By Odiwuor Opiyo
LUKENYA, MAY 6, 2022 (CISA) – Religious leaders from the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) in a statement dated April 29, pledged to, “continue…efforts to bring about a lasting ‘just peace’…through spiritual renewal, advocacy, dialogue, reconciliation and trauma healing while encouraging all non-violent means of bringing about positive change in…society.”
The SSCC spoke at the end of a retreat held at Lukenya Hills in Kenya from April 26 through to 29 and attended by elder retired church leaders, technical experts, and international partners in specialized ministries where they reviewed the peacebuilding efforts of the Church to prayerfully discern a way forward.
“Our first aim was ‘Stop the War Now!’ and we thank God that the nationwide war has indeed ceased… From the beginning, we insisted that our goal was not only to stop the war but also to prevent new wars from springing up. We, therefore, reaffirm our commitment to our Action Plan for Peace,” said the leaders as they celebrated the positive changes, which have taken place since their previous retreat in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2015.
They, however, lamented the outbreak of widespread violence across the nation that seems to have replaced the civil strife propagating continuous suffering and loss of life.
“We will deepen our efforts for spiritual renewal in our nation and our people,” vowed the prelates adding, “We also recognize that peace and justice will not come about through technical and political mechanisms alone but through the transformation of the hearts of all our leaders and our people.”
“We also thank God that a peace agreement and a transitional government are now in place, and we congratulate the parties on the clauses which have been implemented. But we 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 the failure to address the root causes of the conflict. We regret that a number of armed parties have felt unable to sign the R-ARCSS and we support the community of Sant’Egidio and others to achieve a more inclusive agreement,” read part of the statement jointly signed by Archbishop Dr Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Juba and Most Rev Dr Justin Badi Arama, Primate and Archbishop of the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan (ECSS) among others.
The leaders, drawn from various denominations in the country insisted on Christian Unity, shunning away from the individualistic approach to denominations.
“We reaffirm the unity of the churches in South Sudan, and once again, we identify as the church of Christ rather than individual churches,” maintained the church leaders.