Two ecumenical councils in South Sudan and Sudan have now been established. The decision comes after South Sudan’s independence from Sudan in 2011 following a referendum mandated by the 2005 peace pact that ended Africa’s longest-running civil war.

The decision establishing the two ecumenical organizations was shared in a report released by the Sudanese church leadership on July 27. The bodies are the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), based in Juba, and the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC), based in Khartoum.

The SCC previously represented member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) both in Sudan and South Sudan and existed as one ecumenical organization for 48 years.

The decision to establish two separate ecumenical organizations was reached through a lengthy process undertaken at the SCC’s 20th General Assembly from July 3-7 in Nairobi, Kenya.

The assembly was attended by Nigussu Legesse, WCC program executive for advocacy on African issues, and the Rev. Samuel Kobia of Kenya, the WCC’s former general secretary.

The assembly announced Festus Abdel Aziz James as the new general secretary of the SSCC in Juba, and the Rev. Kori Romla Koru as the new general secretary of the SCC based in Khartoum.

The WCC general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed his good wishes and prayers for the future work of the Sudanese councils. He said, “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.”

“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,” he added.

The two ecumenical councils plan to celebrate their 50 year Golden Jubilee together in January 2015.