Tuesday, February 7, 2017

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Each week, churches in the Anglican Communion pray for bishops and churches around the world. The following commentaries by Deryck Richardson are based on the Anglican Cycle of Prayer.

Epiphany 5: February 5, 2017

Following the Anglican Cycle of Prayer, please pray for Bishop Paul Yugusuk and the clergy and people of the Diocese of Lomega, one of the 41 dioceses in the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

The first major Anglican missionary work in the Sudan began in 1899 and was blessed with numerous conversions, particularly in the southern part of the country. By 1974, the church had grown sufficiently to separate from the Diocese of Egypt and the Sudan and form an independent province, with four dioceses, of the Anglican Communion. Growth continued to 11 dioceses in 1993 and there are now 41 dioceses, four geographically large dioceses in the predominantly Muslim Sudan and 36 geographically small dioceses in the predominantly Christian South Sudan.

The Church played a prominent role in the peace process ending the Second Sudanese Civil War and leading to the creation of an independent South Sudan in 2011. Sadly. South Sudan, the world's newest nation, has now been embroiled in a civil war of its own for the past three years, resulting in the displacement of over 2.3 million people. Although the Church, with an estimated 4.5 million members, accounts for almost half the population of South Sudan, her pleas for an end to the civil war have fallen on deaf ears as atrocities abound.

The Diocese of Lomega is one of the newer dioceses in the Church and is located in hilly countryside in South Sudan. The vegetation consists primarily of huge trees interspersed with shrubs and tall grass. It is extremely wet during the rainy season and very hot during the dry spell. The economy is based largely on agriculture and there are large herds of domesticated goats, sheep, and fowl. Tse tse flies are abundant and prevent much cattle farming. The elders in the area retain much of their traditional power for decision-making about community issues.

Sadly, it is not uncommon to have church services disrupted by roving bands of soldiers in search of their enemies. Yet, praise God, the faithful persist in worship. Thousands from the diocese are now living in refugee camps in northern Uganda.

Please pray especially for sustained peace and reconciliation and for all those whose lives have been disrupted by the war.