Friday, May 19, 2017

Bishop’s Note: May 18, 2017 – Martyrs of Sudan

Bishop Eric Menees

This Tuesday the Church commemorated the Martyrs of Sudan. The Anglican Church in the Sudan, known as the Episcopal Church of the Province of Sudan, has suffered greatly over the past thirty years. And yet, they are faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to living out that faith.

Who are the Martyrs of the Sudan? Back in 2006, when we were still in TEC, the following was presented to General Convention:

The Christian bishops, chiefs, commanders, clergy and people of Sudan declared, on May 16, 1983, that they would not abandon God as God had revealed himself to them under threat of Shariah Law imposed by the fundamentalist Islamic government in Khartoum. Until a peace treaty was signed on January 9, 2005, the Episcopal Church of the Province of the Sudan suffered from persecution and devastation through twenty-two years of civil war. Two and a half million people were killed, half of whom were members of this church. Many clergy and lay leaders were singled out because of their religious leadership in their communities. No buildings, including churches and schools, are left standing in an area the size of Alaska. Four million people are internally displaced, and a million are scattered around Africa and beyond in the Sudanese Diaspora. Twenty-two of the twenty-four dioceses exist in exile in Uganda or Kenya, and the majority of the clergy are unpaid. Only 5% of the population of Southern Sudan was Christian in 1983. Today over 85% of that region of six million is now mostly Episcopalian or Roman Catholic. A faith rooted deeply in the mercy of God has renewed their spirits through out
the years of strife and sorrow.

Last year, the Episcopal Church of the Province of Sudan formally broke off relations with TEC, and with that they lost all funding. Even in the midst of suffering, their faith remains a shining example for all Christians. When I’m tempted to feel like we’ve suffered as a result of our faith, due to the legal confiscation of our property, I just remember the Christians of the Sudan and others all across the globe.

Join me in the following prayer:

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plenteous harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Thirty-nine Articles of Religion
XXIX. Of the Wicked, which eat not the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper.

The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.

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