AFRECS E-Blast: October 12, 2016

Violence Begets Violence

Message from  Executive Director, Richard Parkins: 



Dear Friends,


Recently in addressing the ongoing violence in the Middle East and making a plea for peace, Pope Francis spoke of violence begetting violence.  There seems to be no place where that is happening to a more dangerous extent than South Sudan.  Even those in Equatoria who had eschewed violence for so long now make a contribution to the cycle of revenge that has swept vast areas of this war ravaged nation.  When revenge and retaliation become social norms, there is no end to the cycle of suffering that will afflict this nation. 

In a recent conversation with a former leader of South Sudan and one who is now vigorously advocating a peace strategy, the term that arose in describing the current crisis was genocidal.  While there may need to be a further consideration of the applicability of that term to the situation in South Sudan, to invoke such a term is to underscore the extent of human annihilation that afflicts the country.  Sources now describe the killing as not only widespread and of epidemic proportions but brutal beyond belief.  


Along with these tales has come the recent release of The Sentry Report which provides a well documented account of vast corruption by leaders of both factions.  Huge fortunes have been gained by diverting funds to overseas ventures that add to the amazing wealth of South Sudan's leaders, their families and cronies. 


All of this creates a situation that has resulted in cries for a radical solution that would place the government of South Sudan in the hands of those whose task would be to restore a semblance of sound governance to South Sudan following the framework set forth in the August 2015 agreement.  This, coupled with the substantial augmentation of peace keeping forces over a period of several years, might give South Sudan a chance to recover and move forward with a modicum of stability.  There is much to be said about this idea.  While some find it plausible, others see it as impractical. The fact that it is getting some traction suggests a sense of desperation that the situation, if not addressed more boldly, will result in South Sudan falling into the abyss of endless violence and destruction and deserve being designated as a failed state.  Let that not happen.


We have prayed for peace and reconciliation since this conflict began.  We might add some specificity to our prayers by praying that leaders both within South Sudan and those who care about South Sudan will move forward with courageous initiatives to change the narrative by making reconciliation the theme.  Let us hope that more leaders, as some already have, forcefully speak out against the toxic influence of tribalism and promote practices that have, in other horrific conflict situations, allowed an endless tragedy to be replaced by a peace that eventually brought a nation to its senses.  There are examples of nations reversing the downward spiral toward total destruction.  Let us pray fervently that this culture of revenge will soon be reversed in South Sudan. Let us pray for widening circles of love and trust to counter the corrosive influence of war and destruction. 




UPDATE on AFRECS Conference

Sponsored by
American Friends of the Episcopal Church of the Sudans
October 21-23, 2016
West Des Moines, Iowa 
“We need constructive support from our Sudanese brothers and sisters outside the country as we seek to restore peace and rebuild trust in South Sudan.”  
--     Rev. Peter Gai, Chairman, South Sudan Council of Churches 

This conference will bring together Sudanese from the Diaspora and from South Sudan with American friends of South Sudan and Sudan to work for peace and reconciliation in the world’s youngest nation.

Conference Goals: 

  1. Practice the arts of listening and conversation.
  2. Explore opportunities to support the Sudanese diaspora in the USA as it seeks to contribute to reconciliation in South Sudan. 
  3. Explore ways the friendship of Americans can contribute to peacemaking in the Sudans
You can expect:
  • Inspiring stories of how partnerships of South Sudanese and Americans, even during these last thirty months of conflict, are working together for positive outcomes
  • News of South Sudan from African guests
  • Opportunities to meet and work for peace with friends dedicated to building a stable nation in South Sudan
  • Workshops led by experts with experience in mediation and peacebuilding
  • Learn what the Commission for National Healing, Peace and Reconciliation and the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission are doing to train and enable Peace Mobilizers in South Sudan
  • Hear from Sudanese leaders about their challenges, learnings, and successes as they work to build reconciling congregations in the American Diaspora
  • Learn ways the US government is seeking to build peace, and what the church is doing to speak for peace to governments  
Guest Speakers, Workshop Leaders, Responders, and Moderators:
  • Bishop Alan Scarfe: Diocese of Iowa, The Episcopal Church (TEC)
  • Rev. Thon Moses Chol, Diocese of Virginia
  • Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews, Global Partnerships Officer, TEC
  • Ms. Anita Sanborn, President, Colorado Episcopal Foundation; formerly with Leadership Institute of New Sudan
  • Rev. Oja Gafour, Diocese of Colorado
  • Prof. Isaac Gang, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg
  • Bishop Samuel Enosa Peni: Diocese of Nzara, South Sudan and Chairperson of the Joint Peace and Reconciliation Commission of The Episcopal Church in South Sudan and Sudan.
  • His Excellency Pa’gan Amum Okiec: former Secretary General of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement, signer of the Transitional Peace Agreement,  August 2015.
  • Dr. James A. Leach: U. S. Represntative, Iowa 1st Congressional District, 1977-2007; retired Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • Dr. Dane F. Smith; former Senior Advisor in the Office of the US Special Envoy for Darfur, Deputy Chief of Mission in Sudan, and  Ambassador to Guinea and Senegal; author, U.S. Peacefare. 
  • Rev. Phil Groves, Continuing Indaba Project, Secretariat of the Anglican Communion, London
  • Rev. Shirley Smith-Graham, Diocese of Virginia
  • Ms. Suzanne Middleton, Five Talents 
  • Ms. Lynn Malooly,  Water for South Sudan, Inc.
  • Bishop Duncan M. Gray, III,  Diocese of Mississippi, TEC
  • Mr. Peter B. Malual, Diocese of Twic East, South Sudan 
  • Mr. Bill Andress, Presbyterian South Sudan/Sudan Mission Network
  • Rev. Ian Woodward, Diocese of Salisbury, United Kingdom
  • Bishop (ret.) David C. Jones, Diocese of Virginia,TEC; President of AFRECS
  • Mr. C. Richard Parkins, Executive Director of AFRECS  
Additional presenters will be added to this list as they are confirmed.   
Location: At the Marriott hotel (listed below) and at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Des Moines. Transportation will be provided from the hotel and back on Sunday.
Registration: Online at or by mail:  AFRECS, PO Box 12026, 3737 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22304 USA
Cost: $100 registration fee covers full attendance.  Meals are included (Friday lunch and dinner, Saturday lunch and banquet).  Continental breakfast will be available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Heavy breakfast eaters will find a buffet at the hotel.  There is a Perkins and a McDonald’s within a block of the hotel.
Scholarships: Diaspora attendees, seminarians, and students are automatically granted full scholarship.  Please register and identify yourself as scholarship-eligible to help us plan the meals.  You may make a free-will donation at your discretion.  Any surplus funds at the end of the conference will go to the work of the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission in South Sudan.
Air Travel:  Fly to Des Moines International Airport (DSM). For best fares you are urged to book air transportation by August 31. If you fly to DSM and stay at the Marriott Hotel the hotel will provide complimentary transportation to and from the airport.  For best service call the hotel ahead of time and give them your flight information. 
Hotel:   West Des Moines Marriott
            1250 Jordan Creek Parkway
            West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
            Telephone 515-267-1500
            Conference Rate: $109 (plus tax) per night
            To book at the group rate you may use this link:
Book your group rate for AFRECS Oct 2016
IMPORTANT: To get the special rate, which applies to nights of Oct. 20, 21, & 22, you must book no later than Monday, October 3.  You must book on line or by phone directly to the hotel.  You WILL NOT get this rate on a travel website.
Logistics Inquiries:
Program Inquiries:

Special Invitation: 
You are invited and encouraged to come to this important conference.  The details of the agenda are still being worked out.  Due to the current unrest it is possible that some of our invited guests from South Sudan may not be able to come but it is important to hear your voice in the discussions about reconciliation and peace.
Full scholarship is offered for all South Sudanese and Sudanese to participate.  To attend the conference with scholarship merely complete and mail the attached registration by October 3.
In section II of the registration mark that you are from the diaspora and you will be welcomed free of charge.The reason we need you to register is so we can plan to have enough food for everyone that attends.
If you are seeing this notice and the registration form is missing you can find all the information about the conference and how to register at
If you have questions about the conference you can email Ray Gaebler at
If you have received this eblast in a forwarded message, you may sign up here to subscribe. Then you will receive them from AFRECS on a regular schedule. (See the end of this eblast to change your subscription information or options.)


Recent News from South Sudan and Sudan


Anglican Communion News Service: South Sudanese Bishop Anthony Poggo to advise Archbishop of Canterbury on Anglican Communion Affairs

African Affairs: Virtual Issue: Making Sense of South Sudan

African Arguments: Failing South Sudan: First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

Africa Review: In South Sudan, power flows from the barrel of a gun; this must change

Crisis Action: Social Media Toolkit: Arms Embargo on South Sudan, October 2016 South Sudan undermines deal to send more peacekeepers: UN

The Huffington Post: Jesus and 'Just War?' Time to Focus on Just Peace and Gospel Nonviolence

The Sudd Institute: The Proliferating Rebellion in South Sudan: Its Explanations and Implications

TIME: How to Ensure Lasting Peace in South Sudan

World Council of Churches: South Sudan: role of civil society vital in seeking peace

Amnesty International: Five Years and Counting: Intensified Aerial Bombardment, Ground Offensives and Humanitarian Crisis in Sudan's South Kordofan State

Thank you to our readers for your interest, your prayers, and your support. 
Our coverage of recent news in South Sudan and Sudan will continue in the future.
We invite you to visit our Website:
Ellen J. Hanckel
If you'd like to be doing more to help address the crisis in South Sudan, please consider the following:
*Pray for peace and deep healing of the conflicts and rivalries in South Sudan.
*Join AFRECS or renew your annual membership on line at

* If you have contacts in South Sudan and are able to get news of various parts of the country and the church from them, keep AFRECS in the loop by replying to this email or using our main contact email address:
* Be prepared to advocate for peacemaking with the US (or other) government, especially if attention to conflict resolution wanes.
*Donate to support the Episcopal Church in South Sudan and Sudan’s efforts to provide solace and encourage reconciliation. 
*Urge others to support AFRECS as well.