MWANDI UCZ MISSION
The United Church of Zambia is a union of Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist and French Protestant denominations which has been running since 1884. The Mwandi UCZ Church has a congregation of about 500, spanning all ages though with a majority of women. Some work in the Mission, whilst others sell goods in the market or otherwise self-employed. There has been a steady increase in the number of people over the past couple of years. It is led by the Reverend Silishebo, who arrived in August 2004.
Alume (Men's Christian Fellowship) and Anamoyo (Women's Christian Fellowship) are made up of the middle-aged and older members of the Church. They meet twice weekly, with Bible Studies, visiting the sick and elderly, cleaning the hospital, tidying the graveyard and generating some income for the Church by making and selling handicrafts. For the children, there is the Girls and Boys Brigade. The Youth Fellowship for the older teenagers is quite weak at the moment and it would be good to see that revived. The Choir (see right), which is of a very high standard, gathers three times a week, as well as singing at the Sunday morning services. There is a strong emphasis on care in the community, with many members involved in Home Based Care or the OVC. The Deaconess takes the role of a social worker, supporting projects around the consistory.
The head of the Church is an organisation called Synod, which is based in Lusaka. Under this is the Presbytery, which is at the Provincial level, with various consistories under that. In the Mwandi consistory, there are 9 congregations and 2 sub-congregations which share annual retreats and rallies. In the Mwandi Church there is then a Congregation Council which meet to discuss policy and issues three times a year which oversee various committees, such as finance, men's, women's and youth. The congregation is divided into five area sections, each with it's own Elders and Deacons, which then organise Bible Studies and deal with the life and work of the Church, such as discipline, baptism and confirmation.
(Left: The rural Church of Simungoma, one of the other congregations in Mwandi consistory)
The Church is funded by the weekly connection and other freewill gifts. 40% of this goes to Synod to pay for salaries, stipends, project funds and electricity etc. 25% goes to the Presbytery whilst 30% remains with Mwandi. Due to lack of money it is not possible to get hold of enough Bibles and hymn books in Lozi - the majority of individuals do not have a Bible meaning that it is hard to get a strong Christian education, which in turn makes it harder to impact the Community.
Whilst the members are heavily involved in the Community, there is also need for a renewed interest in prayer. Someone is needed who loves prayer and is willing to lead a prayer group and able to get others involved. The Reverend also asks that people pray that there would be a strengthened will and participation in issues such as HIV/AIDS, as well as a more qualitative spirituality that means the whole life is changed.
To contact Reverend Silishebo, please email: email@example.com