People across the United States are holding the citizens of Sudan in prayer this weekend. For many Episcopalians, the vote on partition tomorrow isn't just a news story, it's a matter of personal concern because of their friendship with many Sudanese.
The Diocese of Missouri is one of a number of Episcopal dioceses that have an ongoing relationship with a companion diocese in Sudan. An article in St. Louis today features the way this relationship has changed the way people in Missouri are seeing the vote, especially given the danger that violence will follow the vote no matter which way it ends up going:
"That danger leads to the very real fear that Missouri Episcopalians have for the people of Lui who are no longer just a faceless group of Africans 7,000 miles away, but friends. Adding to the tension in the Lui diocese is that they were left leaderless when their bishop, Bullen Dolli, died in December.
'We fear our friends are going to be murdered if there's violence,' Bloemker said. 'When we hear about potential violence, I think about Mama Margaret who survived the first civil war. But now I know her, and the idea of her not surviving more violence is heartbreaking. For us, this vote is about individual lives and relationships as opposed to a geopolitical game.'
Those personal connections make the prayer service at Christ Church Cathedral on Saturday night much more fraught. It makes the prayers for peace that much more urgent.
'I have to think that's what Jesus wants from us,' Bloemker said. 'To not allow violence to become a personless force. In that sense, the relationship we have with Lui is very effective in transforming our lives in Missouri.'"
Take a few minutes and read the full article here.
There's background on the vote and the process in this article in the Washington Post this morning.
(And on a personal note, your Sat. Café editor is leading a class on the Old Testament for 20 Sudanese "Lost boys" this morning as part of the Diocese of Arizona's Sudanese American Theological Institute. We'll be taking some time to pray for their families back in the Sudan. We'd love to have you join us in prayer.)