More Information
ISBN: 9781783686445
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 17
Publication Date: 30/09/2019
Pages: 316
Language: English

Pursuing an Elusive Unity

A History of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian as a Federative Denomination (1924–2018)


Since its founding in 1924, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has grown to span five synods across Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa. Dr Rhodian Munyenyembe traces the history of these synods back to their shared roots in the Reformation and individual roots in three separate Presbyterian missions.

Dr Munyenyembe skillfully explores both historic and contemporary challenges to the unity of the CCAP, and raises the question of whether the CCAP truly functions as a single denomination or could better be understood as a loose federation of five distinct churches. His in-depth explanation provides a critical look that goes beyond a surface understanding of what it means to unite churches from different cultural traditions, and brings honest answers to disputes and conflicts among the CCAP synods. Through this analysis and exploration, Dr Munyenyembe also sheds light on the political and socio-economic aspects of life in relation to the influence of religious denominations. In this objective yet astute account, Munyenyembe gives voice to the CCAP’s complex history, present reality, and future potential.

Author Bios


Rhodian Munyenyembe brings to the many controversies related to the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) a rigorous scholarly research. Being strong on sources and weak on controversy, the book makes a unique contribution to all the manifold discourses on church unity. The book is a major contribution to the development of an indigenous church historiography for Malawi.

Dr Klaus Fiedler
Professor of Theology and Religious Studies,
Mzuzu University, Malawi
Emeritus Professor of Missiology,
Evangelical Theological Faculty, Leuven, Belgium

Rhodian Munyenyembe assesses the historical relationship of the founding Synods of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in Malawi. Tracing their roots back to their mother churches in Scotland, the Netherlands and South Africa, Dr Munyenyembe argues that they are historically rooted in the theology of the 16th-century reformers and in the revivals of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, a shared history that offers them potential basis for unity. Dr Munyenyembe’s book offers a well-informed and balanced treatment of this complex relationship, and will remain, for a long time, indispensable for understanding current disputes in the CCAP to those interested in the history of the church in Malawi.

Jonathan Nkhoma
Associate Professor,
Mzuzu University, Malawi

Table of Contents

  1. List of Figures
  2. Foreword
  3. Acknowledgements
  4. Introduction
  5. List of Abbreviations
  6. Chapter 1: Origins of the CCAP: Theological and Revival Roots
    1. Introduction
    2. Reformed Soteriology
    3. Presbyterianism in Scotland
    4. The Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands
    5. The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa
    6. The Difference between Reformed and Presbyterian
    7. Revivals and the Birth of the CCAP
    8. Conclusion
  7. Chapter 2: The CCAP Tributaries
    1. Introduction
    2. Early Cooperation between Livingstonia and Blantyre Missions
    3. The Livingstonia Mission
    4. The Blantyre Mission
    5. The Dutch Reformed Church Mission
    6. The Formation of the CCAP
    7. Related Developments to the Formation of the CCAP
    8. The Concept of Comity and Its Application in Malaw
    9. Harare Synod
    10. Synod of Zambia
    11. Conclusion
  8. Chapter 3: The CCAP: One Denomination, Several Independent Synods
    1. Introduction
    2. Constitutional Matters
    3. Liturgy
    4. Theological Training
    5. Education in the CCAP Synods
    6. Women’s Ministry
    7. Non-ordained Men’s Ministry
    8. Youth Ministry
    9. Church and State Relations among the Synods
    10. Conclusion
  9. Chapter 4: Pangs of Unity in Diversity among the Synods
    1. Introduction
    2. Early Tensions in the Unity of the CCAP
    3. Differences in Practice
    4. Border Disputes in the CCAP
    5. Conclusion
  10. Chapter 5: Challenges Rocking the CCAP General Assembly
    1. Introduction
    2. Constitutional Direction of the CCAP General Assembly
    3. The Efficiency of the General Assembly versus the Autonomy of the Synods
    4. Inter-Synodical Wrangles and the Stability of the General Assembly
    5. Partner Churches and the Stability of the General Assembly
    6. Political Machinations and the Stability of the General Assembly
    7. Private Initiatives at Reconciling the Synods and Strengthening the General Assembly
    8. Current Trends in the General Assembly
    9. Conclusion
  11. Chapter 6: Foreign Relations and Current Developments in the CCAP
    1. Introduction
    2. The Genesis of Foreign Relations
    3. The Development of Foreign Relations
    4. The Synod of Livingstonia and Its Foreign Partners
    5. Blantyre Synod and Its Foreign Partners
    6. Nkhoma Synod and Its Foreign Partners
    7. Harare Synod and Its Foreign Partners
    8. The Synod of Zambia and Its Foreign Partners
    9. Foreign Relations and the Unity of the CCAP Synods
    10. An Evaluation of the CCAP Synods’ Foreign Relations
    11. Conclusion
  12. Chapter 7: Unity beyond Border Disputes
    1. Introduction
    2. Oneness of the Synods without Borders
    3. Consolidating Synodical Independence
    4. Foreign Expansion
    5. Loose Cooperation and Synodical Sisterhood
    6. The Synods as Different Denominations
    7. More Unity of the Synods Reconsidered
    8. Conclusion
  13. Chapter 8: Concluding Thoughts
  14. Bibliography
  15. Index of Subjects
  16. Index of Names

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