Ivy Elizabeth Craig, born December 1887 in Marion, Kansas, U.S.A., was appointed in June, 1919 to the Rhodesia Branch of the South Africa Mission.She was a graduate of the University of Kansas and had several years’ experience of teaching in the public schools of Kansas City. She was described as having a pleasing voice and a rare gift for singing Gospel Hymns.
After waiting for months until sailings could be secured for herself and Rev. and Mrs. C. C. Fuller, she finally sailed on 11th February, 1920. She was stationed at Mount Silinda in Southern Rhodesia as an associate Principal of the Girls Boarding School.
By 1922, she was also Principal of the Mt. Silinda Training School and seemed to remain in this post until Oct 1938. Between 1941-1954 she was working in the Chikore and Craigmore missions.
Orla O’Blair was born 9th July, 1917 to Lillian and Harry Blair of Chillicothe, Illinois. He attended Moody Bible Institute, graduated in 1937 and then entered the Evangelical Free Church Seminary, graduating in 1941. Orla married his sweetheart from Moody, Marguerite Carlson in 1941, founding the Evangelical Free Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
In 1946, they departed for Rhodesia where they opened a work in the Zambezi Valley. Over the course of 30 years, Orla faithfully served as church planter, field chairman and director of the Bible Correspondence School.
Eventually, they returned to the U.S where Orla joined the Calvary Bible Church staff and for several years served as pastor to the senior adults.
Ordinary People in God’s Hands – Diane Powell Hawkins
The Zambesi Mission was started by Joseph Booth, an Englishman farming in Australia who established a Christian outreach in the Lake Nyasa region of southern Africa.
Africa for the Africans – The Life of Joseph Booth
He founded the Zambesi Industrial Mission in 1892 with the joint aims of sharing the Gospel and helping Africans to advance in the trades and skills which would enable them to fulfil their immense potential. The early days of the mission saw such activities as coffee growing, cattle rearing, skin curing and printing. In this, Booth, was following the thinking of David Livingstone who had pioneered Christian mission in Central Africa during the middle years of the century.
Booth’s spirit and vision made him a difficult person to contain and the mission’s Council in the UK soon fell out with its founder in Nyasaland. Booth left the mission in 1897, but it continued as a largely self-supporting Industrial mission until 1930. After this, it continued as a conventional mission church with growing numbers of congregations and members. After Malawi became independent, the work of the mission church was split into a locally led and funded Zambezi Evangelical Church, partnered by a UK headquartered Zambesi Mission with a local Blantyre office.
The mission is an evangelical, non-denominational agency working in Malawi and northern Mozambique and continues to run today.
Used by permission, Congregational Library & Archives
The American Board Mission (ABM or American Board) opened its first mission in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1893. Two years earlier, ABM missionaries Rev. Wilcox and Dr. W.L. Thompson were on an exploratory trip from South Africa. As fate would have it, on the boat to Beira, Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique), fellow passenger Cecil Rhodes overheard them talking about a site for a mission. He responded by giving them a track of land on Zimbabwe’s eastern boarder. On subsequent arrival to the designated area, the missionaries mistook the native African enunciation of the Chirinda forest as Silinda and called the mission site the Mount Silinda (Selinda) Mission.
“[W]e soon realized that the Mission was located in a U-shaped clearing which was surrounded by those soaring trees of mahogany… They covered Mt. Silinda to the south and Gungunyana to the north, and the bottom of the U to the West. But the U opened to the East upon a great view of the Zona valley, through which ran a small stream, which had its origin in the forest. … The Mission buildings were distributed on the grassy hillsides of the U clearing or opening. The road running down through the U to the school buildings in the center, and eventually the beautiful brick church. … It was a fair-sized self-contained community.”
A significant early contribution of the American Board in Zimbabwe was establishing medical facilities and providing medical care to the surrounding area.In 1912, the dispensary became a full-fledged hospital, “Willis F. Pierce Memorial Hospital” (Mt. Selinda Hospital).
Another contribution was in the area of agriculture. Emory D. Alvord, a trained agriculturist, joined Mt. Silinda in 1919 and introduced western farming practices including use of fertilizers and irrigation schemes. In 1926, he left the mission to take up the position of Director of Native Agriculture for Southern Rhodesian.
Mail service to Mt. Selinda was initially every two weeks by postal runner to Melsetter (letters prior to 1924 often have a Melsetter a back stamp). A branch post between Melsetter and Mount Selinda was established in 1897. That same year Dr. Thompson, who had been appointed postal agent, received the first Mount Selinda date stamp canceler. It incorrectly spelled Silinda – “Selinda,” and despite protests from Dr. Thompson, subsequent cancelers continued to use both spellings. In time, “Selinda” became the dominant spelling. Motorized mail service began in 1929.
Today, under the direction of the United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ), Mt. Selinda comprises a church, primary and secondary schools with boarding facilities for boys and girls (Mount Selinda High School), farm, the Daisy Dube Children’s Home and the Willis F. Pierce Memorial (Mount Selinda) Hospital.
Rev. and Mrs. Wilder of the American Board Mission (American Board or ABM) opened Chikore Mission in 1895. Chikore is located in Manicaland Province, Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), 18 miles northwest of its sister mission station at Mount Silinda (Selinda). Chikore initially consisted of three farms on a total 18,000 acres on which were located eleven kraals (small villages) and a small school.
Dr. William T. Lawrence joined Rev. and Mrs. George Wilder at Chikore in 1900. Dr. Lawrence soon opened up a small hospital there and would go on to serve in Zimbabwe for the next 46 years. A Secondary School was opened at Chikore In 1955.
Before 1927, letters to or from the Chikore Mission were generally mailed through Mt. Selinda. A post office was established in the small village of Craigmore, a little over a mile from the Chikore Mission, in 1927. Thereafter, missionary mail was generally posted at Craigmore, with service by runner from Chipinga (24 miles away).
In the 1960s and 1970s, missionaries from the American Board (now known as the United Church of Christ – UCC) promoted racial integration of education and hospital services and many publicly opposed the policy of apartheid. This resulted in the deportation of three UCC missionary families in the 1960s. One of those families was Rev. and Mrs. Abbott (at the time Chikore Mission school superintendent) who were deported in 1966.
“One source of trouble for the school and mission station at Chikore where Mr. Abbott and his family were located, was the racial integration of the entire establishment. Chikore had six missionary teachers and 18 Africans. The secondary school program was headed by an African and was “integrated as much as possible.” This didn’t sit well with the European community at Chipinga, 25 miles away, he explained. “They didn’t like the secondary school because they felt we were educating the Africans beyond their abilities.”.
Today – The United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ) operates a school and 50-bed hospital at Chikore serving a remote area of Zimbabwe consisting of 44 villages.
Thekerani Mission, situated in the most densely populated area of the southernmost part of the country and overlooking the Shire Valley, was opened as a branch of Malamulo Mission in the early days. Large numbers of students and of converts were outstanding features of the work in this area for many years. Thekerani grew to be a big mission station under expatriate leadership. A school, dispensary, and church flourished for many years. They were later taken over by the government.
Thekerani, by 1928, operated about 18 outschools and 3 prayer houses. In 1932 L. A. Vixie, publishing director of the Union, conducted an institute at Thekerani Mission, where thirteen regular canvassers and other workers were in attendance.
Solusi University, located 50 kilometres west of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, is a co-educational institution, which was founded in 1894 as one of the first of the hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist mission stations. It was named after Chief Soluswe, near whose home the Mission was founded.
During the first decade of its existence, Solusi Mission shared in the suffering brought to the region by war and a resulting famine. Despite these hardships, the development of the Mission continued and a regional training programme was established for the development of church workers. Men who trained at Solusi Mission assisted in the development of new mission stations on other parts of, by then, Southern Rhodesia; and several of them reached beyond the borders of the country to help establish mission schools in neighboring countries as early as 1905.
With a growing demand for church workers, Solusi Mission continued to expand, and by 1929 a government approved teacher-training programme had begun. To meet the need for higher academic training, secondary school training was begun in 1948, and in 1952, the teacher-training programme was moved to Lower Gwelo (Gweru) Mission to make room at Solusi for the expanding academic programme.
In 1956, Solusi Mission Training School was upgraded to Solusi College.
In Mashonaland (as the Masvingo province was first called) the mission work was started together by both white and black missionaries. Seven Sotho-speaking evangelists volunteered themselves as mission workers to the young Andrew Louw, who was not yet ordained as a minister at that time.
They were members of the Kranspoort congregation on the south side of the Soutpansberg Mountains, where Rev. Stephen Hofmeyr was then the minister. They all left their families at Kranspoort and arrived, after a laborious journey with a wagon, at Chief Mugabe’s mountain near the Zimbabwe ruins on 9 September 1891. The mission station, Morgenster, was established about 7 km south-east of the world famous Zimbabwe ruins and 35 km from the current Masvingo. Andrew Louw’s wife, Cinie, later joined him and they began their ministering among the Karanga. Five years later, the first two converts were baptized.
The work grew rapidly and within ten years of their arrival, in 1901, the first outstation (prayer house), Pamushana, was established. The first presbytery meeting of the Church in Mashonaland was held in 1918, and in 1952 the first synod of the Shona Reformed Church took place. Meanwhile, a school for evangelists (1925) and a school for ministers (1936) were established at Morgenster.
10th July, 1953 – Her Majesty chats with African nurses of the Mission.
10th July, 1953 – Her Majesty inspects the Mission’s own printing works where Africans produce church literature.
Shortly before the independence of the former Rhodesia in 1980, however, the DRC had to withdraw most of their mission staff because of the security risk in the country. In 1977, all missionary work and properties in Mashonaland were transferred to the RCZ, which had grown into a full-fledged indigenous church.
Today the RCZ consists of 18 presbyteries, more than 80 congregations, 80 ministers (of whom 8 are in synodal service), 8 evangelists and 7 spiritual workers. The number of communicants is more or less 100 000.