Brethren in Christ Church

Brethren in Christ Church

The Brethren in Christ Church (BIC) is an offshoot of the Mennonite Church that began around 1780 in Pennsylvania.  The church traces it beliefs to “a rich blend of theological traditions” including Anabaptism (belief in baptism by those confessing their faith – “believer’s baptism”), “Pietism” and “Wesleyanism holiness.”  The earliest church members called themselves the “Brethren.”  Around the time of the United States’ Civil War, the Brethren decided to refer to themselves under the present name, “Brethren in Christ.”

BIC missionary activity did not begin until the late 1890’s.  The missionary venture nearly did not take place.  At the church’s General Conference in May 1894 “when it appeared the subject would be postponed, one of the delegates, a Rev. J. E. Stauffer, arose and, dramatically placing a five-dollar note on the secretary’s table, stated it was for foreign mission work.”  That challenge spurred donations, which eventually led to a party of five sailing for Southern Africa in November 1897 under the leadership of Bishop Jesse Engle.  They sailed to Cape Town, South Africa with no specific destination in mind.  By providence, they were introduced to Cecil Rhodes with the British South Africa Company who granted them 3000 acres for a mission site in the Matopo Hills.

The church in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was granted independence and autonomy by BIC Board of Missions Chairman in May 1964 at a meeting at Wanezi Mission.  The church is now known as Ibandla Labazalwane Kukristu e-Zimbabwe (Brethren in Christ Church in Zimbabwe).  The first African Bishop, Philemon Khumalo, was elected 1970.   As of 2009, there were 317 congregations and 33,500 members.


Northern Rhodesia
  • 1906 – Macha Mission
  • 1920 – Sikalongo Mission
  • 1954 – Nahumba Mission
Southern Rhodesia



  • Mark Loomis