Home based diakonia within the HIV and AIDS epidemic : towards an ecclesiology of grassroots care and identity affirmation

Snyman, Stephen (2012-12)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The HIV and AIDS epidemic has affected the whole South African society, including the church. The dilemma of adequate reaction to the effects of HIV andAIDS on the pastoral responsibilities of the church is posing serious questions to the church in South Africa as it deals with the care of those affected by the epidemic. The HIV and AIDS epidemic is challenging the church to re-investigate its own traditional way of help and support and to realise that the Christian faith community needs to be part of the team-approach in the fight against HIV and AIDS.A holistic approach to healing will lead us to a new and different understanding of the diakonia of the church (nuwe en anderverstaan van diakonaat). This study will investigate how care can be administered in such a way that it becomes meaningful to both the infected, affected and those involved in administering care. It will require an ecclesiology that is informed, formulated and structured from the bottom-up rather than the traditional top-down approach. It will be what we can call a ―base-community‖ ecclesiology. This thesis will therefore, in the light of the challenges that the HIV and AIDSepidemic presents, put forward an ecclesiology formulated on the ground, a grassroots ecclesiology other than the official or traditional formal ecclesiology: an ecclesiology not only directed towards the members of the specific church (membership diakonia), but an ecclesiology focused on the broader community in which the church is located: a communal diakonia. This thesis argues that in light of the HIV and AIDSepidemic, this is a wake-up call for a new ecclesiology that will lead to the kind of diaconate described above. A bold new manner of ecclesiological being/structure is required: a new openness, frankness, boldness (parrhēsia) in dealing with HIV and AIDS. This parrhēsiawill come from the empowered members of the church as they become the caregivers in the community. Home-based care as it is practised at present runs the risk of a one-sided approach with its main focus on the physical wellbeing of the person. An ecclesiology of grassroots care and identity-formation is needed to fill this void. The research investigates how a theology of affirmation can be integrated into the system/practice of home-based care to become a meaningful part of the help or assistance given to the individual and his/her household. Furthermore, the study explores how pastoral care and counselling to the HIV positive person and his/her household can be enriched through the application of a paradigm of praxis to the least in society in home-based diakonia by applying a theology of affirmation, so as to affirm and restore dignity, give meaning to life and the process of death and ultimately provide answers to the quest for identity and affirmation through an ecclesiology of grassroots care. This study is also a call for a paradigm shift with regard to ecclesiology and diakonia in the South African church that may have a profound effect on the church in South Africa. This shift must happen in three areas: 1. The church must become actively involved in home-based care as part of its ministry and calling to the world amidst the HIV and AIDSepidemic. The church can no longer be a bystander or advisor, or at best a supporter of government and civil actions. Every congregation needs to become active within the community they serve through joint/combined and innovative ways with other churches in their areas in establishing an ecclesiology of grassroots care. 2. The diakonia of the church must change. Every member must realise their full potential of utilising their Holy Spirit gifts and fruit in order to serve/minister in the Kingdom of God. Diakonia can no longer be the responsibility of a few ordained or commissioned for the diaconate. The whole church must become active in service to their community and those living around the church. The church needs to break the chains of membership-diakonia and open the arms of Christian love to everyone in need, even those who hates us. 3. Perhaps the biggest challenge is the call to change our way of being church in South Africa: our ecclesiology. We must admit that we have come to love the church more than we love God and that we forgot that God so loved the world not the church! This realisation will make it possible to become open to the proposal of this thesis: that we become church from the bottom up, that we start to practice a grassroots ecclesiology.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die MIV en VIGS epidemie het ʼn invloed op die ganse Suid Afrikaanse samelewing, insluitend die kerk. Die dilema van voldoende reaksie op die gevolge van MIV en VIGS op die pastorale verantwoordelikheid van die kerk stel enstige vrae aan die kerk in haar versorging van diegene wat deur die epidemie geaffekteer word. Die MIV en VIGS epidemie daag die kerk uit tot ʼn herondersoek van tradisionele maniere van hulpverlening en ondersteuning asook tot ʼn gewaarwording dat die Christelike geloofsgemeenskap deel moet vorm van ʼn span verband in die stryd teen MIV en VIGS. ʼn Holistiese benadering tot genesing sal lei tot ʼn nuwe en ander verstaan van diakonaat. Hierdie studie is dus ʼn ondersoek na hoe sorg op so ʼn wyse bedien kan word dat dit betekenisvol vir beide die geinfekteerde, ge-affekteerde en diegene betrokke in die hulpverlening kan wees. So ʼn benadering vereis ʼn ekklesiologie wat belig, geformuleer en gestruktureer word vanaf grondvlak in plaas van die tradisionele bo-na-onder benadering. Ons kan so ʼn benadering ʼn basis-gemeenskap (―base-community‖) ekklesiologie noem. Hierdie tesis sal dus, in die lig van die uitdagings wat die MIV en VIGS epidemie stel, ʼn ekklesiologie geformuleer op grondvlak (―a grassroots ecclesiology‖) anders as die amptelike of tradisioneel formele ekklesiologie aanbied: ʼn ekklesiologie wat nie slegs gerig is op lidmate van ʼn spesifieke kerk (lidmaatskap-diakonia) nie, maar ʼn ekklesiologie gefokus op die breë gemeenskap waarin die gemeente haarself bevind: ʼn gemeenskaps-diakonia. Die argument in die tesis is dat die MIV en VIGS epidemie ʼn wekroep is tot ʼn nuwe ekklesiologie wat mag lei tot die soort diakonia hierbo beskryf. ʼn Brawe, nuwe manier van ekklesiologie word dus vereis: ʼn nuwe openheid, waaragtigheid, moedigheid (parrhēsia) in die wyse waarop ons met MIV en VIGS omgaan. Hierdie parrhēsia sal tot stand kom deur die bemagtigde lede van die kerk soos wat hulle versorgers van die gemeenskap word. Tuisversorging soos wat dit tans bedryf word, loop die risiko van ʼn eensydige benadering wat hoofsaaklik konsentreer/fokus op die fisieke gesondheid van die persoon. Ons benodig n voetsoolvlak-ekklesiologie wat gerig is op identiteits-formering en –bevestiging om hierdie gaping te vul. Die navorsing ondersoek dus hoe ʼn teologie van bevestiging (theology of affirmation) geintegreer kan word in die sisteem of bedryf van tuisversorging om sodoende ʼn beduidende deel van die hulpverlening of bystand aan die individu en sy/haar huishouding uit te maak. Verder ondersoek die navorsing hoe pastorale sorg en berading aan die MIV en VIGS positiewe persoon en sy/haar huishouding verryk kan word deur die toepassing van ʼn paradigma van praksis (diakonia) aan die minste in die samelewing deur tuisversorging en die toepassing van ʼn teologie van bevestiging, sodat menswaardigheid opnuut bevestig of/en herstel kan word; die lewe en die proses van sterwe en dood betekenisvol kan wees, en daar uiteindelik antwoorde gevind kan word in die soeke na identiteits-bevestiging deur ʼn diakonia vanuit n ekklesiologie op voetsoolvlak. Die navorsing is ook ʼn oproep tot ʼn paradigma-skuif met betrekking tot ekklesiologie en diakonia in die Suid Afrikaanse kerk wat verreikende gevolge vir die kerk in Suid Afrika inhou. Hierdie skuif moet in drie areas plaasvind: 1. Die kerk moet aktief betrokke word in tuisversorging as deel van haar bediening en roeping in die wêreld temidde van die MIV en VIGS epidemie. Die kerk kan nie langer voortgaan om toeskouer of raadgewer, of ten beste ʼn ondersteuner van staats- en siviele aksies te wees nie. Elke gemeente moet aktief binne haar gemeenskap dien deur gesamentlike en innoverende aksies ten opsigte van versorging en hulpverlening met ander kerke in die selfde area/gebied sodat ʼn grondvlak ekklesiologie tot stand gebring word. 2. Die diakonia van die kerk moet verander. Elke lid moet sy/haar potensiaal besef en die gawes en vrug van die Heilige Gees aanwend in diens van die Koninkryk. Diakonia mag nie langer die verantwoordelikheid van ʼn paar bevestigdes of gekommandeerdes vir diakonie wees nie. Die hele kerk moet diensbaar word in die gemeenskap en diegene wat rondom die kerk bly. Die kerk moet dus die kettings van lidmaat-diakonia breek en hul arms van Christelike liefde oopmaak vir elke persoon in nood, selfs diegene wat ons haat. 3. Miskien is die grootste uitdaging die oproep om die wyse waarop ons kerk bedryf in Suid Afrika te verander: ons ekklesiologie. Ons sal moet erken dat ons die kerk meer lief het as vir God en dat ons vergeet het dat God die wêreld liefhet en nie net die kerk nie! Hierdie gewaarwording sal dit moontlik maak om onsself ontvanklik te kan maak vir die voorstel van die tesis: dat ons kerk word van die grond-af-op in plaas van kerk van-bo-af—dat ons begin om ʼn voetsoolvlak ekklesiologie in werking te stel.

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