Title

The plight of single mothers and their children in Kenya: The Presbyterian Church's inadequate response

Date of Award

January 1995

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

DMin

Abstract

This dissertation is an inquiry on what the church should do to respond more adequately to the needs of single mothers in Kenya today. The project was conducted at the shelter for homeless women of the First Presbyterian Church, 1328 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia. This church is a large, white, middle-class, Christian community. It operates a variety of ministries.

One of these ministries is called AMTS (Atlanta Ministry to International Students), which is under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Faked Abu-Akel. It is a ministry which is not only supported by this church, but by other churches such as Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, St. James United Methodist Church, St. Martin Episcopal Church, Northside United Methodist Church, and the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.

This unique ministry, in the American setting, will help the project because the persons who are to participate in the doctoral project are familiar with this church. They have previously been invited to various functions of the church. They know it, the ministers, and the role of this student minister in these ministries.

The community ministry of this church is a far-reaching one. The writer has been working closely with the pastor, Rev. Charles Black. At times he has introduced Kenyan students to the ministers of the church for help, particularly in furnishing their houses when they come to Atlanta. These ministries have been attracting many international students, making it an ideal venue for this project.

The church in Kenya is not adequately responding to the needs of single mothers and their children. It will, therefore, be ideal to carry out the project in a place where the church is responding to the needs of the less fortunate members of the society. Working there, I am able to gain some insights from the dynamic operation of this church. It operates a shelter for homeless women, a ministry to international students, a food pantry and clothes closet for the underprivileged.

The doctoral project described in this document is designed to benefit participants from Kenya who are studying in Atlanta colleges and universities and those working in the city. It will involve married women and men, single mothers, and leaders from the Presbyterian Church of East Africa. It is designed to enable single mothers to express their pain, their anger and frustrations. The participants will struggle with the question of the acceptance of single mothers as people who do not deserve condemnation from both the church and the society, but love, care and recognition.

Six group sessions will be held at the church where participants will listen to one another, have dialogue, hear stories from single mothers, and listen to three presentations by experts in African Traditional Religion, Presbyterian Practice and Procedure, book and field research by the writer. It is anticipated that by the end of the project three major issues will have emerged. These are, briefly, that: (a) there are a lot of injustices done to single mothers by the church and the society in Kenya. (b) there is a persistent denial, by the church, of the existence of this class of women who are single mothers. (c) a creative response to these needs will be by teaching, and by the church acting as an agent of social change. There is a need for a ministry to single mothers in the form of a support group.