With recent reports of escalating violence and casualties, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called for prayers for South Sudan and Sudan. She joins the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada in issuing “A Message of Solidarity with the Church in South Sudan”:
“The situation in South Sudan continues to be extremely difficult, and news of it in North American media is minimal. Violence has been fomented and stirred by political leaders for their own ends. Although the mainstream media portrays the conflict as ethnic, its roots, as with any conflict, are varied and complicated. Regardless, there can never be a rationale for the suffering that has been wrought.
“Our partners in South Sudan have suffered massive casualties. Their people have been murdered, raped, tortured, and burned out of their homes. Churches and entire villages have been destroyed. In spite of extensive displacement, Anglicans/Episcopalians and Lutherans continue to be active in relief and peace-making efforts through our partners in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and the Lutheran World Federation.
“We urge you to join in prayer for the people of South Sudan and Sudan, for a lasting and meaningful peace, and for immediate aid and response to the needs of the myriad of displaced persons.
“As we celebrate the feast of the Resurrection, we urge you to help make the risen body of Christ evident to those who labor through the valley of the shadow of death.”
Last week, on May 16, the Episcopal Church observed the Feast Day of the Martyrs of the Sudan. That day commemorates the Episcopal and Roman Catholic chiefs who, in 1983, together with their bishops, clergy and laity in southern Sudan, refused to denounce Christianity. A new law had been passed requiring all Sudanese to convert to Islam, and these Christian leaders were executed by the government after declaring that they “would not abandon God as they knew Him.” (“Holy Women, Holy Men,” Church Publishing, 2010, p. 370).
Now, the newest wave of violence threatens not only the leaders and members of the Episcopal Church in South Sudan and Sudan, but all Sudanese Christians and millions of people living in the war-torn region.
“The National Council of Churches is in prayerful solidarity with the Episcopal Church as they commemorate the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Sudan,” said Jim Winkler, general secretary and president of the National Council of Churches USA. “We are mindful of our commitments to peace in the midst of the horrors affecting Sudan and South Sudan.”
For more information, resources and to learn how you can help, please visit the Episcopal Church’s website, http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/praystudyact-sudan, or the Episcopal Relief & Development website, http://www.episcopalrelief.org/southsudan.
Spanish bulletin inserts are available on the Sermones que Iluminan website.