Since I’ve wandered off the topic of resolutions in the past few weeks, I thought I’d look around and see if there was anything pressing that would relate to the resolutions we have on file from the last General Convention in 2012 and, sure enough, the Episcopal News Service has reported on the coordinated efforts of the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), the relief and development arm of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan, Episcopal Relief and Development and the Anglican Alliance (http://www.anglicanalliance.org/) to provide immediate relief to the thousands of displaced people as the conflict continues in South Sudan.
You may recall that South Sudan is the world’s youngest nation gaining its independence in July 2011, after almost half a century of civil war. Sadly fighting broke out again in December 2013, when the new nation’s President accused his former deputy of plotting a coup. According to ENS, what began as a political dispute changed into tribal warfare between the Dinka, allied primarily with the new President, and the Nuer headed by the former deputy, now seen as a rebel leader. Continued violent fighting has forced relief agencies to withdraw in Unity State, a region located along the boundary between South Sudan and Sudan leaving more than 300,000 residents without life-saving aid.
Rev. Joseph El-hag Abe Natana, general manager of SUDRA, comments to ENS: “Amid conflict and tribulation, God cannot forget his people regardless of their disobedience.” Natana, himself a priest in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, continued: “God always raises expectations with a message of hope that he will deliver his people. Hence, the humanitarian response, prayers and lobbying by many nations and people for peace, both regionally and internationally, is seen as God’s care, support and intervention.”
In response to the crisis, many agencies in support of SUDRA have provided emergency food including maize, beans, and cooking oil to meet the needs to the most vulnerable, the aged and the young. SUDRA has stated that its priorities include much more than the provision of food. The people also are in need of psychosocial support programs, prayer and counseling, and peace building and rehab.
The Episcopal Church – our Household – has been supportive of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan for a long time through companion dioceses, the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations, support from the Office of Global Relations and various programs through Episcopal Relief and Development. There’s even a network of American friends who network to offer their support – American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (AFRECS). Together, these agencies are working to meet all the needs of the people in crisis. You can find more information about AFRECS here – http://www.afrecs.org/
The Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews, officer for global relations and networking for the Domestic
and Foreign Missionary Society reported to ENS: “As brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, we remain committed to supporting the people of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan as they work to deliver relief to the suffering South Sudanese, while at the same time working for peace with justice. There are a number of strong diocesan relationships between The Episcopal Church and the ECSSS and they will continue to be a place where information is shared, and more importantly where prayer and solidarity is offered.”
You can read more about the support being provided in the full ENS article which you can find here –
The Anglican Alliance has a video prepared by Episcopal Relief and Development which you may watch –
The violence which began as a civil war but has escalated into multi-tribe acts of revenge and retaliation is threatening the prospect of successful peace-keeping efforts. Richard Parkins, director of AFRECS, affirmed that the combined efforts of all these organizations “continues to encourage peacemaking efforts as a means of bringing hope to a war-weary nation where thousands are suffering and held hostage to the intransigence of the government leaders and their rebel adversaries.”
Finally, to put this all in the context of our work as a result of the 77th General Convention, here’s the resolution that reminds us of our need to continually advocate and pray for peace and reconciliation in Sudan and South Sudan:
A019: Continue Advocacy for Peace in Sudan
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.
Let us pray –
Prince of Peace,
You were born into a world
Where terror reigned and fear ruled
And live today in a world crucified by war.
Fill us with your passion for justice
That wherever we see evil abound
We may live to disturb its path
And strive to build bridges of reconciliation.
In the darkness, beckon us with your kindly light
That we never lose sight of your vision of peace
In which the lion lies down with the lamb.
(prayer from Christian Aid written by Annabel Shilson-Thomas)
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council