The Primitive Methodist Church

The Primitive Methodist Church

The Primitive Methodist movement broke away from the traditional Wesleyan Methodist over the use of “camp meetings” (all day, out-door prayer and preaching meetings), a new form of evangelism started in the United States.  The Wesleyan Church disapproved and expelled the two founders, preachers Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, for refusing to give up the practice.  After waiting two years to be reinstated, in 1810 they formed a new church.  They took up the name “Society of the Primitive Methodist” in 1812  – thought to represent a desire to revive Wesley’s original (primitive) doctrine and practices.

The Primitive Methodists reached out to the poor and working class.   They were particularly strong in the industrial towns in the Midlands and North England, rural East Anglia and the mining valleys of South Wales.  They were sometimes referred to as “Ranters” due to their practice of singing in the streets.

Northern Rhodesia Missions

In 1870, Primitive Methodist missions were opened in West and South Africa, supported by the Africa fund of the Primitive Methodist Missionary Society (PMMS). Desiring to expand into the interior, and on the recommendation of Rev. Coillard of the Paris Missionary Society, in 1893 the Primitive Methodist began work among the Ila (Mashukulumbwe) peoples in the south of present day Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia). The first PMMS missionaries actually arrived in 1890, but were met with hostility by the local chief, King Lewanika. They were forced to wait three years and endure a number of hardships before eventually being allowed entry into the country.

The first mission stations were to the Baila speaking peoples. PMMS later expanded to the BaTonga (Tonga) peoples to the east/south-east with the opening of Sijoba Mission in 1901.  PMMS now had two areas of endeavor – to the Baila and Batonga peoples. Accordingly, the overall PMMS missionary effort in Zambia was sometimes referred to as the “Baila-Batonga Mission.”

In 1932, the Primitive Methodist Church re-united with the Wesleyan Methodist and the United Methodist Churches to form the current Methodist Church of Great Britain. As a consequence of the union, PMMS became part of the Methodist Missionary Society (MMS), which took over responsibility for the former PMMS missions in Zambia.  One of the last Methodist missionaries, Rev. MacCormack, left 1963.

Since January 1965, former PMMS/MMS missions in Zambia have been under the ownership and control of the United Church of Zambia (UCZ), which was formed by the union of a number of different Christian organizations including the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, The London Missionary Society and the reunited Methodist Church.


Northern Rhodesia
  • 1893 – Nkala (closed)
  • 1895 – Nanzela
  • 1901 – Sijoba (closed 1907)
  • 1905 – Nambala
  • 1909 – Kasenga
  • 1910 – Kampilu (closed 1912)
  • 1907 – Kanchindu
  • 1915 – Namantombwa (closed)
  • 1916 – Kafue
  • 1928 – Masuka



  • Mark Loomis
  • Julian Schamroth