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History of The United Methodist Church In South Africa

The United Methodist Church was established in South Africa more than 52 years before 1983 when Revs Joseph M. Mahlatsi and Ben N. Thunyiswa from The United Methodist Church of Southern Africa (UMCOSA) made contact with the Mozambique Conference that operated in the then Transvaal area (now known as Gauteng province).

The United Methodist Church was brought here by the mineworkers who came from Mozambique. They wanted to maintain their membership in the UMC while in a foreign country hence the Mozambique annual conference sent them the missionary Pastors, this was how UMC came to SA.

To differentiate the United Methodist Church from the indigenous church which originated from the Transkei ‘independent state’ (homeland) known as the United Methodist Church of Southern Africa, our church was officially registered within the Republic as The United Church of South Africa (even though the registration of churches have no significance anymore except as historical document) however, our church is enlisted in the files in the custody of the National Archives with electronic reference P105-00 denoting exclusively to the United Methodist Church of South Africa.

In 1988, the Africa Central Conference held in Kinshasa, Zaire (now known as the DRC), assigned the supervision of the South African congregations came with the above-mentioned Pastors to the Zimbabwe Annual Conference, which in turn created a district out of this region with Rev Joseph Molefi Mahlantsi as District Superintendent. The Mozambican nationals remain under Mozambique Conference due to the language barrier then. After DS Mahlantsi, missionary DS Rev Isaac M. Mawokomatanda was appointed to lead the church in May 1991. In August 1992, he was succeeded by Rev John F. Munjoma who served until December 1998, they were both from Zimbabwe.

Africa Central Conference held in Mozambique in Maputo in 2000, granted South Africa the status of the Provisional Annual Conference, the two districts, one under Mozambique and one under Zimbabwe were to join forming a conference. The plan to officiate the Provisional Annual Conference was delayed until 01 July 2004 because of the ill health of the then President of the Central, Bishop Jokomo.

During the delay, UMCOSA came to join the UMC. They signed a declaration to join The United Methodist Church at a meeting chaired by Bishop Herbert F. Skeete (Zim interim Bishop) on 17th -18th September 2003 in Johannesburg (Eikehof). Bishop Skeete started the preparations for the kick-off of the Provisional Annual Conference that took place on 01 July 2004 by Bishop Joao Somane Machado from Mozambique.