Sudan is the church’s focus as vote on partition draws near

As part of the 2005 Peace agreement signed by Sudanese in the northern and southern parts of country, a binding vote on partition will be taken in early January that could split the country into two parts, its Muslim dominated north and its Christian dominated south. Many observers expect violence to breakout again no matter which way the vote goes.

The Episcopal Church is working closely with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan as the date of the voting draws near. ENS reports in an article:

In recent months, the Episcopal Church has stepped up its solidarity and advocacy for its Sudanese partners, “which we believe has made a difference in terms of how many churches and groups have picked up Sudan issues and are responding to our season of prayer,” said Sabune.

In mid-September, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori called on Episcopalians to observe “A Season of Prayer for Sudan.” Acknowledging Sudan’s fragile state following decades of civil war, Jefferts Schori said that the Episcopal Church can stand in solidarity “with our brothers and sisters in Sudan as we enter a season of preparation by prayer, study, and action.”

Smith said she came away from the partners meeting with a renewed sense of the importance of the presiding bishop’s call for a season of prayer coupled with a need for continuing direct advocacy with elected U.S. officials in the lead up to the referendum and beyond.

“Depending on what happens in the next few months, we may find it difficult to travel to and in Sudan, so this gathering of partners to express not only solidarity but concrete financial commitments was probably an important moment for ECS,” she told ENS.

The article also discusses how faith groups are planning for the various scenarios that might occur once the result of the vote is known.

Robin Denney, one of the Episcopal Church’s missionaries writes about the situation on the ground in Juba:

“Sudan is in the news more and more these days and will continue to be as the Jan. 9 referendum on independence draws nearer. It is a sensational and important story, and such stories make the headlines. But if you just hear about Sudan in the news, you might come away with the feeling that all is fear and uncertainty. Yes, there is fear and uncertainty in daily life here, but it takes a back seat to the fact that life goes on, ministry goes on, and it will continue to do so no matter what happens.

Life in Juba and southern Sudan just seem normal to me now, so things don’t catch my attention like they used to.

Juba, the regional capitol of southern Sudan, is growing and changing rapidly. It is a boomtown. Housing and goods are expensive and sometimes difficult to come by. Construction and the opening of new businesses is so fast that in a matter of weeks a road can change so much you can’t find where you usually turn (the lack of named roads or road signs don’t help). Thatch and mud structures, which were the majority of buildings throughout town two years ago, have been replaced with larger concrete structures.”

Petero Sabune, Africa partnerships officer

for the Episcopal Church, in a video here, discusses the situation in Sudan, and the ways the Episcopal Church in the States are coordinating their work.

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