Towards an assessment of fresh expressions of Church in ACSA (the Anglican Church of Southern Africa) through an ethnographic study of the community supper at St Peter's Church Mowbray, Cape Town

Aldous, Benjamin James (2019-04)

Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Theology. Dept. of Practical Theology and Missiology.

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Fresh Expressions of Church is a growing mission shaped response to the decline of mainline churches in the West. Academic reflection on the Fresh Expressions movement in the UK and the global North has begun to flourish. No such reflection, of any scope, exists in the South African context. This research asks if the Fresh Expressions of Church movement is an appropriate response to decline and church planting initiatives in the Anglican Church in South Africa. It also seeks to ask what an authentic contextual Fresh Expression of Church might look like. Are existing Fresh Expression of Church authentic responses to church planting in a postcolonial and post-Apartheid terrain? Following the work of the ecclesiology and ethnography network the author presents an ethnographic study of The Community Supper at St Peter’s Mowbray, Cape Town. The author undertook in depth, immersive observation and semi structured interviews in order to seek out the lived, concrete and messy experiences of a Fresh Expressions of Church in its 7th year of existence. In this data collection process the idea was to uncover and unearth the experiences of the community growing out of ecclesial liminality into something more mature and sustainable. The results reveal a community living with a sense of ecclesial ‘grace’. The work traces the organic development of the Supper in relation to the questions about Anglican ecclesiology. This ecclesial ‘grace’ allows for a diverse body of people to gather together once a week and eat a meal followed by a simple eucharist. The results reveal a community practicing being human together, corroding the toxic divides of Apartheid and genuinely performing the faith free from religious acquiescence. The results also reveal, at times, the power of eating together, sharing a meal and being a place of welcome and hospitality. This work potentially opens up questions about the way the Anglican Church in South Africa can respond to haemorrhaging decline in many of its urban centres by starting new contextual churches through the process of listening, serving and growing disciples who help shape liturgy and church structure from ‘below’.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die beweging bekend as “Fresh Expressions of Church” (FEoC), wat mens sou kon vertaal met vars uitdrukkings van Kerk-wees, is ‘n groeiende sending geïnformeerde benadering en is ‘n reaksie op die afname van getalle in die hoofstroomkerke van die Weste. Akademies refleksie op die FEoCbeweging in die Verenigde Koninkryke en die globale Noorde het begin om te floreer. Baie min van hierdie refleksie van enige aard in verband met die beweging, bestaan binne die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Hierdie navorsing vra die vraag of die FEoC-beweging ‘n gepaste reaksie is op die afname van getalle en ook of dit die gepaste reaksie op die kerkplanting inisiatiewe van die Anglikaanse Kerk in Suid-Afrika kan wees? Daar word ook gevra hoe behoort ‘n vars kontekstuele uitdrukking van kerk daar uit te sien? In navolging van die werk van die ekklesiologie en etnografiese netwerk bied die navorser ‘n etnografiese studie van die “Community Supper” wat ‘n vars uitdrukking van kerk-wees van die St Peter’s Mowbray-gemeente in Kaapstad verteenwoordig. Die navorser het ‘n in diepte ondersoek van die gemeenskap gedoen deur deelnemde observasie en semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude om te probeer agterkom wat die geleefde en konkrete alledaagse ervarings van hierdie vars uitdrukking van kerk-wees is, nadat al reeds sewe jaar bestaan. In die data-versamelingsproses was die gedagte om die ervarings van die Community Supper-gemeenskap oop te maak en te begryp. Hierdie gemeenskap het as ‘n kerklik gemarginaliseerde gemeenskap gegroei na ‘n volwasse en volhoubare gemeeskap. Die resultate het ‘n gemeenskap openbaar wat met ‘n vorm van “kerklike genade” leef. Die navorsing stippel die organiese ontwikkeling van die “Community Supper” uit in verhouding met ‘n aantal vrae wat oor Anglikaanse ekklesiologie gevra word. Die “kerklike genade” laat ruimte vir ‘n diverse liggaam van mense wat een keer ‘n week bymekaar kom en wat gewoonlik ‘n eenvoudige bediening van die nagmaal insluit. Die resultate openbaar verder ‘n gemeenskap wat hulle inoefen in wat die beteken om mens te wees deur die toksiese Apartheids-verlede te dekonstrueer en geloof outentiek opvoer deur godsdienstige toegewendheid. Die resultate openbaar ook die krag wat daarin bestaan om saam te eet, ‘n maaltyd te deel en om ‘n plek vol gasvryheid te wees. Die werk open verder ‘n aantal vrae oor hoe die Anglikaanse Kerk in Suid-Afrika op die skerp afname in getalle in baie van die stedelike sentrums kan reageer deur nuwe kontekstuele kerke te begin? Laasgenoemde kan volgens die navorser geskied deur nuwe kontekstuele kerke te begin deur prosesse van luister, diens en groeiende dissipelskap wat help vorm gee aan liturgie en kerklike strukture wat “van onder” opgebou word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106062
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