AFRECS E-Blast: September 28, 2016

Light in the Darkness
Message from  Executive Director, Richard Parkins: 
Dear Friends,
Those of us following events in South Sudan face a relentless barrage of bad news that crushes our spirits as we witness the suffering of our sisters and brothers. Some of our friends, however, have pressed us to be open to good news and have supplied some of that to demonstrate that there are good things happening in South Sudan.  To embrace good news does not mean we neglect the suffering that is the essence of much of the bad news confronting us.  More importantly we can be the generators of good news allowing us to introduce a modicum of light into South Sudan's darkness.
A couple of weeks ago, our attention as Christians was called to the beatification of Mother Teresa - her entrance into sainthood.  For those of us who knew of Mother Teresa's work in India, she had already achieved sainthood.  Indeed her daily diet of meeting face-to-face with the suffering did not inhibit her ministry of compassion and caring.  In fact, her encounter with the wretched masses in Calcutta seems to have nourished her relentless spirit. When asked how she kept going, she responded by telling her friends that in each dying soul, she saw the face of Jesus. 
Another relevant comment for us is the advice the 'Good Mother' gave as she cared for many in the midst of an overwhelming sea of poverty. While not unmindful of the daunting task before her and others seeking to end India's poverty, she noted that: "All of us cannot do great things.  But we can do small things with great love."
It is these countless acts of love that will change the landscape of South Sudan.  Through our modest gestures infused with great love, we can be among those who are instruments of peace for our friends in South Sudan.  This needs to be our mantra going forward, thus decreasing the risk of falling victim to despair because of the persistent messages regarding the dire situation that confronts the people in South Sudan.
Join others this October to express that love in a community that does small things with great love, even while praying for great things. Register for the Building Bridges of Reconciliation Conference, sponsored by AFRECS, October 21-23. 
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.)
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.