Project Documents

Date of Award

1989

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Russell L. Staples

Second Advisor

Gottfried Oosterwal

Third Advisor

Douglas R. Kilcher

Abstract

Religious ferment in the Kasai Province of Zaire in the decades preceding and following independence gave rise to a number of independent religious movements, some of which were overtly political. In an effort to control these movements, the Zairian government passed a law in 1971 which restricted the religious practice of these independent groups. As a direct result of these legal disabilities, a considerable number of independent movements in the Kasai sought affiliation with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This study surveys the history of the relationships between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the above independent churches from 1972 to 1985 and attempts to analyze both the successes and the failures of the SDA Church in its efforts to accommodate, incorporate and institutionalize them.

This study is motivated by a concern to document the experience of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with the independent churches in the Kasai. As such it is an historical study which seeks to survey what happened in a broad sweep in chronological succession. The data is drawn largely from sources within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The data includes: articles published in denominational papers, correspondence between Church officials and the parties involved in the Kasai experience, statistical records, and two sets of questionnaires. Personal interviews were conducted with members of the Kasai expatriate missionary and Zairian pastoral staffs.

It is concluded that the Adventist Church did not maximize the possibilities of incorporating into its membership those independent churches wnich requested affiliation. This was largely due to a lack of adequate understanding of the independent churches, an unrealistic evaluation of the dynamics involved, the failure to adequately accommodate styles of worship and leadership, lack of continuity in leadership and strategy, and the general unpreparedness of the Church to cope logistically with the situation.

The utility of the study lies in the idea that this analysis of the Kasai movement should provide a basis for some understanding of similar movements, and should help to equip the Church with ways of working with them.

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