Original Research

Reformed Churches in South Africa’s strategies for poverty reduction in urban communities

Motshine A. Sekhaulelo
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 48, No 1 | a1788 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v48i1.1788 | © 2014 Motshine A. Sekhaulelo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 December 2013 | Published: 15 December 2014

About the author(s)

Motshine A. Sekhaulelo, Faculty of Theology,University of Pretoria, South Africa

Abstract

This article investigates and outlines the strategies, which the Reformed Churches in South Africa (RCSA) can employ for poverty alleviation in the South African urban communities. By RCSA, the author refers to the local churches that constitute a familyof churches or church organisation. It is important to note that, historically, the churches stood at the forefront of giving freely to the poor, caring for widows, taking in destitute orphans, visiting the sick, and caring for the dying. Despite this long and often appreciated legacy of support for the poor and the needy, the church ceased or slowed to provide such ministry. This was probably due to the emphasis on the ’social gospel’ in liberal theology,which many churches began to view with deep suspicion. In talking about the church’s stance towards poverty, it should also be noted that, historically, the poor have suffered due to those churches that, without warrant, preach the health, wealth and prosperity gospel, incorrectly stating that God wants everyone to be equally rich. By promoting false hope about the prospects for overnight success through prayer and tithing, some of these churches take advantage of a vulnerable congregation that is often desperate for an improvement in their economic circumstances. This article investigates not only the complex of poverty and inequality in the South African (SA) urban community, but also the prophetic calling of the RCSA with respect to poverty today. The conclusion arrived at is that poverty and inequality persist in the urban community whilst the church, both as institution and organism, should be able to study and respond positively to the dynamics involved in urban poverty.

Die Gereformeerde Kerke in Suid Afrika (GKSA) se strategieë vir armoedeverligtingin stedelike gebiede. Hierdie artikel ondersoek en skets die strategieë wat die GKSA kan benut om armoede in stedelike gebiede te verlig. Die GKSA verwys na plaaslike kerke wat ’n familie van kerke of kerkorganisasies uitmaak. Dit is belangrik om kennis te neem van die feit dat die kerk, reg deur die geskiedenis, op die voorpunt was om vryelik aan armes te voorsien, vir die weduwees te sorg, weeskinders in te neem, siekes te besoek en sterwendeste versorg. Ten spyte van hierdie lang en meestal gewaardeerde nalatenskap aan armes en behoeftiges, het hierdie bediening deur die kerk afgeneem en is in baie gevalle gestaak. Dit is waarskynlik as gevolg van die klem wat in die bevrydingsteologie op die ‘sosialeevangelie’ geplaas is en tans deur baie kerke met agterdog bejeën word. Wanneer die kerk se houding teenoor armoede ter sprake kom, moet ’n mens in gedagte hou dat, histories gesproke, die armes as gevolg van die kerk ly – kerke wat sonder waarborg die gesondheidsen voorspoedteologie verkondig het en wat valslik voorgegee het dat dit God se wil is dat almal ewe ryk moet wees. Deur die vals vooruitsigte voor te hou om oornag deur gebed en uit offergawes ryk te word, is kwesbare gemeentelede wat desperaat was vir die verbetering van hulle ekonomiese omstandighede uitgebuit. Hierdie artikel ondersoek nie net die kompleksiteit van armoede en ongelykhede in die stedelike gemeenskappe van Suid-Afrika nie, maar ook die profetiese roeping van die GKSA met betrekking tot armoede vandag. Die gevolgtrekking is dus dat armoede en ongelykheid voortduur in stedelike gebiede terwyl die kerk as instituut sowel as organisme die bevoegdheid moes hê om die dinamiek wat deel van stedelike armoede uitmaak, te bestudeer en positief daarop te reageer.


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Crossref Citations

1. Die missionale kerk in informele behuisingsgemeenskappe
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doi: 10.4102/ids.v51i2.2212