Church Leaders in South Sudan Recommit to Working for “peace, justice” Through Action Plan

Immagine

Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Members of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) have, in a collective statement, made known their recommitment “to continue working for peace and justice” in the East-Central African country through the Action Plan for Peace (APP). [In the picture: Some members of the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC). Credit: SSCC]

Described as a “position paper on a peaceful resolution to the conflicts in South Sudan”, Action Plan for Peace is a church-led multi-year strategic plan for peace and reconciliation. It seek to comprehensively address the root causes and long-term effects of conflict in South Sudan; it identifies three areas of action that directly contribute to and complement the implementation of the peace agreement and community peace processes.

In the Friday, April 29 statement issued after their April 26-29 meeting in Lukenya, Kenya, SSCC members say they have “reviewed the peace-building efforts of the Church and others and have prayerfully discerned our way forward.”

“Seven years after the historic Church leaders' retreat in Kigali in June 2015 we, the current Church leaders of South Sudan, recommit ourselves and our Church to continue working for peace and justice in our beloved nation through the medium of our Action Plan for Peace (APP),” the representatives of church leaders in South Sudan say in their April 29 statement. They add, “We recognize that peace and justice will not come about through technical and political mechanisms alone, but through transformation of the hearts of our leaders and the people.”

“We insist once again that conflicts must be resolved through nonviolent means, but we go further and call for a new culture and lifestyle of nonviolence throughout our society, in our government, in our political and military factions, in our communities, in our homes and in our hearts,” SSCC members say. They reaffirm their “commitment to our Action Plan for Peace that our goal was not only to ‘stop the war’ but also to prevent a new war from springing up.”

Separated from the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) in 2013 after South Sudan became an independent state from Sudan in 2011, SSCC provides a platform to enhance the spirit of ecumenical cooperation towards collective action for peace in the world’s youngest nation. In their April 29 statement, SSCC members “reaffirm the unity of the churches in South Sudan” and add that they once again “identify as the Church of Christ rather than individual churches.”

“We will deepen our efforts for spiritual renewal in our nation and our people,” they say in their collective statement signed by representatives from the Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS), the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Sudan (PCSS/S), the African Inland Church (AIC), the Sudan Pentecostal Church (SPC), and the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church (SSPEC). The Christian leaders acknowledge the positive changes that have taken place since 2015 and express gratitude to all those who have contributed to stop the war, saying, “We thank God that the nationwide war has indeed ceased.”

The war has however been replaced by “widespread violence across the nation”, they say in their April 29 statement, and add, “We are still killing ourselves, and our people are suffering.”

While SSCC members “thank God that peace agreement and the transitional government are now in place”, they “note with sadness the slow implementation of some clauses to which the parties have agreed, the apparent lack of political will amongst many of the signatories, and failure to address the root causes of the conflict.”

The representatives of church leaders in South Sudan also regret that a “number of armed parties have felt unable to sign the R-ARCSS and we support the efforts of the Community of Sant'Egidio and others to achieve a more inclusive agreement.”

The church leaders pledge to “continue our efforts to bring about a lasting just peace in our nation through spiritual renewal, advocacy, dialogue, reconciliation and trauma healing, while encouraging all nonviolent means of bringing about positive change in our society.”

“We will collaborate with all people of good will in this endeavor. We know that peace and justice are God's will, and that in God's good time they will prevail,” SSCC members further say. Addressing themselves to the people of God in South Sudan, SSCC members “ask for your prayers, and we offer you our blessing.”

In a recent statement, SSCC members decried the fact that “the country continues to witness several inter-communal fights, often triggered by cattle raids, land grabbing, and child abduction, heightened by ethnic tension and revenge attacks.”

“Three years since the Peace retreat visit of our leaders to the Vatican in April 2019, since then, many peace processes and agreements have been developed to restore lasting peace and security in South Sudan,” the representatives of church leaders in South Sudan said in their statement April 11.

[Patrick Juma Wani – ACI Africa]