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Catholicity Challenging Ethnicity

An Ecclesiological Study of Congregations and Churches in Post-apartheid South Africa


Erik Berggren

This book deals with the relationship between the catholicity of the Church and ethnicity. Churches confess their «catholicity» – which means that they declare that their members belong to one community; but at the same time, the churches are often internally divided along ethnic lines. South Africa was a divided society under apartheid, which also shaped the churches ethnically. The legacy of apartheid continues to cause division between people through inequality, injustice, skewed power relations, and marginalisation. The author presents an analytical tool that has been derived from key documents of the Faith and Order movement and the World Council of Churches concerning the catholicity of the Church. In addition, he tests the catholicity of the Church against an operative ecclesiology of South African congregations and churches twenty years after the dismantling of apartheid.
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During my time as a student at the Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Bossey, Geneva, I realised that differences of ethnic background had a vast effect on the student community. Living and working in South Africa was another experience where ethnic background affected how people related to one another, even in the church. My research is a result of such issues, which have intrigued me for many years.

Professor Sven-Erik Brodd came for an exchange visit to the University of Cape Town, encouraged me to become a doctoral student at Uppsala. Sven-Erik Brodd and my co-supervisor, Professor Kajsa Ahlstrand, have guided and accompanied me on my journey, giving me many challenges and much freedom. They have given me insights and new perspectives, and helped me with improvements. Their broad knowledge of Ecclesiology and World Christianity has inspired me in my research. I appreciate Sven-Erik’s British kind of humour and Kajsa’s many stories from diverse parts of the world.

I am honoured that the Faculty of Theology at Uppsala appointed me as a postgraduate with research and teaching. I have also had the opportunity to attend several training courses for university teachers that have increased my didactic competence. I was also granted a generous contribution from the university from the Sederholms scholarship for travel abroad. This made it possible to carry out the case studies in South Africa during the spring semester of 2011. I also received contributions from the Nathan Söderblom Memorial...

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