Presbyterian leaders offer a call to prayer for Sudan

Bolbach, Parsons, and Valentine urge peace as July 9 independence nears

June 22, 2011

LOUISVILLE

With violence flaring up in Sudan as the July 9 independence of South Sudan nears, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders have called on all Presbyterians to pray for peace in the east African country.

The call was issued by General Assembly Moderator Cynthia Bolbach, General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director Linda Valentine.

After decades of civil war between the Khartoum-based Islamist government of Sudan and the mainly Christian and animist south, a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005. The agreement called for a referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan. The referendum was held in January of this year, with overwhelming support for independence, which is scheduled to take place July 9.

The full text of the call to prayer:

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has more than 100 years of ministry with our sisters and brothers in Sudan. Our engagement in Sudan involves ministry through mission personnel and our partner churches in both the northern and southern parts of the country. Because of this longstanding commitment, we want to focus attention on a particularly serious situation.

Last January, in a relatively peaceful referendum on self-determination held under the auspices of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a long civil war, the people of southern Sudan voted for independence. South Sudan is scheduled to become an independent state on July 9. 

In recent days, violence has flared in the border regions of South Kordofan and Abyei. Violence has also broken out between the Nuer and Murle peoples in Jonglei state. Violence continues in the Darfur region in western Sudan. Reports of attacks in areas of civilian populations raise additional concerns. Many people have been displaced in each of these areas, increasing the risks they face. In the South Kordofan region, reports indicate that international humanitarian providers are relocating or evacuating their staff out of concern for their safety. In some locations, violence has diminished or ceased, however its effects remain, as does the potential for further violence.

General Assembly Mission Council Staff and Presbyterians committed to Sudan are responding. We are engaged in advocacy with representatives of the United States government. With our international, ecumenical partners we are calling the United Nations Security Council and other members of the international community to act to ensure that humanitarian assistance programs have access to all parts of Sudan. We are also calling for actions to ensure that the United Nations Mission in Sudan mandate to protect civilians is fulfilled. We are supporting efforts to respond to humanitarian needs.

Now we invite you to act on behalf of the people of Sudan through prayer. We invite individual Presbyterians and Presbyterian congregations to pray regularly for the people of Sudan. Pray for all the people, particularly those affected by violence in South Kordofan, Jonglei State, and Darfur. Pray that the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan will turn from violence. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for those who provide humanitarian assistance. Pray that the international community will find effective ways to intervene. Pray for peace.

Come Holy Spirit, come to the people of Sudan.
Come Holy Spirit, break the hold of violence.
Come Holy Spirit, draw the people together.
Come Holy Spirit, lead the people in paths of peace.
Come Holy Spirit, guide the people to establish justice.
Come Holy Spirit, come to the people of Sudan.

By God’s grace, may it be so. Amen.

Debbie Braaksma, coordinator of the Africa Office in Presbyterian World Mission, Mark Koenig, director of the Presbyterian Mission at the United Nations, and Sharon Youngs, communications coordinator for the Office of the General Assembly, contributed to this story.

  1. It is good to have a call to prayer for the people of Sudan. How badly they need God's intervention! It is disappointing, however, that Presbyterian leaders apparently cannot bring themselves to speak clearly about the problem, namely that Christians are being systematically attacked and killed by the Islamist Sudanese government in yet another instance of ethnic cleansing. The statement uses pale, spineless passive constructions to relate that "violence has flared" and "violence has also broken out." Violence by whom? Perpetrated against whom? How are we to learn the truth: that the Islamist government is killing whole regions of people, and our Christian brothers and sisters are being particularly singled out? For a clearer idea of what to pray for, see Faith McDonnell's account: http://www.theird.org/page.aspx?pid=1939 Like the guilty executive who "confesses" that "mistakes were made" rather than saying "I made mistakes," our leaders are saying that nonspecific "violence" is occurring, apparently spontaneously and with no one held accountable. Apparently violence simply happened on its own. That is so far removed from the truth that I am ashamed that this is the best that we as Presbyterians will do for dear Christian saints who are forfeiting their lives right now because of their faith and ethnicity. I still wait for the time when truth breaks out in the PCUSA, and I will pray for that, too. James D. Berkley Seattle, WA

    by James D. Berkley

    June 23, 2011

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