Archbishop of Sudan preaches at Trinity Church, Wall Street

October 9, 2010

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan spoke from the pulpit at Trinity Church, Wall Street, Oct. 10, thanking the parish for its support of the church in Sudan both in times of war and peace, and explaining his visit to the United States.

"Six years ago Sudan signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the people in … south Sudan and the people in the north," Deng said during his sermon at the parish's 11:15 a.m. Eucharist service. "And this agreement is coming to an end on the ninth of January 2011. We as the church … we have fears that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the CPA, all the processes that were supposed to be done have not been completed … The fear in the country is that Sudan will go back to war." [A video stream of Deng's sermon is available here.]

Trinity Church was Deng's first stop on a 12-day visit to the United States, where he is joining an ecumenical delegation in promoting awareness and encouraging advocacy in advance of the Jan. 9 referendum to determine whether war-torn Sudan remains united or splits into two separate countries: north and south.

The referendum is one of the major terms of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was signed in January 2005 by the two warring parties -- the Government of Sudan in the predominantly Muslim north and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in the mainly Christian and Animist south -- bringing an end to a 21-year civil war that claimed more than 2 million lives and displaced about 7 million people.

The agreement also called for the equitable distribution of oil revenues, drawing of fair borders, the development of democratic governance throughout the country, and the reconstruction of devastated infrastructure. The north has been criticized for failing to live into the terms of the peace agreement.

In his sermon, the archbishop acknowledged the north's Khartoum-based government's failures and expressed concern for the safety of some 4 million refugees from the south who are currently living in the north.

"Their security is not stable," Deng said.

As evidence of the violence he fears is to come, Deng pointed to an incident on Oct. 9 in which demonstrators, including some police officers, at a pro-unity rally in Khartoum turned on and beat southerners who are in favor of separation.

"This is a clear indication that the situation is going to be out of hand," Deng said.

He warned that if war erupts in Sudan it will affect all of East Africa.

In addition to New York, Deng's awareness and advocacy campaign Oct. 10-22 includes a visit to Washington, D.C., where he and other members of the delegation will meet with senior governmental officials and key members of the United Nations, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The delegation includes Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum; Roman Catholic Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban of Torit; the Rev. Ramadan Chan, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches; the Rev. Sam Kobia, Sudan envoy for the All Africa Conference of Churches (formerly general secretary of the World Council of Churches); and John Ashworth, Sudan advisor for Catholic Relief Services and Sudan Ecumenical Forum.

Later this week, the delegation will join a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations.

On Oct. 7, Deng and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams held a series of meetings with officials in the U.K. Government's foreign office. The meetings were intended to provide updates on the situation on the ground in Sudan and to ensure that the U.K. Government plays a crucial role in supporting the peace and stability of Africa's largest nation.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in mid-September called on Episcopalians to observe "A Season of Prayer for Sudan."

Acknowledging Sudan's fragile state following decades of civil war, Jefferts Schori said in her Sept. 15 letter that the Episcopal Church can stand in solidarity "with our brothers and sisters in Sudan as we enter a season of preparation by prayer, study, and action."

The Episcopal Church's long-standing support for Sudan is manifested through its partnerships and companion diocese relationships, programs supported by Episcopal Relief & Development, and advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations. The American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which counts many Episcopalians among its members, also is actively involved in supporting its Sudanese partners.