew its membership mainly from the predominantly Chewa-speaking people of the Eastern Province in Zambia. Ninety percent of the current RCZ members are from the eastern part of Zambia. This implies that its growth in terms of membership is biological rather than theological. The waves of Pentecostalism have taken this position as an opportunity to preach about the freedom of membership beyond tribal lines. Lusaka, the metropolitan city, experiences an influx of people from all corners of Zambia due to the process of urbanization. The RCZ was faced to adapt to this changing reality -a reality that Pentecostalism addressed much in its stride.



This article has assessed different aspects concerning the correlation between global influences and social realities in the Zambian society. Its purpose was to indicate how contextual challenges influence congregational life. Various developments, globally and locally, were surveyed. All the information referred to indicates how global influences are leading to a changing context that affects society socially, economically and politically. The reality of globalization challenges church leaders not to remain inflexible with old, outdated ministry and leadership styles. Leadership styles must be informed hermeneutically. Church order regulations of a former era cannot claim validity in an everchanging context. Hence, in the Zambian context, the typical hierarchical and rigid church leadership style is counterproductive.

In all fairness, one should note that this leadership style also depicted that of the leaders of the Pentecostal groups that broke away. The fact that one "power" system is replaced by another "power" system poses the question about the role power is playing, whether in the reaction to colonialism or in the new global contexts. Abuse of power is endemic in Africa and is illustrated by the conflict described in Soko's dissertation.

The Pentecostal movement reacted faster to changes in ways to which people could respond. Global trends and the rise of Pentecostalism have demonstrated to what extent societal changes lend support to people's views and culture. In this article, one could see that the first generation of political leaders defaulted to the leadership styles of the colonial leaders. Soko's subsequent research showed that the church documents (2010:80-120) and the congregations (2010:121-160) experienced church leadership as hierarchical, rigid and unable to read the signs of the times. Mainline church leaders are slow to realize the significance of the globalization impact. In an urbanized setting, this has led young people and those who are more exposed to external influences to react against blind loyalty and rigidity. Polarization took place in all the congregations and eventually led to the schisms. This article laid the foundation in describing historical and contextual changes. Subsequently, the research results were triangulated when the documentary sources were studied (Soko 2010:81-120) and when the parties involved were surveyed empirically to get primary evidence of how the people involved interpreted the events (Soko 2010:121-160). At the RCZ Synod in 2008, the big bone of contention that led to the two schisms, mass praying, was accepted by the RCZ (Soko 2010:170).



Africa files n.d. Is Zambia really a Christian nation? [Online] Retrieved from [2009, 24 April].         [ Links ]

Anderson, A. 2004. An introduction to Pentecostalism. United Kingdom; Cambridge University Press.         [ Links ]

Appadurai, A. 1996. Modernity at large; Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.         [ Links ]

Carroll, J. 2000. Mainline to the future; Congregations for the 21st century. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster / John Knox Press.         [ Links ]

Castells, M. 2004. The power of identity. Australia: Blackwell Publishing.         [ Links ]

Conradie, E.M. 2004. African Christian theologies in transformation. Stellenbosch, South Africa: EFSA.        [ Links ]

Cox, H. 1995. Fire from heaven; The rise of Pentecostal spirituality and reshaping of religion in the twenty-first century. USA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.         [ Links ]

Erdmann, G. & Slmutanyl, N. 2003. Transition in Zambia; The hybridization of the third republic. Lilongwe, Malawi: Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung.         [ Links ]

Freston, P. 2001. Evangelicals and politics in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.         [ Links ]

Friedman, T.L. 2007. The world is flat. A brief history of the twenty-first century (further updated and expanded). New York: Picador.         [ Links ]

Gibbs, E. 2005. Leadership next: Changing leaders in a changing culture. England: Inter-Varsity Press.         [ Links ]

Hastings, A. 1979. A history of African Christianity 1950-1975. Bentley House, London NW1 2DB: Cambridge University Press.         [ Links ]

Heitink, G. 1999. Practical Theology. History. Theory. Action domains. Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans.         [ Links ]

Hendriks, H.J. 2004. Studying congregation in Africa. Wellington: Lux Verbi BM.         [ Links ]

Hendriks, H.J. & Soko, L. 2011a. Pentecostalism & schisms in the Reformed Church in Zambia 1996-2001; evidence from documentary sources. DRTJ 52:1&2:105-117.         [ Links ]

Hendriks, H.J. & Soko, L. 2011b. Pentecostalism & schisms in the Reformed Church in Zambia 1996-2001: listening to the people. HTS Volume 67 Issue 3. Theuns Dreyer Festschrift (yet to be published).         [ Links ]

History of Church Activities in Zambia n.d. History of church activities in Zambia [Online] Retrieved from [2008, 11 April].         [ Links ]

Isichei, E. 1995. A history of Christianity in Africa from antiquity to the present. London NW1 4DU: SPCK.         [ Links ]

Jenkins, p. 2002. The next Christendom: The coming of global Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

Kalu, O. 2008. African Pentecostalism: an introduction. New York: Oxford.         [ Links ]

Kalu, O. (ED.) 2005. African Christianity: An African story. Sunnyside, 0132; South Africa: Business Print Centre.         [ Links ]

Kung, H. 1968. The church. London: Search Press Limited.         [ Links ]

Martey, E. 1993. African Theology Inculturation and liberation. Maryknoll: Obis books.         [ Links ]

Martin, D. 2002. Pentecostalism: The world their parish. Massachusetts: Blackwell.         [ Links ]

Mclaren, B.D. 1998. The church on the other side: Doing ministry in the post-modern matrix. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.        [ Links ]

Miles, D. & Scott, A. 2002. Macroeconomics: understanding the wealth of nations. Chichester: Willey.         [ Links ]

Munikwa, C. 2011. The Binga outreach: contextualisation of mission in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. Unpublished DTh dissertation. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University.         [ Links ]

Ndhlovu, J. 2008. Combating HIV: A ministerial strategy for Zambian churches. Unpublished DTh dissertation. Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch.         [ Links ]

Nutting, A. 1970. The scramble for Africa. Newton Abbot: Constable & Company Ltd.         [ Links ]

One World.Net 2008. One world. [Online] Rretrieved from http// [2008, 11 April].         [ Links ]

Paas, S. 2006. The faith moves south: A history of the church in Africa. Limbe: Assemblies of God Press.         [ Links ]

Pauw, C.M. 1980. Mission and church in Malawi: The history of the Nkhoma Synod of the church of Central Africa Presbyterian 1889-1962. Unpublished DTh dissertation: Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University.         [ Links ]

Ranker, L. 2003. Political and economic liberalization in Zambia 1991-2001. Sweden: Elanders Gotab, Stockholm.         [ Links ]

Rcz Synod 2000. RCZ Synod Pastoral Letter, 21-25 August 2000. Unpublished document. Zambia: Rcz         [ Links ]

Roskin, M.G., Cord, R.L., Medeiros, J.A. & Jones, w.S. 1991. Political science: An introduction. 4th ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall International, Inc.         [ Links ]

Rotberg, R.I. 1965. Christian missionaries and the creation of Northern Rhodesia 1880-1924. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.         [ Links ]

Rutoro, R. 2007. Lay leadership development in the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe. Unpublished DTh dissertation. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University.         [ Links ]

Shaw, M. 1996. The Kingdom of God in Africa: A short history of African Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.         [ Links ]

Sklair, L. 2002. Globalization capitalism and its alternatives. New York: Oxford University Press.         [ Links ]

Soko, L. 2010. A Practical Theological assessment of the schisms in the Reformed Church in Zambia (1996-2001). Unpublished DTh dissertation, Stellenbosh: Stellenbosch University.         [ Links ]

Taylor, J. & Lehmann, D. 1961. Christians of the Copperbelt: The growth of the church in Northern Rhodesia. Liverpool and London: SCM Press Ltd.         [ Links ]

Turner, H.W. 1979. From temple to meeting house. The phenomenology and theology of worship. The Netherlands: Mouton Publishers.         [ Links ]

Van Der Walt, B.J. 2006. When African and Western Cultures meet from confrontation to appreciation. Potchefstroom: Printing Things.         [ Links ]

Verstraelen-Gilhuis, G. 1982. From Dutch mission to RCZ. Wever: Franeker.         [ Links ]

Walls, A.F. 2002. The cross-cultural process in Christian history. Australia: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.         [ Links ]



1 The paper is based on Chapters 2-3 of the doctoral dissertation of Lukas Soko (2010:14-80). Prof Hendriks was the study leader. Two additional articles were published: the first one from chapter 4 (81-120) of the dissertation dealing with the documentary evidence from church records and media coverage of the events (Hendriks & Soko 2011a), the second one from chapters 5 and 6, (121-160) dealing with the results of questionnaires and interviews held with all parties to the conflict (Hendriks & Soko 2011b). The evidence supplemented the conclusions reached in each of the chapters, as such illustrating triangulation and affirming the final results.
2 (downloaded 7 Dec 2010).
3 It certainly was not a matter of policy that "a native minister could not be ordained" (sic). Not only was the DRC the first of all missions in Zambia to ordain a Zambian as minister, but the 30-year period is not out of line at all with the period that elapsed in other (both Protestant and Roman Catholic) missions in Zambia as well as in other countries in Africa. Historical perspective is required here. When the DRCM started in eastern Zambia, there was not a single Zambian who could read or write. It literally required starting with schooling and educating them until such time that the necessary maturity age was reached where those identified as leaders could be trained first as evangelists and later as ministers. Given the circumstances and prevailing conditions, this matter could not be rushed hastily. While agreeing that there may have been a degree of maternal reluctance to hand over reigns to the indigenous leadership, this was nevertheless the ideal envisaged from the start, as is clearly illustrated by the ordination of Rev Justo Mwale in 1929 (HJH).
4 During the examination of the candidate, the following remark by one of the examiners adds valuable perspective to the circumstances in and around 1966. I (HJH) paraphrase his critique: There were indeed a number of departures, for various reasons: In some cases, work permits were not renewed; in another case, an ordained missionary died in a road accident near Katete. Illness, retirement age and family needs led to departure. Others had completed the training of their successors and handed over the reigns, thereby becoming redundant. The socalled abolition of the colour bar took place in all former British colonies and did not lead to an exodus or undue diminishing of the number of DRC missionaries in those countries. One important factor appears to be constantly overlooked by those who have perpetuated the myth of an exodus. Part of the 1966 handover was the signing of an agreement between the DRC and the RCZ to continue co-operating. However, the DRC would no longer be the senior partner dictating or deciding who should work where. Henceforth, it would be up to the RCZ to request new workers or replacements in the event of missionaries leaving the country for whatever reason. It is a fact that, for at least ten or more years after 1966, no replacement or new post was asked for, with the exception of an ordained person who joined the staff of Justo Mwale Theological College in 1975. Some individuals may have been influenced by the so-called abolition of the colour bar in their decision to leave, but other reasons played a much more decisive role. The fact that replacements were not asked for led to an undue decline in missionary numbers.

Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License