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Archbishop Ian George leads Australian church visit to Sudan

Posted on: April 12, 2002 11:11 AM
Related Categories: Australia

The Most Revd Ian George, Archbishop of Adelaide left Australia on 4 April with a small ecumenical delegation representing the Australian churches on a visit to the Sudan. The Archbishop is the leader of team which also includes veteran Adelaide journalist Nick Kerr, NCCA General Secretary the Revd John Henderson, and Ms Shehara Viswanathan, a young Sydney based lawyer. They will be travelling for two weeks.

The team is travelling at the invitation of the New Sudan Council of Churches who sent a delegation to Australia last year. They will visit both Khartoum and Nairobi. In Khartoum they will meet with the Sudan Council of Churches and in Nairobi they will be guests of the New Sudan Council of Churches that is based in that Kenyan city. From Nairobi they will visit the Kakuma refugee camp on the Kenya/Sudan border, which care for many Southern Sudanese refugee families. From there they will travel to Tambura, Rumbek and Yei.

"For many years the Australian churches have felt a deep concern about the plight of people in Southern Sudan, many of whom are Christians," Archbishop George said. "They have endured a savage civil war that has been waging for the past 20 years. An added pressure upon them is the present attempts of the government in Khartoum to impose Sharia law upon the whole country.

"In recent years the situation has become increasingly grave because of the systematic bombing of smaller towns in a move designed to force tribal people off their lands which are rich in resources such as gold and gas. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees have fled as a result, and they have come in significant numbers to Australia. Indeed in the Anglican Church there are many former Sudanese refugees who belong to our congregations in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney."

The group will visit Khartoum and they will then travel to Nairobi. From there they go to the refugee camp and various other centres in the south of Sudan.

The Revd John Henderson, a Lutheran pastor who moved into his role as NCCA General Secretary early in January this year, is therefore making his first fraternal visit to a country that receives Australian church support.

"I am looking forward with eager anticipation to finding out the reality of the situation of the people of Sudan, and I hope to bring my leaning home to share with the churches and the Australian community," Fr Henderson said. "Where possible we hope that we will be able raise public awareness of their real plight."

Archbishop George says that he hopes the delegation from Australia will be able to offer support from the ecumenical Christian community in Australia to a very beleaguered Christian community in Sudan. He added, "Above all I hope that as a result of our visit we will be able to do something to rectify the global ignorance of their terrible situation.

"After some years of planning we are delighted that we are finally able to make this visit, but at the same time we are humbled by what we already understand of the incredible pressure under which the Sudanese Christians live out their witness to Jesus Christ."

The group will be away from Australia for two weeks and will return home on 15 April.

Article from: Anglican Media Sydney