The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS) is comprised of two internal provinces, 41 dioceses, and has over 2 million members. The ECSSS traces its roots back to 1899 when the Church Mission Society began working in what is now modern-day Sudan. Initially a part of the Jerusalem Archbishopric and subsequently under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the ECSSS became an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion in 1976.
The ECSSS has long ministered to its members and neighbors in the midst of unimaginable hardship and strife. Following independence from Britain and Egypt in 1956, Sudan was wracked by civil wars and unrest until a peace agreement was brokered with the help of the United States, Great Britain, and Norway. The ECSSS, in collaboration with the Sudan Council of Churches, was an instrumental part of this process. As part of the implementation of the peace agreement, an autonomous regional government was formed in South Sudan in late 2005. In 2011, 99% of the people in South Sudan voted to become an independent country and on July 9, 2011 South Sudan became Africa’s newest nation.
Despite the joy and excitement that surrounded the independence of South Sudan, the years since 2011 have seen the resumption of fighting on the border area with Sudan and internally in South Sudan. On December 15, 2013, civil war broke out in South Sudan and brought with it catastrophic consequences for the country and its people. Mass killings, internal displacement, and famine have affected millions of South Sudanese. The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and its relief agency SUDRA have played an important role in serving the people of South Sudan by providing assistance and shelter to many. This life-saving work has been supported by many people across The Episcopal Church and throughout the Anglican Communion through the work of Episcopal Relief & Development, the Anglican Alliance, and the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of the Sudans, among others.
In the midst of violence and strife, the ECSSS has prioritized peace building and education. It has appointed a Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission to partner with dioceses within the Province to train and support lay and ordained church leaders to build peace in their own communities. Many dioceses and parishes in The Episcopal Church have relationships with dioceses across South Sudan and Sudan and are partnering with the ECSSS in this vital ministry.
This Sunday, May 8th, we ask that you pray for The Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan and its leadership; the newly-formed transitional unity government, that they may fully live into the peace agreement; and that the basic necessities of food, water, and shelter would be provided to the South Sudanese people.
A Prayer for Peace in Times of Conflict: O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 824)
It is vital to tell your elected officials to stand for peace in South Sudan. If you live in the United States, this includes urging the President, Secretary of State, and the United States Congress to support peace building in South Sudan. If you do not live in the United States, your voice is just as important: all world governments must stand with peacemakers in South Sudan.
You can find contact information for the President, the Secretary of State, and your members of Congress below. We encourage you to call or write to express that as a person of faith, you support peace building.
The President: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
The Secretary of State: https://register.state.gov/contactus/contactusform
United States Senate: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Your Local Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
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