Postponed, but united in prayer

Posted by Roger Cooke on Wed, 08 Jan 2014 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

Two ‘Mission Experience Teams Abroad’ (METAs) were due to visit South Sudan early this year as part of their ongoing partnership with dioceses there. A team from Connor Diocese was planning to travel to Yei Diocese next week and, next month, a team from two parishes in Down and Dromore were due to visit Maridi Diocese. Both trips had been planned as the latest ventures in what are strong and growing partnerships in mission.

With the continued violence and tribal tension in South Sudan starting to impact the country more widely, some of the planned activities for the teams, including a series of conferences in Yei, had to be postponed. The instability also raised some concerns for travel to and within the country. The decision to postpone both visits was therefore taken together by the team leaders, the two Bishops in South Sudan and CMS Ireland.

A final training event for both teams had been scheduled for yesterday evening in CMS Ireland’s Belfast office, but rather than postponing this gathering, it was decided to meet together to share fellowship, to eat together and to pray for South Sudan.

CMS Ireland’s Partnership Coordinator for South Sudan, Jenny Smyth, welcomed the team members with these words:

“I am really encouraged by the commitment you have shown in coming here tonight. To be able to come and share with others who have concerns in their hearts is a blessing and tonight we think about people who cannot eat, who don’t have a safe place to sleep or who have lost family members.”

She also shared a message from Bishop Hilary of Yei, who said that there must be hope – even in the ‘messiest situations.’

“By the grace of God and the efforts of those good people, we will manage to move beyond our divisions and to begin to develop a shared vision for the future of the whole country of South Sudan. It will take us a long time and there will be a heavy price at the end of it in terms of human suffering…We still feel that the crisis in our country will soon be over and the church and the country return to normal life."

Bishop Alan Abernethy, who was due to lead the Connor team, was one of those present last night and had this to say about the situation:

“I am very disappointed about the postponement of the META but am thinking about how Connor as a diocese can respond. We are very concerned about the people of South Sudan and I would urge people to please pray for them.”

The evening concluded with members of both teams uniting in prayer for the situation in South Sudan and for the work and witness of the church in Yei, Maridi and beyond.

Please do continue to keep South Sudan and our Global Partners there in your prayers.

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[Thanks to Karen Bushby, the Connor Diocesan Communication Officer, for providing these quotes and photographs. You can read Karen’s fuller account of last night’s gathering here. To read a recent e-mail from Bishop Justin of Maridi Diocese, visit the Down and Dromore Diocesan website here ]

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