African spirituality and methodism : a survey of Black members of the Thaba-Nchu Methodist Church.
The Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) has been plagued by a number of problems. One of this problems has been the breakaway of some of its members. Some of these members have joined other churches (Mainstream and African Indigenous Churches) and others have founded their own churches. One of the major reasons for the breakaways is what I have framed lack of "African Spirituality" in the MCSA. By "African Spirituality" I imply that the African way of life does not distinguish between sacred and secular. African spirituality includes the following component elements: Belief in one God, belief in Divinities, Believe in spirits, veneration of ancestors and practice of medicine. My research in the Thaba-Nchu area confirmed the existence of this problem in the Thaba-Nchu Methodist church. There were three categories of respondents in this research: those who left the church are: those who live between two worlds (belonging to the MCSA and attending services in the African Indigenous Churches at the same time); and those who have single membership. The first two categories, unanimously agreed that the lack African spirituality and that is why they left the church or have dual membership. Ways of addressing this problem, i.e., to remedy the situation, have been suggested by the respondents, some scholars and leaders of the MCSA. These suggestions include the following: (i) singing: use of drums, clapping of hands, etc. (ii) special Sundays for prayers of healing: the church is to use people who are gifted in this, e.g. diviners, sangomas and barapelli. (iii) symbolic things like water to be used. It is hoped that if these suggestions were implemented, the problem would be addressed and the breakaways would stop or slow down and those who have dual membership would be satisfied to stick to the Thaba-Nchu Methodist Church alone. To implement these suggestions, the "top down" communication strategy adopted by the MCSA's leadership on this and other problems has to be revised, the language used must be understandable to the ordinary people (the grassroots or the marginalised) and the material must be easily accessible to them.