The leaders of the churches in Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to form two new ecumenical bodies following South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011.
The Episcopal Church of the Sudan has membership of both new bodies: the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), based in Juba, and the new Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), based in Khartoum. The formation of the new ecumenical bodies sees the dissolution of the
For 48 years, the old Sudan Council of Churches represented all World Council of Churches (WCC) members in both Sudan and South Sudan. The decision to establish two separate ecumenical organisations was reached through a lengthy process at the SCC’s 20th General Assembly from earlier this month in Nairobi, Kenya.
The assembly, attended by Dr Nigussu Legesse, WCC programme executive for advocacy on African issues, and the Revd Dr Samuel Kobia of Kenya, the WCC’s former general secretary, elected Festus Abdel Aziz James as the new general secretary of the SSCC in Juba; and endorsed the appointment of the Revd Kori Romla Koru as the new general secretary of the SCC based in Khartoum.
"Despite all the difficulties that the Sudan Council of Churches has faced during and after independence of South Sudan, it is admirable how churches have remained committed towards peace and justice in South Sudan and Sudan," the Revd Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, said. "When both ecumenical organizations start working in new structures, we pray that they continue to carry their vision for education, peace and reconciliation and serving the communities in the spirit of pure Christian unity, with each other and with the churches around the world."
Tveit visited Juba and Khartoum in April this year, where he met with the church leaders and government representatives and expressed solidarity with the Sudanese churches.
In addition to the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, the SSCC includes the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan and the Africa Inland Church Sudan; while the SCC includes the United Methodist Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin), the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa, the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan and the Africa Inland Church Sudan alongside the Episcopal Church of the Sudan.
The two new ecumenical councils will together celebrate the Golden Jubilee of ecumenism in the region in January 2015.