The Ministry of the Church in Supporting Bereaved Families: The Case of Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Kirinyaga, Kirinyaga County.
Wanjohi, Florence Njoki
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The study sought to establish the extent to which the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Kirinyaga supports bereaved families in grief resolution. This was based on the biblical teaching that obliges the Church to take care of the bereaved and to identify with their sorrows. It was guided by the following objectives: To explore the Agikuyu cultural practices on bereavement and their influence on the ACK Diocese of Kirinyaga, determine the support the diocese gives to bereaved families after burial, evaluate the challenges faced by the diocese in supporting bereaved families after burial and develop a strategy for a holistic ministry towards bereaved families. The study was guided by a conceptual framework of ideas borrowed from Kubler-Ross Stage Model, Worden‟s “Grief Task” theory of bereavement and biblical concepts on bereavement. Kubler-Ross Stage Model indicates that during the mourning process, mourners need the support of others to enable them to move from one stage to another in order to finally accept the impending death. Worden‟s theory postulates that grief is a process and not a state and that grief resolution consists of four overlapping tasks that must be accomplished before mourning is completed. There are biblical concepts that correspond to the two theories. The study also considered the Agikuyu cultural practices and rituals related to bereavement. The locale of the study was the Anglican Church of Kenya, Diocese of Kirinyaga. A Survey Design was employed. The sample comprised clergy, lay readers and local church council members because of the positions they hold in the church. In the sample too were members of bereaved families selected on the basis of gender, age and the length of time of bereavement. A total of 161 informants completed questionnaires. The instruments used to collect data were interview schedules, questionnaires and checklists for Focus Group Discussions. Data collected from primary and secondary sources was integrated. It was coded and arranged in themes and categories following the objectives, which also determined the organization of the chapters. Qualitative methods of data analysis were used where descriptions were used to interpret the trends that emerged from the data and conclusions made. The study found that there were some Agikuyu cultural practices on bereavement that seem to have influenced the ACK, Diocese of Kirinyaga in their effort to support bereaved families after burial. It also revealed that the support given to bereaved families was mainly up to the burial and that post-burial bereavement support was lacking. This in essence means that the church leaves the bereaved at a point where they have not fully resolved their grief. It was established that the church faced numerous challenges in supporting bereaved families after burial. The study recommends that the church offers post-burial bereavement support to help the bereaved to resolve their grief. To this end, the church should rewrite its policy on bereavement support clearly and concisely and make it mandatory for all parishes to implement it. It should also empower the church leaders to enable them to support the bereaved.