Forms of ministry that can offer good news, and inspire commitment and moral leadership in post-apartheid South Africa among students at the University of Natal (Pietermaritzburg).
Deeb, Michael Christopher.
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This study in Practical Theology has been motivated by a concern that, in post-apartheid South Africa, it has become more difficult for yoling people in general, and university students in particular to have a vision for, and hope in the future, and hence to demonstrate commitment to working for a new world. It therefore seeks to identify ways in which such commitment and leadership can be nurtured, by engaging in a critical reflection on ministry to university students. This is done through the use of the critical hermeneutical method of correlation between the Christian tradition and human life experience as employed by Don S. Browning, lames and Evelyn Whitehead, and Stuart Bate. This involves beginning with concrete practice, going to theory, and then concluding with practice, in an ongoing hermeneutical circle. A case study is presented of the Association of Catholic Tertiary Students (ACTS) at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg (UNP), and an analysis of their situation is undertaken, using two mediations. A psychological mediation identifies the psychological structures to which university students are capable of evolving at their stage of development, which is characterised by relativism and probing commitment. A socio-cultural mediation explores the roots of the loss of a sense of commmunity, and the growth in a spirit of individualism that epitomise the central issues within the UNP ACTS group. These roots are identified in the globalisation that is taking place at an economic, social and cultural level, resulting in relativisation, rationalisation, and personalisation in all dimensions of life. This gives rise to increasing competition, individualism and cultural dislocation, which are particularly evident since the demise of apartheid and the international integration of South Africa, coupled with the collapse of many of the hopes generated in the struggle against apartheid. A theological judgement of the ministry being employed within ACTS is then made, which points to the forms of ministry which could offer good news, evoke deeper commitment, and build stronger moral leadership amongst the students. The priority emerging is to foster selfesteem amongst them, primarily through building a joyful, accepting community with a small group pedagogy so that they can discover liberating message of the gospel in their quest for God, for survival in a hostile world, and for personal intimacy and acceptance. Such empowerment, it is suggested, makes deeper commitment possible.
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