AFRECS E-Blast: February 23, 2017

Keep the Portals Open/ Take a Stand
Message from Executive Director, Richard Parkins: 
Dear Friends,
Even as we face official actions that suggest that our nation is less welcoming of refugees and immigrants, we are also called to work in parts of the world where thousands more are being displaced by conflict and violence.   South Sudan is such a place. 
As long as such places exist, it is all the more urgent that we not ban access to hospitality and safety that for thousands is the only hope that they have. 
Many of us have been blessed by friendships with refugees.  We were right as a nation and as a church when we assisted resilient Sudanese refugees to come to our country, to move forward with their lives, and to contribute richly to our country and our churches.  We have as a part of our personal experience compelling reasons for keeping our doors open.  Offering the embrace of friendship to the stranger is what we are called to do as we adhere to our Lord's mandate.  I believe that many of us would feel a loss if these enriching experiences were not a part of our lives. Therefore, we add our voice to the chorus of those who embrace the imperatives of hospitality to the stranger and of full inclusion once the stranger passes through our portals.
As members of AFRECS and supporters of uprooted persons in Sudan and South Sudan, we have a keen understanding of the indispensable role that refugee resettlement plays in saving lives and allowing desperate  people a chance to live when the alternative for thousands is unmitigated suffering or certain death.  We would not be doing this work if it were not for our ability to welcome refugees into our lives and to stand with them in their effort to survive and rebuild their lives. 
For this reason, we can understand the outrage felt by many Americans at the President's action which denies resettlement to many refugees whose only hope of living in safety is finding safe haven in our country.  I am pleased that our church has spoken out strongly against this action and has called us to support those who are committed to welcoming the stranger into our midst.
I joined an interfaith group recently that greeted those attending the national prayer breakfast by proclaiming our posture as a people who welcome all persons regardless of creed as they seek freedom and safety. Thankfully, they find such communities across the breadth of our land.  A sign that struck me as conveying the key message was one that read: "Love your neighbor without exception".
We have included in this eblast the excellent letter sent to the Deputies of our Church by the President of the House of Deputies. It sets forth the reasons why the directive to exclude refugees from admission needs to be challenged.  In short, logic and our faith tradition as followers of Jesus Christ require that we do not abandon the hospitality that we are called to express.
For fourteen years, I directed the refugee resettlement program of The Episcopal Church and prior to that I worked in both government and other faith-based agencies bringing refugees to the United States.  Without reservation I can share with you the view that these were some of the most courageous and resilient people I have ever met.  We are a better people because we gave them a home.  To change that narrative is to deny ourselves and our nation a gift, even as we deny refugees the gift of a second chance. 
I trust that you will join those within our church and those within many faith groups throughout our country as we insist that our doors remain open and our communities remain welcoming.
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Related News from The Episcopal Church

The letter (dated 1/31/17 and mentioned above) from House of Deputies President Gay Jennings reads in part: I am particularly horrified by the ban on refugees signed by President Trump on Friday evening. It is quite simply an act of malice, particularly toward our Muslim sisters and brothers, and Christians must oppose it loudly and with strength. Many of you are doing so, and I am grateful for the statements and sermons I have seen and the photos in my Facebook feed of Episcopalians gathered at airports and other protest sites to express our church’s commitment to welcoming the stranger. You can find that commitment articulated in actions of General Convention dating back to 1979 (the earliest date at which the archive is digitized) on the website of the Archives of the Episcopal Church.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and other Episcopal leaders call on Trump to maintain refugee resettlement efforts. An excerpt from this recent article follows: Curry said refugee resettlement work is a ministry that the Episcopal Church and other churches and faith-based organizations cherish.“The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries is God’s work, and we show the face of God through the care and compassion in that work,” Curry said. “I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption, recognizing the long wait and screening process that means refugees wait months and sometimes years to enter the country. We ask that we continue to accept as many refugees as we have in the past, recognizing the need is greater than ever. We ask that refugees from all countries receive consideration to come to the U.S. and not to ban those who come from countries most in need of our assistance.”
Other Related Church News:

Radio Tamazuj: Two Sudans' Episcopal archbishop to step down in November. An excerpt follows: 
The long-serving Primate in the Anglican Communion, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan Dr. Daniel Deng Bul, said he will step down from his position in November this year. Daniel Deng is the fourth Archbishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan since his enthronement on 20 April 2008. Deng told a congregation at Emmanuel Diocese in Yei town on Sunday that his tenure as archbishop will expire in November, saying the church will elect a new archbishop to lead the Anglican Church in South Sudan.The religious leader further said he has done enough whether good or bad things during his leadership.“I became an archbishop in 2008, and its time for me to retire and leave the site for a new young archbishop and primate for the Anglican Church," said Deng.
Five Talents: The Journey of Hope - Sunday, March 26th, 4 to 5:30 PM

Join Five Talents for an inspirational gathering with special guest, Harriet Baka from South Sudan. Following an upcoming presentation at the UN Conference on the Status of Women in NYC, Harriet will be meeting with friends of Five Talents at the Vienna Presbyterian Church in Northern Virginia. 

Harriet is the Provincial Coordinator of the Mother's Union for the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan. She is a tireless advocate for peace and a champion of the poor.Harriet has worked across the region leading a network of women's ministries, facilitating community savings and development, and coordinating care for refugees. Be prepared to be challenged and inspired by Harriet's remarkable stories of faith, perseverance, and hope in the midst of trial. Learn more about The Journey of Hope and the work of Five Talents in South Sudan.

Recent News: South Sudan
Radio Tamazuj: Kiir says national dialogue sessions will begin in March. An excerpt follows from this February 6 article: South Sudan's President Salva Kiir said on Monday that National Dialogue sessions will kick off in early March after members of national parliament return back from recess.This comes during his public address in Yei town where he attended centenary celebrations of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan. Kiir said the National Dialogue will be launched in the first week of March, saying the dialogue will continue for four months."The national dialogue is a matter of urgency so that we see what will be the next step. Now our members of the national legislature are on recess, they will come back in the end of this month, so when they come, we will kick off the sessions of the national dialogue, "said Kiir.

President Kiir reiterated his commitment to implement the signed peace agreement with the incumbent First Vice President Taban Deng Gai who replaced Riek Machar after the outbreak of clashes in Juba in July 2016. Previously, the President said the broader objectives of the National Dialogue are to end violent conflicts in South Sudan, reconstitute national consensus, and save the country from disintegration and usher in a new era of peace, stability and prosperity.
Separately, President Kiir has ordered the National Minister of Defense Kuol Manyang Juuk and the SPLA chief of staff Paul Malong to publicly execute members of the armed forces if found raping women and girls in South Sudan. Kiir said his office has been receiving complaints about continuous cases of SPLA soldiers committing human rights abuses against civilians, saying the issue needs tough actions to save the lives of people.... (continued).

Report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: Recent issue of South Sudan Humanitarian Bulletin details fighting, refugees, food insecurity, and health challenges that OCHA faces in this country.
Humanitarian Exchange: Special feature: The crisis in South Sudan. This issue is the latest in a series published by Humanitarian Practice Network, Overseas Development Institute, located in London.

The New York Times: Millions in South Sudan in Urgent Need of Food, U.N. Warns

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your interest, your prayers, and your support. 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.