Anthony Poggo, Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan, preached at St. Agatha’s church on 3 March to a congregation double the usual size. He gave us a glimpse into another world in which the church has a broad ministry to a very needy community, focused on three “E”s: Evangelism, Education and Empowerment. Anthony is the former director of ACROSS, a major church-related charity in South Sudan. Since 2007, he has been the Bishop of the Diocese of Kajo-Keji, close to the Uganda border..
The Anglican church in South Sudan has grown exponentially in the past thirty years from just 3 dioceses to 26, with churches full to overflowing – the cathedral in the next diocese has five services on a Sunday each with over 700. The church has a direct role in running schools to supplement what the government can do in a country where more than half the population is illiterate. Anthony’s visit provides an opportunity to link with one of these schools.
Anthony spoke with feeling about the legacy of conflict and displacement which had created a mindset of dependency. The former Sudan split into two countries in 2011, Sudan and South Sudan, with 98% of the South Sudanese having voted in a referendum in 2005 for independence. Such an overwhelming vote to separate from north Sudan reflects the fact that black Southerners were marginalised and treated as second class citizens in their own country by an “Arabic” government seeking to impose Islamic law and religion. Exploitation of the oil in South Sudan is still creating serious tensions with neighbouring Sudan, whose government is attacking its own citizens in Darfur, Abyei, the Nuba Mountains and in Blue Nile State, forcing many to flee to South Sudan as refugees.
In spite of the huge challenges they face the people of South Sudan relish their new independence and are investing in the education and skills of their people and promoting economic and social development. There is growth in the farming sector and the first tarmacked highway was built recently between the capital Juba and the Uganda border.
Anthony’s link with Brightwell is through the Windle Trust which has trained many leaders in Africa including Anthony himself. For a number of years St Agatha’s church has supported the Anglican Archbishop’s education fund for South Sudanese orphans in partnership with the Windle Trust. Some of those trained through support from St Agatha’s are now progressing to senior posts in South Sudan. Anyone who would like to support the ministry of Bishop Anthony or the wider work of the Windle Trust in South Sudan can do so through St Agatha’s or directly through the Windle Trust by contacting me at email@example.com Involvement with one of the neediest communities in the world is a reminder to us all of the privilege we have of living in our peaceful and prosperous community.
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