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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422


KLEYNHANS, Cornells T.. Pastoral guidance of ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church during ecclesiastical discipline. Herv. teol. stud. [online]. 2013, vol.69, n.2, pp.1-10. ISSN 2072-8050.

The process of ecclesiastical discipline evokes feelings of guilt and shame. Whilst literary study suggested this to be the case, the empirical research confirmed it. It is clear that the three-fold process was a traumatic and shocking experience for ministers. Most upsetting was the way that the process was handled. It was done in a non-professional way and without brotherly or sisterly love. The process triggered guilt and shame emotions in a number of ways, not least by the lack of support and guidance. Respondents indicated that they had positive and negative experiences of guilt and shame during the discipline process. Most respondents took action to amend their mistakes, and thereby used the guilt feeling functionally, whilst the use of defence mechanisms showed that they did not manage and process the feelings of shame. It is unsettling to realise that the Dutch Reformed Church fails her ministers in time of need. Only a few parishioners and ministers from other denominations provided some sort of comfort during the discipline process. The church gave no support and guidance in the processing of the feelings of guilt and shame. The church lacked in every aspect, even to show a basic understanding of the trauma, and none of the church councils offered any basic or interventive help. To remedy the situation, it is proposed that the church should take its task as caregiver during the ecclesiastical discipline of ministers very serious and give guidance in an official and professional way.

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