Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Impact of Protestant Missions on Angola

In their writings, Angolan historians do not understate the important role that Protestant Missions played in Angola's history. In the 19th century, with an growing interest in Angola, western nations made significant contributions and service to the country in efforts to give indigenous populations knowledge and training. Protestant missionaries built churches, schools, hospitals, and invested in agriculture and husbandry, training teachers, stonemasons, carpenters, tailors and nurses among others.

Beginning with the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola (ECCA), this organization's presence dates back to 11 November 1880, when the first American missionaries arrived in Benguela. The head of the mission was 32-year-old Reverend William W. Bagster. He was accompanied by the 25-year-old Reverend William Henry Sanders, and the architect and teacher Samuel Taylor Miller. He was the very first black missionary to come to Angola. Others followed, and they spread throughout the nation, founding missions and contributing in this way to the education and training of countless Angolans. Missionaries built churches, schools and hospitals and instructed people how to till the land and how to raise farm animals. They trained teachers, stonemasons, carpenters, tailors, and nurses. They gave training to church workers, to catechists who gave religious instruction, to deacons, and to both male and female pastors.

The EECA came about with the creation of the Evangelical Missions of Bailundo, Camundongo, Chissamba, Dondi, Chilesso, Elende, Lutamo / Dondi, de Silva Porto, Bunjei, Litoral/Lobito, and Nova Lisboa/Bomba. Over time, the Evangelical Congregational Church of Angola was handed over to Angolans to run. 

The EBCA (Evangelical Baptist Church of Angola) is another important religious institution that was set up in Angola many years ago. It was founded in the North of Angola, and the EBCA today has churches in more than half the provinces of Angola, among them Zaire, Uige, Luanda, Cabinda Benguela, Bengo, Huíla, Lunda-Norte, Kwanza-Norte. 
The first missionaries reached the city of Mbanza Congo (formerly São Salvador), in 1878 from Britain. Then, in 1899, the British missionaries founded the Kibokolo Mission and in 1932 the Bembe Mission. The outbreak of hostilities in the war for Independence led to the Portuguese destroying the last two missions. The Mbanza Congo Mission was transformed into a Portuguese military barracks.

The Portuguese repression in the 20th century forced a great number of the Baptist population (and the faithful) to abandon Angola and take refuge in the former Belgium Congo. The ever-faithful Baptists however, did not despair, and they set up in 1969, in this new haven, the CCBCA (The Christian Church of the Baptist Church of Angola). In addition to their religious calling, Baptists also concentrated on building up the capacity of Angola’s future generations. Today, as before, they make contributions in the areas of education, health, social welfare, and other fields that are beneficial to improving people’s lives.
The Methodists also made significant contributions in Protestant Missions in Angola. The United Methodist Church in Angola was set up in 1885 by Bishop William Taylor. The Quéssua Mission is perhaps the best example of its service to training Angolans.  This mission, located near Malanje, was founded by American missionaries at the end of the 19th century.  Of the students educated here, many of whom went on to become important leaders in Angola such as Dr. António Agostinho Neto, the first President of Angola who was the son of a Methodist pastor.  Bishop Emídio de Carvalho, who headed the United Methodist Church for many years, is its greatest living symbol.(TAAG Austral Magazine)

No comments: