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A critique of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe’s (ELCZ) engagement in local ecumenism among the Karanga of Mberengwa in Zimbabwe.

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Ecumenism is the fellowship of the denomination at any given level attending to their spiritual, social, economic and political needs. The church is an institution that affects people’s lives, its ministry and operations are also impacted by the culture of the local people. This study explores the missio-cultural factors influencing the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe’s (ELCZ) local ecumenical engagement among the Karanga in Mberengwa. The study seeks to find out the nature of local ecumenical activities and the impact of the missional and cultural factors in shaping local ecumenism in Mberengwa, Zimbabwe. While there are divisions due to the growth of many denominations in Mberengwa the study shows that there are various forms of ecumenical engagement taking place. Besides being shaped by missional factors such as evangelism and Diakonia, the cultural factors have greatly impacted the ELCZ’s local ecumenical engagement. The research notes that the culturally shaped ecumenism is not led by the clergy but is an accidental social space of interaction among denominations, either called by local community leaders or a response to natural phenomena such as attending funerals. The question of non-structured local ecumenical engagement is blamed on poor participation by the local ELCZ clergy in Mberengwa. The study argues that the Karanga concepts of ukama and communalism continue to help members of different denominations including the ELCZ to develop the habit of meeting and working together. The Karanga culture has provided a footing in shaping local ecumenism in Mberengwa. Among the benefits of local ecumenism are the promotion of community development and the unity of the churches and the local people in general that result in religious, social and political tolerance especially in an area known for political polarization and violence during times of elections in Zimbabwe. The study utilizes postocolonial theoretical framework. Postcolonial theory is important in this study as it unmasks the domination and power imbalance that negatively impede the ELCZ’s local ecumenical engagement. This phenomenological study uses qualitative methody with in-depth interviews conducted through snowball, purposive and convenience sampling methods.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg.