Pastoral care and counselling to parishioners under church discipline : with special reference to the north western diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.
Kabigumila, Simeon Kajelero.
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This study focuses on the issue of Pastoral Care and Counselling to the parishioners under Church discipline in the North Western Diocese (NWD) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). The dissertation is concerned with the understanding of Church discipline in the Old Testament, New Testament, from the Early Church up to the present day. The study focuses especially on the history and the practice of Church discipline in the North Western Diocese. The main body of this study is in chapters four and five. Chapter four discusses the danger and the blessings for a parishioner who is under Church discipline. Chapter five discusses the avenues by which to care for and counsel parishioners who are under Church discipline. It is the writer's understanding that the methodology used on how to care for and counsel parishioners under Church discipline can be applied to all parishioners in the Diocese. It is the emphasis of the researcher of this dissertation that there is inadequate care of souls due to lack of training and discipline in the Church. We need discipline in order to challenge our defense patterns of behaviour in the understanding ourselves and others and in knowing and learning to be responsible Christian people. The study calls the Church of the North Western Diocese to rethink the whole issue of how to practise Church discipline in such a way that parishioners are not judged, but comforted by caring and counselling. It is the writer's understanding that the Church has kept discipline because it maintains that God's grace is not cheap. Grace is not a licence to sin. The true aim of Church discipline is to help the sinner to restore his or her relationship 11 with Christ and the Church. To do this, parishioners under Church discipline are urged to repent of their sin and live in fellowship with God. If parishioners under Church discipline refuse to repent they have to carry the fate for their sin. There is no mercy without repentance. It is the writer's belief that the healthy practice of pastoral care and counselling in the North Western Diocese will depend upon the regaining of a balance and the interaction between healing, sustaining, guiding and reconciling models. Through this understanding, pastoral care becomes a Christian response to humanity's need. Therefore one can conclude that pastoral care and counselling can balance and heal the effect of Church discipline. Although this study focuses on the North Western Diocese (NWD), the questions and problems concerning the issue of Church discipline and the way to approach it might be similar in many Churches in Tanzania and also in Africa. Unless otherwise indicated, scriptural quotations are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW REVISED STANDARD VERSION (NRSV), copyright @ 1989 by the Division of Christians Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.