As a result of an overwhelming vote in favor of the partition of Sudan into two countries, Sudan and South Sudan, at midnight last night, a new nation was born.
"South Sudan became the world's newest country Saturday with a raucous street party at midnight. At a packed midday ceremony, the speaker of parliament read a proclamation of independence as the flag of Sudan was lowered and the flag of South Sudan was raised, sparking wild cheers from a crowd tens of thousands strong.
"Hallelujah!" one resident yelled, as other onlookers wiped away tears.
The U.S. and Britain announced their recognition of South Sudan as a sovereign nation. President Barack Obama said the day was a reminder that "after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible."
"A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn," Obama said in a statement. "These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people.""
Episcopal News describes the events in Sudan:
Episcopal Church of Sudan bishops, priests and lay people – joined by representatives from the Church of England and the U.S.-based Episcopal Church – celebrated the July 9 declaration of independence along with hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese during a five-hour ceremony in Juba near the mausoleum of liberation hero John Garang.
Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan spoke to the media before the ceremony began. "Today is the day when we move beyond the pain and suffering," he said. "For 55 years, we have been suffering. But today, justice has been done."
The Presiding Bishop has asked for prayers this weekend for the people of Sudan:
God, help all of us love peace. Use your wisdom to guide the leaders of all countries, so that your peace may grow until the world is filled with the knowledge of your love, now and forever. Amen.
Dear God, in the world you wish for us no one uses swords, and love is strong. We pray that all people may come together with Jesus, like children of one Father. May your glory shine everywhere. Amen.
O God our heavenly Father, guide all the countries to practice justice and truth. Help them build peace so that they may become the land of Jesus our Savior. Amen.
O God, you made all of us for your glory. You want us to serve you in freedom and in peace. We ask you to give all the people of Sudan lots of energy to work for justice. We also ask you to give them patience and understanding. We pray that they use their freedom to follow your will always. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.
God, all of us must be able to explain all to you of our actions. We ask you to guide the people South Sudan as they begin as a new nation. We pray that all Sudanese will be safe in their homes. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.