Project Documents

Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

James J. North, Jr.

Second Advisor

Peter van Bemmelen

Third Advisor

Russell Staples

Abstract

The Problem

Zimbabwe faces a predicament in which the mortality rate is rising while support for grieving people is declining. At the same time the Zimbabwean culture is rapidly changing because o f the impact of Christianity, urbanization, Western influences, and HIV/AIDS. Church leaders are not always in agreement on what rites are appropriate for Christians. These factors often result in inadequate support from the extended family, the community, and the church.

Method

This dissertation discusses the challenges that confront the Seventh-day Adventist church in Zimbabwe in ministering to the bereaved. My purpose was to design a training program for pastors in Zimbabwe to deal with grieving members in a culturally appropriate manner. G rief is normal, and the Bible recognizes it as a legitimate reaction to bereavement. In writing this dissertation I consulted literature on grief as well as on the culture o f Zimbabwe. I also relied on my knowledge of the culture of Zimbabwe, which I corroborated by interviewing other Zimbabweans. I has designed a pastoral training program for grief ministry in Zimbabwe.

Conclusions

Grief ministry in Zimbabwe is a priority for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. An effective grief ministry will recognize the value of modem research as well as the traditional support systems. It is necessary to study the findings of social sciences and to apply them in ways that are culturally appropriate. It is also necessary to avoid the temptation to condemn cultural rites without studying their significance and possible benefits to the adherents. Because cultural changes cannot be held back, it is necessary to adopt new ways to minister to people when traditional practices are discarded. Because o f the enormity of the task, grief ministry in Zimbabwe will need to be the responsibility o f the congregation, rather than the pastor’s alone. I, therefore, see the adoption o f support groups as a viable approach to grief ministry. This approach is not only efficient to bring comfort to the newly bereaved people, but it also provides an appropriate opportunity for ministry to those who have resolved their grief.

Subject Area

Seventh-day Adventists--Clergy--Zimbabwe; Grief therapy; Church work with the bereaved

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