Society of St. Peter and Paul Seminary

Dip in Forming Small Christian Communities


Historical Note on Small Christian Communities
1.     The idea of introducing Small Christian Communities in Africa can be traced back to 1974, when the Catholic Bishops of Africa deliberated on "Evangelisation in the Modern World" at the Synod of Bishops held in Rome. In 1976, during the AMECEA Plenary meeting held at Nairobi,  the Bishops of Eastern Africa made the formation of SCCs the pastoral priority as a means for  consolidating the evangelisation of the local Church.  The pastoral programme  focused on the following:  

a)     Neo-evangelisation of the small communities themselves;
b)     Proclaiming  the Good News to others by deeds as well as words;
a)    Prayerful attentiveness to the Word of God in view of conversion and commitment to Christ and the Gospel      
d)     Concrete aspects of becoming / being the church of Christ in a given locality;
e)     Particular ways of finding solutions, in the light of the Gospel, to the real  problems of human life;
f)     A deep awareness within the SCCs of the rights and social responsibilities of Christians and others.

2.     The Special Synod for Africa (1994) gave a renewed stimulus to such a programme.  It not only supported the movement towards a greater awareness of human rights and responsibilities, but also stressed the need for national consciousness and participation of the people in the development and transformation of their country and its social climate.  Briefly, it upheld the policy of strengthening SCCs as a pastoral priority. And such a policy makes the formation of the animators of SCCs essential.

The winds for change  and other signs of the times are suggesting the need for models of church in Africa.  The academic organs of the Catholic church have the duty to evaluate this and to formulate/ establish relevant programmes that respond effectively to people's problems and aspirations.

1.     Starting from the grass-root of the Small Christian Communities the Church has the duty to complement the civic educational effort.
2.     The  current ecclesiastical trend of encouraging local initiatives, including the collective planning and implementation of  programmes at grass roots levels, suggests the relevance of SCCs.  They belong to a model of the church, which is person- and community-centred, and oriented towards the life of the people'.  In such a model, evangelisation will naturally emphasise integral human development and as  a civilisation of love.
3.     The Faculty of Theology of SSPP is an academic centre for research  in Africa.   Observing the global religious revival, and particularly the proliferation of Christian renewal movements in Africa (including about10,000 Independent Christian Churches), it cannot but feel challenged  to offer specific courses on SCCs to promote Christian renewal.
4.     The phenomenon of religious fundamentalism, with claims of apparitions and prophetic messages, requires  serious academic research and  a new approach in Christian evangelisation and formation.
5.     The various  existing and the emerging  ministries in the SCCs demand an adequate formation  programme for ministers.
6.     SCCs are the  matrix of deeper  personal and communal faith in Jesus Christ and of critical attitudes towards changes in  today's world . An adequate formation of the animators has a positive influence on  the  holistic Christian formation at the grassroots levels.

1.     To offer appropriate courses, with a practical bearing on the lives of Christians and their surroundings in Africa.
2.     To offer a contextualized theology that will  promote a Christian awareness based on the Sacred Scriptures, on the living tradition of the church and on its  teaching  today, such as is found in the exhortation "The Church in Africa".
3.     To make effective use of a person- and community-centred pedagogy that will highlight an ecclesiology of fellowship and service, the Trinitarian foundation for ecclesial and other relationships, the various cultural experiences and expressions of the paschal mystery, and the rights and responsibilities of individuals and communities.
4.     To offer  on-going formation to pastors as animators of the SCCs.
5.     To offer pastors an opportunity to  reflect on  and to evaluate their  pastoral experiences scientifically,  and to provide an  integral view of it that will be both soundly academic and deeply religious.
6.    To enable pastors evaluate the  documents of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath  in the light of the Special Synod for Africa .            

Academic Organisation
The Postgraduate Diploma in Forming SCCs is organised as follows:-
1.    Courses are planned and presented so as to complement the courses taken by the students in their undergraduate programmme.
2.    Courses are planned and presented so as to stimulate the  cognitive, animating and creative potentiality of the students and to equip them for leadership and group dynamics.
3.    While aiming at promoting ongoing research among students and staff, the programme shall operate on educational principles calculated to produce self-awareness and self-reliance of people in  SCCs.
4.    The courses are classified as follows:
a)    Introductory courses:  to initiate students into new pastoral, educational and managerial skills.  They are: Method in Pastoral Theology, Social Analysis for Forming Small Christian Communities, Adult education:  Theory and Practice, and Managing and Organising  the Activities of the SCC, plus methodology;
b)    Core Courses;
c)    Elective Courses.


Admission Requirements
a)    A candidate should be a  holder of first degree (Bachelor or Baccalaureate) of Theology from a recognised University or Institute of Higher Learning, or its equivalent.  Its equivalent is to be determined by the Admissions Committee.
b)    A  candidate should be a mature and experienced person in a pastoral position in the church, with at least three years experience.
c)    A candidate must be sponsored by a bishop or religious superior who supplies a confidential recommendation and acts as a surety.

The programme of the Diploma in Forming Small Christian Communities shall extend over a period of one academic year, that is, a period of two semesters of 15 weeks each.

Definition of Credits and Load
1.    Credit System
Courses have 2 credits each.  Two credits are defined as the equivalent of 2 contact hours per week during  a semester of 15 weeks.
2.    Course Loading
Students enrolled for the Diploma  in Forming Small Christian Communities shall do 18 credits  in the first semester, 20 credits in the second semester, a paper of not less than 3,000 words and not more than 4,000 words, and a practicum.

Distribution of Courses

First Semester

Introductory and Core Courses
Ex-C 100     Methodology
Ex-C 101     Method in Pastoral Theology
Ex-C 102     Social Analysis for Forming Small Christian Communities
Ex-C 103     Adult Education: Theory and Practice
Ex-C 104     Introduction to Managerial and Organization
Ex-C 105     History of Christian Communities and the various models of Christian Communities
Ex-C 106     World of Jesus
Ex-C 107     Ecclesiology of Fellowship and Service

Elective Courses
Ex-C 108-E     World of the Early Church outside Palestine
Ex-C 109-E     Models of Evangelisation
Ex-C 110-E     History of African Independent Churches

Second Semester

Ex-C 200     VAT. II Sacramentology in the Christian Communities
Ex-C 201     Economic Trinity
Ex-C 202     Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Church, State and International Organizations
Ex-C 203     Population Control and Family Education.
Ex-C 204     Social Teaching of the Church within the context of AMECEA local churches
Ex-C 205     Role of the Word of God in the Small Christian Communities
Ex-C 206     God's universal call to covenantal holiness and the People's covenantal response

Elective Courses
Ex-C 207-E     Evaluation of Ministry and Team Ministry Approach
Ex-C 208-E     Contextualized Adult Catechesis
Ex-C 209-E     Theories of Evangelisation
Ex-C 210-E     Ministry of Presiding over Liturgical Celebrations