Prayers are asked as July 9 will bring the emergence of two nations – Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
“Our heartfelt prayers are with all the people of Sudan as the 9th of July approaches,” noted Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “We pray for peace as this new nation seeks to establish itself.”
“Prayers are needed as Sudan prepares for independence,” noted the Rev. Canon Petero A.N. Sabune, Episcopal Church Africa Officer. “There are reports of violence, and we need to support the Sudanese as they move forward.”
In January, the Sudanese voted overwhelming for secession, with over 98% of the voters casting ballots in favor of the establishing of two nations.
Sabune will be in Sudan on July 9, representing the Episcopal Church and bringing greetings from the Presiding Bishop. “The Episcopal Church stands in solidarity with the people of the Republic of South Sudan,” Sabune noted.
“The establishment of a separate nation of South Sudan brings new hope and pride to the peoples of that region,” Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori noted. “It brings lament to some in the north, both those who have depended on the abundant natural resources of the south, and those who have family relationships there. We give thanks for the courageous decision by the Episcopal Church of Sudan to maintain its unity across the new national borders, and we continue to pray for those living in the midst of violence in the still contested areas of Abyei, South Kordofan, and the Nuba Mountains.”
At its June meeting, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church approved a resolution expressing solidarity with the Episcopal Church of Sudan and urged necessary intervention by the United States, and asks Episcopalians to continue in prayer.
A new video, updated information and key resources are all available on the Episcopal church website to learn more about Sudan: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/sudan Among the items are prayers; discussion sheets; statements from Archbishop Daniel; Episcopal Public Policy Network information; news articles; and more.
Sudan is Africa's largest country by area, and the tenth largest country in the world. Its modern history has been characterized by long periods of conflict, especially since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1956, when the largely Muslim north and the more ethnically diverse south were unified into a single Sudan. Two long civil wars between north and south, each lasting approximately two decades, finally gave way in early 2005 to a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) aimed at creating two parallel systems of governance within a unified, democratic nation.
The CPA sought to give southern Sudan political autonomy for six years – until 2011 – at which point a referendum on secession was to be allowed in the south.
As the date of independence approaches new difficulties arose in the key disputed regions of Abyei and the Nuba mountains. Raids have taken a particular toll on the Episcopal Church of Sudan, whose Diocese of Kadugli and the Nuba Mountains saw its cathedral burned, its church members killed and displaced, and its property destroyed.
The Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS), based in the southern capital of Juba, has more than 4 million members and is one of South Sudan's largest civil-society institutions. Led by its primate, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, the ECS has been a longstanding and outspoken voice for peace and reconciliation in its troubled land.