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Sudan Synod condemns violence, reiterates commitment to God's mission

[ACNS] An outspoken statement from the Episcopal Church of Sudan's Provincial Synod has called for an end to the executions of civilians, aerial bombings, and armed conflict - particularly the "cancer of the Western Equatoria State...the Lord's Resistance Army."

In the statement, released Nov. 23, the synod called repeatedly called for peace, and an end to conflict, and stressed its role in the life of the two countries -- Sudan and South Sudan.

The synod, comprising representatives of the houses of bishops, clergy and laity from the 31 dioceses of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, convened Nov. 13-16. It was the first General Synod since the independence of the Republic of South Sudan on July 9, 2011.

"We strongly condemn the persistent aerial bombardment of civilian territories, summary executions of innocents, and combat in civilian areas in the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, Upper Nile State and Unity State. The bombs that fall are indiscriminate; they kill and maim young and old, man and woman, Christian and Muslim. In short, innocent civilians have become a target and their suffering has become political currency," the statement said.

"We categorically denounce these heinous activities, crimes against humanity that further traumatize the people of Sudan and South Sudan. We advise the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan to return to the negotiating table and discuss national issues in a way amenable to peace and stability. We urge both governments to resolve any differences peacefully and not to resort to war and killing of the innocent civilians who yearn for peace.

"We remind all that the cancer of Western Equatoria State, namely the Lord's Resistance Army, persists and requires immediate and committed international mediation for the most equitable solution for peace. We maintain the position that peaceful methods of engagement should prevail and urge the Government of South Sudan and the Government of Western Equatoria to redouble their efforts particularly concerning civilian protection."

The statement, signed by Episcopal Church of Sudan Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, the Rev. Canon Sylvester Thomas Kambaya (chairman of the House of Clergy) and Eng Barnaba Dumo Wani (chairman of the House of Laity), emphasized that the church believes it has a crucial role in bringing peace and healing to the nation.

"In the area of advocacy for peace and reconciliation, the ECS [Episcopal Church of Sudan] will remain committed to its national and international partners but particularly to the Government of South Sudan, the relevant state governments and the United Nations in order to collectively implement a peace process throughout Sudan and South Sudan," the statement said. "The ECS will remain a beacon of the hope of Jesus Christ so that the people of Sudan and South Sudan, traumatized by decades of devastating civil war, recognize the renaissance of their time and the hope of this new beginning."

It continued, "We remain committed to collaborating with national and international partners to enhance and extend basic services, namely education and healthcare provision, to all people in Sudan and South Sudan."

The statement stressed the church's commitment to serving Jesus Christ in both countries through the continued proclamation of the Gospel and also a commitment to the Anglicanism.

"In order to proclaim the gospel, the ECS will continue its efforts of high-level political and grassroots evangelization in order to reach all the communities of the Sudan and South Sudan. The ECS will also continue to adhere to the traditions of the Anglican Communion through use of the Prayer Book and training to new and existing pastors on the meaning of Anglicanism."

In addition to United Nations and government leaders, the synod welcomed the Rev. Canon Joanna Udal, representing Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams; Bishop Nicolas Holtam of Salisbury, Church of England; Bishop Suffragan David Jones of Virginia, the Episcopal Church; and other church partners from the United Kingdom and the United States.

The full statement is available here.

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