56 Jurist 200 (1996)
Ecclesiology, Structures, and Activities within Small Christian Communities

handle is hein.journals/juristcu56 and id is 210 raw text is: THE JURIST 56 (1996) 200-240

ECCLESIOLOGY, STRUCTURES, AND ACTIVITIES
WITHIN SMALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES
AUGUSTINE MRINGI*
In 1976 the AMECEA1 Bishops decided that in the years to come
within Eastern Africa the systematic formation of small Christian
Communities [SCCs] should be the key pastoral priority2 because
they had been convinced earlier that in such communities everyday
life and work takes place and that these are the basic and manage-
able social groupings whose members can experience real interpersonal
relationships and feel a sense of communal belonging, both in living
and working.'3 However, they emphasized at their conference that
SCCs should be established on existing natural groupings of peo-
ples-with special emphasis on the family which is the basic unit of any
community. This in more concrete form means that families must be
more educated in their Christian faith. The African notion of extended
family forms a good atmosphere for Christian community. Groups
based on common interests or common tasks should be seen as sup-
plementary to these natural groupings.'4 With regard to the regulation
of SCCs, the bishops gave none except: All pastoral action of the local
Christian community must, to be effective, follow certain guidelines,
have a certain continuity and submit to certain rules or norms.5
According to the AMECEA Bishops, the SCCs we are trying to
establish and form are simply the most local incarnations of the one,
holy, Catholic and apostolic Church.'6 For them, an SCC is a local
* J.C.D. (The Catholic University of America, 1984). Director, Pastoral Depart-
ment, Diocese of Moshi, Tanzania.
I Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).
2 AMECEA Bishops, The Conclusions of the 1976 AMECEA Study Confer-
ence [1976 Conclusions], AFER 18 (1976) 250, n. 1.
3 Idem, Planning for the Church in Eastern Africa in the 1980's [Planning for
the 1980's], AFER 16 (1974) 10.
4 Idem, 1976 Conclusions, 253, n. II/D 4.
5  Ibid., 250, n. 1.
6 Ibid., n. II/A 1.

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