Presbyterian Church of Africa

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. It is one of the oldest independent churches in South Africa. Initially the new church was a small group of two presbyteries and four ministers but it grew steadily. Fifteen candidates for ministerial education were sent to the USA in 1915. At a later stage institutions for theological training in South Africa were used. The church has consistently stressed that all ministers must be trained before ordination. Since the church was all black, it had limited funds. Like other independent churches of its time it had to struggle with lack of financial backing and government recognition. The PCA has grown without any outside help. Several of its younger ministers have opted for a tent-making ministry, pursuing other professions along with their pastoral work.

In 1973, the general synod of the PCA accepted that there was no scriptural ground for remaining an exclusively black church. The synod decided that the PCA as an independent community should not remain isolated from the rest of the body of Christ. The church has a strong leadership, without being clergy-domi-nated. Its task is seen as belonging to the whole people of God, though it has a sense of its own charismatic gifts. The Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association are active groups in the church. The PCA runs several projects related to agricultural and community development, scholarships, work for the needy, human resource development, etc., without any outside assistance. Of the nine presbyteries, one is in Malawi, one in Zambia and one in Zimbabwe. In 2008, the Presbyterian Church of Africa will be celebrating its 110th anniversary.