Zambia: St Andrews Church celebrates 40 years

Lusaka — Today St Andrews Church stands prominently in the centre of Ndola. Thanks to those men and women who 40 years ago were on spot to dedicate their lives to the service of the Lord. During the 1920s Ndola was not a metropolitan we see today.

It was merely an outpost important for its railway siding and as a gateway to the rest of the Copperbelt connecting Bwana Mkubwa mine with the rest of the mines and the south. Somewhere in the virgin bush along what is now Ndola-Kabwe road was Fiwale Mission which had a resident minister called

the Reverend A.J. Cross. He was a missionary of the Baptist Missionary Society among the African people. Rev Cross realised that the Ndola European community needed church services once in a while and it was his calling to conduct services to this community whenever he could. Eventually he conduc ted services in the then Bijou theatre. There is no trace of the Bijou theatre today, but the building still exists. It is occupied by the Mercantile Printers in President Avenue.

Shortly afterwards, with the help of African people from Fiwale Mission, Rev Cross established a church in Ndola which is now the Baptist Church on Broadway. For a few years Europeans worshipped there according to segregation laws of the time. Later, the Anglican and the Dutch Reformed churches

established their own congregations. Towns all over the Copperbelt had what were known as "Free Church" congregations except Ndola. These congregations were at Chingola, Kalulushi, Kitwe, Luanshya and Mufulira. In 1936, the United Missions to the Copperbelt was formed and Rev Cross became its lea der. He moved to Mindolo.

From this time up to 1952, there was no man in full time work with Europeans. Services were held occasionally by people from the Baptist Mission or by visitors passing through town. In 1952, the Baptist appointed Rev E.M. Daroll to Ndola and the Free Church became the Baptist Church. The Baptis t Missionary Society wanted to extend their field of work and asked the Free Church people for their co-operation. But the hitch came over the question of baptism. Baptists believe in baptism by immersion and considered the baptism by sprinkling of water was not enough. In 1952, therefore members of Free Church felt that they would like to have their own place of worship and a plot for a church on Wales Avenue now Nkana Avenue was secured from the municipal council. However, a period of time elapsed and the plot having remained without being built over, the ground was reclaimed by the muni cipality. The present plots for the manse and the church were then given.

So early in 1954 the minister at Luanshya Rev George R. Fraser from the Church of Scotland pioneered to set up a Free Church congregation in Ndola. He circulated a letter to announce the formation of such a church and that twice monthly there would be services at 09.00 hrs in the infants school

hall, now Ndola Basic school on Kanongesha road. There was an abundance of Scottish men and women in the congregation and community at that time. They also voted for the church to be named St Andrews because St Andrew's is their Patron Saint.

Although congregation members were few, they were committed people whose fund-raising campaigns were highly successful. They supplemented their efforts by inviting people from other congregations who had experience in fund-raising. Two loans were raised from Mutual Building Society and Barclays

Bank DCO. On January 30, 1958, to signify the start of the new church the Rt Rev Dr George McLeod the then moderator of the Church of Scotland, who was visiting the Copperbelt laid the foundation stone and pronounced a blessing on the erection of the Ndola Free Church. The Northern News newspaper

forerunner to the Times of Zambia published an artist's impression of the church on the same day. Hamish Cameron-Smith an architect from Scotland designed and supervised the construction on the Ndola Free Church. On July 14, 1958 a contract was signed with James Thompson.

St Andrews Church was officially opened on Sunday February 15, 1959 at 14.30 hrs by the then governor of Northern Rhodesia, Sir Arthur Benson. Knocking at the door of the church the governor said: "Open to me the gates of righteousness. I will go into them and I will praise the Lord." John Hobs on, the church secretary opened the door and the governor and others entered the church. The architect handed over the keys to the governor who later handed the keys to the president of synod Rev Isaac Mutubila. Later on St Andrews' Church came under the Methodist presbytery and shortly after inde pendence the Methodist Church merged with a number of other churches to form the United Church of Zambia (UCZ). St Andrews Church has welcomed many ministers and has bid them farewell.

Most of these ministers have been sent to work in Zambia by collaborating churches such as the United Church of Canada, Methodist Church of the USA, Methodist Church of UK and the Church of Scotland. This is of course in addition to Zambian reverends who have also served at St Andrews. The firs t resident minister Rev A. Read from the United Church of Canada came in 1956. Two of his children were born in Ndola. Before coming to Ndola Rev Read had a girl in Chingola while a son was born in Bancroft now Chililabombwe. Rev Read has retired and settled in British Columbia, Canada. The curren t minister at the church is Rev Valerie J. Ogden from the Methodist Church in the UK. She came to Ndola in 1993 and we shall bid her farewell in July 1998.

A Zambia Reverend Chenge from St Mark's UCZ in Chingola will then be inducted to take over Just three and half years after the church opened, the church was known all over the world. Sunday, September 17, 1961 was the day when Dag Hammarskjoeld was scheduled to meet Moise Tshombe in Ndola to ar range a ceasefire. Unfortunately Dag died in a plane crash outside Ndola on the same day. His body lay in state in a open coffin for several hours in St Andrew's United Church. He was not a member of the church, but I believe he was a protestant member hence the choice of St Andrew's UCZ. May his soul rest in eternal peace. The St Andrews Church has made contributions towards manpower development and lifting education standards in Ndola.

The church has built a secondary school in Northrise area. The school was established to cater for boys and girls who fail to secure places in Government schools. However, even pupils who are selected to Government schools now opt for the St Andrews's High School. The results from the school ha ve been very pleasing. The church also runs a primary and nursery schools. Construction of the primary school commenced last year at the High School site. The church has a big heart for education. The selection policy at the schools is that all places are open for competition to the Ndola communit y. No places are reserved for St Andrews UCZ members. The St Andrews Church is quite active in assisting the needy in the community. The church spends 10 per cent of its budget on assisting people who are in need.

These people need not be UCZ members for example, the church organised a Christmas party last December for the less privileged especially Cindi - Children In Distress from Chipulukusu, Twapia etc. The church through its Christian education and training communities every year holds seminars on d iverse topics which affect the public community and in each case the subject matter experts are invited to present and discuss topics. Invitations are extended to other churches in all cases. In April 1994, the church organised a seminar on the law of inheritance and succession in Zambia in attend ance were participants from Roman Catholic, Baptist and other churches. Practicing lawyers presented and discussed different relevancy topics.

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