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Celebrations in Sudan as new internal provincial Archbishop enthroned

Posted on: July 28, 2014 12:58 PM
The Most Revd Ezekiel Kumir Kondo, Archbishop of the internal province of Sudan
Photo Credit: Pauline Walker/ Sudan Church Association
Related Categories: Abp Kondo, South Sudan

The first Archbishop of the new internal province of Sudan has been enthroned during a major celebration service in Khartoum’s All Saints Cathedral. Up to 10,000 worshippers saw the Most Revd Ezekiel Kumir Kondo, Bishop of Khartoum, take on the new role.

In 2013, the Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan decided it wanted to remain as one church despite the independence of South Sudan in 2011. It renamed itself the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan; and created an internal province for the dioceses in Sudan.

The original province has grown from four dioceses in 1976, when it first became an independent province of the Anglican Communion, to 31 dioceses today.

Most of the dioceses are in South Sudan, including the diocese of Juba, whose bishop, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul Yak, is also the Archbishop of the province. Five of the dioceses – Khartoum, El Obeid, Port Sudan, Kadugli and Wad Medani – serve more than one million Anglicans in Sudan. 

The creation of a new internal province will make it easier for the Church to relate to different governments, with their separate laws and administrations.

Tensions and conflict remain between Sudan and South Sudan, and the movement of citizens between them is not easy. This makes it difficult for the Archbishop of the overall province to regularly visit dioceses in Sudan.

The dioceses in the two countries also face different issues: the five provinces in Sudan work with an Islamic government on issues of justice, reconciliation and on the rights of minorities, giving rise to a specific series of issues that needs an Archbishop in Khartoum to address.

The new internal province was inaugurated on 19 July last year with an interim administration. Following elections on 4 April this year, Bishop Ezekiel Kumir Kondo of of Khartoum was unanimously elected as the first Archbishop of the Internal Province of Sudan; alongside a new provincial secretary, treasurer, chancellor and registrar.

Archbishop Ezekiel, who hails from the Nuba Mountains area of Sudan, has served on the Anglican Consultative Council for 16 years; and has now been installed in Khartoum Cathedral three times in three different roles.

Having gained a theological degree from England’s Trinity College, Bristol, in 1992, he served as Provost of Khartoum Cathedral from 1993; becoming provincial secretary in 2000; and elected Bishop in 2003. 

The Registrar reads the mandate for the consecration
The Registrar reads the mandate for the consecration
Photo Credit: Sudan Church Association

Some of the estimated 10,000 people who packed All Saints Cathedral began arriving from 5am in order to secure a place; and many people in the congregation had come from overseas and from across Sudan.

“I want to thank God for the opportunity and grace given me to lead the Province as the first Archbishop,” Archbishop Ezekiel said. “As well as praying for me in this new role I ask you all to pray for peace in Sudan, especially in the four areas of South Kordofan, Darfur, Blue Nile and Abyei.

“Please pray for a just and workable agreement between the government of Sudan and the SPLA-North; also the governments of Sudan and of South Sudan over the area of Abyei.”

The five-hour cathedral service included much singing and celebrating, as well as Archbishop Ezekiel’s enthronement by the Primate of South Sudan and Sudan, Archbishop Daniel Deng.

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to send you my warmest congratulations on your enthronement as the Archbishop of the new Internal Province of Sudan,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said in a letter read by the chairman of the Sudan Church Association, the Ven Michael Paget-Wilkes, the retired Archdeacon of Warwick.

“I am sorry that I am not able to be with you in person for this joyous occasion, but I am nonetheless pleased to be able to represented at this historical moment in the life of the Church in Sudan,” he said. “Please be assured of my prayers as you embark on this new phase of your ministry, which will no doubt hold many challenges for you in the years ahead. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you as you share in this work and the task of building up the Christian communities in this new internal Province in Sudan.

Archbishop Daniel Deng with Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo and the bishops of Sudan
Archbishop Daniel Deng with Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo and the bishops of Sudan
Photo Credit: Sudan Church Association

“Yours is no easy task, and I hope and pray that the Church in Sudan will grow and prosper. You may certainly count on the support of Archbishop Daniel Deng and all your fellow bishops in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, and in the wider Anglican Communion.”

After the service, celebrations continued in the near-by Olympic Stadium, where many speeches of congratulation were given by local and world-wide dignitaries.

The Governor of Khartoum State said that because it was Ramadan, a time of fasting for Muslims, what he was about to say had extra truth. “We are happy that an Archbishop is installed who is a national Sudanese,” he said. “The Episcopal Church of Sudan is a national Church, therefore we will be very happy to listen to you and be corrected where we are going wrong. Please tell us and we will listen.”

In a separate speech, the Minister of the Federal Government had high praise for Ezekiel, saying that he had been working with him for many years.

Visit the Picture Gallery for more photographs from the enthronement.