United Congregational Church of Southern Africa beyond 1967 into the 21st Century : a call for a new mission paradigm
The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA) was formed through the coming together of three ecclesiological traditions: The London Missionary Society (formed in 1795), the American Board for Mission (formed in 1810) and the Congregational Union of South Africa (CUSA). The London Missionary Society (LMS) worked among the Hottentots, Griqua, BaTlhaping of Kuruman and the Batswana of Bechuanaland as they moved up north to the country of Mzilikazi, where they worked among the Ndebele's. The American Board for Mission (ABM) worked among Zulus and Mozambicans, while the Congregational Union of South Africa (CUSA) worked among the Xhosa people and the Coloureds. The evangelisation of Southern Africa was contemporary to colonisation and tribal wars. Words like savage, heathen and uncivilised were common. Mission work took a kerugma, voluntarism, needs-based , colonialist, Abrahamic and prophetic model approach, whereby the guiding principle was to preach the gospel and leave it to the locals to form their church polity. This ecclesiological ideology became the basis for congregationalism. During the wars of liberation from colonialism, the mission paradigm and prophetic thrust was also to change. Coincidentally, there was a move from fellowship to solidarity, as seen during colonialism. The UCCSA was formed in 1967 and new mission models were to be adopted. These models centred on the covenant and contextualisation, some of which were found to cut across history (such as kerugma). The UCCSA is quintessentially an African church, it is part of the innovative and resilient culture that is Southern Africa. The formation of The United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (1967) was such a prophetic act, a dramatic demand for justice in the turbulent years of the apartheid regime and colonialism, whose founding ideology was separation of people based race, colour and creed . This unity was a radical social change that brought together people from different races, colour, creeds and ethnic groupings spanning over five countries. As the UCCSA makes its way through the 21 st century, there is need for a new mission paradigm . For this new paradigm to succeed it must reflect postmodern realities. The study argues for the development of missional congregations. The success of such a paradigm revolves around the type of leadership, lay or ordained , and the leadership philosophy to which they subscribe. There is need for mission-shaped leadership, who will be able to discern the will of God and guide the church to partner with Him in saving the world. The church needs to remain relevant to the 21 st century socio-economic, political and religious landscape, hence the call for a new mission paradigm and the development of missional congregations within the constituencies of the UCCSA.
- Theology