Dear friends and colleagues:
The last Sunday of Epiphany has been designated as World Mission Sunday in our church. This year, that date falls on March 5. I'm writing to ask you to plan a special observance with your congregation on that date, and to consider raising consciousness about mission throughout this Jubilee year.
As the Standing Commission on World Mission wrote in its report to General Convention in 1997, when the resolution designating this special day was passed,
Every member of the Episcopal Church is a member of a missionary society, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. Whether we understand the imperative of mission from the perspective of the Great Commission or the Great Commandment, or a combination of both, we are united in the one call to God's mission in the world. As God sent Jesus into the world, we too are sent into the world. This resolution calls upon the church to hold up and celebrate our shared commitment and call to mission on a specific and common Sunday each year. It challenges congregations, dioceses, and provinces to learn about and become more fully engaged in God's global mission.
You may know that throughout our church and others in recent years there has been growing concern about the persecution of Christians throughout the world. We are drawing attention this year to the suffering of our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Church of Sudan. We hope you will put the enclosed poster in a prominent place in your church, and offer special prayers for these people who are "lifting high the cross" in the face of terrible deprivation, oppression, and uprootedness. They are one of the fastest-growing churches in the Anglican Communion. They live in diaspora and struggle not to despair. We need to stand with them.
I learned this first hand when I visited southern Sudan in 1998, and saw the Dinka people of Bor Diocese running with joy and triumph to greet their bishop, Nathaniel Garang, and their friend, Marc Nikkel, who has served as our missionary to the Sudan for nearly 20 years. I captured that moment for the poster you have in your hand, and I brought back a Dinka cross given by the people to the Episcopal Church in the USA. We keep it in the chapel at the Episcopal Church Center.
In addition to your prayers, I ask that you try to learn more about the situation in Sudan, and think about other ways to help. A variety of relationships exist between our church and theirs - at provincial, diocesan, congregational, seminary, and individual levels. Do not hesitate to write, call, fax or e-mail me for more information.
You also can help the work of the church in Sudan by giving through the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief (mail to Box 12043, Newark, NJ 07101). In the memo portion, designate your gift "for Sudan" and it will be used to help respond to grant requests received from bishops there.
We have produced additional resources that you might find helpful for a World Mission Sunday observance focused on Sudan. They may be found by visiting our website www:ecusa.anglican.org/agr. (If you do not have the equipment to download and reproduce these, please contact my office and we will send you copies.) Included are:
- Bulletin shell (illustrated front and back, with the inside blank for use as your service leaflet
- Bulletin insert (liturgical and educational elements on 8 ½ x 11 sheet, two sides, to be folded)
- Sudan word search (activity for young people on 8 ½ x 11 sheet, two sides)
- 10 ways you can help persecuted Christians
Thank you for doing whatever you can, not only for Sudan but also for all of the people of God, wherever they may be. And remember that we are all called to share in the mission of our church, "to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ" (BCP, page 855).
Margaret S. Larom