Original Research

African-initiated churches and environmental care in Limpopo, South Africa: A missional enquiry

Kasebwe T.L. Kabongo, Juliane Stork
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 43, No 1 | a2636 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v43i1.2636 | © 2022 Kasebwe T.L. Kabongo, Juliane Stork | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 July 2022 | Published: 14 December 2022

About the author(s)

Kasebwe T.L. Kabongo, Department of Religion Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Juliane Stork, Research Programme on Religious Communities and Sustainable Development, Faculty of Theology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany; and Department of Systematic and Historical Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Climate change in South Africa is increasingly threatening the most vulnerable populations in rural areas of the country, such as the Limpopo province. Religious communities could be important actors in South Africa, and their role in sustainable development could be critical. Research on the capacities of religious communities for climate change adaptation is vital for reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 13, 14 and 15. This article drew on empirical research focusing on adaptive practices to climate change. It asked the following question: how do African Independent and Pentecostal churches located in the province of Limpopo relate to climate change in their communal and individual activities? To answer this question, qualitative semistructured individual interviews, group interviews and results from focus groups were used for data collection. The research learned that eco-theology is not the most prominent topic in the majority of the participants’ congregations and their communal activities. However, all the participants had noticed the effects of climate change in their immediate surroundings. As a consequence, these individuals took care of their surrounding environments. Focus groups were formed with the hope of consolidating individual efforts into a collective toolkit. This article concluded that the majority of the research participants are not knowledgeable about climate change as a concept. However, they are cognisant of the impact climate change has on them.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article was practical theology research. It was strengthened by research findings from agricultural sciences, ecology, development sciences, missiology and intercultural theology to propose an eco-theology from below based on individual adaptive measures to climate change.


Keywords

adaptive practices; AIC; climate change; eco-theology; collective toolkit; religious communities.

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