A Primate for Sudan

by Gerry Lynch last modified 09 May, 2017 04:22 PM

Familiar and much loved figure to become first Primate of Sudan, based in Khartoum

A Primate for Sudan

Photo Credit: Pauline Walker/Sudan Church Association

The first Primate of the newly created Province of Sudan, the newest member of the Anglican Communion, is a figure known and loved by many in the Diocese of Salisbury, the Most Revd Ezekiel Kumir Kondo.

STOP PRESS - the Bishop of Salisbury’s Lent appeal for Christian Aid’s work in famine stricken South Sudan has now passed £73,000, with late donations still trickling in here. Thank you!

Ezekiel has visited Salisbury in the past, including for Bishop Nicholas enthronement in 2011. He has recently been Archbishop of the Internal Province of Sudan and Bishop of Khartoum. The Anglican Communion announced the creation of the new and separate Province of Sudan, based on the Internal Province, earlier this year. This reflected sovereignty changes in the region after South Sudan became independent in 2011.

The Vicar of the Close, the Revd Canon Ian Woodward, who chairs the Salisbury-Sudan Link, will travel to Sudan for the inauguration at the end of July, as will the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Speaking when the new Province was confirmed, Archbishop Ezekiel expressed joy at the news, “I would like to say that the Christians and the entire people of Sudan are very much looking forward to welcoming the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Mrs Welby to inaugurate the New Province of Sudan, number 39, which represents 39 Articles of faith of the Anglican Church and the 39 books of the Old Testament!

“It is my prayer and hope that the occasion will strengthen the church in Sudan for God's glory and extension of His Kingdom."

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, has described the new Province as a “welcome development” that will help connect Christians there with Anglicans in the worldwide Communion.

Since South Sudanese independence the Primate of Sudan and South Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul, has had the challenge of overseeing two very different countries. The four and a half million members of the Episcopal Church are based mainly in South Sudan, a predominantly Christian country. In contrast, Christians make up only 1.5% of Sudan’s 40 million people, who are overwhelmingly Muslim. The majority of Christians in Sudan belong either to the Anglican or the Roman Catholic Church, although there are also many Orthodox and Evangelical/Pentecostal denominations present in the country, which also borders majority Orthodox Ethiopia.

Churches in both nations are dealing with extraordinarily challenging contexts; South Sudan has been gripped by a worsening civil war since December 2013, economic collapse and a developing famine. In Sudan, there is widespread discrimination against Christians which sometimes worsens into episodes of outright persecution. The government is authoritarian, with dissenting voices from whatever religious or racial background suppressed, sometimes brutally.

In 2016 a formal application was made by the Primate to the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) for the internal province of Sudan to be granted autonomy. In July 2016 a team led by the Secretary General visited the country on a fact-finding trip. Subjects that were reviewed included staff numbers, financial viability and mission focus, as well as the numbers of lay workers. 

When the new Province was announced, Archbishop Josiah said: “It’s a welcome development that we now have another Anglican Province in a predominantly Muslim country. We hope the Province will stand and proclaim Christ in a way that will be meaningful in that context. Having Sudan as a separate Province of the Communion will benefit Christians in Sudan; now they will know they are not alone, that they are a part of the worldwide Anglican family.”

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