Clergy widows face unique challenges because of being in the manse and their changed position in the congregation. Though they are human, like everyone, the expectations from the church and community are usually different. As the mother to the church, she is expected to be strong for the sake of the church members. There is a common assertion that a clergy spouse should conceal her grief due to her position in public. Many clergy spouses struggle to find their ministry rhythm after losing their husband. One of the contributory factors is the manner in which the local church leadership handles the clergy family after the death of the male clergy.
This research was undertaken as a response to the plight of the clergy widows under the local church leadership. A qualitative methodological design was followed to tap out new experiences. Five clergy widows and one pastor were interviewed and an in-depth qualitative analysis was undertaken to explore the role of the church on caring for the clergy family. The results of the study are presented in a descriptive and interpretive approach. The available literature was coherently linked to participants’ narratives in developing new knowledge. Hence, the research is intended to contribute by bringing new perspective on how the church cares for the clergy family after the death of the male clergy.
This study was initially scheduled to be done within the Sekhukhune district in the Limpopo province. However, due to the withdrawal of some potential participants, the author ended up overlapping to part of the Mpumalanga province. It was discovered that most churches provided the necessary support towards the burial of the clergy but to dismally disappear immediately after the funeral. This trend coupled with the removal of the clergy family from the manse immediately after the funeral has caused unfathomable trauma in the clergy family
As this study’s aim was to contribute to the field of practical theology and pastoral care, the interpretive model postulated by Osmer was employed. The findings are hoped to contribute to the body of knowledge within an African perspective. It is intended to contribute to pastoral an approach, which is applicable to the African perspective and Biblical ethos.