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Summit addresses suffering in Sudan


4:00 P.M. EST Feb. 22, 2010 | KINGSPORT, Tenn. (UMNS)

Curious children peer
 into the United Methodist Church in Yei, Sudan, in February 2009. A 
UMNS photo by David Malloy, GBGM.
Curious children peer into the United Methodist Church in Yei, Sudan, in February 2009. A UMNS photo by David Malloy, GBGM.
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A March summit will bring United Methodists from around the world together to discuss the urgent needs in Sudan.

United Methodists who want to learn more about ongoing work in south Sudan—while sharing knowledge and resources -- are invited to "come to the table," said Danny Howe, chair of Holston’s Annual (regional) Conference Missions Ministry Team and missions director for the summit's host church, First Broad Street United Methodist Church.

“There is so much more work to do than we could have ever imagined,” Howe said. “We need to operate in our full capacity as United Methodists to unify our efforts to eliminate hardship and bring hope to our brothers and sisters in south Sudan.”

At least 300,000 people have died in Darfur and more than 2.7 million have been driven from their homes by six years of fighting, according to international reports. A study by the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters said more people are dying from disease than violence.

“Far more died of diarrhea spread by filthy water, pneumonia picked up in swirls of desert dust and fire smoke, malaria carried into their tents by mosquitoes and other maladies from years of rough living,” the study found.

A family draws water 
from a well. A UMNS photo by Annette Spence.
A family draws water from a well. A UMNS photo by Annette Spence.

Since signing a covenant partnership with the East Africa Conference, Holston has raised more than $627,000 for the region. The conference has provided medical care, dug three wells, built part of a school, funded clergy salaries and training, sent nine mission teams, sent supplies and appointed two clergy members to live and work in Sudan for two years.

The Sudan Summit March 11-12 will build on those accomplishments, Howe said.

A benefit concert on March 11 will raise money to dig wells in Sudan. Clean water is the top request of the Sudanese people encountered by Holston, as well as by the East Africa Conference and the Board of Global Ministries, Howe said.

“When you begin to provide clean water and rural hygiene, suddenly you've taken a big chunk out of the needs for medical care,” he said.

Mission leaders

Speakers at the event will include Tom Omach, field officer for the United Methodist Committee on Relief in Yei, Sudan, where Holston has based its mission work since 2006.

The former top executive of UMCOR, the Rev. Sam Dixon, had been scheduled as a keynote speaker. Dixon was trapped and later died from injuries during the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti. The Rev. Jim Gulley, an UMCOR consultant, will take Dixon’s place. Gulley was trapped with Dixon, but was rescued after 55 hours.

Children attend 
class. A UMNS photo by Annette Spence.
Children attend class. A UMNS photo by Annette Spence.
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Representing the East Africa Conference will be David Muwaya, assistant to resident Bishop Daniel Wandabula. Bishop James Swanson, resident bishop of Holston Conference, will lead worship and commission Holston's 10th mission team to Sudan, departing April 1.

Seven to eight other annual conferences have contacted Holston with mission interests in south Sudan, Howe said.

The registration fee for the Sudan Summit is $20 per person and includes meals. Download a brochure for more information.

* Spence is editor of The Call, the newspaper of the Holston Annual Conference.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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