Original Research

God's Makwerekwere: Re-imagining the church in the context of migration and xenophobia

David N. Field
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1676 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1676 | © 2017 David N. Field | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 August 2016 | Published: 22 February 2017

About the author(s)

David N. Field, Methodist e-Academy, Basel, Switzerland; Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa


Mass migration and accompanying xenophobia are characteristics of the early 21st century and as such challenge the church to reimagine its identity. This article analyses migration and xenophobia particularly as they impact South Africa and then proposes the model of the church as God’s Makwerekwere as an appropriate response. In doing so, it examines New Testament images of the church and argues that the church as God’s Makwerekwere is a community in solidarity with the excluded, a community of affirmation of the excluded, a community of reconciliation and a transnational community.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article challenges the traditional discourse used in ecclesiology by proposing the image of the church as God’s Makwerekwere. It roots this proposal in considerations from migration studies and New Testament studies. The aim is to re-imagining the church as a contribution to a transforming ecclesial praxis.


migration; xenophobia; ecclesiology


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