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Peace Training for South Sudanese Church Leaders

Tuesday March 13 2018

Religious leaders from war-torn South Sudan say their hopes for peace have been restored thanks to the Church of Scotland.

Eleven ministers from the troubled African country are currently attending conflict resolution workshops in Scotland which are co-ordinated by the Kirk.

The charity Place for Hope is running the training, which is aimed at helping the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan and Sudan (PCSS) chart a new course in the world’s youngest nation.

Rev John Yor Nyiker Deng, General Secretary of the PCCS, said the ministers will take new skills back to South Sudan as well as fresh hopes for peace.

He said: “The Church of Scotland has been with us since the beginning of this crisis and this week we are getting more knowledge and learning new techniques that will help us bring about peace in South Sudan.

“Peace talks are going on now and we do have hope that there will be peace in future.

“We know the war between North and South Sudan lasted 21 years and nobody knew it was going to end. But it did end and we know this war too can end.

“So we appreciate what Christians in Scotland have done in bringing us here together and we’d like to pass this message to all the congregations who are supporting and praying for our country. We are also praying for you.”

The Church of Scotland has been supporting peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan since 2014, when the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers visited the war torn country during his year as Moderator.

Dr Chalmers said: “Our experience in South Sudan was heart rending. We experienced at first hand the ravages of what war had done to a whole nation. We saw people living in fear for their lives and we saw poverty exacerbated by the continual threat of violence.

“The Church of Scotland is doing now what it does best – building a strong relationship with a partner church, investing in its future and working to sow the seeds of hope and peace.

“This is not easy work and for South Sudan there is no quick fix, so we will continue to journey with our friends who are the victims of this forgotten war, doing what little we can to make a real difference in the life of this young nation.”

Last week the South Sudanese ministers were in training at St Mary’s Monastery and Retreat Centre in Perth. They visited congregations across Scotland last weekend before continuing the two-week training course at the Conforti Institute in Coatbridge.

This is the fourth peacebuilding training supported by the Church of Scotland, but the first to bring the ministers together in Scotland.

Especially significant is that the 11 peacebuilders come from different regions and represent different ethnic.

Rev Orozu Lokine Daky Alaan, who represents the executive committee of the Presbytery of Eastern Jonglai, said the group were showing a good example simply by working together.

“Even though we all belong to tribes that are fighting one another, we are working together and as a church to help heal our communities and our country,” he said

“The pastors who are trained here will go back and train others to be peacemakers also. 

“Our hope is that people will see us as an example and will come together to build peace.”

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