Sudanese bishop brings message

March 5, 2004

The bishop of the diocese of Kadugli Nuba Mountains, the Rt. Rev. Andudu Adam Elnail Kuku, has embarked on a tour of the United States to raise awareness of the frustrating conditions that the people of Sudan are currently facing in their daily lives.

The Rev. Patrick Mauney, director of Anglican and Global Relations, welcomed the bishop to the Episcopal Church Center on March 3, saying, "We are delighted that you have been able to visit us and we hope that your month in the US will be productive and fruitful."

Episcopal Church growth

Andudu described how, although Sudan had experienced a relatively peaceful two years since the cease-fire, the evidence of destruction from the 20-year civil war is still prevalent. "Though Christianity is strong, many things have been destroyed and churches burnt down," he said. "One of our churches was hit by missiles, but still people are strong in faith and the Church is growing."

Consecrated in January 2002, Andudu--currently 33 years old--qualifies as the youngest bishop in the Anglican Communion.

Education key to the future

George Tuto, president of Nuba Christian Family Mission, the organization sponsoring the bishop's visit, delivered a detailed account of the challenges confronting the citizens of the Nuba Mountains. "The area is very underdeveloped. All agriculture is done by hand; there are no tractors," he said. "We have no hospitals either: there used to be two but they were bombed during the war." Furthermore, there is no clean water, transportation or schools.

At the heart of the bishop's appeal is education. The region currently has 32 primary schools serving 36,000 children over an area of 82 square kilometers, although none belong to the diocese. Tuto described how the children sit on benches made from two mud piles and a tree, and that higher education can only be found in Kenya, Uganda or southern Sudan. "Education is the future," he said. "When we have no education, we are in darkness."

With a priority to offer high school education throughout the diocese, a teachers' institute has been established offering three year's training, but at this time there are no buildings in which to house the students. The bishop estimated that approximately $30,000 would be sufficient to cover the costs of building one school and appealed to the Episcopal Church for assistance.

Songs of praise

Slater Armstrong, a mission activist and musician who has focused much of his ministry in Sudan, is accompanying the bishop on the first stretch of his tour. Armstrong spent several years listening to and collecting worship songs from the people of Sudan. He described how it wasn't until he began to research the Nuba people that he realized their importance in the Anglican tradition and that they are mentioned in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zephaniah.

"I want to hear their voices and tell their story," he said. "My desire is for us to hear their heart and their songs for Jesus. There's a need for people to recognize the validity of the presence of the Lord in their Church."

During his month-long tour, Andudu will also visit Washington DC, Tennessee, Los Angeles, Virginia, Texas and Nebraska.

Support for peace in Sudan ongoing

Several program offices of the Episcopal Church actively advocate for peace and justice in the Sudan. The church's Office on Government Relations in Washington informs leaders in Congress and the State Department of resolutions passed by the General Convention and Executive Council, and works ecumenically to bring the faith community's position on Sudan issues before the Administration. A number of Sudan church leaders have been brought to Washington to testify before congressional committees, and Andudu will take part in the Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice March 5-8.

There are currently five dioceses with formal companion relationships with the Episcopal Church of the Sudan: Albany and Southwestern Virginia, both of which have links with the whole province; Bethlehem and Kajo Keji; Chicago and Renk; and Indianapolis and Bor.

A hundred-year history

The Episcopal Church of the Sudan was founded when the Church Mission Society (CMS) began work in Omdurman in 1899. Christianity spread rapidly among black Africans of the southern region but didn't reach the Nuba Mountains until 1920. From then until 1974, the church was known as the Diocese of Sudan and was part of the Jerusalem archbishopric. It reverted to the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Canterbury until the new province, consisting of four new dioceses, was established in 1976.

Until the ceasefire, the diocese of Kadugli Nuba Mountains, which has 19,000 Episcopalians, was divided into two parts. One half was controlled by the Government of Sudan (GoS) and the other by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Despite several attempts over the past two years to jeopardize the peace talks between the GoS and the SPLA, the Kadugli Nuba Mountains region appears relatively stable at this time, although there is still fighting in other parts of Sudan.

Sudan is the largest country in Africa and has a population of 32.6 million. Two million people were lost during the civil war and 4 million are displaced in East Africa, Europe and other parts of the world.

Clear signs of improvement

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey visited Sudan three times during his 11 year archiepiscopate and challenged Sudanese leaders to demonstrate their commitment to restoring peace and religious freedom there. He also issued a clear call to both Muslims and Christians there to "discover common ground" and work for peace.

In June 2002, the Sudanese Primate, Archbishop Joseph Marona, made a demanding two-week pastoral visit up the Nuba Mountains, crossing the military front-line under the terms of the local cease-fire agreed earlier in that year.

Marona met with the governors and officials on both sides and conducted confirmations and ordinations in places that had been without pastoral support for many years. This was the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan that an Anglican archbishop had visited the Mountains and was a sure signal that things were set to improve.