Date of Award

1-1-1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Science

Faculty

Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Hyung-Shik Kim

Second Advisor

Reverend Dr. John P. Brown

Abstract

This thesis explores the relationship between the provision of human services and the role of the church with special reference to the Uniting Church's role in Western Australia. The church's involvement in human service is examined as an expression of the church's responsibility to practise the religious teachings of compassion and charity. However, such claims as to the church's responsibility were received with degrees of acceptance and resentment by different church denominations. Despite the definite teachings of the Bible about the importance of the church to the world of which it is a part, as this study has explored, they remain as mere speculations. This study is an attempt to examine the extent to which biblical teachings about the church's involvement in human service receive support from the parish ministers. It was assumed that the degree of acceptance will also determine the scope of the church's role in the area of human services. The majority of parish ministers included in the study supported the role and involvement of the church in human service areas. The church's role in human service is universally accepted. The critical issue appears to be whether or not the parish ministers should be expected to assume the major responsibility of the caring role for the church. Ministers did acknowledge the growing demand for their involvement in "human", as against "religious" affairs due to widespread social problems across the parishes. Yet, they see that their theological training is inappropriate to deal with such problems. In contrast to the ministers' positive perception of the church's role in human services, the study shows the limited or declining funding contributions to human services as evidenced by the budget of the Synod of W.A. Along with the trend of declining church funding, all the study subjects (ministers, co-ordinator and agency directors) expressed concern about the decreased church identity in the provision of human services, The parish ministers' view is that it is important for the church to maintain its identity in the area of human services and this cannot occur without improved funding commitment. As the first attempt at a systematic study of the church's role in human service, this study has come up with a number of observations which will contribute to the future planning and implementation of human services by the Uniting Church in Western Australia.

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