|Photo by Bjarne Ussing, DanChurchAid/ACT International
Asisa Ateib is a refugee from Korney in West Darfur, Sudan.
Feb. 10, 2005
By Fredrick Nzwili*
Kenya (ENI) — A meeting of Sudanese Christian leaders in Nairobi has
ended with a warning that churches risk being marginalized if they
cannot draw up a clear strategy after an agreement by the Sudanese
government and rebels to end a long-running civil war.
is at the most dangerous stage now,” said the Rev. Mvume Dandala, a
Methodist and chief executive of the Nairobi-based All Africa Conference
of Churches, which hosted the two-day meeting that ended Feb. 8. “The
churches must unite to fortify the peace.”
21-year-long civil war, in which predominantly Christian and animist
southern Sudanese struggled for autonomy from the mainly Islamic north,
also led to the formation of two ecumenical church groups for the
The Sudan Council of Churches, based
in the capital, Khartoum, formally represented all of the country’s
churches, but the civil war prevented it from operating outside
A separate body
with headquarters based in Nairobi, the New Sudan Council of Churches,
was set up for the south of Sudan.
Still, leaders of the two groups cautioned against hasty action to unite their councils.
could confuse communities at this critical juncture,” said Haruun Ruun,
executive secretary of the New Sudan Council of Churches. “It therefore
calls for a gradual and smooth approach.”
chief executive of the Khartoum-based council, the Rev. Paul Chol Deng,
said churches were united even with two groups to represent them.
Kifle, an official of the World Council of Churches, said the Sudanese
churches needed to articulate a clear vision of how they would work
together in the future or risk marginalization.
major challenge is how to further strengthen our ecumenical working
relationships at the local, national and continental levels,” he told
Ecumenical News International.
Kenyi, executive secretary of the justice and peace commission of the
Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference, urged churches in other parts of
Africa to provide support to Christians in Sudan.
from African churches lagged behind that received from Europe and North
America in the wake of the Sudan peace agreement signed Jan. 9.
conflict between the largely black, Christian and animist south and the
Muslim north displaced up to 5 million people. The peace agreement does
not deal with the unrelated strife in western Sudan’s Darfur region,
where tens of thousands of people have died of malnutrition and disease
in the past year and hundreds of thousands have been left homeless.
*Nzwili is a writer for Ecumenical News International, which distributed this story.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.