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Small Christian Communities

This is a brain child of the Bishops of AMECEA. Small Christian community is a group of people of one faith (or who believe and go to one church) Meeting together in other communities and share the word of God, help each other, eat together etc.

1969 (Tanzania): There was a seminar organized in Tanzania. During the seminar the concept and praxis of SCCs, then called “local Church communities,” were first articulated as a priority in both rural and later urban parishes. See articles in Service published by the now called TAPRI (Tanzanian Pastoral and Research Institute).

1971 (Zambia): Small Christian Communities were started in St. Charles Lwanga Parish in Lusaka Archdiocese, Zambia.

1973 (Nairobi, Kenya): AMECEA Study Conference on “Planning for the Church in Eastern Africa in the 1980” had this key statement: “We have to insist on building church life and work on Basic Christian Communities in both rural and urban areas. Church life must be based on the communities in which everyday life and work take place: those basic and manageable social groups whose members can experience real inter-personal relationships and feel a sense of communal belonging, both in living and working.” Bishop Patrick Kalilombe (Malawi) said during this AMECEA Meeting that every Bishop, Priest, Seminarian, Brother and Sister should participate in a particular SCC – not as a leader but as a regular/ordinary member.

1974 (Tanzania): Bishop Christopher Mwoleka of Rulenge Diocese (Tanzania) and the Tanzania National Council of the Laity developed a step-by-step plan for starting SCCs throughout Tanzania. Bishop Mwoleka stated that in his diocese “the entire pastoral work will be carried out by means of Small Christian Communities.”

1976 (Nairobi, Kenya): AMECEA Study Conference on “Building Small Christian Communities.” Key statement: “Systematic formation of Small Christian Communities should be the key pastoral priority in the years to come in Eastern Africa.” During this meeting the word “small” was specifically chosen to avoid certain undertones of the word “basic.”

1979 (Zomba, Malawi): AMECEA Study Conference on “The Implementation of the AMECEA Bishops’ Pastoral Priority of Building Small Christian Communities: An Evaluation.” One of its pastoral resolutions stated: “SCCs are an effective way of developing the mission dimension of the church at the most local level, and of making people feel that they are really part of the church’s evangelizing work.”

1992 (Lusaka, Zambia): The AMECEA Plenary Study Conference on “Evangelization with its Central Issues: Inculturation, Small Christian Communities and Priestly, Religious and Christian Formation” reiterated in its pastoral commitment of the Bishops of AMECEA by stating: “So we repeat that SCCs are not optional in our churches; they are central to the life of faith and the ministry of evangelization.”

2002 (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania): AMECEA Study Conference on “Deeper Evangelization in the Third Millennium.” Section 7 of the Pastoral Resolutions was on “Building the Church as a Family of God by Continuing to Foster and/or Revitalize the Small Christian Communities.” No. 43 states: “We recommend that a program on the theological and pastoral value of Small Christian Communities be included in the normal curriculum of the Major Seminaries and houses of formation of both men and women.”

2005: (Mukono, Uganda): AMECEA Study Conference on “Responding to the Challenges of HIV/AIDS within the AMECEA Region” had one pastoral resolution that emphasised: “Active involvement of SCCs in reaching out to people with HIV/AIDS. SCC members as caregivers, counselors, etc.” NOTE: SCC members also reach out to refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), people traumatized by civil war, violence and tribalism/ethnicity, street children, sick people, bereaved people and other needy people.

2006-2007 (Tanzania): To promote the AMECEA Pastoral Priority of SCCs and to focus on ongoing Spiritual and Pastoral formation a “Year of Small Christian Communities (SCCs)” was celebrated in Dar es Salaam Archdiocese, (Tanzania). Later this was extended to a “National Year of Small Christian Communities (SCCs)” for the whole of Tanzania.

2008: (Lusaka, Zambia): AMECEA Study Conferenceon “Reconciliation Through Justice and Peace.” See references to the role and mission of Small Christian Communities. Action Plan : “Revisiting the Small Christian Communities Pastoral Option as a means of responding to the ministry of reconciliation through justice and peace.