On being the 'salt of the earth' : a case study of the United Church of Christ as a community asset in Chipinge, Zimbabwe.
The research investigates whether it is appropriate, practically and theologically, to think of the United Church of Christ in Chipinge, Zimbabwe as a community as set in the struggle against poverty. A number of key questions were asked and explored concerning the context of poverty in Chipinge, the theological grounds for understanding itself as a community asset in the struggle against poverty in Chipinge, and whether the 'asset portfolio' can actually contribute to the eradication of poverty. The thesis is rooted in a contemporary development approach known as Asset Based Community Development which argues that sustainable community life is built on what exists in a community rather than what is lacking. The theory and its relevance are explored in the thesis. Further, drawing on contemporary thinking about missiology and ecclesiology, the thesis argues whether the Church should understand itself as a 'community asset'. This leads to the use of the metaphor taken from Matthew 5: 13, where the people of God are called to be ' the salt of the earth' who would draw others together into a living relationship with God. It is argued that being the salt of the earth requires the Church to take faith into action through utilizing the God given gifts which are available in the Church and Chipinge community. Through a key informant survey of the pastors from seventeen UCC Churches in Chipinge. the thesis demonstrates that the United Church of Christ (UCC) in Chipinge, Zimbabwe, has a range of assets, or what we could call an "asset portfolio" which can and should contribute to the struggle against poverty in the region.
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