Interdependence, responsibility and partnership : a German perspective on the Northern Local Church in her international context

by Jörg Schmidt

Institution: University of South Africa
Year: 1997
Keywords: Interdependence; Responsibility; Partnership; Systemic postmodern paradigm; Prophetic Mission; Signs of the times; Development; Marshall Plan; Globalisation; Cross-fertilisation
Record ID: 1412580
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10500/17678


This thesis is an attempt to investigate how local churches (re)define their international orientation in response to the shockwaves of globalisation and their interpretation of the signs of the times. The analysis is guided by the key dimensions of interdependence, responsibility, and partnership. The local church is expected to have reached an increasing awareness of interdependence in her international relationships by the emergence of the postmodern systemic paradigm as never before in the history of the ecumenical movement. Consequently, this results in a sense of responsibility developing directly from a prophetic reading and an interpretation of the signs of the times as well as in a receptivity to be fertilised by international impulses. The local church is perceived by both individual Christians and pastors as direct platform for international responsibility. The wounds of the world, the needy and the suffering are suggested as inviting primary responses of local churches in the North. International church partnerships are investigated as practical attempts to live out interdependent relationships, to translate the sense of responsibility into action, and to receive fertilisation from the partner churches. Qualitative case studies from Reformed, United (Lutheran/Reformed) and Free churches present a status analysis of churches regarding the points under discussion. The tendency is observed that pastors inc~easingly look for ways alternative to the old ecumenical structures, which are characterised by rich/poor and donor/recipient relationships, thus operating their churches with free initiative and association. Studies regularly narrow down topics to interdependence, postmodernism, development, development politics, church development services, international partnerships, ecumenical learning, etc. Often recommendations for action are made based on the one single area of research presented. In this study, however, it is argued that pastors and churches do not derive their decisions and programmes from considerations of one single area, but they consider all these areas together.