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  Small Christian Communities

SSCs around the world share the same
basic beliefs, prayers and insights
 
 
The following reprinted with permissionfrom Maryknoll's World Apostolate Bulletin (Vol. 42, July/August1999).

By Barbara Darling

"You know that while all the runners in the stadium takepart in the race, the award goes to one person. In that case,run as to win!" (1 Cor. 9:24).
 

 
   

The St. Maria Goreth Small Christian Community in Geita, Tanzania,referred to this passage in a recent letter to the Oilers, mysmall Christian Community (SCC) in Arvada, Colorado. They offered encouragement upon learning how we missed several of our members who stopped attending our regular Friday night gatherings.

Our two communities

 
 

Members of the "St. Maria Goreth Small Christian Community" pose for a photo they sent to their "twin", the "Oilers Small Christian Community" in Arvada, Colorado.

 

have maintained a spiritual partnership since 1997.

 
 


We assure each other of mutual prayer and share scripture insights through a relationship that spans great distance anddiverse cultures and concentrates on mutual faith. We've traded photos and stories of holiday traditions and observances. We've introduced our families to theirs and shared news of deaths and illnesses.

"Even in this age of global travel none of us expects to travel halfway around the world to meet with the members of St. Maria Goreth community," says Sharon Hoover, a member of the Oilers community. "But we realize how much we have in common. We're all children of God and we share similar fundamental beliefs. Family values are primary to the Africans and we take heart in their good examples of simple faith and trust in God."Rather than the "old" idea of twinning where the rich Americans just help poor Third World people financially, SCC twinning shares mutual pastoral experiences. "We are all both sending and receiving churches," remarks Maryknoll Father Joseph Healey, who has spread the vision of SCC twinning around the world."What is really 'new' is that the small Christian community twinning program reaches the parish to involve Christians at the very local, grassroots level, thereby enriching the world church,"says Healey, a missioner in Tanzania.

"After the recent Littleton High School tragedy just down the road from our Oilers neighborhood, Sister Rita from St. Maria Goreth Community immediately wrote asking about the safety ofour children," says Barbara Howard. "It was reminiscent of our fear for the safety of our Tanzanian friends last year when the U.S. Embassy was bombed in Dar Es Salaam," both communities now have faraway neighbors to pray for them and be concerned about their welfare. The rich images and experiences of friends halfway around the globe create an awareness and appreciation of the universality of our church and our world that otherwise would be difficult to grasp.

While reflecting on the deaths in Littleton, it occurs to usthat basic human aspirations are the same worldwide: the need to share the sanctity of life; a desire to protect our families with a safe living environment; hopes and dreams for one's children.So rather than erecting barriers, we can offer our small Christian communities to promote harmony, acceptance and forgiveness.

Small Christian Communities in Wyoming, Connecticut, Colorado, Florida and Australia have "twinned" with African communities. SCCs in Hong Kong and Scotland are ready to join the program.

To find a twin, your SCC should contact Buena Vista, a national network that fosters Small Christian Communities, at 303/477-0180 or by email at bv@buenavista.org, or call the Office of Small Christian Communities at the Archdiocese of Hartford, 860/872-8255.

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