United Methodist clergy and church members witness the dedication of the Chin’ando prayer shrine in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe. Photo by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UM News.
By the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel MaforoSept. 13, 2019 | OLD MUTARE, Zimbabwe (UM News)
Hundreds of United Methodist clergy and church members parked their vehicles at the foot of the hill as they ascended to witness the historic dedication of the Chin’ando prayer monument.
The prayer shrine reveals a significant and historic narrative of The United Methodist Church in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area.
Founding mother Mbuya Lydia Chimonyo discovered the spot, named after the Chin’ando tree at the site, in the early 1920s. A pastor’s wife, she was looking for a quiet place to encounter God. Soon, other pastors’ wives joined her.
“Lydia Chimonyo died at the age of 41, but she had already ignited the fire (at Chin’ando) of a unique brand of women’s ministry in The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa, who dedicated the monument and improvements to the site on Sept. 6.
The women’s organization Rukwadzano Rwe Wadzimai, which has become one of the pillars of the church’s growth in Zimbabwe, owes its strong spiritual foundations to Chin’ando.
Following years of struggle for recognition of their efforts by the church, the women went up to Chin’ando to pray for the women’s organization to be approved at the 1938 Rhodesia Mission Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
“Their radical prayers in 1938 at this hill gave birth to the organization that (United Methodist) women in Zimbabwe love to identify with,” said Nhiwatiwa.
From the handful of women who frequented Chin’ando in the 1920s, Rukwadzano Rwe Wadzimai now stands with a membership of 20,809 women (9,191 in the Zimbabwe East Conference and 11,618 in the Zimbabwe West Conference). The women are known for their signature blue dresses with red collars and white headdresses.