An investigation of schisms within the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church of Southern Africa
Monareng, Leqeku Amos
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This dissertation is a historical study that attempt to investigate the continual schisms within the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church of Southern Africa, as a popular pattern among the African Indigenous Churches(AIC) . Furthermore this study will retrace specific historical principal causes of these schisms and seek approaches and standards that can address and curb identified causes of leadership succession disputes. History records that the development and growth of the African Indigenous Churches (AIC) primarily of the Ethiopian type of Churches was because of their break away from the missionary Churches, and also where there was a schism from within the African Indigenous Churches. It was on the 12th of September 1908 when the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church was established by the Rev EJ Marumo its founding father, after breaking away from the Presbyterian Church of Africa (PCA) which was founded by P J Mzimba in 1898. The Presbyterian Church of Africa was founded in 1898 by the Rev. James Phambani Mzimba, who broke away from the Free Church of Scotland because of a misunderstanding between the black and white clergy.1 The reason behind the breaking away between Rev EJ Marumo and Rev PJ Mzimba was doctrinal; it is believed that the Rev EJ Marumo while a minister of religion within the Presbyterian Church of Africa (PCA) had a calling to faith healing ministry, and therefore his intention to establish the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church was to continue his ministry to pray for the sick people. The challenge of the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church is the splitting up of the Church every after the death of a leader, and the squabble over the leadership disputes. This research study highlights the uniqueness and characteristics of the African Indigenous Churches, especially on the question of ancestral worship and veneration. It further investigates whether Church leadership is obtained as an inheritance or is it through elections? And this question leads this study to examine the ecclesiastical structure and how the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church should express itself and its theology. Therefore it must organize itself and its structure in a way that reflects how it understand itself, its identity and that it is called to be both holy and worldly, its structure must reflect its theology, especially that it is called for worship and mission. Then this research study further examines Presbyterianism as a form of Church Government system that is biblical and that was originally adopted at the formation of the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church. The other point of significance in this study is the comparison of the African Presbyterian Bafolisi Church to other reformed Churches i.e. the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and the Christian Reformed Church. There is a need to continually grapple with an effort to develop a well-documented book of faith and order that is binding to its members and assemblies, rather than consulting secular courts with ecclesiastical issues to apply and effectively maintain the church order and tradition.
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