The church of Christ in Congo and sustainable peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo Kivu provinces 1996-2016.
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The objective of this thesis was to determine how the Church of Christ in Congo (CCC) is able to become a resource in re-building sustainable peace in the Kivu provinces using non-violent methods. The study rests on the idea that the CCC as a key stakeholder in the processes of all-inclusive peacebuilding in the regions. This qualitative study relied on existing literature to explore ways in which the Church of Christ in Congo has contributed to maintaining peace in the Kivu provinces of the DRC. Therefore, the key research question for this thesis was: How can the church of Christ in Congo, contribute to addressing the perpetuating conflict in DRC in its quest for sustainable peace in the Kivu provinces? While most researchers consider the Peace and Reconciliation programme to be aimed at the deportation of non-Congolese immigrants back into their respective countries of origins; and the bringing together of conflicting parties for dialogue as key elements for peacebuilding in the religion, this study specifically examines the role of the Churches in shaping sustainable peace in war-torn provinces of the DRC. The study examines the Church of Christ in Congo (CCC) also known in French as “Église du Christ au Congo (ECC)”, in its efforts to support the Peace and Reconciliation programme, through the use of its member churches across the country. This study, takes as a hypothesis, that peacebuilding successful in troubled areas depends on engaging existing local structures effectively, such as the Church networks – due to their being closer to the grassroots and this makes them influential. Through the use of conflict transformation theory, the study will attempt to show that the CCC has contributed to settlement efforts using practical means and non-violent approaches. The nature of the research required that a mixed method is employed; hence I combined phenomenological, autobiographical and explanatory methods. This allowed me to combine popular narratives shared among the displaced people of Kivu, with media and scholarly accounts to weave together narratives and stories as suggested by Mishler (1995). The initial methodological ambition was to draw on accounts of those church leaders and members who survived the conflicts because there are no official accounts of the church’s involvement in peacebuilding. Due to ongoing conflict in the region and because my own resources to travel to the region was limited, I relied on written materials provided in from churches in the region. These arrived in fragments, provided by my own contacts as well as by members of the diaspora and it informed my explanatory methodology. For the rest, I relied on variously published accounts as well as irregular reports from humanitarian agencies and member churches to construct a social history of the church’s role in building sustainable peace The research further argued that when addressing peacebuilding and reconciliation it is important to take into account the role that civil society is able to play in this kind of activity. The study sought engagement with influential civil society as well as grassroots level activists produces constructive results. The study similarly drew on the theory of conflict transformation for non-violent approaches for the transformation of violence into cultures of peace. The study examines the efforts of the Church of Christ in Congo in their various attempts to promote sustainable peace, through religious mediation, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This I believe will bring about sustainable peace in the Kivu Provinces. Peacebuilding is a central church activity that is concerned with the well-being of the entire community. The outcome of this study discloses that by drawing on the views of scholars, civil society activists, religious leaders as well as members of the diaspora, on the matter of Kivu conflict and sustainable peace is possible. Engaging all these stakeholders in the DRC, including the Church of Christ in Congo can possibly achieve its aspiration of de-escalation of the war, stop the of militias into the region and reconstruct flourishing communities. The study hence argued that an end to the war in the Kivu Provinces may be one approach of promoting sustainable peace and opening the economic interests of the investors. Lastly, a paradigm shift is needed in the conceptualization of what constitutes conflict transformation, more so peacebuilding interventions. This includes new theoretical thinking based on gaining vital views, insights, and perspectives from non-state actors such as the Church of Christ in Congo. The study found that where faith communities participate in peacebuilding efforts, whether only the Church of Christ in Congo or including other churches and organizations in the region, chances for social and political transformation in respect of peacebuilding in the Kivu Provinces in significantly increased.