At 5 p.m. on Sunday 15 enthusiastic lay people gather at Peter Macha’s home for the weekly meeting of their St. Charles Lwanga Small Christian Community in the Drive-in Estate of St. Peter’s Parish in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The SCC members (mainly adults) report on their families’ health and local problems in the neighborhood. Then they reflect on one of the Sunday scripture readings: the Epistle of St. James that stresses that faith without action is dead. The SCC members decide to help some of the homeless street children in their neighborhood. They plan a party for the youth in their SCC who will soon be confirmed. The meeting includes lively singing in Swahili with clapping and offering special prayer intentions for the sick in their parish and peace in Sudan. For these SCC members the maxim “We are the Church” is not just a slogan, but a way of life that truly applies to them.
St. Charles Lwanga SCC was officially launched on the feast of Epiphany in 1978 and is the oldest of the 38 active SCCs in St. Peter’s Parish, all fully involved in the local pastoral life. The bedrock of this community is the family. Married couples host, organize and lead the group. Other people drift in and out; some only really turn up when there’s a celebration and a meal. But it’s the couples who provide the core stability of the SCC. Currently there are 22 families with a total membership of 96 including children of all ages. St. Charles Lwanga is a model of a family-based and lectionary–based SCC. The parent SCC started a youth branch, a women’s club, and children activities. The SCC is twinned with the Fellowship Group, a small reflection group in the Anglican Rattery Church in South Hams in Devon, England.