Church leaders in South Sudan, including the Anglican Primate Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, have issued a joint statement calling on political leaders in the war-torn country to pursue peace. After a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, the heads of Churches in membership of the South Sudan Council of Churches issued a joint statement lamenting the violence and suffering of the nation’s people. “We as the shepherds of the people of South Sudan continue to mourn and grieve for our country”, they say. “Our hearts pain for the suffering, tired, hungry flock and for our leaders with all their fears, anger and trauma as they struggle both across our nation, the region and the world.”
They say that “the winds of violence and conflict have continued to obscure our road to light and peace, while the international community remains discouraged and frustrated by the absence of peace.”
They spoke of the role that the Church has played in bringing the opposing sides together earlier this year for the first face-to-face meetings in several years; and said that they remain ready “to facilitate space for genuine dialogue”.
“Peace is the call from the hearts of all the people of South Sudan”, they said. “We are tired of war, violent conflicts of interest and we are urgently calling for all communities in South Sudan to shun tribalism and all kinds of fragmentation that inhibit from attaining true nationalism, durable unity and working together for comprehensive peace and genuine reconciliation. . .”
In their strongly worded statement, the Church leaders say “We have sought to meet our leaders and encourage them through prayer into dialogue. We have facilitated and mediated within neutral forums and community conversations. We have spoken out for peace and justice, and we have called for our leaders to be accountable and we pledge to work continually for peace in our country, encouraging all of our people to hold on to faith and hope, trusting wholeheartedly that peace will return to our country sooner rather than later. We believe and therefore we speak!”
They say that “genuine dialogue, healing, substantial trust building amongst the parties [and] political will” be needed for the successful implementation of a peace agreement; and that without them, all efforts will be void. “The Church reiterates to all stakeholders that peace is not an event, nor a document, but a process requiring commitment and sacrifice.
“Since the war began in December 2013, several agreements have been signed but never fully implemented, and as a result our country remains in despair. The people of South Sudan will no longer accept false promises.”
They conclude with a commitment “to stand and work together for peace” and say that they “continue to express our prophetic voice as we listen and are guided by the Holy Spirit.”
They add: “We reach out to all the leaders without seeking popularity or favour, acting to remind them of their duties to protect life. We seek to pursue a vision that will bring our people out of the desert of this violence to an oasis of peace where all teh fragmented people of South Sudan will seek a vibrant and cohesive nation that is one people, one nation, and one South Sudan.
“Oh God bless South Sudan.”
In addition to Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, the joint statement, which is headed “Peace Now!”, was signed by the Chairman of South Sudan Council of Churches, Moderator Peter Gai Lual Marrow; its General Secretary, Father James Oyet Latansio; the Presiding Bishop of the Africa Inland Church, Dr Arkanjelo Wani Lemi Jeberi; the General Overseer of the Sudan Pentecostal Church, Dr Isaiah Majok Dau; the Moderator of the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, James Par Tap Hon; the Moderator of the Equatoria Presbytery of the Presbyterian Churhc of South Sudan and Sudan, Alex Gabriel Lado Lungaju; and the Chairman of the Sudan Interior Church, Simon Awan Ador.