AMECEA Chairman on How to Foster Synodality in Families, Small Christian Communities

A poster announcing the March 14 webinar organized under the theme, “Church in Africa: Becoming Synodal in mission”. Credit: AMECEA

Initiatives towards training, engaging in dialogue, aiming for a common ground in decision-making processes, and the fostering of inclusive participation are some of the ways the spirit of Synodality can be fostered in families and among members of the new way of being Church in Africa, the Small Christian communities (SCCs), the Chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) has said.

Speaking at a Thursday, March 14 virtual conference that AMECEA organized in partnership with the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA), the African Synodality Initiative (ASI), and the Pan-African Episcopal Committee for Social Communications (CEPACS), an entity of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), Bishop Charles Sampa Kasonde also explained how engaging in missionary activities and striving for “a deepened spirituality” can contribute to the fostering of Synodality among family and SCC members in Africa.


AMECEA can “provide formation programs for families and SCC members on the meaning and importance of synodality, including its theological foundations and practical implications,” Bishop Kasonde said.

The Local Ordinary of Zambia’s Catholic Diocese of Solwezi since his Episcopal Consecration in May 2010 explained that the training initiatives would take the form of sessions of catechesis, workshops, and study sessions on relevant Synodal documents.


The training on Synodality can also target leaders and animators at the grassroots in families and SCCs, he said, echoing the message of his Assistant during the 22-23 February 2024 Theological Symposium that the School of Theology of Kenya-based Tangaza University College (TUC) organized.

“As part of its pastoral planning, AMECEA has identified as one of its overall pastoral strategies the formation and training of pastoral agents,” the Vice Chairman of AMECEA, Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kisumu in Kenya said on February 22.

The pastoral strategy, Archbishop Muhatia added, “specifically targets the formation of Small Christian Community (SCC) leaders, animators, facilitators, or coordinators in a deeper evangelization that integrates African values and Christian values.”

Last August, AMECEA, one of the eight regional Conferences that constitute the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), launched the Golden Jubilee Year of SCCs to assess the status of this new way of being church that the leadership of the Church in Africa has included in its evangelization structures.

AMECEA comprises nine countries, including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are AMECEA affiliate members.

More in Africa

In his presentation during the March 14 virtual conference that was organized under the theme, “Church in Africa: Becoming Synodal in mission”, Bishop Kasonde said that trained leaders and animators can facilitate processes of synodality, promote pastoral care, and accompany others on their journey of faith at the grassroots.

According to the Zambian-born Catholic Church leader, AMECEA, the Nairobi-headquartered Association that owns the Catholic University of Eastern Africa has the ability to spearhead the provision of “support and mentorship to empower leaders to fulfill their roles effectively.”

“Open and respectful dialogue”

Bishop Kasonde advocated for the creation of “spaces within families and SCCs for open and respectful dialogue, where all members feel valued and heard.”

In his presentation titled, “How to promote the spirit of synodality through family and SCC”, the 55-year-old Catholic Church leader encouraged active listening, empathy, and the exchange of diverse perspectives on matters of faith, life, and social issues among family members and during SCC meetings.


“Culture of shared decision-making” Processes

He also advocated for the fostering of fostering “a culture of shared decision-making and collaborative leadership within families and SCCs.”

Synodality, Bishop Kasonde said, can also be fostered in families and SCCs with members’ “discernment of the Holy Spirit through prayer, reflection, and consensus-building processes, ensuring that decisions reflect the collective wisdom and discernment of the community.”

He emphasized the need for inclusive participation, saying that leaders and animators at various levels of the Church need to “ensure that all members of families and SCCs, including women, youth, and marginalized groups, have the opportunity to participate fully and actively in the life and mission of the Church.”

Gifts and contributions of each member of the family and SCC should not only be recognized but also affirmed irrespective of their background or status in society, the Chairman of AMECEA said during the March 14 virtual conference.

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He also underlined the need for synergy and coordination at the various levels of the Church structure, including the Diocese, the national and regional Catholic Bishops’ conferences.

There is need, Bishop Kasonde said, to “ensure that efforts to promote synodality within families and SCCs are coordinated with broader pastoral initiatives and structures at the diocesan and regional levels.”

Stakeholders of pastoral initiatives should “foster collaboration and networking among different ecclesial groups and movements to strengthen the Church's witness and mission,” the Chairman of AMECEA, who was re-elected during the July 2022 20th Plenary Assembly of the nine-nation eight-Conference Association that was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, said.

Missionary Outreach

Bishop Kasonde said that family and SCC members need to be encouraged “to see themselves as missionary disciples, called to bear witness to the Gospel in their communities and beyond.”

Family and SCC members should support initiatives that promote evangelization, social justice, and solidarity with the poor and vulnerable, in line with the Church's mission of mercy and compassion, he added.

“A deepened spirituality”

Bishop Kasonde underlined the need for “a deepened spirituality” among family and SCC members, which he said need to be rooted in prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments.

Family and SCC member should be encouraged to regularly and actively participation in liturgical celebrations, Bible study, and devotional practices that nourish faith and strengthen communion with God and one another, the Chairman of AMECEA said March 14.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.