Adaptive Leadership Challenges in HIV/AIDS and Male Circumcision Initiatives in Tanzanian Churches

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Doctor of Intercultural Studies

First Advisor

Lingenfelter, Sherwood


This research investigates a leadership crisis between the older (45+ years) and younger (under 45) generations of church leaders in Sukuma villages in Tanzania, utilizing a case study of mobilizing these leaders to support a government program to enhance the uptake of male circumcision as a means of prevention of HIV/AIDS. The goals of the research included documenting the cultural and historical roots of the conflict, creating awareness of current expressions of the crisis among senior church leaders, and then facilitating intergenerational adaptive work and leadership change through six intervention seminars to promote the uptake of male circumcision in selected Sukuma villages.

Through the intervention process, a significant sample of Sukuma church leaders has acknowledged the crisis, and its effects inhibiting sustainable, long-term leadership for their churches. The experiment of planned intervention with reference to commonly held values and beliefs about HIV/AIDS and male circumcision has provided a helpful framework for pastoral preparation, and support to emerging leaders to achieve more effective teamwork and unity for sustainable leadership.

The potential impact of the intervention and its mobilizing church leaders to support the government program is large, not only for HIV/AIDS but for a range of other human health issues. Further, church leaders have gained new knowledge and practice for training church members about circumcision and sexual issues of biblical morality.

Finally, the study contributes to research on learning the skills of mediating and leading without authority toward bringing an adaptive change in church leadership and organization.

Mentor: Sherwood Lingenfelter


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