Church and poverty : towards a prophetic solidarity model for the United Church of Zambia's participation in poverty eradication in Zambia.
Simukonda, Joseph Darius.
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Religion is one of the forces that is strategically positioned in society to contribute to the socioeconomic development. Both secular and religious organisations are unanimous that religion should be a critical partner in the development agenda. This study systematically explores how prophetic solidarity model could help the UCZ to move from merely participating in poverty eradication to become the church of the margins in search for a poverty free society. The study argues that, prophetic solidarity model may help the UCZ to understand that poverty eradication is an aspect of the mission of God in the world and any Church that claim to be an agent of mission can only do so in solidarity with the margins. This means that the UCZ should move beyond bandage approach to poverty to understanding the key underlying causes of poverty through social analysis and critical policy engagement. This demands that the UCZ should reconceptualise God’s mission in terms of transforming political structures and policy transformation in solidarity with the poor. This will mean that the UCZ will no longer claim to be listening to the voices of the margins, since she will now function as the church of the marginalised in struggle and in solidarity with the margins against socioeconomic and political oppression and exploitation in the Zambian context. In order to enhance the prophetic solidarity engagement of the UCZ in the context of socioeconomic and political uncertainty, this study delved into David Korten’s theory of development that seeks to address poverty by dealing with the root cause of poverty; liberation theology that calls the church to be involved in political and civic affairs of society by exposing any form of exploitation and injustices; the theory of mission from the margins that seeks to empower the poor so that they can become agents of transformation; public theology that seeks the presence of the church in public space to engage in policy formulation and many others issues that boarder on the well-being of God’s people; and lastly, in chapter seven, the study reflected on Jesus as a model for prophetic engagement where it has been revealed that, Jesus stands out as an example for the church’s prophetic engagement with poverty, for he was not just a religious leader but also a political activist who confronted structures, institutions, authorities and systems that oppressed the poor.