Most of Southern Presbytery as it is today was under the Methodist Church from 1905 to 1965 stretching from Kanchindu Mission Center in Sinazongwe District to Kabwe in Central Presbytery, including what is today Lusaka Presbytery. The last missionary minister for the area was Rev. J.T. McCormack. The complete handover of missionary work and assets to the Zambian people was done up to the late 1964. This culminated into the formation and the launch of the United Church of Zambia on 16th January 1965 at Mindolo in Kitwe.
Reverend S.M. Munyama became the first Presbytery Moderator of the United Church of Zambia in Southern Presbytery which included current Southern, Lusaka and Central combined as one Presbytery. However, the first Presbytery Moderator in 1971 when it was de-linked from the other two presbyteries was Rev. W.J. Munyimba. The change of the title from moderator to bishop in 1994. Thereafter, the following headed the Presbytery: the late Rev. Siatwiinda (1996 to 1999) MHSRIP, Rev. B.S. Kazovu (2000 to 2003) and Rev. V.S. Kageya (2004-2011). The current Bishop is Rev. A. Mutanuka since January, 2012.
The Missionaries initiated and managed schools alongside Churches for the main purpose of teaching their church members to read and write so that they could read and understand the Bible which was mostly written in the English language. The schools included the following: Kanchindu and Makokoto Primary schools, Kasenga, Masuku, Kafue, Njase, and Chipembi Secondary schools. In addition to the provision of education to the communities, the Missionaries usually helped communities with almsgiving in form of clothes, food supplements. This is still characterized with current church members as they expect to receive from the church other than them giving to the church.
Southern Presbytery is largely a rural presbytery and covers eight districts, seven of which are within Southern Province, while one (Itezhi-Itezhi) has been moved to Central Province. The Presbytery stretches from Mazabuka, Monze, Choma, Kalomo, Gwembe, Sinazongwe, Namwala and Itezhi-Tezhi Districts. For church administrative purpose, the area is demarcated into twelve consistories namely: Mazabuka, Monze, Choma, Kalomo; located on the line of rail. Others include: Gwembe in Gwembe District, Kasenga and Namwala in Namwala District, Nanzhila in Itezhi Tezhi District, Maamba, Sinazongwe and Kanchindu in Sinazongwe District.
Major Natural Resources
Parts of Monze, Itezhi tezhi and Sinazongwe Districts serve host to some of Zambia’s National Parks namely Lochniver and Kafue National Park, Game Open Areas in Gwembe and Sinazongwe. Other natural resources that are found in these consistories are: Kariba dam and Zambezi River in Sinazongwe and Kanchindu, Itezhi Tezhi dam and Kafue River and Kafue Flood Plains that cover Mazabuka, part of Monze, Namwala and Itezhi Tezhi Districts.
Demographic profile and Church Membership
In the October 2010 Census of Housing and Population, the population of Zambia was estimated to be 13,046,508. 6,394,455 (49%) representing males while 6,652,053 (51%) representing females. Out of the total of 13,046,508 population, 1,606,793 were in Southern Province representing 12% of the total national population counted. Of the total 1,606,793 Southern Province population, the United Church of Zambia membership accounts for 12,762 representing only 0.8%. Furthermore, out of the 12,762 members, 8542 representing 67% are classified as adult members (communicant, catechumens and adherents) while 4220 representing 33% are children under the age of 16.
Health and Education status in Southern Presbytery
The common health problems that affect the people of Southern Presbytery include malaria; mostly affecting pregnant mothers and the under 5 children. The second highest on the table is HIV/AIDS and its effects. Although a lot of sensitisation has been done, there are still new infections. However, the availability of Anti Retroviral Treatment has improved lives of the infected people in general and this has contributed to reduction in stress among the care givers.
The Presbytery has limited high schools in proportion to basic schools. Thus, a great number of pupils that are graduating from the junior secondary schools to grade 10 are not being absorbed by the system. So, in the rural areas, most parents prefer to marry off their girl child than take extra effort to secure them places in high school else where. It suffices to mention here that literacy levels are still high among church members because school has not been perceived generally as enlightment and economic gateway for the future advancement.
Southern Presbytery is predominantly Tonga speaking, especially in rural congregations. However, it is more of a cosmopolitan (mixed tribes and races) society in peri urban areas due to existence of industries such as Agro and Mining industries in Mazabuka and Sinazongwe Districts. Others include Parastatals, non Governmental Organisations and Government Departments. However, the Church growth is concentrated along the line of rail and peri-urban centres as opposed to typical rural locations.
The main factors that may impact on the performance of the UCZ in Southern Presbytery during the implementation period include: climatic, social, cultural, economic, technological, political and legal, factors and the fact that church growth is concentrated along the line of rail and around peri-urban centres. In these locations, most members are usually not permanent residents and thus mobility of members is very high in some cases. This affects stability of membership in the congregations. Though Zambia is declared a Christian Nation and the peaceful general social environment, the impending tripartite elections is one important factor to be aware. The little foreign investments in the presbytery may be affected in case there is change of government.
Since the larger part of the presbytery is rural, the major economic activities involve small scale farming of traditional crops such as maize and sorghum. These crops are mainly grown for home consumption and only the excess is sold to raise funds for basic needs and school fees for children. Along side crop agriculture, most of the families also rear cattle mostly in a tradition style and these are only sold for economic reasons in critical times of need.
From this scenario, it is evident that most of the members of the church do not have a stead flow of income such as a fixed monthly income because they are not in formal employment. The pattern of their income is characterised by annual peaks especially after harvesting and selling of crops. As a result, the church experiences high income during the months when they celebrate harvest but the rest of the year has low income.
Environmental Scan And Analysis
The environmental scan and analysis was done using the SWOT Analysis tool. SWOT stands for; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The results are presented below:
|-Qualified experienced and willing human resource
-Growing membership (Youth etc)
-Rural Health Centres
-Chodort Training Centre (Choma)
-Transport for church workers
-Availability of computers in Consistories /congregations
-Church workers are computer literate
-Sound relationship with other faith based organisations
|-Inadequate church and house accommodation for church workers
-Democratic system of the church is open to manipulation leading to electing people who may not be qualified for leadership positions
-No strategic planning
-No planning, monitoring and evaluation systems
-Poor communication infrastructure link between congregations and Presbytery office
-Weak system in transparency and accountability
-Social action programmes not visible
-Inadequate financial resources (dependency on offerings)
-Poor conditions for church workers
|-Abundant water resources
-Sound relationships with overseas Missions
-Good will of donors towards faith based organisations
-Status of Zambia as a Christian Nation
-Government/Private training Institutions
-Industries (Maamba Collieries, Zambia Sugar, Forestry)
-Centrally located between Tourism capital and the Capital city, along the line of rail)
-Existence of other faith based organisations in the Presbytery
|-The UCZ risks being overshadowed by Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ)
-Effects of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, livestock diseases
-Globalisation (exposure to other faiths, praying style)
-Existence of other churches and other faiths
-Lack of title deeds for some of the church land