Poverty and Christian Welfare Scheme: Evidence from the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Osun State, Nigeria
Keywords:Christian, Church of Nigeria, Osun state, poverty, welfare scheme.
AbstractExisting studies on welfare schemes in Nigerian Churches have focussed on the political and economic perspectives, neglecting the ethical dimension which has a stronger basis in the Bible. This study, therefore, examined the welfare scheme of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Osun State, Nigeria as evidence with a view to assessing their method of generating welfare resources, as well as their implementation and monitoring strategy against the provision of the Bible on welfare ethics. Data were obtained through interviews, observation and questionnaire. In-depth interviews were conducted with 90 randomly selected key informants including 12 clergy, 24 poor members of the church, 18 welfare scheme officers and 36 beneficiaries. Four welfare schemes were observed between 1991 -2012 in a total of 30 Anglican Churches in major towns in Osun State. A total of 600 copies of the questionnaire were purposively administered to beneficiaries, church members and welfare scheme officers. Out of these, 550 were retrieved and analysed using percentages. The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) generated resources for welfare schemes through compulsory levies, donations, annual harvest proceeds, offering collection ,tithes/offering and foreign assistance .Four categories of welfare schemes were adopted: Health care delivery, vocational rehabilitation, micro-credit loans, and women’s empowerment. One implementation strategy was adopted, namely, social advocacy. The church utilized sensitisation mechanism, widow retreat workshops, free health campaign, radio/television programmes and supportive counselling. Welfare scheme for the Church of Nigeria offered socio-economic benefits to members of the Church, but they were weakened by limited human coverage, insufficient funds and poor monitoring. These call for moral reorientation on the part of stakeholders in order to inculcate the ethics of justice and fairness as enshrined in the Bible.
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