Bishop Samuel Peni of Nzara | Jesse Zink/ACNS

South Sudanese expatriates living in the United States have met to discuss “obstacles and the foundations for reconciliation and peace-building” in South Sudan.

The annual conference of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of the Sudans met in Denver on May 4-6 under the theme “Strengthening the Peacemakers: South Sudan and Diaspora.”

“We realized our need for a stronger and more unified voice,” the group said in a message to issued at the end of the conference. They call on other South Sudanese in North America to unite for peace.

“We sense that the time has come for us as South Sudanese in the North American diaspora to widen the dialogue among our communities, addressing our differences and fears in order to build bridges for peace,” they said. “Although we who participated this weekend had a powerful experience, our gathering lacked a full representation of our entire South Sudanese community.

“Until the diaspora speaks with a united voice, we cannot expect to be heard by the powers that are currently draining the life out of South Sudan.”

The statement described the meeting as “a profound encounter in which we recognized both the burden of trauma that we share and the strength that comes out of our diversity.”

“We believe this is the time for a broader conversation to nurture a compelling voice that will lead to action for peace. We believe that we the South Sudanese communities in North America, like the dry scattered bones in the vision of the prophet Ezekiel, can receive new life when those distinct bones are knit together.”

The Rt. Rev. Samuel Peni, Bishop of Nzara and chairman of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan’s Commission for Peace and Reconciliation, said Sudanese bishops had been on retreat in Rwanda “to learn from our sisters and brothers in that nation that had experienced a traumatic event and to seek healing.”

“We are ready to be advocates and we are ready for all to join us.”

Adapted from ACNS

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