By ACNS staff
As Sudan waits for the birth of two nation states following its referendum, Sudan’s Christians have issued a strong statement of solidarity and unity.
Leaders of ten Christian traditions in the country have signed their name to the communiqué recently issued following the General Assembly of the Sudan Council of Churches.
In an effort to reinforce that the creating of two countries will not divide the Christian community there the communiqué issued by the SCC states:
“With the prospects of two nations emerging from the old Sudan, we affirm our unity as the Church of Jesus Christ, both in the North and in the South. Being one body of Christ, we are one people and we are indivisible. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Our divine mandate exceeds geographical and political boundaries.”
The statement also calls for freedom of worship, movement, expression and residence in the two states and requests that the government of South Sudan ensure the security and the protection of the civil population caught in the crossfire between the militias and the government forces.
The full communiqué is below:
THE COMMUNIQUE OF THE SUDAN COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
18TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
MAY 9TH TO 11TH, 2011
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN
COME, LET US REBUILD… AND WE WILL NO LONGER LIVE IN DISGRACE (NEHEMIAH 2:17B)
An Urgent Call to Rebuild
We, the delegates of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) General Assembly together with our partners and other participants, met in Juba from 9th to 11th of May, 2011 to pray and to reflect on the prevailing situation in our country. In our reflection, we were encouraged that although the way ahead of us maybe hard and difficult, God will see us through. We were exhorted to trust God for the future and to fix our eyes on him. He has been faithful to us as a people and we deeply thank him for what he has done, what he is doing and what he will do in us and through us. We are grateful for the attendance and input of the Minister for Justice and Legal Affairs and on the interim constitution of South Sudan. We were also honoured by the presence of the Presidential Advisor for Religious Affairs. We give God all the praise, all the honour and all the worship!
As we reflect on the time to rebuild we note the following:
We look back with sincere gratitude to God for the overwhelming success of the South Sudan referendum in January this year and for the peaceful conduct of Popular Consultation in Blue Nile and gubernatorial elections in Southern Kordofan, whose results are yet to be announced. We call for peace in South Kordofan no matter what the results of the election will be.
We look forward with faith for the birth of two states on July 9th. Our prophetic statement in March 2010 that Sudan shall never be the same again after the referendum has been fulfilled. The referendum event has passed, but the process of nation building has yet to start. It is now time to rebuild, so that we no longer live in disgrace.
With the prospects of two nations emerging from the old Sudan, we affirm our unity as the Church of Jesus Christ, both in the North and in the South. Being one body of Christ, we are one people and we are indivisible. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Our divine mandate exceeds geographical and political boundaries.
We call for inclusive and open constitutional processes both in the North and in the South. While acknowledging the electoral mandates that the ruling parties in the North and in the South have, we still call for these inclusive and open constitutional processes because the interests of the nations are at stake and these interests are bigger than any one political body or group.
We call for freedom of movement, freedom of worship, freedom of expression, freedom of work and freedom of residence in the two states after July 9th. We also call upon the two states to respect, protect and guarantee minority rights including religious rights as enshrined in the interim constitutions and will be enshrined in the permanent constitutions.
We are concerned with the increasing waves of military activities, defections and counter-defections in the south as we approach the declaration of independence. It is our belief that the presidential amnesty offered to all armed groups in October 2010 is still holding and all those concerned should accordingly take advantage of this. Consequently, we call upon all armed groups to lay down their arms and come to the negotiating table. The way of peace is always the best.
We call upon the government of South Sudan to ensure the security and the protection of the civil population caught in the crossfire between the militias and the government forces. We expect the government forces, now transiting from Guerilla army to modern and conventional army, not to engage in criminal activities such as looting, rape and extra-judicial killing and killing of the innocent civilians in the process of dealing with armed groups’ leaders and their forces. The end never justifies the means.
We call for peaceful settlement of the Abyei question within the framework of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The people of Abyei must be given the freedom and the opportunity to decide their destiny. In this process, we urge the UN, the USA, the EU, the AU and the IGAD to arbitrate between the NCP and SPLM on the Abyei question. As the political tension continues to rise in Abyei, we urge the partners to the CPA to avoid warlike inflammatory language and instead resolve the question timely and peacefully. We see no need to incite violence in Abyei. We know that violence in all its forms always breeds violence, and violence will never be the way to settle grievances.
We call for the peaceful resolution of the Darfur problem.
We call upon the International Community, the Government of Sudan, the Government of South Sudan and all people of good will to assist in settling the Internally Displaced Persons/returnees. The suffering of these children of God as they try to find shelter, food and basic daily needs is our concern and should be for all people of conscience.
We recommit ourselves to the ministry of justice, peace and reconciliation in our country. In this regard, we resolve to roll out once again the people to people peace process in our communities to the effect that peace will prevail truly at all levels. As we engage in this noble task, we call upon our political leaders in the North and in the South to refrain from making provocative statements and instead preach peace, harmony and good neighbourliness among all our people. We all need peace even if we become two states.
We believe in the destiny of our people and we encourage all our people to live in peace as they endeavour to reach it. We have no doubt God will bless us. He began a good work in our country and he will bring it to completion. This is our faith!
Signed on 11th May 2011
Fr. Joshua Michael Bp.
Episcopal Church of Sudan
Rev. Peter Makuac
Presbyterian Church of Sudan
Bp. Michael Taban
Sudan Pentecostal Church
Rev. Abraham Nul
Sudan Interior Church
Rev. Moses Gatkouth
Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church
Fr. Bishay Alantony
Coptic Orthodox Church
Pastor Barnabas Mattias
Sudan Church of Christ
Elder John Daniel
Greek Catholic Church
Bp. James Lagos
Africa Inland Church
Bp. Ezekiel Kondo
Chair, Sudan Council of Churches
Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol
General Secretary, SCC