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Sudan: New Archbishop elected for fast growing Anglican Church

Posted on: February 18, 2000 4:30 PM
Related Categories: Sudan

Bishop Joseph B Marona has been elected Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS). He succeeds Archbishop Benjamina Yugusuk, who retired two years ago. He will be enthroned on 30 April 2000.

As Archbishop of the ECS, Marona promises to bring and promote major changes. The Synod agreed to the ordination of women. Marona said he will encourage the active participation of women and youth in church leadership and pledged to make the ordination of women a reality in the ECS as soon as possible.

Another of his concerns is the impact of tribalism on the Church. The recent trend has been for bishops and clergy to serve their own tribal groups. Marona said that he plans to move clergy and bishops regularly within the Province in order to eliminate the effects of such tribalism.

The General Synod of the ECS elected him in the late hours of Friday, 11 Febru~ 2000. The election, held in the Limuru Conference Centre, near Nairobi, Kenya, brought together 120 delegates the first full General Synod in 14 years from both sides of the civil war.

In the war-torn country that is Sudan, Marona's concern is for human rights advocacy and peace issues. A versatile linguist who is qualified in teaching and communication, Marona is currently Bishop of Maridi, a town in the 'liberated' area of Sudan. Marona has worked tirelessly to support his people in Maridi.

Marona has been Dean and acting Archbishop of the Province for the last year, following the death of Bishop Daniel Zindo in a car accident. During that time Marona has travelled widely throughout Sudan, visiting many areas affected by the conflict, to support congregations and churches whose bishops are displaced in the government-held areas of the Sudan.

The ECS, part of the Anglican Communion, was planted by the Church Mission Society just over 100 years ago. In recent years it has grown dramatically in size under local leadership. Marona presided, in December 1999, over the centenary celebrations of the ECS, held amid the heavy security of the garrison town of Juba. Marona has built strong links with many agencies working in the Sudan. He was Chairman of the New Sudan Council of Churches from 1997 to 1998.

Joseph Marona was born in 1941 in Western Equatoria, southern Sudan. He trained as an Arabic-language primary-school teacher. He became a refugee in Uganda in 1965. While in Uganda he was awarded a diploma in Communication and History from Makere University in 1973. After the Addis Ababa agreement brought a temporary peace to the Sudan conflict, Marona returned to Sudan to become Deputy Head of Yei Primary School. Later he was Head of Tore Primary School.

From 1978, Marona trained for ministry in the Church. He was ordained deacon in 1981 and priest in 1982. Alongside chaplaincy work in two schools in Rumbek and Maridi, he devoted three years to translating the Bible into the Baka language.

Marona was consecrated Bishop of the new Diocese of Maridi on 22 April 1984. He also served as Secretary to the House of Bishops. It was in February 1999 that he became Dean and acting Archbishop.

The Dioceses of Salisbury and Bradford both have formal links with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. The bishops of both dioceses were present as observers at the election. The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Rev David Smith, commented, "The Episcopal Church in Sudan has chosen a wise and faithful pastor for its archbishop. It has been a privilege to be present for an election that was deeply prayerful and sensitive."

Canon Diana Wins, General Secretary of the Church Mission Society, commented, "It will be a daunting task for the archbishop to lead the Church at this time of civil war, with all the suffering and displacement that brings to the people of the Sudan. But the wonderful spirit of unity that ran through the election process shows that Archbishop Marona will not be carrying that burden alone."

Article from: CMS