Sunday October 20, 2 pm
Cindy Rapp (Emmanuel, Webster Groves), Martha Colville (Holy Cross, Poplar Bluff), Mary Seager (Christ
Church Cathedral), Evelyn Smith (CCC and chair of the companion diocese committee) and I (St. Timothy's, Creve Coeur) are in the car on the way home from the annual conference of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (AFRECS), held this year at the new St. James Cathedral Commons in Chicago. We had a wonderful time and learned a lot about the challenges facing Sudan And South Sudan, There were many representatives from the US, UK, and the Sudans, including bishops Andudu of Kadugli in the Nuba Mountains, Anthony Poggo of Kajo Keji, and Joseph Atem of Renk. Evelyn participated in a panel discussion on companion relationships and gave a talk on our connections with Lui, Blackmore Vale, and Lund.
All the presentations were in plenary sessions so we were able to hear everything, including interesting questions and comments from the audience. The keynoter was
Bishop Anthony, who gave us an overview of church and society leading up to and since South Sudan's referendum and independence. Joining Evelyn on partnerships were Canon Ian Woodward of Salisbury Diocese's 40-year link with the ECS, Jackie Kraus of the Diocese of Chicago, and Noah Hillerbrand, a recent high school graduate from the Diocese of Chicago who will leave next weekend for six months in Renk, his diocese's companion. Those two sessions were followed by Ethiopian dinner Friday
Saturday brought a look at the conflicts in the Sudans, with the ECS bishops and former US ambassador Dane Smith talking about the Sudanese government's attacks in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile, and intertribal conflict in Jonglei state of South Sudan. Bishop Joseph of Renk also addressed the issues of refugees from the conflict-ridden southern states of Sudan. Gutti Kangam of Nuba Youth in Diaspora gave us a moving look at the plight of his people in the Nuba Mountains. Brian D'Silva, former USAID director for Sudan, provided a broad perspective on the region's development and prospects. The final session was nuts-and-bolts advocacy training, followed by a community dinner at tables organized around thematic interests.
The conference concluded this morning with the Eucharist at St. James Cathedral.