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A critical rereading of Zephaniah 3:1-7 as an inspiration for a leadership of liberation within the MCSA.

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This dissertation explores a leadership model which is potentially liberating for followers on a socio-economic level, specifically within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA). The study uses the tri-polar model of exegesis as a theoretical framework to facilitate a critical rereading of Zephaniah 3:1-7 through the lens of a liberation hermeneutic with a socio-economic focus. The ideo-theological lens employed involves exploring how we say to the poor, the least of society, that God loves them. A liberation hermeneutic is an approach that seeks to link theory and praxis to liberate the oppressed. This dissertation explores Methodism's British and South African roots and the MCSA's structures. Five areas of socio-economic oppression within the MCSA are identified. These are stipends being a site of socio-economic oppression, a preferential option for the rich, avoiding others’ suffering, the shackles of property ownership, and the allure of the prosperity Gospel. Through rereading Zephaniah 3:1-7, six insights about the oppressive nature of the late pre-exilic Judahite leadership are identified. These are that 1) the entire leadership structure was oppressive; 2) they refused to practice accountability; 3) they devoured resources; 4) they had no respect for the law or for what is just, reasonable, or right; and 5) Yahweh continues to transform and liberate; therefore, the oppressive late pre-exilic Judahite leadership came up against Yahweh's justice and judgment and became the victims of revolution. Finally, a leadership of liberation is defined as a leadership that has the ultimate goal of liberating and transforming followers to realise their full humanity through motivating, inspiring, and encouraging followers. They aim to create paradigm shifts by influencing followers to embrace shared values, beliefs, and goals to pursue the greater good or higher social dividend. Liberation leaders show empathy for their followers and are considerate of the individual and community. They focus on values, morals, and ethical leadership. Liberation leaders oppose the oppressive status quo through being effective, efficient, focusing on change, being proactive, and embracing accountability to others and God. They serve followers by elevating them through involving and empowering them


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.