The development from a Wesleyan perspective of an appropriate model of multi-cultural ministry, from within a traditionally mono-cultural Methodist congregation

Rist, Timothy John (1998) The development from a Wesleyan perspective of an appropriate model of multi-cultural ministry, from within a traditionally mono-cultural Methodist congregation. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The intention of this thesis is to develop a model for multi-cultural ministry, and, in so doing, to enable Trinity Methodist Church, Charles Street, Bloemfontein to provide a comprehensive and meaningful ministry to all people, one that is not limited by the constraints of language and culture but which transcends them. The fact that Trinity is a Methodist Church means that I will be establishing the "Model for Multi-Cultural Ministry" firmly within Wesleyan theology. South Africa has undergone far-reaching political change since the general elections of April 1994. This political transformation has emphasised a need for the bringing together of people across the barriers of race, culture and religion. In this thesis I will be focusing my attention on the latter - the realm of religion - and specifically that of Christianity. Furthermore, I will be restricting my attention to a specific congregation within the denomination of Methodism, within the religion of Christianity, namely Trinity Methodist Church, Charles Street, Bloemfontein'. The "Model for MultiCultural Ministry" developed in this thesis will therefore be 'congregation specific'. The Methodist ChurcQ of Southern Africa2 proclaims itself to be a Church "one and undivided" (Minutes: 1980: 65: para l(a) ), where people from all racial groups can worship God together in a meaningful way. In many respects this is not the case. The years of political pressure that the (MCSA) has endured, in particular the years of legislated Apartheid (1948-1989), ensured that existing divisions between the Methodist congregations became entrenched along racial, cultural and religious lines (Thompson: 1990: 187ff). The Group Areas Act (1950) is but one such example where the National Party Government "divided urban areas into zones where members of one specified race alone could live and work" (Thompson: 1990: 194). The homeland policy (implemented from 1963, but legislated from 1971 in the Bantu Homelands Constitution Act), coupled with forced removals, was another. It is estimated that 3,548,900 people were removed from one geographical area and resettled in another (Thompson: 1990: 194). The introduction of "Whites Only" notices ensured the enforcement of segregation laws for "taxis, ambulances, hearses, buses, trains, elevators, benches, lavatories, parks, church halls [emphasis mine], town halls, cinemas, theatres, cafes, restaurants, and hotels, as well as schools and universities. It was also official policy to prevent interracial contacts in sport" (Thompson: 1990: 197). Legislation such as that mentioned above made it increasingly difficult for churches of all denominations and especially the MCSA, to effectively minister to all its members. The result for the MCSA was the formation of an unofficial division within the church. The "White" church and the "Black" church each developed their own theological emphasis in terms of religious expression, an understanding of the nature of God, spirituality, and church discipline. The MCSA has repeatedly attempted to address these differences. The "Missionary Policy" of the 1980 Conference of the MCSA states: "The Conference declares its conviction that it is the will of God for the Methodist Church that it should be one and undivided, trusting to the leading of God to bring this ideal to ultimate fruition [italics mine], and that this be the general basis of our Missionary policy" (Minutes: 1980: 65 ff.). The Conference of 1992 echoed the same sentiments, reaffirming the intention of the MCSA to "[become] a one-andundivided Church" (Minutes: 1958, quoted in Minutes: 1992: 131). This deliberate strategy for the bringing together of people across the divisions of culture and geographical boundaries, is evident in the call of the 1992 Conference, which states: "Conference calls upon Districts and Circuits to cross racial and natural barriers where possible" (Minutes: 1992: 131). I am of the opinion that the MCSA is "a very large institution with considerable potential for bringing about positive and wholesome change" beneficial not only for the denomination itself, but also for the country as a whole (Magoba: 1994: 3). A key to the unlocking of this potential lies in discovering ways to develop a ministry that transcends racial and cultural barriers thereby allowing aspects "of African culture and religious views [to give] Christianity a new flavour and dynamism" (Magoba: 1994: 5). This is the goal of a multi-cultural ministry. For the purpose of this thesis, I propose to examine and develop a "Model for MultiCultural Ministry", that will assist in achieving this goal. I realise that for the purposes of a Masters Thesis, such a study will have to be by necessity limited. I am aware that there are many areas within the MCSA that would need to be comprehensively examined for a detailed study of multi-cultural ministry, such as: polity, doctrine, and cultural heritage. However, the limited scope of this thesis prevents such a comprehensive study from taking place. I will therefore be limiting my research, and the development of a '"Model for Multi-Cultural Ministry" by researching one congregation of the MCSA only. This will be Trinity Methodist Church, Charles Street, Bloemfontein. The model developed would then be specific to the needs of this church. However, the examination of basic tenets of Methodism will ensure that the model could also be of benefit to other Methodist congregations, if they made use of it.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:John Wesley, Religion and culture, Methodist Church, South Africa, Bloemfontein, Christianity and culture
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities
ID Code:2787
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:09 May 2012 08:13
Last Modified:09 May 2012 08:13
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