Methodist Episcopal Church

Methodist Episcopal Church

The Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) formed in the United States in 1784 and had its origins in the “First Great Awakening”.  By the early 19th century, MEC had become the largest and most influential church in the US.  Internal disputes within the church over the issue of slavery, however, led to a split in the church with the MEC, South breaking away in 1844.  The church was not reunited until 1939 when the MEC, South, MEC, North and the Methodist Protestant Church merged to form the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968 to become the present United Methodist Church.

Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

The MEC entered Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) in 1897 led by Bishop Joseph Hartzell, who had been elected Missionary Bishop for Africa the preceding year. Bishop Hartzell arrived in Umtali (Mutare) December 1897 and held his first service two days later.  Cecil Rhodes, administrator of the British South Africa Company, granted Bishop Hartzell the “Old Umtali” property to be used as the MEC’s first mission site.

MEC came to realize that the “future and the strength of the church lay in the proper and adequate training of the African preachers.” The first African preachers were ordained in 1942.  The “Africanization” of the church intensified under the leadership of Bishop Ralph Edward Dodge who served as Missionary Bishop of Africa from 1956 to 1968.  Bishop Dodge was deported in 1965 for his opposition to Southern Rhodesia’s racial policies.

The former missions and United Methodists churches in Zimbabwe are now under the control of the “United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe,” which has approximately 200,000 members. The church currently runs three hospitals, several clinics, two nurses training schools, numerous primary/elementary and high schools (three of which offer junior college-level courses) and a teachers’ college.

See also: Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society








  • Mark Loomis
  • Patrick Flanagan