Missionary tendencies in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, 1980 to 2000: a critical history
Benjamin, Keith Richard
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The problem that will be investigated in this research project may be formulated in the following way: Which tendencies may be identified in the mission programmes of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa during the period from 1980 to 2000? This thesis will provide a critical historical overview of missionary tendencies in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa from 1980 to 2000 with particular emphasis on the Journey to a New Land Convocation held in 1995. From 2000, the Methodist Church of Southern Africa had begun to reconsider the changes implemented following the Journey to a New Land Convocation. It will investigate such tendencies in the light of the emerging ecumenical paradigm of Christian mission as postulated by David Bosch. I will argue that three phases may be identified in the focus of the mission of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa during this period, namely 1) a period of ecumenical involvement from 1980-1993, 2) the introduction of the process called a “Journey to a New Land” from 1993 to 1995 and 3) the impact of this process on the mission of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa from 1995 to 2000. The thesis will provide an overview and critical analysis of these phases in order to assess whether the emerging ecumenical paradigm of Christian mission as postulated by David Bosch is reflected in each of these phases. A literary review indicates that the missionary focus of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa does not reflect the emerging postmodern paradigm of working towards togetherness. Nor does it proclaim a vision of unity but shows a tendency towards denominational needs. It does not embrace a diversity thereby enriching its missionary focus to give substance to the emerging ecumenical paradigm but shows more divergence than integration. There is also clear evidence that it opted for a holistic rather than a pluralistic approach to defining its missionary focus.