Ministry on the frontlines: reflections on pastoral care in Africa
MetadataShow full item record
This essay attempts to reflect on how pastoral care is being practiced on the frontlines in Africa today. The basic question posed is: How is pastoral care in Africa being practiced? Stated differently, What is the common thread that defines pastoral care practice in Africa from both a the-oretical reflection perspective and from the perspective of the frontlines of ministry? An attempt to respond to the above questions attracts criticism for a number reasons. These include, firstly, the simplistic assumption of Africa as being homogenous whereas heterogeneity is the reality. Secondly, there is an apparent gulf between academic reflection and employed categories and images (e.g. in the writings of African theologians such as the late Bediako and others) and grassroots congregational ministry. Thirdly, there is diversity in pastoral care ministry practice across denominations, namely the traditional missionary started churches and the emerging African-founded churches with a largely Charismatic and Pentecostal outlook. Fourthly, there is significant diversity in pastoral care approaches among practitioners from different theological persuasions. And fifthly, there is the lack of a narrowed focus on the questions. Considering these challenges, it is important to state from the outset that my attempt to respond to the above questions is ambitious. However, my aim is to provide an overview and initiate a discussion of the current challenges in pastoral care in Africa. It furthermore aims to reveal some gaps worth pursuing by scholars in the discipline. In addition, it provides pointers for ministerial practice within the context of pastoral care diversity on the continent. In so doing, this paper opens the lid on some perspectives on how ministry on the frontlines, i.e. describe the way pastoral ministry among faith communities is being practiced.
- Faculty of Humanities