Consultation in Sudan explores engagement with Muslims, living together with respect and harmony
The first workshop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan’s (ECS) Commission for Inter faith and Ecumenical Relations was held in ECS Provincial Headquarters, Juba, during the period 23-27 February 2009.
The workshop addressed one of ten strategic focus areas for ECS, entitled Ecumenism of Inter Faith Dialogue. Its stated goal is that Sudanese communities of different faiths understand, respect and live in harmony (co-existence) with each other. Its state objectives are twofold: To ensure active participation in all ecumenical for a and to promote Inter Faith dialogue. The workshop was organised by Rt Revd Andudu Adam Elnail (bishop of Kadugli, Sudan), chairperson of the Commission and by the Rt Revd Ezekiel Diing (assistant bishop of Bor), vice-chairperson. It was facilitated by the Revd Dr Johnson Mbillah, General Adviser to PROCMURA, and the Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson (bishop of Clogher, Ireland), chairperson of NIFCON Management Group, Anglican Communion.
The ECS intends to implement its strategic plan between 2009 and 2013 with the overall purpose of improving social, economic and political development within the ECS and Sudan in general. This aspiration is set against the urgent need for comprehensive social reconstruction after the Civil War.
Participants included bishops, clergy and lay people, both men and women, of ECS along with representatives of the Sudan Council of Churches and CMS. There was a representative from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Presentations were made on inter faith relations in each of seven clustered areas, covering the whole Province. Based on the presentations and the discussion which followed, a number of areas for consultation and dialogue ecumenically and with Muslim partners emerged: the relationship between the churches and the National Government; a review of provision for Christian teaching and curriculum in schools; devising an inter faith curriculum in theological institutions; issues concerning the safety and dignity of women and children; increased local interaction between Christians and Muslims to develop mutual understanding and respect, and to safeguard permanent prosperity.
Future immediate work will concern the strengthening of ecumenical relationships within the Sudan – nationally and regionally – clustered inter faith workshops with Muslim people. The Commission recognised the importance of positioning inter faith dialogue within the contexts of identity, mission and witness. It further recognised he interconnectedness of the dialogue of life and the dialogue of ideas.
The Primate of ECS was represented throughout the workshop b the Rt Revd Justin Badi Arama, bishop of Maridi, Sudan. Also present throughout was the Revd Canon Enock Tombe, Provincial Secretary, ECS.
Report submitted by Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson