2011 marks the thirty-first anniversary of the Brethren in Christ Church in the United Kingdom.
Established in 1980 by Elias Moyo, a Zimbabwean emigre, the national conference today has six congregations in cities throughout England. Moyo continues to lead the network of congregations as general director. Many of the churches serve the Zimbabwean Brethren in Christ diaspora living in English cities like London, Leeds, and Manchester.
In reflecting on this anniversary milestone, Moyo shared a few words about the history of the conference. Here’s a taste:
The establishment of the Brethren in Christ Church in the UK was preceded by assigning Dr Kenneth Hoover, in 1979 to carry out a three month feasibility study for the BIC churches of USA, Zimbabwe and Zambia to determine whether it was necessary to launch such a ministry in the UK as a denomination. The feasibility study was in response to a request from BIC members resident in England. One of them being Auntie Ivy Nkala, who challenged the denomination when she said, “time was up that they (North America and the African Churches) needed to stop flying over England to Africa or to the USA, but that they “stop and plant in the United Kingdom as the UK needs God.”
On April 6, 1980, at 2:30 p.m. the first Forest Gate BIC worship service was conducted at the London Mennonite Centre, 14 Shepherds Hill, a High Gate N6. After introductions, the newly posted Pastor (E.Moyo) gave greetings under three persuasive points: “If the London ministry is to succeed:
1. Each member must be committed to Christ
2. Each member must be committed to people who are God’s creations
3. Each member must be committed to the great commission.”
In attendance on that day were Rev. Dr Henry and Mrs Martha Ginder of USA. Rev. Ginder gave a very forceful Easter message and encouraged participation in the ministry by everyone present. Twenty people attended the service including, a friend to the BICCUK; the high commissioner of Botswana. That same year, the Curtis book family arrived to replace the Moyos who were to relocate to the USA for a post graduate degree at Fuller Theological seminary and Azusa Pacific University. The Moyos departure had an overlap of two weeks and both couples appreciated the time together, since it was their first time to meet as missionaries, although Rev Moyo knew Curtis from Zimbabwe as a MK (Missionary Kid). It is here (during the two weeks overlap) that the first Executive Committee was formed representing each country. Zimbabwe BIC was represented by Bishop Ndlovu, Zambia BIC by Bishop William Silungwe, North America by Roy Sider and London by Edgar Moyo and the London staff members Elias and Curtis as his assistant. The Moyos and the Books were accountable to the Ex. Committee via the London committee. The London committee and staff became responsible for the every-day running of this ministry. In fact it is through the support and the hard work of all BICs and friends of BIC in this country who have shaped this ministry to the present.
During that period, the two Conferences, North America and Zimbabwe BICs sponsored the ministry in the UK at 80% and 20% respectively. The support of the ministry and that of the Moyos continued till 1991 for Zimbabwe Conference and 1994 for North America. The following year, 1 Jan 1995, BICCUK gained its autonomy as it appears in the Dec 1994 BIC “Visitor” (a BIC magazine).
To read more of Moyo’s reflections, and to visit the Brethren in Christ United Kingdom’s website, click here.