Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Stated Clerk the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, II has issued a call for all Presbyterians to observe a day of prayer for peace in South Sudan on August 12. The appeal comes in the wake of a fragile peace agreement signed August 5 by the South Sudan government and key opposition leaders.
The text of Nelson’s appeal:
We have heard the cries of our Christian partners in The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Sudan (PCOSS) as the search for peace continues. I call upon us all to join them in their their special day of prayer in August 12, 2018; and I urge us all to remain in prayer as they continue the long, painful struggle to reach a genuine peaceful resolution for all the parties.
The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
The following background on the situation in South Sudan was written by Doug Tilton of Presbyterian World Mission from information furnished by PC(USA) mission co-workers Bob and Kristi Rice:
The wild cries of children wake me from my reverie and my seat, sending us to the window. Four happy youth scoot by us in the hall. “De shunu?” (What is it?) I ask. “Salam ja!” (Peace has come!) was their ebullient response.
The reality hits us in full: the peace deal signing — anticipated for months, prayed for and sought after for years … with a mix of hope, uncertainty and scepticism — had just happened. Now there are speeches on the radio, horns blowing in the streets, and rejoicing reverberating across Juba and beyond.
On August 5, the South Sudan government and key opposition leaders signed an “Agreement on Outstanding Issues on Governance and Security Arrangements” in Khartoum, Sudan. The preliminary accord would reinstate Riek Machar as a vice-president of South Sudan under President Salva Kiir. Machar would be one of five vice-presidents heading up a government with 35 ministers, carefully selected to balance various factions.
It is not yet a final agreement though. Negotiations continue in Khartoum with regional and international experts assisting in complex discussions. At each step in the process, the anticipation, expectations, and hopes of South Sudanese continue to rise.
The South Sudan Council of Churches, which has worked tirelessly to promote dialogue and genuine reconciliation among the various factions, welcomed the agreement even before it was signed, but also expressed concerns about its durability.
“Without genuine dialogue, healing and substantial trust building amongst the parties, the political will needed for the successful implementation of a peace agreement will be lacking, and will void all efforts,” the Council said in a July 19th statement, entitled “PEACE NOW!” and signed by the leaders of the member communions.
“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,” the clerics warned.
The PC(USA) has sought faithfully to accompany the church in South Sudan in the quest for a just peace through World Mission’s South Sudan Education and Peace Building project, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s appeal for disaster response and the advocacy efforts of our Office for Public Witness and the Prebyterian Ministry at the United Nations.
The 223rd General Assembly (2018) reaffirmed the PC(USA)’s commitment to solidarity and advocacy for peace in the region, encouraging congregations and individuals to “pray with the churches and people of South Sudan for an end to conflict, safe and effective delivery of humanitarian aid, a government led by servant leaders, forgiveness, reconciliation, accountability, and justice, leading to true peace and fullness of life for God’s people.”
The Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Sudan (PCOSS) has called for a day of prayer for peace in South Sudan on Sunday, August 12. PCOSS General Secretary, the Rev. John Yor, urged all believers, whether in South Sudan, neighbouring countries, refugee camps or partner churches around the world, to join in prayer for sustainable peace.
We share this prayer for the country, which all should feel welcome to join:
“Lord, may this peace find real purchase, may lasting peace finally find her footing. May leaders act justly, seeking the welfare of the land. May ink on paper link hand with hand and bring an end to this bloody war, the war we know in South Sudan. Amen.”