Church leaders unite behind vision for ‘one people, one nation, and one South Sudan’

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Church leaders in South Sudan, including the Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, have issued a joint statement calling on political leaders in the war-torn country to pursue peace.

After a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, the heads of members of the South Sudan Council of Churches issued a joint statement lamenting the violence and suffering of the nation’s people. “We as the shepherds of the people of South Sudan continue to mourn and grieve for our country,” the statement reads. “Our hearts pain for the suffering, tired, hungry flock and for our leaders with all their fears, anger and trauma as they struggle both across our nation, the region and the world.”

In the strongly worded statement, the church leaders write that “the winds of violence and conflict have continued to obscure our road to light and peace, while the international community remains discouraged and frustrated by the absence of peace.”

They also reference the role that the church has played in bringing the opposing sides together earlier this year for the first face-to-face meetings in several years, and said that they remain ready “to facilitate space for genuine dialogue.”

“Peace is the call from the hearts of all the people of South Sudan,” the statement says. “We are tired of war [and] violent conflicts of interest.” The statement also calls for “all communities” in the country to “shun tribalism and all kinds of fragmentation that inhibit from attaining true nationalism, durable unity and working together for comprehensive peace and genuine reconciliation.”

The church leaders say they have “sought to meet our leaders and encourage them through prayer into dialogue. We have facilitated and mediated within neutral forums and community conversations. We have spoken out for peace and justice, and we have called for our leaders to be accountable and we pledge to work continually for peace in our country, encouraging all of our people to hold on to faith and hope, trusting wholeheartedly that peace will return to our country sooner rather than later. We believe and therefore we speak!”

They say that “genuine dialogue, healing, substantial trust building amongst the parties [and] political will” will be needed for the successful implementation of a peace agreement, and that without these things, all efforts will be void. “The Church reiterates to all stakeholders that peace is not an event, nor a document, but a process requiring commitment and sacrifice.

“Since the war began in December 2013, several agreements have been signed but never fully implemented, and as a result our country remains in despair. The people of South Sudan will no longer accept false promises.”

They conclude with a commitment “to stand and work together for peace” and say that they “continue to express our prophetic voice as we listen and are guided by the Holy Spirit.”

In addition to Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, the joint statement, which is headed “Peace Now!”, was signed by the Chairman of South Sudan Council of Churches, Bishop Peter Gai Lual Marrow; its General Secretary, Father James Oyet Latansio; the Presiding Bishop of the Africa Inland Church, Bishop Arkanjelo Wani Lemi Jeberi; the General Overseer of the Sudan Pentecostal Church, Bishop Isaiah Majok Dau; the Moderator of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, Bishop James Par Tap Hon; the Moderator of the Equatoria Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Sudan, the Rev. Alex Gabriel Lado Lungaju; and the Chairman of the Sudan Interior Church, Bishop Simon Awan Ador.

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