The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has joined other faith leaders in expressing renewed concern for Darfur, Sudan, and has published a prayer for Sunday, September 17, designated as an international Day of Prayer for the region.
Thousands of Americans will gather in cities across the United States on September 17 calling on nations to prevent further genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, while the Save Darfur Coalition is supporting rallies in more than 18 states, the National Council of Churches announced.
A rally in New York's Central Park (East Meadow, 2 p.m. EDT) is planned as the centerpiece of the global day of action. Rallies are also being planned throughout the world.
Information on Sunday's rallies can be found at the SDC website [http://www.savedarfur.org/content] or you can link from www.councilofchurches.org.
Williams reflected on his visit to Sudan earlier this year.
"In my visit to Sudan in March I saw people who had endured so much hatred and harm, and yet with the end of war in the south sought to return home, to rebuild quickly and work again for the future of their families and communities," he said. "It was their faith that sustained them, and the concerted efforts of faith communities, aid agencies and governments together that enabled truce first and then peace to be agreed."
"We do well to reflect on that experience of southern Sudan as we pray for Darfur. We are all under judgment in how we exercise the power we have, whether it is great or small. When in Matthew's gospel the disciples asked Jesus when they visited him in prison, or when they saw him naked or hungry, he replied, "When you clothed, visited and fed the least of your brothers and sisters you did so to me."
"So my prayer as a Christian is that we may live internationally as we seek to live locally: that we are all children of God, with no more or less value in the eyes of God than those whose names and villages we do not know."
"This is a critical time in Darfur," said Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC's associate general secretary for international affairs and peace.
"The government of Sudan has told the African Union troops to be out of the country by October 1," said Kireopoulos, who is speaking at Sunday's Central Park rally. "But while the United Nations has already passed a resolution authorizing a peacekeeping force, the United States and other countries need to press the Sudanese government to allow U.N. peacekeepers in, otherwise there will be no protection for the people of Darfur."
It is estimated nearly a half million people have been killed in Darfur by roving militias -- called the Janjaweed -- with the support of the Sudanese government. Several relief agencies have expressed grave concern that further genocide will continue unabated when the African Union troops pullout.
The full text of Williams’ prayer is below:
We pray for those whose lives are lived on the margins of nations and suffer from the wars that others fight around them. We pray for the warring factions, that they may see themselves under the gaze of God and those who suffer for their cause. We pray for the peoples of Darfur who are haunted by fear of violence, hunger and hopelessness, that they may continue to be fed, visited and defended. We pray for the work of peacekeepers, negotiators and the humanitarian organizations that security may prevail. We pray for the Government of Sudan and for her unity. We pray for peace in the name of him who is the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ our Lord.