Christian Response to the Phenomenon of Single-Parenthood in Nairobi Kahindi,
This study investigated the Christian response to single-parenthood in selected churches in Nairobi County. Specifically, the study analyzed the causes of single-parenthood and their socio-religious implications. It also evaluated the doctrine and social teaching of the church on inclusivity. The study further examined the role of the church as a potential network of support for Christian single-parents. Finally, it explored the possibilities of Christian single-parents acceptance in the church. The study employed a descriptive research design. Data were collected from seven selected parishes, namely, St. Paul’s Catholic Chaplaincy and Parish, PCEA St. Andrew’s Parish, All Saints’ Cathedral, St. Theresa’s in Eastleigh, Embulbul Parish, Madre Teresa in Zimmerman and ACK, St. Gertrude’s in Kasarani. Questionnaires, oral interviews (OI), focus group discussion (FGD) and in-depth interviews (IDI) were used to collect the primary data. Secondary data were obtained from library research. In each of the selected congregations, the target population were all single-mothers. In addition, two pastors and ten leaders were interviewed in each congregation. The sample size in each of the selected churches comprised 50 single-mothers, two pastors and ten leaders. The FGD had 13, 12 and 14 participants in the three selected congregations. The IDI were conducted with three participants separately. The total sample size for this study was 476 persons. The study applied simple random and purposive random sampling methods. The data were collected, analyzed, interpreted and discussed in the light of a merged conception framework, informed by Goode (2000), Young (1994) and Waiyaki (1985). The framework underlines that lack of proper social organization, a decline in social norms and values, coupled with lack of adequate guidance among the youth are some of the underlying factors leading to an increase in single-parent families. The findings of this study indicated that separation is the most prevalent cause of single-motherhood. Other causes include death of a spouse, divorce, rape, abandonment, desertion and early pregnancies. It emerged that attitudes towards Christian single-mothers are determined mainly by the cause of their single-motherhood status. Widows are the most tolerated while divorcees and the never-married are the least tolerated. Whereas the doctrine and the social teaching of the Church advocates for inclusiveness and acceptance of everyone, the practice on the ground with regard to single-mothers is far from the ideal. The Church seems to be warming up to gradually acknowledging and embracing single-mothers in Christian congregations. The Church, being the body of Christ, is challenged to be a caring community, giving an all-round care to all her members. A change of attitude towards single-mothers is possible, if the clergy led the sensitization through sermons, interpretation of the doctrine and innovative programmes for Christian single-parents. The Church has the potential to expand her network of support for single-mothers inclining towards gathering. A practical implementation of the doctrine and social teaching of the Church on inclusiveness is yet to be attained fully. Recommendations were made to the Church, Christians and policy-makers to respond to the prevalence of single-parenthood in an effort to reduce the number of single-parent families and assist the affected.