“No government anywhere in the world need fear Christians”: Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo Kumir Kuku has been installed as the first Archbishop of the newest 39th province of the Anglican Communion in the Sudan, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Justin Welby at the All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum, on Sunday 30 July.
The creation of the province comes six years after the independence of the predominantly Christian South Sudan from the Muslim north.
Addressing an exuberant crowd of Anglicans, Welby said, “To be invited here to preach this morning is a privilege of which I could never have dreamed.” Welby thanked the “province of Sudan for the honour of being here at your birth. Like all births, it comes with responsibility,” he added.
In a tribute to the primate of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, ECSS, Archbishop Daniel Deng, who facilitated the creation of the province, Archbishop Welby said Deng, “is the midwife of this [new] province who has encouraged it and strengthened it to the point we have now reached.”
In his charge to the new province, Archbishop Daniel, charged the new Archbishop of Sudan, to “keep the light burning in all Sudan”.
Deng declared: “The Church is commissioning you to be the light and hope for the country,” he said. “We are now entrusting the people of Sudan in to your hands.”
The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, expressed his confidence in the new archbishop to move the church forward.
“Your passion for Christ, for mission, and for peace, is most humbling,” Idowu-Fearon said. “The people of Sudan have suffered greatly from the effects of bitter conflict, and terrible poverty. It is in this climate that you have responded to the call to build His Church. Our message to you is that you are not alone. You are a precious part of a special family. Your brothers and sisters across the Communion will be praying for you today, and in the future as you grow in the love of Christ. I look forward to the valued contribution you will make to this special family,” he added.
Archbishop Welby, calling the Anglican communion to rally round the new province, said, “It is a responsibility for Christians to make this province work, and for those outside to support, to pray and to love this province.”
Welby pointed out to the Sudanese that their church has known sorrows and joys and also pointed out that now, before the province, are many opportunities as there will be many challenges. “There is land, there are churches, there are wonderful people. The church must learn to be sustainable financially, to develop the skills of its people and bless this country, as the Christians here already do.”
Speaking to the crowd with Sudanese government, American, European and African diplomats in attendance, Welby said, “My prayer for Sudan is that there will be freedom continually so that Christians may live confidently, blessing their country. The more they are free, the more they will be a blessing to Sudan, he said. “No government anywhere in the world need fear Christians.” He declared.
Khartoum has been criticized by Human rights and Christian campaign groups for its persecution of Christians and even destruction of churches since South Sudan declared its independence. President Omar al-Bashir since coming to power in a coup, has instituted the unpopular policy to Islamize Sudan. This policy led to a civil war in which over a million people died.
In Sudan today Christians are found mostly in the Nuba mountains of South Kordofan state where they face severe persecution.
Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo, the new primate of Sudan, expressed his appreciation. “I am so excited,” he said. “I am so grateful to everybody who was here… Now we need the people of the world to continue to pray for us.”
Hassan John is West Africa Editor GCN and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos