|A call for prayer from Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.Jeremiah 29:11
For more than a month, Anglicans, along with many other Canadians and people around the world, have watched as violence has ravaged South Sudan, and visited additional suffering upon peoples who have endured as much or more violence and upheaval as any in the world over the past five decades.
Through the appeal of the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, and his diocesan bishops, through the Anglican Peace and Justice Network and Anglican Alliance, and from Canadian Sudanese Anglican leaders, we have heard firsthand stories of how the senseless violence began in December, and how it has spread within and beyond South Sudan’s borders. From a PWRDF partner in Kenya we are learning of increasing numbers of women and children fleeing Juba and other southern areas seeking shelter and food in overstretched refugee camps in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.
The Anglican Church of Canada, with local and international ecumenical partners, and Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world, has responded to the pleas of South Sudan with calls for prayer for peace and donations toward immediate humanitarian relief. Delivery of the world’s support of those most impacted by the violence, now well underway with local partners is an answer to prayer.
Indeed, the ceasefire announced on Thursday January 23, 2014 is an answer to prayer. Yet the coming days and weeks are critically important if the ceasefire is to hold.
I urge us all to continue to pray for this ceasefire and the opportunity it offers for lasting peace to the peoples of South Sudan and East Africa.
I urge us to learn about the Episcopal Church of Sudan and its courageous works of healing and reconciliation. We believe strongly the Episcopal Church of Sudan and other faith groups in South Sudan are among the most successful potential actors in leading and facilitating peace, humanitarian assistance and healing.
I urge us to contribute through The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund toward the immediate, most basic needs of peoples affected by violence in Juba and surrounding area, and those in nearby refugee camps.
I urge us to commend to the Government of Canada an active, strategic response to the needs and aspirations of the people of South Sudan. We believe urgent and intensified leadership from the Government of Canada and the international community is essential for supporting the ceasefire and building a future of peace.
We have recently called upon the Government of Canada (January 24, 2014) to:
- Lend diplomatic and financial support to the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) mediation efforts continuing in Addis Ababa;
- Develop a cohesive strategy for ensuring aid reaches those most in need and fulfills other strategic purposes without colluding in any way with the efforts of those who would bring greater instability;
- Continue to examine Canadian aid strategy to South Sudan;
- Hold South Sudanese political leaders accountable for not exacerbating ethnic tension;
- Provide support to those documenting human rights abuses that have occurred in the context of the conflict;
- Pay special attention to supporting the efforts of local civil-society leaders -particularly the faith communities of South Sudan — who have longstanding credibility as peacemakers; and
- Call for the release of South Sudanese prisoners now detained by the Government of South Sudan as an important gesture toward a lasting ceasefire and a negotiated peace.
Let us listen as one Anglican family in Canada to the concerns of Canadian Sudanese Anglican men and women seeking peace for their homeland and loved ones, and act together.