“Ecclesiogenesis”: Base ecclesial communities in contemporary perspective.

Author: Dr Paul Davies is Tutor and Postgraduate Studies Programme Leader at All Nations Christian College.


Are traditional church structures the baby—so important as never to be thrown out—or the bathwater—they can be summarily ejected in order to make the church more ‘relevant’? The emergence of the Base Ecclesial Community (BEC) movement in Latin America challenged the structures of the traditional church, especially the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). Some thought of it as marking the death of the traditional church and birth of a new church. The cry would be ‘The Church is dead, long live the church!’ We will briefly examine how the BECs did challenge the church and what we can learn from this challenge.
The BECs were small groups of socially and politically active laity, who met together regularly to read the Bible, pray and reflect theologically and practically upon their social and political activity. They were normally led by either a member of the laity or by a religious—a monk or nun and their rhythm of action and reflection formed the basis of the theological reflection of the early theologies of liberation.

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