Martin, Marie-Louise

South Africa

Marie-Louise Martin was a missionary and theological educator in Africa. Born in Lucerne, Martin served as a Reformed Church minister in Switzerland from 1938 to 1944. In 1946 she was appointed by the Swiss Mission in South Africa to work as chaplain, minister, and teacher of religion at the Lemana Training Institution in North Transvaal. In 1957 she became a lecturer in theology at the pastoral school of Morija, Lesotho, and lecturer/reader in theology at the University in Roma, Lesotho. She defended her doctoral thesis on African messianism at the University of South Africa in 1962. In 1968 she visited the Church of Jesus Christ on Earth through the Prophet Simon Kimbangu (EJCSK) in Zaire, which had applied for membership in the World Council of Churches. Her acquaintance with the EJCSK changed her critical attitude toward African Independent Churches. After she became persona non grata in South Africa, she agreed to work with the EJCSK, and started a modest theological college in Kinshasa in 1970. It was gradually upgraded to a theological faculty. Fully devoted to the EJCSK, she trained the students theologically and spiritually, meanwhile facing increasingly worsening socioeconomic conditions. She became critically ill in 1990 and was taken to Lucerne, where she died. Her major publications were The Biblical Concept of Messianism and Messianism in Southern Africa (1964), and Kimbangu: An African Prophet and His Church (1975; German original, 1972).

Leny Lagerwerf


André Droogers, “Kimbanguism at the Grass Roots,” JRA 11 (1980): 188-189; Leny Lagerwerf, “Dr. MarieLouise Martin (1912-1990): Portrait of a Missionary,” in Changing Partnership of Missionary and Ecumenical Movements: Essays in Honour of Marc Spindler (1995), pp. 144-158 (includes a bibliography of her writings).

This article is reproduced, with permission, from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, copyright © 1998, by Gerald H. Anderson, W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.