Back home from South Sudan *Updated with Gallery

by Jonathan Ball last modified 30 Nov, 2011 03:07 PM

A letter to the Diocese from Bishop Nicholas

Back home from South Sudan *Updated with Gallery

Bishop Nicholas at the opening of the Juba Diocesan Model School Science Laboratory

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It was a blessing for me as the new Bishop to be able to visit the 9th Provincial Synod of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan in Juba from 13-16 November.  The Salisbury - Sudan partnership is an important relationship.  Canon Ian Woodward and Dean  June Osborne went with me. June led a study day for the 31 Deans of the Province before the Synod began, the first time they had met as a group.  Ian and I were with the bishops, sharing the second day of their retreat.

Their Provincial Synod last met 5 years ago.  Five people travelled to Juba from each of the 31 dioceses. For the first time there was at least one woman from each diocese, and one diocese sent two women.  

Resolutions made by the Synod drew attention to continuing conflict in four different areas. The Church is taking a lead in peacemaking. The Synod raised a lot of issues about internal Church business.  The Church continues to grow fast but has meagre financial resources and few clergy have been well educated and trained for the ministry. With help from us and from American Friends, the administration of the Province has made significant progress.  There is a great deal of ambition, for example, to create a Christian university in the South Sudan, but also a lack of capacity.

Whilst South Sudan is excited about being the newest nation on earth, it is becoming more realistic about the scale of the enormous challenges it faces.  In the north, the Republic of Sudan is hardening its identity as an Islamic state. Hundreds of thousands of Christians have moved south.  The position of those who remain will be strengthened by the continuing unity of the Episcopal Church and by their continuing external partnerships.

The number of people who thanked me for all that the Diocese of Salisbury has done was very moving. One of the bishops said, “I owe everything to Salisbury”.  Others spoke about their visits to parishes, deaneries and to the cathedral. So many people asked me to pass on their good wishes that I can only do so in this most general of ways.  They felt supported and prayed for by all the people who make the link such an important part of our diocese.  I was told repeatedly how much it mattered that Salisbury stayed with them through the worst of the war and that Bishop David and Sarah Stancliffe visited the conflict areas when so much of the world kept away. 

It was a very great privilege to open the new science block at Juba Diocesan Model School. This was paid for by a partnership of Christian Aid, Salisbury, and Juba Diocese.  The pupils were all turned out beautifully. In large measure it is on them that the future of South Sudan depends.

Yesterday, as I took a Confirmation service for St Peter’s and St Luke’s in Parkstone,  a medical team from the Poole Hospitals arrived in Juba. They  will be travelling to Wau, teaching at the medical centre.  Next month a group from Sherborne will be going and in January we will be represented at the centenary of the Anglican Cathedral in Khartoum. We are planning for Archbishop Daniel to visit Salisbury and others will be coming in 2012. So the partnership continues. The Church in Sudan will continue to be strengthened by the partnership with us and  we will continue to be enriched by our commitment to these Christians with their simple and deep faith, who have so little and who give so much.

Grace and peace to those who are far off and to those who are near.

+ Nicholas Sarum

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