4 October 2022

Introducing African Praise Fellowship Zimbabwe

Cloud Tembo

A group of people wearing grey Salvation Army uniform and playing timbrels
African Praise Fellowship Zimbabwe at Together 2022 | Andrew King Photography

The Fellowship’s Organising Secretary, Cloud Tembo, explains the history and mission of the territory’s new official group.

In 2003 a group of African Salvationists attended Luton Corps for the dedication of a new baby born to a Zimbabwean couple. During the time for offering, the Zimbabwean Salvationists from Luton and Milton Keynes Central together presented an item singing and playing the hosho (rattle or maranka). They felt the need to have a fellowship for themselves to enhance closer mutual support and a better environment for reaching out to fellow African friends.

There was another dedication of children in Leicester that the Zimbabwean-born Salvationists attended, which was officiated by then Colonel Stanslous Mutewera, who had been posted to the UK as assistant chief secretary in 2003. When the corps officer for Luton was transferred to Wickford, the African Salvationists attended a memorial service for the officer’s mother, who had been promoted to Glory. Again they were given the opportunity to come together and present an item during the service.

A large group of people dancing with timbrels and percussion in different styles of African Salvation Army uniform

This group welcomed the appointment of then Colonels Stanslous and Jannet Mutewera to THQ. They paid them a visit in London and had the opportunity to spend hours of fellowship at their residence. This gathering further fuelled the need to form a fellowship.

The farewell meeting for Commissioners Stanslous and Jannet’s return to Zimbabwe as the territorial leaders in 2004 saw many Zimbabwean and other African Salvationists from across the UK join together. This gathering was the true spiritual beginning of the African Praise Fellowship Zimbabwe.

The Fellowship’s unity was strengthened by the appointment of Commissioners Amos and Rosemary Makina as international secretaries for Africa in 2004. They rallied the troops, leading various meetings, including the first couples meeting held at Milton Keynes Central.

Committees and conventions

The Fellowship’s first committee was formed at Birmingham Citadel as a fundraising committee to assist in the purchase of the territorial congress grounds at Waterfalls, Zimbabwe. This eventually transformed into the leadership committee of the Fellowship.

Worship meetings began to be held in different towns and cities, including Luton, Leeds, Milton Keynes and London (at Catford Corps), with an ever-increasing attendance, sometimes numbering close to 300 people.

The first African Easter Convention was held in Manchester in 2006, as the Fellowship reached maturity. These conventions became the hallmark of the Fellowship’s annual activities, with many African Salvationists attending from all over the UK.

A group of young adults dancing in African Salvation Army uniform

In 2008 the Fellowship held its Easter Convention at Sunbury Court with part of the residential funding provided by the Army in the USA through IHQ’s Africa Zone. At the request of the fundraising committee, Commissioners Amos and Rosemary officially appointed the African Praise Fellowship Zimbabwe leadership.

The Fellowship has the structure of a corps, with vibrant brigades and a worship band that have boosted the well-attended praise and worship meetings. Within the main Fellowship there are several groups, including a men’s fellowship, home league, youth fellowship, married couples fellowship, medical fellowship, officers’ kids fellowship, young couples fellowship and the African Praise Songsters and African Praise Band, the Hosho Brigade and the African Praise Timbrels.

With God’s blessings, the Fellowship has kept growing in outreach and in its inner life.

The Covid-19 pandemic impacted the Fellowship’s programme, with Zoom becoming the platform where members met and comforted each other as they lost a lot of relatives and friends both in the UK and back home in Zimbabwe. There were no music rehearsals held over Zoom, but there was spontaneous singing and testimony.

Official recognition

Together 2022 in July was a landmark in the history of African Praise Fellowship Zimbabwe. The Fellowship and its constitution were officially recognised by the UK and Ireland Territory during the weekend’s celebrations.

A group of members attended the event to represent the Fellowship. They combined for stage rehearsal with the ISS and ISB on the day of the congress, with leaders from the songsters, worship band, timbrels and hosho sections present.

Anthony Cotterill presenting a certificate to the Fellowship
Territorial Commander Commissioner Anthony Cotterill presents the Fellowship's certificate of recognition

Leading the music groups on stage was Timothy Ngwenya, who joined the Fellowship as a member of the worship band nine years after the Fellowship’s formation. Timothy also has his own musical ministry, which the Fellowship supports.

Mission and movement

The Fellowship has always been in demand to take part in church worship by leading meetings. Over the past few years more and more of the African diaspora, particularly from Zimbabwe, have joined the Fellowship. We have had membership including South African soldiers and the youth section is very diverse, including local youth who attended conferences hosted by the African Praise Youth Fellowship.

As a result, the Fellowship has diversified in its mission field while still maintaining its overall goal: to make Jesus known to whoever comes to the Fellowship, African or non-African, for the ultimate aim of bringing glory to Almighty God.

The Fellowship’s mission statement is enshrined in its constitution, which is available at request from THQ, where the certificate of recognition issued to the Fellowship has its home.

  • African Praise Fellowship Zimbabwe will write a book with the details of its journey so far, which will help other diasporas to understand that the Christian movement grows with the migration of its members.

Written by

Cloud Tembo

Cloud Tembo

Corps Sergeant-Major, Milton Keynes Central

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