On a spiritual-cultural level, This aspect relates to the principle of unity. The respondents noted that the strengthening of families This was also related to the principle of self-determination. In this regard, Additionally, Educational programmes did not receive much attention, though skills development programmes An important aspect is that congregations encouraged and utilised members' access to resources Poverty reduction was also linked with services that address unemployment.
This will be described next. Services addressing unemployment. The findings Van der Westhuizen relate to Weyers' description of community development. The community is empowered to create employment and to ensure access to employment opportunities. This requires the development of skills and a self-help attitude. For this to happen, networks are needed, resources must be developed and mobilised, and leadership skills must be developed Bradshaw The respondents provided information that points to services that lead to empowerment of individuals.
Skills development was provided by a minority of congregations The development of entrepreneurial skills was addressed by The primary focus was on marketing of skills and products The empowerment-focused services were supplemented with emergency i. This included once-off support to pay rent or electricity Services addressing social injustice.
As mentioned previously, the recipients of services by the DRC represented both members of the participating congregations and members of the larger communities in which those congregations found themselves. The respondents' understanding of the term "social injustice" was not asked.
They were, however, provided with the following description of the term prior to completing the questionnaire: Social justice refers to providing all members of a community with humane treatment, access to services that are provided in a respectful manner and opportunities for development Ozoemena In addition, it requires a long-term commitment to identify ways to identify and combat existing social injustice practices Mische The link between poverty, unemployment and social injustice was explained above with reference to the theory of structural poverty Bradshaw, ; Loewen, Oezemena also links poverty and unemployment with social injustice.
This author explains that poverty alleviation needs to be focused on efforts to ensure employment opportunities for all.
If certain groups in a society are still excluded from opportunities to move out of poverty, the consequence is social injustice. However, poverty alleviation leads to social justice when marginalised groups are empowered and included not only in employment opportunities, but also in active participation in processes that affect them. The respondents indicated that services placed an emphasis on participatory processes rather than employment opportunities Van der Westhuizen A participatory process involves the general public in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services.
It includes transmitting information unidirectional , consultation bi-directional and active partnerships Slocum For the purpose of this article, it refers to the involvement of the recipients of services. Accordingly, social injustices were addressed by congregations through awareness programmes, mobilisation of communities and encouragement of active citizenship.
Awareness programmes were provided by This aspect was also related to the encouragement of active citizenship, as The respondents identified links with resources, the development of morality and the development of life skills as other aspects that received attention to address social injustices. Involvement in networks The development of moral values among congregational members received attention by The focus was on the provision of marital and child care information Life skills programmes by Perceived challenges in delivering of services.
The respondents identified lack of funds as an important factor impacting on congregations' ability to render services. This situation was further exacerbated by the reality of poverty in communities, which in turn affected the income of congregations. The respondents also reported that a lack of access to, and support from, governmental service providers was a frustration in providing services.
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According to respondents, this has a bearing on the issue of social justice, because this same lack of access was also experienced by community members Van der Westhuizen Another challenge identified concerned the generally advanced age of many congregational members. This impacted on the availability of human capacity in service delivery, while congregational members were often not willing to become involved in volunteer work.
In this regard respondents reported that specific social issues required special expertise. Substance abuse, teenage pregnancies and child neglect in the larger community were also viewed as issues where congregations needed to work in partnership with professionals to address the issues effectively.
The lack of access to, or availability of, a professional knowledge base to assist with services regarding these issues were noted as specific concerns. Lastly, respondents expressed concern regarding what they called the "receiving culture" among beneficiaries. Respondents explained this term as meaning that beneficiaries did not want to become involved with the planning and implementation of services. It, therefore, meant that services provided short-term relief, but did not lead to long-term change that addresses poverty in a sustainable manner.
Perceived successes in delivering of services. Respondents reported that where congregational members were willing to share resources, knowledge and skills, it became easier to provide services.
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Congregations experienced better successes once the attitudes of congregational members had changed. This relates to the focus on the development and encouragement of active citizenship Van der Westhuizen Such changed attitudes provided congregations with infrastructure, increased capacity and opportunities to find creative ways to plan and implement services. Furthermore, respondents noted the value of well-planned programmes and projects, and stressed the need for leaders with management skills.
Joint services with other service providers led to success, because of the sharing of resources, knowledge and skills. Becoming even more deeply and more effectively engaged: three areas of strategic concern. The findings described above highlight the fact that the DRC is indeed addressing the threefold challenge of poverty, unemployment and social injustice at congregational level in a meaningful way.
In what can be anticipated to be the DRC's own striving at congregational level to become even more deeply and more effectively engaged with these social challenges, the following recommendations are aimed at providing some guidelines towards this end.
In particular, the identification of structural poverty and the way it sustains the threefold challenge of poverty, unemployment and social injustice serves as a guide for what is being proposed. The focus is therefore on ensuring that the contribution of the church - in this case more specifically the contribution of congregations of the DRC - is aimed at reducing vulnerability resulting from a lack of assets, resources and opportunities, as well as on the ability to deal with the reality of social problems Richmond Recommendations focus on three areas of congregational engagement: the role of congregations in representing the "voices" of people; the focus of congregational services; and the empowerment of congregations.
Representing the "voices" of people. This area of congregational engagement is aimed at addressing structural poverty through a combination of at least three facets: the promotion of inclusive citizenship Department of Arts and Culture, ; processes in which the dignity of people is affirmed and defended Nordstokke ; and acknowledging that people are dependent on social structures that strive for changing the circumstances that sustain poverty Batista, ; Church of Norway ; Swart , ; Swart b Nyiawung explains that the concept of democracy must be conceptualised and implemented in practice, and that this should lead to a society where social justice is not only spoken about but also practised.
The church, specifically at congregational level, serves as a moral guide in this regard.
Gordon refers to an advocate role of the church in terms of three approaches, namely advocacy for, with and by the poor or those affected by a situation. The author emphasises the fact that the most sustainable form of advocacy is often that done by those who are directly affected by a situation, but that capacity building may be needed before this can happen. The church should furthermore make sure that it truly represents the "voices" of the people. This will then not only refer to the members of the congregation, but to all members of the community who are affected by the social issues addressed by the congregations.
To become an advocate towards this end and an agent of true empowerment would entail that the DRC should take new cognisance at congregational level of the importance of information and communication as vehicle for empowerment.
Poverty in Africa
Congregations, communities and the relevant governmental institutions should be informed about social issues and services that are provided especially at the local level e. Active communication between all the role-players should lead to a mutual understanding of the nature of partnerships, the focus of services provided by different role-players on grassroots level and the way that these services could complement each other to provide holistic support to communities.
The focus of services. As mentioned earlier, the focus of services can be divided into two categories, namely poverty alleviation and poverty reduction. In terms of poverty alleviation, as one mode of delivering services to address poverty, congregations should continue to render short-term emergency support to address basic human needs i. Yet, they should importantly also engage in network and partnership formation to ensure a fairer distribution of resources, knowledge and skills.
Swart a agrees that networks and partnerships between different sectors to address social issues are important. However, he also argues that an emphasis on the importance of networks and partnerships often leads to a preoccupation with the formation of networks and partnerships at the expense of a more concentrated focus on the actual issues that should be addressed and the activities of implementation that should emanate from such a focus cf.
Swart, a In other words, if networks and partnerships do not lead those involved in addressing the expressed needs of the people on grassroots level as the primary focus, social injustices are maintained instead of being dealt with. Therefore, services should be planned and implemented based on a clear analysis of the context. A conscious decision and plan of action is needed to stimulate participatory practices.
Considering that beneficiaries of services are often not willing or motivated to participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of services, Slocum postulates that this aspect should be seen as a long-term process. Sharing information regarding the reasons for involvement, the specific nature of the involvement and the advantages of involvement should form key to the process of including beneficiaries in the different processes. Beneficiaries should be educated and encouraged to take ownership of these services, as the long-term aim should be to develop a self-help culture.
Not least, however, prevention of poverty and poverty reduction should focus on the active practising of Christian values and principles. On a congregational level, members should be encouraged to become involved based on a specific belief system. Beyers , in support of this perspective, refers to poverty as a human condition whereby religion and its institutions have the potential to make a unique contribution to address poverty through three interrelated functions: firstly, by going beyond material concerns to focus on the spiritual dimension of human well-being; secondly, by teaching particular ethical values that would lead to more appropriate responses towards addressing poverty; and, thirdly, by playing an active role in alleviating poverty through appropriate action.
Indeed, collective work and involvement in community issues should ensure that people become involved in their own futures. The aim is to promote empowered citizenship Department of Arts and Culture, And it is with this in mind that the utilisation of networks and the use of collective knowledge and skills should focus on life skills, employment opportunities and income-generating programmes.
The aim should be to create opportunities where human potential can develop and where people become involved in finding solutions for their own and societal problems. Emphasis should be placed on building self-assurance, developing self-respect and taking ownership of problem-solving initiatives, which in turn should entail that local people the beneficiaries of services and actions be encouraged to become involved in the planning and development of actions, network initiatives with other organisations who are involved in the same social issues, identification and utilisation of available assets in the community, and celebration of small successes with all the parties involved Cavaye Ultimately, the final outcome should be that the actual implementation of programmes leads to the empowerment and independence of people on the ground Swart, a Empowerment of congregations.
In order for members of congregations to become active citizens, they should be empowered through sustainable networks, opportunities to develop knowledge and skills to attend to real and felt needs, and sufficient communication and information to develop a clear vision of their congregations' role in the community where they are situated. Furthermore, the necessary leadership skills should be developed to ensure that leaders are equipped to lead congregations and communities towards sustainable community development.
In this process congregational members should also be provided with training opportunities to become equipped with knowledge and skills to address specific social issues in very specific contexts. Weyers , in a helpful way, identifies the following domains that should be the focus of empowering individuals, groups and communities: emotional e.
Based on this identification, Weyers furthermore proposes various creative ways to create learning opportunities, such as workshops, participatory theatre and art, and informal and formal training.
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In summary, empowering congregations should strive to assist members to become active citizens, who are empowered through inclusion in the relevant processes and who have access to opportunities Department of Arts and Culture, A further outcome should be that the dignity of all people should be affirmed and defended, and that people will work in solidarity towards a healthy society Nordstokke The above recommendations are supported by perspectives from the existing literature in that they plead for the development of positive and constructive relationships and partnerships, and for stressing the importance of including beneficiaries cf.
In summary, it is recommended that the DRC's congregational role in contexts of poverty, unemployment and social injustice be based on advocating and implementing strategies that promote human dignity. This should lead to opportunities and a space where people could develop and participate in mutually beneficial ways. Two key aspects should receive attention, namely partnerships and the encouragement of participation by beneficiaries cf. Nordstokke The participation of the beneficiaries should be aimed at empowering them to become involved in the improvement of their lives, and could be viewed as one way to address dependency on formal structures e.
As mentioned before, the DRC was an active partner of the previous South African government and social services by the DRC were delivered within the framework of the legislation and policy documents regulated under the apartheid dispensation.