The local congregation empowering the urban poor, with special reference to John Wesley's social ethics.
This thesis considers the rapidly growing problems of poverty and urbanisation, especially in the contemporary South African context. It suggests that Christian churches, especially those in the Wesleyan tradition, have a special contribution to make concerning poverty and urbanisation. John Wesley was at the centre of the Evangelical Revival in England in the eighteenth century as well as the emerging Methodist movement. Besides his roles of preaching and organising, he made significant advances in caring for the poor as well as changing attitudes towards the poor. There is an examination of Wesley's social ethics and how this resulted in empowering the poor. Case studies of three very different churches within the Wesleyan tradition are examined. One is in the inner city of Pietermaritzburg, one in an informal settlement near Johannesburg and one in a middle class suburb in Cape Town. The particular focus is on methods used by each to provide low cost housing in their communities. Theoretical models of urban mission for the church in the city are examined. The contemporary context and assumptions of poverty are analysed together with Wesley's social ethics, and his critique ofthe dangers of wealth and riches. The basic thesis ofthis study is that the Christian social ethics of Wesley are relevant and applicable in congregations with the will to empower the poor.