Pastoral ministry to single women in the Church of Christ in Nigeria, Gigiring Regional Church Council, Jos, Nigeria.
Beginning with the assumption that the church is a liberative space where everyone, single women in particular, can experience wholeness, this thesis investigates the extent to which the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) executes pastoral ministry to single women. The hypothesis of the study is that the concept of women in the COCIN, the COCIN’s pastoral training and its inability to appropriate the shepherding and facilitatory model of Jesus, have not enabled an effective pastoral ministry to single women. This thesis therefore proceeds to assess the COCIN’s theology of marriage and singleness, the role of women in the COCIN, marriage and family life in Jos today, the theological education and pastors’ training of the church and the execution of pastoral ministry to single women. This is to ascertain how these have impacted on the way the COCIN offers pastoral care to single women. This work is a combination of insights from social analyses, feminist cultural hermeneutics and feminist pastoral care and communal contextual pastoral care frameworks. While establishing that culture has had a strong influence on the pastoral ministry practice of the COCIN, methods were identified from the ideas generated by participants as well as relevant literature on the subject, that could be used for the execution of pastoral ministry to single women in the COCIN Regional Church Council, Gigiring, Jos. The data for the study was collected using in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and participant observation. Participants were categorised into church leaders, clergy, seminary lecturers, magistrates, adult children from divorced marriages and single,never married women and men and divorced women. The findings of the study indicate that with respect to ministry to single women, pastoral ministry in the COCIN has not been liberative, empowering and transformative. Most of the participants indicate that the lack of an effective pastoral ministry to single women is a result of inadequate preparation for dealing with gender complexities in the pastoral training of the church. Although the study has significant implications for the overall pastoral ministry of the church,the findings of this study highlight the necessity of a gender-inclusive pastoral ministry in the COCIN for single women and for the entire church. The study underscores the need for the COCIN to utilise the communal care practice characteristic of African culture for effective pastoral ministry to the different categories of people, particularly the single,never married and divorced women in its congregations.