Wednesday, May 01, 2024

A Methodist Family Legacy: the Muzorewas and Murphrees (Rhodesia/Zimbabwe)

 Good Morning/Evening, Friends,

I’ve been posting heavily on Facebook these past two week about my adventures at The United Methodist Church’s General Conference in Charlotte, NC, and today is a VERY IMPORTANT day for the United Methodist history books. More about that later when I’ve had time to  figure out what I want to say and can point you to my favorite news articles about it (this will front page Washington Post news tomorrow ya'll). 

What I was in the middle of drafting for today's blog post when the historic vote happened was that I made a new friend last week, and we instantly recognized each other as kindred spirits. It turns out that we both have family ties to Methodist missionaries in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). So, to see if we could figure out how well our ancestors might have known each other, I dug up the copy I had of a letter written by Bishop Abel Muzorewa giving testimony to the work and impact of the life of my paternal grandmother’s first cousin, Lois Murphree. In it, Bishop Muzorewa highlighted four things: Lois’ vital role in the development of the Rukwadzano (Society of Women), her and her husband’s role in shaping and training of the conference’s Christian Education curriculum, the work she did alongside Rev. Kapenzi in the 1930s and 1940s in developing the hymnody of the church, and the fact that in the 1940s she and her husband unofficially adopted and raised two vulnerable young girls after their father died and their mother was forced into an undesirable marriage. One of those girls was Maggie, Bishop Muzorewa’s future wife.