One World Week... if People and the Earth Matter

22nd - 29th October 2000

We have a wonderful opportunity of hearing first-hand from one of the poorest and most long-suffering countries in the world during One World Week this year.


On Sunday 22nd October, at our Parish Eucharist at 10.45am the Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Revd. Joseph Marona will be the preacher. Archbishop Marona was elected to this post in February this year at a meeting of the Provincial Synod of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, which was held in Nairobi (because it is impossible to hold such a gathering inside Sudan). This was the first time for ten years that the Synod had been able to meet. I was present at Archbishop Marona’s enthronement in Juba, the capital of the South of the country, in April, when the Archbishop of Canterbury preached.

Sudan has been in a constant state of Civil War since 1985, when the current regime took power in a coup d’état. But its political problems go much further back to the 1950s when the political arrangements which gave Britain and Egypt control of the country finally ended, and British administrators withdrew.

Sudan is the largest country in the world and currently has a population of some 27 million. Although there have been some minor relaxations in recent years, it is essentially a one-party state, governed by the National Islamic Front. Although that title immediately raises caricatures in one’s mind, and there is a very peaceful Muslim lobby within and behind the régime, it is an over-simplification to call the crisis a Christian-Muslim struggle. There are conflicting ideologies, but it is much more a conflict of cultures, northern Sudanese looking to North Africa and the Arab world, and southerners to sub-Saharan Africa.

But war recognises no such divide. All Sudanese suffer, and most especially those who are the poorest people. Many are forced into armies, many more are forced out of their homes into the bush, and into refugee camps. Food is scarce, the climate is harsh, and the land dangerous - littered with landmines, and vulnerable to air attack from Government forces.

In all this chaos, the churches have had a heroic ministry - pastoral, sacrificial and prophetic. Amongst church leaders, Joseph Marona has been particularly distinguished by his courageous speeches, and his readiness to cross borders and boundaries in the search for peace and justice. He is a humble, simple man, a man of deep love, with no airs or graces. Great hopes have been invested in him. Do come and meet him and hear him preach. You will moved and inspired.

Andrew Deuchar
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 2nd October 2000