Church of Central Africa Presbyterian

Last updated
St Michael and All Angels is a CCAP church in Blantyre. St Michael and All Angels Church.JPG
St Michael and All Angels is a CCAP church in Blantyre.

The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) is a Presbyterian denomination. It consists of five synods: one in Zambia (Zambia Synod), one in Zimbabwe (Harare Synod) and three in MalawiLivingstonia Synod in the north of the country, Nkhoma Synod in the centre, and Blantyre Synod in the south.


The CCAP is the largest Protestant denomination in Malawi. [1]


Following the arrival of David Livingstone, Scottish Presbyterian churches established missions in Malawi. In 1875, the Free Church of Scotland established itself in northern Malawi with headquarters in Livingstonia, while in 1876 the Church of Scotland set up a mission in Blantyre. In 1889 the Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa began work in central Malawi. Initially its base was Mvera, but it later relocated to Nkhoma. [2] These three missions were the start of the three CCAP synods in Malawi.

In 1911 the Livingstonia and Blantyre Synods agreed to join together to form the CCAP [3] although, because of World War I, this union did not take place until 17 September 1924. [3] The CCAP at that time had 28 ministers (about half of whom were African) and 32 elders (almost all of whom were African). [3]

In 1926, the formerly Dutch Reformed Nkhoma Synod joined the CCAP. [4] The Harare Synod joined in 1965, [5] while the Lundazi Synod (now called the Zambia Synod) joined in 1984. [6]

In 1993, the Blantyre Synod issued a statement which acknowledged historically close ties with the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) so that "the church gradually lost its ability to admonish or speak pastorally to the government" [7] and indicated that they did "not want to make the same mistake at this time in order to ensure that the church retains its prophetic voice throughout the coming years of our country’s history." [7]

In 1998, some Charismatic members split from the CCAP to form the Presbyterian Church of Malawi (PCM). [8]

The CCAP entered into a high-profile public feud with Malawian Second Vice President Chakufwa Chihana in 2004 after Chihana told the church not to "meddle" in politics. [9]


The Nkhoma Synod have adopted the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, and Canons of Dort as their doctrinal standards. [10] The Zambia Synod subscribes to these and to the Gallican Confession, Scots Confession, Second Helvetic Confession, Thirty-Nine Articles, and Westminster Confession. [11]


See also

Related Research Articles

Presbyterianism Branch of Protestant Christianity in which the church is governed by presbyters (elders)

Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, which traces its origins to Great Britain, specifically Scotland.

Zomba, Malawi Place in Southern Region, Malawi

Zomba is a city in southern Malawi, in the Shire Highlands. It is the former capital city of Malawi.

Ekwendeni Place in Northern Region, Malawi

Ekwendeni is a town in the Northern Region of Malawi. It lies about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Mzuzu, in the Mzimba district.

Livingstonia, Malawi Place in Northern Region, Malawi

Livingstonia or Kondowe is a town located in the Northern Region district of Rumphi in Malawi. It is 270 miles (430 km) north of the capital, Lilongwe, and connected by road to Chitimba on the shore Lake Malawi.

Chakufwa Chihana was a Malawian human rights activist, pro-democracy advocate, trade unionist and later, politician. He held the post of Second Vice President in Malawi, under President Bakili Muluzi. He is often called the 'father of Malawian democracy'. He served as leader of Malawi's first underground political movement, which urged President Hastings Kamuzu Banda, who had ruled for three decades, to call for a referendum on political pluralism. He was awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 1992.

World Communion of Reformed Churches Christian organization

The World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) is the largest association of Reformed churches in the world. It has 233 member denominations in 110 countries, together claiming 100 million people, thus being the third largest Christian communion in the world after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. This ecumenical Christian body was formed in June 2010 by the union of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC).

Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Nkhoma Synod

The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Nkhoma Synod was founded in 1889 and is one of the major Protestant churches in Malawi. The Church consists of 124 congregations and 1,298 prayer houses and serves 800,000 members. The churches meet every two years in a synod. They have adopted the Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and Canons of Dort as their doctrinal standards. Along with the General Synod of the CCAP, the Nkhoma Synod is a member of the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

Nkhoma Place in Central Region, Malawi

Nkhoma is a hill in the Lilongwe District of Malawi. South African missionaries established a mission in 1889 and named the mission after the hill.

Robert Laws

Rev Dr Robert Laws MD DD FRGS FRSGS (1851–1934) was a Scottish missionary who headed the Livingstonia mission in the Nyasaland Protectorate for more than 50 years. The mission played a crucial role in educating Africans during the colonial era. It emphasized skills with which the pupils could become self-sufficient in trade, agriculture or industry as opposed to working as subordinates to European settlers. Dr Laws supported the aspirations of political leaders such as Simon Muhango and Levi Zililo Mumba, both educated at Livingstonia schools.

St Michael and All Angels Church, Blantyre Church in Malawi

St. Michael and All Angels Church was constructed from 1888 to 1891 of brick at the Blantyre Mission in Blantyre, Malawi. It is located on the original Scottish mission site, off Chileka Rd, and is in the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian’s Blantyre Synod. Since 1991, it has been partnered with Hiland Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1885, Lieutenant H. E. O'Neil determined the longitude of Blantyre to be 2 hours 20 minutes 13.56 seconds east of Greenwich by means of a series of 365 sets of lunar observations, and a plaque installed in the side of the church commemorates this achievement. The church has been described as

Christianity in Malawi

According to 2012 statistics about 85% of Malawi's 11 million people are Christian, with over half of the population Protestant and another 20% Roman Catholic. Of the Protestant churches the Church of Central Africa, Presbyterian is one of the largest Christian groups, but here are also smaller numbers of Anglicans, Baptists, evangelicals, Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and African independent churches.

The Presbyterian Church of Africa was founded in 1898 by Rev. James Mzimba, who broke from the Church of Scotland. He was born in Ngquakai, and his father was a deacon in the Presbyterian Church. Mzimba become a pastor, and was ordained in 1875. He was sent to Scotland to the anniversary of the Free Church of Scotland, but later severed its ties with the denomination. In 1899 he founded his own independent Presbyterian church. He died in 1911. The first Synod was constituted in Alice, Cape Colony. Mzambi had a dispute with the Free Church of Scotland over land and over the use of money. The Presbyterian Church of Africa is a predominantly black church. It was a small group of churches with 2 presbyteries. The church grew steadily. It is one of the oldest independent churches in Africa.

The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Harare Synod was founded in 1965 by immigrant workers from Malawi in search of employment in mining and farming areas in Zimbabwe. Ministers came from Malawi and South Africa. Worships are in English, Shona, Chewa and Ndebele. The Harare Synod is part of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. It also has cordial relationship with other Reformed churches.

Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Synod of Zambia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian

The Synod of Zambia is one of the five synods of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.

Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Synod of Livingstonia

The Synod of Livingstonia is a synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian. It was founded by missionaries of the Free Church of Scotland in 1875.

The Blackman's Church of Africa Presbyterian is an independent Presbyterian denomination in Malawi. Each of its three founding pastors had been educated at the Livingstonia, Malawi mission and ordained as ministers of the Scottish missionary-led Presbyterian church based there. Although the Livingstonia mission was transferred to its present site in 1878, the missionaries were very cautious about ordaining African ministers. A theological course was established there in 1896 to train African ministers and the first two students completed it by 1900, but the first ordinations were not carried out until 1914. Of the students involved in the course between 1900 and 1914, only around half were ever ordained, on average, about ten years after completing the course, the other half were suspended, resigned or died. Donald Fraser, one of the leading Scottish missionaries, considered that the theological education of African candidates for ordination was insufficient without an "established christian character", which could only be proven through a lengthy probation. Although all three of the founders were ordained, all fell foul of the church establishment and left to form independent churches.

Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Blantyre Synod

The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian – Blantyre Synod is a synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian, located in southern Malawi. It was founded by Church of Scotland missionaries in 1876.

Charles Vincente Domingo was born in Mozambique but spent most of his life in northern Nyasaland, where he was educated at the Free Church of Scotland (1843-1900) mission at Livingstonia. He later became a teacher and licensed preacher there, but left the Free Church in 1908 over delays to his ordination and he later established an independent Seventh-day Baptist church and school in the Mzimba district. Domingo was one of three Africans sponsored by Joseph Booth who created independent churches in Nyasaland in the early 20th century, the others being John Chilembwe and Elliot Kamwana. Domingo did not favour armed revolt, as Chilembwe did, nor was he a charismatic preacher seeking rapid social change like Kamwana. He was a moderate social reformer who strongly criticised the inequalities of colonial rule, and a teacher who believed that Africans should run their own churches free of external supervision and use these churches to promote a high standard of education to create a cultured African elite, which would undertake its own social and political advancement. He failed because of inadequate resources in the poverty-stricken north of Nyasaland and through government suspicion of his motives, but he remains one of the pioneers of Malawi’s independence.


  1. Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk, Operation World: 21st Century Edition (Paternoster, 2001), p. 419.
  2. Overview of the worldwide reformed church: Malawi (Africa)
  3. 1 2 3 T. Jack Thompson, Christianity in Northern Malaŵi: Donald Fraser's missionary methods and Ngoni culture, BRILL, 1995, ISBN   90-04-10208-6, pp. 211–213.
  4. Robert Benedetto and Donald K. McKim, Historical Dictionary of the Reformed Churches, 2nd ed, Scarecrow Press, 2010, ISBN   0-8108-5807-X, p. 443.
  5. Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) - Harare Synod
  6. Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) - Zambia Synod
  7. 1 2 Paul Gifford, The Christian Churches and the Democratisation of Africa, BRILL, 1995, ISBN   90-04-10324-4, p. 103.
  8. Rhodian G. Munyenyembe, Christianity and Socio-cultural Issues: The Charismatic Movement and Contextualization of the Gospel in Malawi, African Books Collective, 2011, ISBN   99908-87-52-7, p. 6.
  9. "Chakufwa Chihana". The Scotsman. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  10. Walter L. Brown, The development in self-understanding of the CCAP Nkhoma Synod as Church during the first forty years of autonomy: an ecclesiological study,[ permanent dead link ] University of Stellenbosch, 2005.
  11. CCAP Zambia - What We Believe Archived 2013-08-27 at the Wayback Machine