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Tuesday, 25 December 2012 08:56

The question that arises is: Where did the Africa Evangelical Church come from and how did it come about?

Back in 1889 an independent and interdenominational Mission organization was founded in Cape Town which purposed to preach the gospel to the indigenous peoples of South Africa. Having been founded in the Cape of Good Hope (as the newly discovered land was named), it was named Cape General Mission. Although they did their initial work in the Cape Town and surrounding areas, they explored other areas of the land.

They found Pondoland to be an open area for the gospel and worked there in cooperation with other mission groups. Their primary aim was not to start a church, but just to preach the gospel and channel believers to already existing churches. But the circumstances in Pondoland dictated that church work be consolidated and the church became known as the Cape General Mission after its founding Mission. It became known as the Transkei District Church of the Cape General Mission. The other areas in Natal, Zululand and Swaziland opened up. Believers were consolidated into local churches and the indigenous people requested that they be organized into a church denomination.Since the work had gone beyond the borders of the Cape Province the name of the Mission got changed to South Africa General Mission. The church that was founded adopted the name of the Mission that founded it.

To begin with the church was run by the Mission and its business discussed and decisions made at Mission Conferences by missionaries. But as time went on District Church Conferences were started under the leadership of missionaries but with church delegates participating. Indigenous workers were drawn in as part of the church work team. They served together with missionaries in District Church Conference committees and discussed church matters. But final decisions still had to be made at the Mission General Conference. Eventually indigenous leaders took over the leadership of their conferences. It has been very interesting to discover the minutes of the Natal/Zululand District Church Conference dating back to 1929 where there were indigenous people participating at the conference.[This gives an idea of how old the church is!]

Swaziland also had their District Church Conferences. The Natal/Zululand District later became the Natal/Transvaal District, so that the church had three Districts: Natal/Transvaal, Swaziland and Transkei.

In the early 1960ís a number of developments took place in South Africa that made the missionaries feel unsafe. The political tensions intensified to the extent that in 1961 South Africa declared itself a Republic. Black groups came up in numbers revolting against apartheid policies. There was a general hatred of Whites by Blacks. The government suspected the foreign Whites who worked with Blacks, freely going in and out among them. Many expatriate missionaries feared that they might be thrown out of the country at any time. Some of them left the country due to that fear. On the other hand many Blacks became hostile to expatriates, suspecting them to be informers of the government. It was this tension that intensified the fear in mission leadership.

Many Mission organizations that had founded churches got concerned about what would happen to the churches they had worked to bring into being. The SAGM, like others of their counterparts decided to give autonomy to their churches. The suggestion was discussed at the meetings of the Pastor and Missionary conference that convened once a year without church delegates. Some of the pastors were rather reluctant fearing that the Mission wanted to dump them.

When the decision was made among the pastors and missionaries a special conference of church workers, church delegates and missionaries was convened at the Union Bible Institute, at Sweetwaters, KwaZulu-Natal in January, 1962. The matter was introduced, discussed at length and the resolution was passed to draw a constitution right there and then. A constitution committee was elected, comprising of pastors, laymen and missionaries. They presented an unfinished document before the end of the conference, and a subcommittee was mandated to finish the constitution and get it registered in Pretoria so that autonomy would be given to the church in July of the same year.

It was at Ntabamhlophe near Estcourt in KwaZulu-Natal, in July of 1962 where Rev. Wilfred P Green, who was the General Director of the South Africa General Mission declared and publicize the new name of the church as African Evangelical Church which later changed to Africa Evangelical Church (AEC). During the same declaration ceremony Rev. WP Green gave a copy of the Bible to the Rev EJ Mfeka, the newly elected first President of the African Evangelical Church, exhorting him to lead the church according to the principles of the Bible and never to deviate from them, then he will have success in his leadership.

May we appreciate the rich heritage that we have received from those that went before us and pursue with all humility and faithfulness the goals, aims and objectives that were set for us.

2012 was our Golden Jubilee year, we looked back with grateful hearts as we said: ...thus far with God. God led us all the way.

The Lord since our autonomy from the Mission has given these Presidents who have led us during their times:

Last Updated on Monday, 14 January 2013 20:51


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