The Primate of the Anglican Church in South Sudan reiterated calls on Jonglei State government to reopen the church that was closed over a fight three months ago and restore the people’s freedom of worship.
In August 2023, Jonglei Police arrested an Episcopal Church Bishop along with 27 other worshipers for being involved in a fistfight at a local church in the capital, Bor.
The clashes ensued after an unnamed bishop and his team stormed Langbar Parish, claiming it belongs to his administration.
However, they faced resistance from a group of clergymen and some congregants, resulting in violence.
Following the incident, police shut down the church premises and deployed security apparatus to the place of worship.
Addressing the press following the ECSS House of Bishops meeting in Juba on Thursday, Archbishop and Primate Justin Badi Arama regarded the closing of the church as a grave sin.
“We did say last time that we appealed for the church to be opened, and up to now, the church is not yet opened,” Badi said on behalf of 15 other ECSS bishops present at the press conference.
“Closing the church is a grave sin and our collective prayers as citizens of South Sudan and Christians within the Anglican communion will be something that will be a curse on our nation, but we are slow.”
The archbishop appealed to the state and national government to reopen the church.
“We are again appealing for the government in Jonglei or the national government to open the church and we know we can take further measures, but we are still continuing to appeal.”
Primate Badi said the Langbar congregation are now praying under trees since the church was locked. According to him, he has directed them to stay calm and embrace peace.
“Currently, the faithful are there praying under the tree, they are there, and we have told them to be calm to embrace peaceful measures and let them be patient.”
“They are patient they are praying under the trees, and we continue to cry and to pledge to our government and those who did this that let the curse not increase on them.”
When contacted by Eye Radio, the Jonglei State Police Commissioner says they are yet to receive a formal request from the Episcopal Church for the reopening of the church.
However, Major General Elia Costa added that the matter is yet to be resolved, adding that the state authorities were trying to prevent further violence.
“Up to now, we haven’t received any message or any letter from them [church] concerning the opening of the church,” said General Costa.
“Maybe they will write to the Governor so that the governor can raise the issue either to the security meeting or council of ministers so that they discuss it and come with resolution.
He further explained that: “There is a conflict between the two parties, so that is why the church was closed”, adding that the issue is not yet resolved.
“It is still pending, maybe if the security or the state opens it, it will cause another problem, it will create another insecurity, so that is why the issue was referred to the office of the President in Juba.”
The ECSS church in Jonglei has since been mired with internal division sparked by the 2020 defrocking of Jonglei State Internal Province Bishop Rueben Akurdid Ngong.
Akurdid was removed and replaced with Bishop Moses Anur, as Archbishop of Jonglei Internal Province and Bishop of the Diocese of Bor by Primate Justin Badi Arama.
Bishop Akurdid, however, rejected his removal and subsequently expelled Anur claiming he had been removed unjustifiably.
A high-level mediation effort led by the presidency has collapsed without reconciling Badi and Akurdid.
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