Methodist Episcopal Church: Old Umtali Mission – Theological School

Old Umtali Mission

Theological School


A Theological School was begun at Old Umtali Mission in 1927 to train African pastors. Initially it was a department of the Hartzell Training School under the supervision of Reverend M. J. Murphree. As of 1931, five of the seven students were ready to complete the three-year course. Class work was augmented by practical experience gained in “camp-meetings” that were being held. A. L. Mansure was in charge of the school as of 1951, assisted by his wife, Reverend E. J. Asechliman (who later became Director of the school) and J. M. Chimbadzwa. A notable alumnus of the school during that time was Bishop Abel Muzorewa, who was briefly Prime Minister of Rhodesia, 1979-1980.

As of 1953, the school was known as “Old Umtali Theological Seminary” (also referred to as the Hartzell Theological Seminary). Dr. Maurice E. Culver was a teacher and Principal, 1953-1957. Beginning 1958, the school became known as “Old Umtali Biblical Institute.” Dr. Culver continued as Principal of the institute until 1961. He was succeeded by Reverend Hunter D. Griffen. Other faculty included Henry I. James and Mr. and Mrs. A. Reid. There were no approved candidates in 1965 and existing students were transferred to Epworth Theological College in Salisbury (Harare). The school was closed sometime thereafter.


  • Journals of the Methodists Rhodesia Annual Conference
  • Mark Loomis