June 12, 2005

The Diocese of Renk in the Sudan

Most Sundays, we pray for a variety of local and global Episcopal and Anglican bodies, including the diocese of Renk in the Sudan. A neighbor parish, St Michael's Barrington, has established a relationship with and helps support the Episcopal churches in the Renk diocese. Their information page notes:

Profile of the Diocese of Renk, Sudan Network Inventory Scanner

Since 1986, the fundamentalist Islamic government in northern Sudan has been waging a civil war against Christians and Animists in the south. To date, over 2 million people have been killed, with another 4 million displaced from their homes. Many of these refugees have resettled in Renk diocese, where they are ministered to by Bishop Daniel Deng Bul and his clergy. These people have suffered untold horrors in the name of Jesus Christ, yet their faith remains strong. Our relationship with Renk offers us a chance to make a difference in the lives of our brothers ans sisters, and in turn their strength of spirit leads us to deepen our faith. - St Michaels Barrington: Sudan Covenant Care Commission

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St Michael's level of support and their relationship with the people and clergy of Renk is to be commended.

A recent event at Elmhurst College highlighted the amount of support parishes in Northern Illinois continue to give to Sudan and the diocese of Renk and for relief efforts in the region of Darfur. This event was conceived of and implemented by diocesan youth.

The Episcopal Church has been urging action on Darfur (western Sudan) for some time, but the problem is ongoing. Renk (southern Sudan) has seen its share of conflict - as far back as 1998, southern rebels were accused of killing northern merchants near the town of Renk by the Sudanese government; this was likely a pretext for the northern Arab/Islamic northern government to crack down on the Christian/animists of south Sudan.

Fortunately, a peace agreement has been reached between the government and the rebel forces in the south, and there is much cause for celebration. Unfortunately, there are still many problems confronting the people of Sudan. Not only that, the Khartoum headquarters and guest house of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ESC) were "confiscated" in a disputed property sale related to the actions of a defrocked former bishop last year, and recently an Arab-owned company took over the building. They still have many challenges to overcome that make our own problems seem minor by comparison.

So next Sunday, when we pray for the diocese of Renk and Bp. Daniel Deng Bul, keep in mind all Sudanese who have been affected by the years of civil war. Here are just a few stories:

The survivors of the forced evictions in Soba Aradi on May 18th. An estimated 15-22 adults and some children died in the unannounced destruction of a settlement for internally displaced Sudanese, many of whom are Episcopalians.

The bishops of Sudan who had to cancel a historic synod because the roads to the south from Khartoum are still mined and unsafe for travel. Several US and British dioceses were sending delegations, but are now re-evaluating travel plans.

Former "Lost Boys" who have found homes and a future in Chicago, and other cities in the US, but who may soon be returning to rebuild their shattered country.


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