Basic Ecclesial Communities

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Guidelines for Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC)
I A response to different needs and situations
BECs have arisen as a response to different needs and situations, such as:
a. Existing parish structures sometimes are not conducive to intensive Christian life.  They become inadequate to minister to the growing needs of people.
b. Our people are too many and too spread out for the number of priests available to minister to them.
c. The people need a sense of belonging and support, especially in a non-Christian environment.
d. People are taking more and more responsibility for their Church and are responding to new ministries to serve their small communities.
e. There is a growing urgency for Christian witness in community among the ideological struggles taking place in Asia.
These BECs have been developing in the rural areas among the villages and outstations.  There are also neighbourhood or block groups in the towns and cities, as well as interest groups, professional groups and age groups, in all of which people come together to deepen their faith commitment.

II Requirement of a Basic Community
A group of people is described as a basic community:
a. When the number of members is such that they can really know one another, meet with one another and relate to one another.  Usually it comprise of about 10 to 15 families.
b. The members are not too far apart to come together fairly frequently.
c. There is a certain degree of permanence among the members.
d. There is also mutual caring, sharing and support.
e. The community strives for common goals and concerns and there is unity and togetherness.

III Requirement of a BEC
A basic community becomes and Ecclesial community:
a. When its inspiration, model and centre is Jesus, the Risen Lord.
b. There is openness to the charisms of the Holy Spirit, a praying and worshipping together.
c. The members of the community share the Word of God, integrate it into their daily lives and proclaim it to others.
d. The members of the community must have the Eucharistic celebration as the source of its Christian life.
e. They struggle with their own sinfulness and selfishness and continue to work together helping one another in building a community of peace based on justice, freedom, truth and love.
f. For the pilgrim Church that we are, community-building is a never -ending process.

IV Leadership styles in BECs
These BECs are raising questions about leadership styles in the Church.
a. Bishops and priests must learn to listen to the voice of their people.
b. The local Christian community leaders have also to develop a style of leadership that fits the culture, attitudes and values of their local situation.
c. We believe that shared participative leadership can be promoted as a style for our BECs where there is consultation, dialogue and sharing.
d. Thus the people will feel responsible for and part of the decision-making process in matters that affect the whole community.

V Problems and difficulties in BECs.
BECs also have their problems and difficulties:
a. There is the possible danger of their becoming too inward-looking and too exclusive.  Hence the need for a continuing reflection process on their lived experience within the larger community.
b. They have to be linked to the local parish, diocese and the Universal Church.
c. Among other dangers, there may be within the groups themselves, situations of unrest and destruction that prevent the community from growing.
d. There may also sometimes be rivalries and conflict about leadership.
e. There can be the tendency of taking the easy way out by always calling resource persons such as priests, religious, laity to give teachings or sharings of BEC gatherings.
f. There is a danger of wanting or offering the Eucharist to be celebrated at regular BEC gatherings.

[Adapted from Guidelines For BECs - Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur]
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