Dean of Athooch, Daniel Garang Ayuen, among 20 killed in mob attack in Makol-cuei
The Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Makol-cuei, Daniel Garang Ayuen, was among more than 20 people killed when a mob attacked the town last week. Eleven people were injured and several children abducted in the attack, which took place just before 5 pm EAT (2 pm GMT) last Monday (27 July). The dead include 14 women and children who had sought sanctuary in the cathedral compound.
The Primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Archbishop Justin Badi Arama, joined with archbishops from South Sudan’s internal provinces this week to mark the nation’s Martyrs Day, and to pray for South Sudan. “During our time together we prayed especially for Jonglei Internal Province”, which includes the Diocese of Athooch, he said.
The Bishop of Athooch, Moses Anur Ayom, appealed for prayer. He said that the attackers “also burned [the] church compound and destroyed worship instruments in the church. They also burned the whole village. People are now scattered. Some people want to stay in Cathedral.
“Pray for the government committee that was formed to find a solution to this matter”, he said. “Some government officials are implicated in these attacks. Pray also efforts of the South Sudan Council of Churches which is seen as a neutral.”
A survivor of the attack, 80-year-old Chuti Maker, is recovering at Bor State Hospital from several knife wounds in the back and chest. He said that the attack was carried out by dozens of armed men wearing military uniforms. “They started shooting randomly and set the houses on fire”, he told Voice of America’s South Sudan in Focus programme. “We started to run and they chased after us. When they stabbed me on my back, I fell on the ground. I was stabbed again in my chest. When I fell, the two men chasing me started arguing over whether to shoot me or not before they left.”
What do Anglicans Believe? – New study guide published by Anglican Communion
A new study guide on Christian doctrine has been published by the Anglican Communion. “What do Anglicans Believe” is an introduction to Christian doctrine. It draws on both Anglican and ecumenical statements of belief.
The study guide, published yesterday (Monday), introduces a number of ecumenical texts and then asks questions to help students consider the practical application of the agreements in the life of their churches; including whether or not the life of their church “demonstrates that it is of Jesus Christ and what he does”; and how churches can show this more clearly.
In addition to use in theological colleges, it is envisaged that the study guide will be used by Christians across the world in home groups and study programmes.
The study guide has been written by the Theological Education in the Anglican Communion (TEAC) team at the Anglican Communion Office in London, with three members of IASCUFO – the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order.
The Anglican Communion’s Director for Theological Education, the Revd Dr Stephen Spencer, explained that the study guide builds on dialogue about doctrine that Anglican Churches have had with each other, and with other churches across the world ever since they were formed, saying: “over recent decades these conversations have produced a rich and authoritative collection of agreed statements, written by Anglican theologians in partnership with theologians from other churches, to create a broad and rich map of the Christian faith as it has been received and handed on by these churches.”
Dame Mary Tanner, who previously served as both European President of the World Council of Churches and as Moderator of its Faith and Order Commission, welcomed the new study guide, describing it as “such an important guide on Christian doctrine from Anglican and ecumenical sources.”
She said: “It offers such a good, engaging way to help students and clergy become familiar with ecumenical documents in a way that is relevant for their own lives and local experiences in worship and in mission and to ensure that that work is not forgotten. And it’s use of questions to readers will draw them into the subject. It is just what the Faith and Order commission in my day would have hoped for ie. receiving the fruits of the convergence statements in changed lives and in changed, closer relations with others who could also recognise the faith of the church in the documents.”
African Anglicans join voices against human trafficking
“Trafficking in persons is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights”, the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) said last week in a statement to mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (Thursday 30 July). The General Secretary of CAPA, J W Kofi deGraft-Johnson, described it as “a transnational organised crime that affects communities globally.”
In the statement, CAPA called on people to join the campaign against human trafficking, saying: “societies are judged by how they treat the least among them. Today we urge you to look at the plight of people in our communities who have been reduced to merchandise. They are bought and sold for labour, sexual exploitation, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or for the removal of body organs. . .
“Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers either in their own countries or abroad. Almost every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. According to the Global Slavery Index (2018) Regional Analysis of Africa, 62 per cent of Africans are vulnerable to modern slavery and the estimated number of people living in modern slavery is about 9,240,000.”
In the statement, deGraft-Johnson said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “exposed and worsened many global inequalities, created new obstacles on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and left millions of people at greater risk of being trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced marriage and other crimes.
“These realities on the plight of migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons among others from different Anglican Provinces on the continent undergirds CAPA’s response to the migration and human trafficking issues on the continent.
“CAPA, in collaboration with other partners and stakeholders, seeks to lend support to regional and global efforts to respond to the issues of migration and trafficking on the continent. Mindful of national, sub-regional and continent-wide actions on the issues of migration and human trafficking, CAPA invites all to join in the fight against human trafficking especially as we mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.”
The theme for last week’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons focused on the first responders – people who work in different sectors to identify support, counsel, and seek justice for victims of trafficking, and challenge the impunity of the traffickers.
“Faith communities are the backbone of society”, the CAPA statement said. “We therefore invite you to join in the fight against human trafficking and to support victims in multiple ways as first responders and by supporting others already doing the work. We call upon you today to join us as we fight to protect our neighbours.
“Your contribution could be to speak about the ills of trafficking in persons, raise awareness of the potential of trafficking among those vulnerable to the crime, sharing of information, challenge structures that expose the vulnerable and the marginalised to the crime of human trafficking, offer prayers for those caught in the web of traffickers and being trafficked and above all provide support to those affected by the ills of trafficking.
“Together we can and we must raise our voices against trafficking in persons.”
Dr Agnes Aboum tells WCC how Covid-19 must change mission
[by Julanne Clarke-Morris] Dr Agnes Aboum of the Anglican Church of Kenya has laid out key challenges for the world’s churches as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, in her address as Chair of the World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Executive Committee.
Dr Aboum set out the key issues that churches and their communities need to bring to the fore as they deal with the health crises, lockdowns and the economic impact of Covid-19. She outlined the criteria for mission responses to Covid-19 in an online address to the WCC Executive Committee meeting on 23 July.
Dr Aboum has told global ecumenical leaders that while Covid-19 has negatively affected churches’ ability to spread hope and care for the vulnerable in person, there are many more areas where the churches’ mission priorities need to shift to help mitigate the social and economic impact of Covid-19 on poor and vulnerable communities.
Dr Aboum has laid out key areas where churches need to be vigilant and work to prioritise their mission resources in light of the pandemic.
Firstly, she said, churches need to raise awareness of how the pandemic has affected societies more widely than by its direct impact on public health. Dr Aboum identified how the pandemic has:
- sharpened global and social inequalities, particularly as industries close down and global food supplies expose more people to food insecurity
- provided authoritarian Governments with a vehicle to engage emergency pandemic rules that limit human rights, especially of persecuted minorities, including churches
- led to increased family violence and economic pressure on women
- led desperate families to resort to child labour or transactional sex to stay alive, which is also more likely with the safeguard of schooling removed
- provided fuel to nationalist ideas and xenophobic policies
- threatened the security of at risk communities, for example in Nigeria where Islamic State and al-Qaeda extremists claimed Covid-19 was punishment from God and attacked locked down villagers who became “sitting targets”.
Dr Aboum told the WCC Executive that all around the world churches are well-positioned to lead communities by their own Covid-19 responses – by advocating for the most vulnerable communities and providing an example of best practice, through:
- promoting safe gatherings, providing accurate health information on transmission prevention, and adopting best practice on hygiene and tracing systems in all churches;
- targeting urban slums and other potential Covid “hot spots” for extra health support and information;
- targeting mission support for organisations that prevent violence against women and children and support survivors of family harm;
- calling on governments to monitor and mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on women, including lost income due to increased child care, and loss of national health spending on reproductive health as resources shift to Covid response;
- calling on governments to put resources toward minority communities that face higher risk from Covid-19 conditions, including persecuted religious minorities; and
- spreading hope and building human unity and solidarity through online and remote communications, particularly working to help communities guard against nationalism and xenophobia in response to the pandemic.
- The full text of Dr Aboum’s address as Moderator of the World Council of Churches Executive Committee on 23 July is available here.
Executive Archdeacon of Edmonton to be Anglican Church of Canada’s new General Secretary
Archdeacon Alan Perry has been selected as the new General Secretary (provincial secretary) of the Anglican Church of Canada. He will succeed Dr Michael Thompson, who retires on 31 August. For the past eight years, Perry has served as Executive Archdeacon in the Diocese of Edmonton. He is a member of the General Synod pension committee and has previously served as a priest in parish ministry in the diocese of Montreal. He has extensive experience with General Synod and the Provincial Synod of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, as well as a passion for justice ministry and ecumenical relationships.
His appointment was approved at an online meeting of the Council of General Synod last week.
During the meeting, the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop Linda Nicholls, paid tribute to Dr Thompson ahead of his retirement. He had walked with the church through a period of great challenge and helped the church find its way to the current moment, she said, adding that has “handed it on in good shape.”
Foundations of “England’s oldest church” restored
The remains of what is said to be the oldest Christian church in England have undergone a restoration process. The stone foundations, next to Colchester Police Station in Essex, were discovered more than 40 years ago when land was excavated to make way for a new road. It is thought that the church was built around AD 320 towards the end of the Roman occupation of Britain.
The High Steward of Colchester, Sir Bob Russell, told the Colchester Gazette newspaper that he was grateful that the local council had “now arranged for more extensive restoration of the remaining stonework of this amazing survivor of the early days of Christianity in our country.
“With the success of the restoration work just completed, I renew my call for direction signs to be erected on existing poles with signs around the town centre. This should be promoted as a major tourist attraction, along with the Roman Chariot Circus which is the only one known to have existed in this country.”
The restoration work was carried out by Bakers of Danbury, a specialist church and ancient monument contractor, commissioned by Colchester Council and supported by Colchester Archaeological Trust.