It’s Olympic time! I am rather sad to admit that while all these well-trained and physically fit athletes are demonstrating their talents, I have become a couch-potato glued to the TV watching their events! I really enjoy the camaraderie that we get to see between teams of many nations. One delightful example happened at the medal ceremony for the Men’s Slopestyle event. When American Sage Kotsenburg climbed to the platform to receive his gold medal, he grabbed both silver medalist Stale Sandbech of Norway and bronze medalist Mark McMorris of Canada to stand with him. Hearing him speak about this later in an interview with Bob Costas, Kotsenburg explained that they all know each other and have supported each other in their training and competition. For them, it was about the passion for their work and not their different ideologies – though, granted, we are not on shaky ground with Canada or Norway. The Olympics, for me, present a hope of what could be in our world. But, all we have to do is read headlines and we know that real life is far from an Olympic stage.
One example in the news is the terrible atrocities occurring in South Sudan. Over the last few months, this fledgling nation has been victim to armed conflict and chaos partly resulting from rumors of tribal partisanship. Last week, our Presiding Bishop called for a day of prayer for South Sudan on February 16th. She is joined in her call the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian General Assembly and the Reformed Church in America. Bishop Katharine writes:
“The new nation needs peace, in order that all its people might thrive. The Episcopal Church of Sudan is partnering with others on the ground in that work of peace-building. The Sudanese communities within our own Episcopal Church have been important and effective leaders in this work. I ask your prayers for peace, as well as your awareness and involvement in the lives of our brothers and sisters across the globe. The Prince of Peace serves the whole world. As his disciples, may we do no less!”
The 77th General Convention of our Church presented Resolution A019: Continue Advocacy for Peace in Sudan in July of 2012 which reads:
Resolved, That the 77th General Convention calls for continued advocacy and prayer from all Episcopalians for peaceful resolution of the conflict in Abyei along the unsettled border between Sudan and South Sudan, and in the Blue Nile South Kordofan, and Darfur regions of Sudan; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention expresses sincere gratitude to the Episcopal Church in the Sudan for its continued leadership toward the goal of a just peace in the region; and be it further
Resolved, That the General Convention heartily commends Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak for his leadership and substantial personal involvement in repeatedly mediating and stopping interethnic conflicts in Jonglei and elsewhere in South Sudan, as well as ECS’ continued efforts to promote peaceful conflict resolution of ethnic and other disputes in South Sudan; and be it further
Resolved, That General Convention urges the United States government continue its strong support of international efforts for full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudan and South Sudan, transparency in accounting for oil revenues, and normalization of relations between the two countries, including issues of trade, immigration, citizenship, and protection of the rights of religious minorities in both countries, including Christians in Sudan, to practice their faith without official interference or discrimination.
While marking this Sunday as a Day of Prayer for South Sudan is a great start to get us involved in this call for peace, becoming informed about the country and this crisis is also important. The Episcopal Church website lists many good resources to help in our education:
The Episcopal Church Office of Government Advocacy Memo to Congress, January 2014: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/files/2014/01/South-Sudan-USG-Memo.pdf
Weekly E-Blasts from the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan:
“Crisis in South Sudan,” A Report of the Congressional Research Service, January 2014: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43344.pdf
United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Resources on South Sudan: http://www.usaid.gov/crisis/south-sudan
International Crisis Group Publications on South Sudan:
A link to Bishop Katharine’s news release:
The Episcopal New Service link to the latter from the Canadian Primates:
In support of the efforts for peace by the South Sudanese Church
So, as we enjoy our Olympic Games this week, let’s remember that life around the world is not all fun and games and let us join together in prayer for our brothers and sisters in South Sudan. Only when we take on the cares and concerns of one another might we begin to see the hope of peace for all people.
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus, you who said to us: “I leave you peace. My peace I give you.”
Look upon our sisters and brothers of Sudan and South Sudan
as they continue in their struggle for peace.
Give them the wisdom they need to choose
their future where they will know your true peace.
You call us out of slavery, oppression and persecution
so that we may have life in abundance.
Grant them peace with one another.
Give peace among ethnic groups.
Help them work together for the good of all.
We ask this in the name of the Prince of peace, our Lord Jesus.
Amen. (Adapted from the official campaign prayer approved by Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference)
— Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council