Where does the Evangelical church come from and where to?
This church started from the revivals for D.L. Moody in the USA under Evangelicals in 1890. Then D.L. Moody encouraged mission work even overseas. Franson and Torry who were Moody converts came out to join mission work and to establish new work in Africa. So they organised overseas offices, one in Africa and another one in Asia. Miss Mallah More also a convert of Moody and student in Moody Bible College was the pioneer of the Africa office of Mission work.
What were the aims?
The aims were to establish local churches that were:
To be self-propagating for the furtherance of the gospel, not to wait for someone to plan or give orders.
A plan for self-governing
Self supporting This means that each local church once established would be autonomous when grown into maturity. This order goes the way of the Evangelicals that do not anoint but ordain pastors according to the anointing of the Lord at the point of salvation. The conference ordains by the order of the local churches.
Phases of growth of the Evangelical Church:
Phase one (1890-1921; Acts 4:36-37)
The missionary work of the church started operating under the style of Scandinavians mission under contracts.
Missionaries did not care much about the up bringing of the established. They evangelised after the political was pf 1914. As the result may people believed out of fear, frustration and sufferings
Most missionaries were not theologically trained. They only had the basics that would help them to communicate the good news.
As the results, most converts could not differentiate between Christian lifestyle and western life style.
Phase two (1921 - 1936; Acts 9:27-31)
The first group of missionaries were sent out to convert people, putting up schools, hospitals and church buildings. This work was done under the individual independence mission in contract for that project.
They copied big churches that came before them into Africa, e.g. hierarchy of positions, women's status (Lumenyane) and branches of the mission stations controlled by one-pastor circuits and many more.
Missionaries at their stations would visit branches quarterly. They had not business conferences but conventions only.
Conferences would only be held in the mission stations just to give progress reports by leaders of the branches.
Those branches were governed by chieftendom copied from the African style of leadership. This chieftendom style of leadership till 1957.
Phase Three (1936 - 1956; Acts 11:19-30)
The first constitutional development started in 1936 but doe to World War 2 was postponed. It was continued in 1947 and brought to the church in 1948. The church was named "Bantu Evangelical Church" due to apartheid practiced in Republic of South Africa. The second reason was because Missionaries could not be part of the church. The system compelled them to establish indigenous local churches. Then the church was registered in Pretoria in 1948 but was approved in 1950. The delay in registration and recognition of the church in Pretoria was due to the new Government of Boers that forced separate development. That resulted to the different name for the Colored and Indian members of the same missionaries named "Evangelical Bible Church" that had no fellowship with the "Bantu Evangelical Church." Semi independent with three Whites as advisors.
There was struggle for the constitutional development till 1972 July. In 1972 the church was given the constitution of Evangelical Bible Church to help her be able to make her own constitution. Missionaries imposed all these constitutions on the church.
Phase Four (1956 - 1980; Acts 13:1-5, 9)
The first black chairman in 1956 was appointed. Rev. A. Mndebele served for on year and passed on.
In 1957 the second chairman Rev. J. Nyawo abolished positions in the church. A great change in the administration of the church came. It was said that 'uniform' would be 'LOVE' instead of the one that was used before then. It was said loud and clear that members would operate by gifts of the Spirit as listed in the Holy Bible, not positions as it was. Circuits were to come to an end and they became districts. Pastors were given same and equal status in the district. An elected committee to operate for three years in the office administered each district. Above national level there was a committee that oversees the whole denomination for three years.
In the same year 1957 the missionaries and the church broke the chains of unity as they matured that is not being dependant to missionaries. They started to take decisions on their own on what they needed from missionaries. The missionaries' representatives were withdrawn from church conferences and a new constitutional committee was appointed to draft constitution from the mind of the church.
The chairman encouraged that young men called by God into His ministry be sent for theology studies overseas with fund assistance from missionaries. A number of young men studied in the USA and Canada in 1960's and 70's while others registered for degrees in African theological institutions. In 1970, the church put up its theological institution the Swaziland Bible Institute that greatly enhanced training for pastors and helped in maintaining the same theological understanding in the church.
In 1980, the first constitution for the church was adopted. The constitution allowed separate developments of the church in South Africa and Swaziland. However the churches were to meet every three years for general conventions.
Phase Five (1980 to date; Acts 15:1-2; 12, 36-40)
Constitutionally churches were given autonomy as per D.L. Moody's plan.
In 1995 a constitution review commission was established to look into some contrivances that arose in the past 15 years of the constitution's operation.
In 2000's church convention, the reviewed constitution was approved under the leadership of Rev. Dr. N.T. Nyawo.