11/23/2015 9:55:00 AM
CHICAGO (ELCA) – As part of ongoing work to bring peace and reconciliation in South Sudan, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and local partners broke ground on a new Lutheran center and clinic in the nation's capital, Juba, earlier this month.
The Lutheran center and clinic, which serves as the launching point for the Evangelical Lutheran Church Africa Mission in South Sudan, will be a place of worship, learning, health care and healing for people of many different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
"This center will be a place of encounter for a community that has experienced the horrors of war," said the Rev. Rafael Malpica-Padilla, executive director for ELCA Global Mission. "It will be a place of hope for the next generation of leaders, an instrument through which we will touch people's lives for the flourishing of human community and where the good news of the gospel will be proclaimed."
Since South Sudan became an independent nation four years ago, it has been dealing with immense internal conflict among its many tribes. Due to the armed conflict, more than 1.6 million people are internally displaced, and many families and individuals, particularly youth, are flocking to the urban centers seeking a place for healing, as well as training and education. Local partners, including ELCA Sudanese congregations in the United States, the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan, and the South Sudan Council of Churches, hope to see the Lutheran center and clinic become that place of reconciliation and restoration.
"The happiest time for a human is when you have a newborn baby. It means a lot of things for your life and is a time of joy because the child is a blessing from God for all of us," said the Rev. Joseph Garang Atem, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Renk. "The same is true for the church. Whenever you add another part of the church, you have to be so happy because it is helping you evangelize and bring more people to God."
Through a global ministry evangelism project, South Sudan: A New Church for a New Nation, ELCA members and congregations have the opportunity to make this important work possible and bring healing to this new nation. In addition to the Lutheran center and clinic in Juba, the project also includes training mission leaders, conducting outreach programs and, ultimately, raising up an ethnically and culturally diverse church. Based on an evangelism strategy found effective in other African nations, this Lutheran center hopes to offer information technology and English-as-a-second-language courses, contributing to youth employment, as well.
"This project has been, since day one, a story of hope, reconciliation, and rebuilding," said Andrew Steele, director of ELCA Global Church Sponsorship. "The Sudanese community in our ELCA congregations started a movement to establish the Lutheran church in their home country and now we are able to do just that. We have only six months to reach our $1.2 million goal and will need support from across the church to ensure our brothers and sisters in South Sudan are able to experience the love, grace and healing of God."
The initiative in South Sudan is one of 14 new Global Ministries introduced as part of Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA. Information about this project is available at community.ELCA.org/SouthSudan.
- - -
About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.7 million members in more than 9,300 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
*Alix Matzke is marketing communications manager for Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.orgELCA
ELCA News: www.ELCA.org/news
Living Lutheran: www.livinglutheran.com