Methodist Episcopal Church: Mtoko Mission
Methodist Episcopal Church
Mtoko (Mutoko) Mission, located approximately 65 km north of Mrewa (Murewa) in Mashonaland East Province, was founded by Dr. Samuel Gurney of the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in 1911. The Mutoko area had a large population and Dr. Gurney saw it “as a way to move on from there toward Nyanga” and “as a final link that would connect Methodist work in the Mutasa area.”
The British South Africa Company granted MEC an old police camp containing several brick buildings from which the missionary work could begin. Dr. Gurney, then residing at Mrewa Mission, was appointed head of the Mrewa-Mtoko (Murehwa-Mutoko) Circuit, while African evangelist James Apiri was stationed at Mtoko itself.
For the first several years, the Mtoko Mission suffered from the lack a resident missionary. Eddy H. Greeley and his wife were appointed to Mtoko in 1916-17, but were transferred after only six months to Old Umtali Mission. Another missionary was appointed in 1919, but again his stay lasted for only six months. Dr. Gurney managed the mission from his base at Mrewa while juggling his other duties. He wrote in a report to the Methodist Rhodesia Mission Conference in 1919 that in most “respects this Mtoko child of our mission family seems to have suffered from arrested development.” With my time fully occupied and living forty miles distant, “the poor little Mtoko mission received much more of absent treatment than was good for it.”
Nonetheless, with the help of African evangelists (pastor-teachers), and later missionaries, including Wilfred Bourgaize (beginning 1921 – still in the field as of 1954), the mission prevailed. As of 1924, a new church building had been built and there was a small primary boarding school consisting of six boys. By 1944, the Boy’s Boarding school had increased to nearly 100 students.
Today, under the control of the United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, Mtoko (Mutoko) consists of the Mutoko Central Primary School, Mutoko Methodist Center/church, and it serves as the base of the Mutoko/Nyadire District.
- African Pastor-Teachers – John Wesley Zwomunondiita Kurewa
- Minutes of the Forth Session of the Rhodesia Mission Conference (1919)
- Mark Loomis