The Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection in Zambia: Perspectives of the Council of Churches in Zambia, Evangelical fellowship of Zambia Episcopal Conference

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Lungu, Kerita
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The objectives of the study were to: assess the effectiveness of the JCTR in the socio-economic and political life of Zambia; to assess the meaning of Theological reflection as conceived and practiced by JCTR; determine the relevance of the JCTR to Zambia and the local church; and estimate the cooperation between JCTR and Christian Church mother bodies. This study explored the perspectives of the Council of Churches of Zambia, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia and the Zambia Episcopal Conference on the work of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) in Zambia. A descriptive survey approach was used in conducting this study. The study mainly used qualitative methods of data collection. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Data was collected through semi-structured interview guides and focus group discussion guides to a sample of 18 members who were purposively sampled from the Council Churches in Zambia, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia and the Zambia Episcopal Conference on the activities of the JCTR in Zambia in Lusaka District. The study revealed that ZEC was of the view that JCTR was very effective as its policies were concerned with people’s welfare which tries to improve the status of human beings, including the spiritual and the physical aspects of human beings. It influences policy changes and public information and monitors the Basic Needs Basket (BNB). It also works with other organisations like Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The EFZ also shared the idea that JCTR was effective because it looked into the plight of the poor through the BNB which was published on a monthly basis and also helped in the formulation of public policy. The CCZ’s view was that the work of JCTR cannot be ignored as it was a well known organisation. It carries out a number of activities that promote and monitor issues of policies on peace and justice and indeed activities to safeguard human dignity. As regards relevance, the CCZ were of the view that the JCTR was relevant as it aimed at promoting an acculturated faith, gender equality and empowerment of the local communities in the work of justice, peace and the integrity of creation; provided checks and balances in the socio-political and economic life of Zambians; took care of a number of social issues such as poverty reduction programmes and therefore acted as a voice of the voiceless. The study revealed that EFZ was also of the view that the JCTR was relevant as it took care of issues that concerned the poor through the release of the BNB, which helped the government to see how it was fairing in its fight against poverty. The ZEC was also of the view that the JCTR was relevant as its activities were community based. It sensitizes people on a number of issues which included policy making processes, gender based violence, importance of part-taking in elections and dissemination of information to the society through publications on the many different topics. In terms of cooperation between the JCTR and Christian church mother bodies the study showed that CCZ were of the view that the JCTR should organise meetings with the other Christian church mother bodies where issues on economics, social and politics should be discussed. However, EFZ distanced itself from citing that JCTR was a Catholic organisation while they were an Evangelical organisation who enjoyed working independently unless need arose to correct some issues that needed their intervention. The study further showed that the ZEC were of the view that the cooperation would improve if meetings with the three Christian church mother bodies were increased to three or four times a year as it would give them more time to address issues concerning the social, political and economic situation in the country. The study made the following recommendations: Scholars in Religious studies should carry out further research to find out how Christian organisations work together in their quest for faith and Justice in Zambia. JCTR should increase its annual meetings to three or four times in a year with other FBOs. Catholics at grassroots must be involved in the distribution of the JCTR’s publications and JCTR offices must opened in other provincial towns of Zambia and finally the Bread Basket analysis should be published in all newspapers in the country.
Church management. , Church Organization , Jesuit Centre For Theological Reflection(JCTR)