8th assembly/50th anniversary

Together on Holy Ground
Missionaries: More than One Opinion

A starkly negative portrait of Western missionaries in Africa emerged at several points during the assembly. A plenary session focusing on Africa began with a dramatic presentation by a Zimbabwean theatre group ZACT, in which missionaries were portrayed as "the strangers who carried a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other". In his speech to the assembly President Robert Mugabe said the church had "played midwife to colonialism". The church "followed where it should have led, and confused evangelization with Westernization". Mugabe acknowledged that "there was always a voice of dissent in the church", but maintained that "most of the church supported colonial rule". The Zimbabwean Popular Theatre Group presented the play "A Journey of Hope" by Wahome Mutahi

Photo by Chris Black/WCC
Click on the photo to order (ref. 7125-22a)

A special worship with Zimbabwean churches was held at Rufaro stadium

Photo by Chris Black/WCC
Click on the photo to order (ref. 7090-16)

Rod Booth, director of media resources for the United Church of Canada, expressed a different view in a column written for Jubilee, the daily assembly newspaper. "I grew up in the home of missionary parents," he said. "My father was for some years the Bible Society secretary here in Zimbabwe, during which time there was hardly a mission station he didn't visit.

"I know there existed some missionaries who were a ‘chip off the old imperialist block', the kind so easily stereotyped... But I never met one of those missionaries. All the people who were in and out of our home were deeply caring, compassionate people, striving to be sensitive to the people and culture among whom they felt called to work and witness."

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