8th Provincial Synod of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan held in Juba from 23rd-29th January 2006
“Let us come before God with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 95.2)
1. The 8th Provincial Synod of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, meeting in Juba from 23rd-29th January 2006, gives thanks to Almighty God for the opportunity to meet together in peace after 21 years of civil war. We praise God for the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 9th January 2005 and convey our congratulations to the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A on achieving the agreement and on the formation of the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan.
2. On behalf of the Church, we also express our sorrow at the death of our 1st Vice-President and President of Southern Sudan, Dr John Garang. During the Synod we have visited his grave and prayed there. We extend our condolences to his wife and family and assure them of our continued prayers.
3. As the highest governing body of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, we express our full support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and urge the fullest respect and timely implementation of all its provisions. We call on all levels of government in Sudan to ensure its full implementation and call on the international community to guarantee and sustain the agreement.
4. We are concerned for peace to be achieved in the whole of our beloved country Sudan and urge all parties to speed up the resolving of conflicts and issues in Darfur, Eastern Sudan and Abyei. We call for continued protection and humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of people in these areas.
5. As people forgiven and redeemed by God through his Son Jesus Christ, we call for reconciliation and forgiveness among all the tribes and peoples of Sudan. We urge all people to live in peace and harmony and to respect and welcome one another. We recognize there have been many changes through the period of war and our communities have been traumatised but we encourage people to accept one another in love, whatever their different experiences have been.
6. We are concerned at continuing violence and insecurity in some areas of Southern Sudan, and appeal to all parties to play their part in ending the violence and ensuring respect for human rights. We call for the upholding the rule of law and of the Constitution at every level. We urge the managing of local conflicts through healing and forgiveness and commit ourselves as the Church to work for justice, peace and reconciliation in all our dioceses.
7. We strongly oppose the segregation of our people according to tribe and urge the unity of the people of God. We give thanks for places such as Western Equatoria where the Church has stood firm against tribalism. Does Jesus Christ belong only to the Dinka or Zande? No. All the tribes come together in Jesus Christ. We share a common language in the Word of God in Jesus Christ. We warn people to be on their guard against those who wish to create divisions and call for the Government of Southern Sudan to take measures necessary to ensure security.
8. Recognising the important right of self-determination contained within the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, we call for awareness and understanding of this right to be promoted. We propose a programme of education and information to prepare the people of Southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Abyei over the coming five years so that this right may be exercised responsibly and with full understanding, and not out of anger or ignorance.
9. We congratulate all members of the new Government of National Unity, the Government of Southern Sudan and the assemblies and local government at every level. We call on all people to uphold good governance and transparency in running the country. We request the international community and local civil society to maintain vigilance. As the Church, we commit ourselves to speak out as necessary.
10. With peace has come new hope and expectation. We appeal to the new governments to provide services to improve the people’s quality of life. We call for an urgent focus on education, health and clean water. We appeal for a readiness to support the return of Internally Displaced Persons and Refugees in their long-held desire to return to their places of origin. We appeal to the Government of Southern Sudan, the Sudan Council of Churches and the international community to assist with their return. As the local church, we commit ourselves to prepare to welcome them and work for their peaceful re-integration into our communities.
11. As the Prophet Isaiah declares, our Lord loves justice and hates robbery and wrong. We recognize the priority needs of people marginalised during oil exploration in the region of Upper Nile. We are concerned at the large number of villages destroyed and call for the issue of compensation to be urgently addressed. We recognise the need to strengthen the mission and ministry of the Church in these areas and call on other dioceses and partners to support with developing manpower and other resources in the region.
12. Our Synod has expressed a real desire to move forwards in the apostolic mission of the Church. We recognise the important role of our bishops and dioceses in the Church’s mission and have established a Committee to assess the need for and viability of proposed new dioceses. We also recognise that the real strength of the Church is in the faith and confidence of each believer and encourage renewed attention to developing strong parishes, deaneries and arcdeaconries. We have affirmed the priority to provide appropriate opportunities for theological education to meet the needs of the whole people of God and have established a Provincial Commission on Theological Education to take forward this work.
13. We strongly oppose actions recently taken within the Anglican Church in USA and Canada in consecrating a practising homosexual as bishop and in approving a rite for the blessing of same-sex relationships. We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS. We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this. Valuing our belonging to the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church and out of love for our brothers and sisters in these churches, we will continue to call for repentance while listening to all voices within the Anglican Communion.
14. In our role as the highest governing body of ECS, we have fully endorsed the actions of His Grace the Archishop, the Most Revd Dr Joseph Marona, in the dismissal of the former bishops of Kadugli and Rumbek, Peter El Birish and Gabriel Roric Jur, which followed disciplinary action and took effect on 10th August 2001 and 31st May 2003 respectively. They are no longer bishops in ECS and their subsequent actions in creating “the Reformed Episcopal Church of the Sudan” have set them outside ECS. Their actions have no recognition or validity within ECS or the Anglican Communion. We urge all government authorities to be clear of this in their dealings with the church.
15. Looking ahead to the new future promised to us in our Lord Jesus Christ, we come before God with thanksgiving for this Synod and for everything which God has been doing in our life together, during our worship, our fellowship, discussions and decisions. We welcome the unanimous election of the Revd Enock Tombe as ECS Provincial Secretary for the coming five years and express our appreciation to all who have supported the Synod with their prayers and resources – our members and friends across Sudan and our international partners. We pray for God’s strength as we go forward together to build a just and peaceful society in Sudan. May God’s blessing be richly upon us all. 8th Provincial Synod The Episcopal Church of the Sudan Juba, Sudan 29th January 2006