Training of Small Christian Community Leaders among AMECEA “pastoral strategies”: Official

Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba of Kenya’s Kisumu Archdiocese. Credit: ACI Africa

Capacity building initiatives targeting animators of Small Christian Communities (SCCs) is one of the strategies that members of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) have identified in their effort to realize “deeper evangelization” in the region, an official of the nine-nation association has said.

In his address during the 22-23 February 2024 Theological Symposium that the School of Theology of Kenya-based Tangaza University College (TUC) organized, the Vice Chairman of AMECEA also underscored the need to promote unity in order to realize a synodal Church.

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

The pastoral strategy, Archbishop Muhatia said, “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.”

Credit: ACI Africa


SCCs are considered as the appropriate context for realizing “self-ministering, self-propagating, and self-reliant” local churches, the Kenyan Catholic Archbishop said.

“The Church as SCC was seen as the most effective way of promoting evangelization of self at the grassroots and in effect preparing the Church for a convincing encounter with the world,” he said, emphasizing the significance of SCCs in the mission of spreading Gospel values in region of AMECEA, comprising nine countries.

These include Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are AMECEA affiliate members.

Last August, AMECEA 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.

Credit: Tangaza University College (TUC) 

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For the whole year, starting from the 19 August 2023 launch, the nine countries in the AMECEA region are to reflect on the goals that Catholic Bishops in the region had when they founded SCCs in 1973.

The Pastoral Departments of Bishops’ Conferences in the AMECEA region are to spearhead the yearlong Golden Jubilee celebrations, “not as an event, but a process comprising of several strategic activities involving all AMECEA member Conferences,” Bishop Rogatus Kimaryo of Tanzania’s Same Diocese and Chairman for AMECEA Pastoral Department said during the launch in Malawi.

“The overall goal of the Jubilee Year is to reawaken the spirituality of Small Christian Communities as envisaged by the AMECEA Bishops at the onset of the concept, way back in 1973,” the Tanzanian-born member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Spiritans/Holy Ghost Fathers/CSSp.) added.

Credit: Tangaza University College (TUC)

In his February 22 address at 2024 TUC Theological Symposium that the Department of Dogmatic Theology organized under the theme, “Make Disciples of all Nations: The Missionary Mandate of Christ … in the Religious, Cultural, and Social context of Africa Today”, Archbishop Muhatia emphasized the value family and marriage institutions.


“The threats to the African family in the AMECEA region are real and they need pastoral responses that are alive to the social undercurrents including those that want to destroy the traditional family altogether,” the Vice Chairman of AMECEA said.

He highlighted “the trivialization of the traditional understanding of Christian marriage; attempting to make it a matter of personal choice” as one of the threats to the Christian marriage.

Credit: Tangaza University College (TUC)

Unless special attention is given to the family and marriage institutions, “the mandate of Christ to make disciples of all nations shall be gravely hindered,” he emphasized.

In his February 22 address, the Catholic Archbishop, who has been at the helm of Kisumu Archdiocese since March 2022 cautioned against divisions.

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“There are various forms of division, which hinder the pursuit of the common good of the society and the very role of the Church in evangelization,” he said, and added, “The Church in AMECEA should prioritize dialogue at various levels, even with non-Church actors to offer believable and lasting solutions to these tensions and divisions.”

Credit: Tangaza University College (TUC)

Archbishop Muhatia highlighted ecumenical and interreligious dialogue initiatives as important, adding that despite some progress in their implementation in the AMECEA region, there are “still unexplored opportunities”.

He went on to lament socio-political challenges in a section of African countries, and posed, “How can the gospel come face to face with the serious social and political challenges on the African continent?”

Credit: Tangaza University College (TUC)

The Vice Chairman of AMECEA, the association the established the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), made “special mention” of the need for institutions of higher learning in the nine member countries to explore ways of benefiting “the local Church by being on the forefront of offering solutions” to the challenges the people of God in the region face. 

He also recognized the important place the media play in the mission of evangelization, noting that during the Synodal conversations, a section of participants “bemoaned the biased approach of the means of communication to the concerns of the African continent.”

“There is an urgent need to evangelize the means of social communication so that they contribute meaningfully to the growth of individuals and the common good,” Archbishop Muhatia said during the TUC 2024 Theological Symposium that had Robert Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect emeritus of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as the keynote speaker.

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