The 11th Provincial Standing Committee was held in Juba from 14th to 15th November 2019.
God our heavenly father in everything we do in the Church, in our nation and our families, may it bring glory to your name. May your spirit help us as your followers to bring honour and dignity to your Church through Christ our Lord. Amen
Our dear father the retired primate, all internal Archbishops, the provincial chancellor, the provincial secretary and all provincial staffs, all Diocesan bishops, heads of our training institutions, all delegates to this meeting, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen. I welcome you all to this eleventh Provincial standing committee meeting and I greet you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though we rejoice for our fellowship together, it is sad to miss the presence of our brothers who are no longer with us. Let us all stand and remember the following:
- The late Archbishop Peter Munde, the 1st Archbishop of Western Equatoria Internal Province.
- The late Bishop Simon Adut, the 3rd Diocesan bishop of Yirol Diocese
- The late Bishop Micah Laila Daudi, the retired bishop of Terekeka Diocese and all our committed Christians who have gone ahead of us. May their souls rest in peace.
At the time of my installation, I did say our focus for the next ten years will be on the Lord’s Prayer. To teach our people to understand the Lord’s Prayer, sing the Lord’s Prayer, do the Lord’s Prayer and live the Lord’s Prayer in their daily life. The first priority in the Lord’s Prayer is to make the name of God be honoured. God has called us for the important task of bringing honour to his name in the Church.
In my charge today, I am going to talk about ten issues that deserve our attention in order to bring honour to the name of God and respect to His Church; the ten issues are based on the fact that God has given us ten Commandments to follow. We have also used the number ten for our provincial administration – the eight internal provinces, plus the mother Diocese of Juba and the main provincial administration brings the total to ten to match with the Ten Commandments. My today’s charge comprises of ten points as follows:
- Understanding the nature of the Church
- The Governance system of the Church
- Respect within the Church
- Evangelism and mission
- Our vision and mission
- Our corporate worship
- Human resource development
- Financial support for the Church
- Global South structure
- Peace and reconciliation effort
Let me briefly explain each of these points to you.
- UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF THE CHURCH
The word “church” does not only mean a building, but an assembly or gathering of people who are called out from a larger group into the company of believers in Jesus Christ. This started at the time of Pentecost, has continued to this generation, and will continue in the ages to come.
In the lifetime of our Lord Jesus Christ, he mentioned his plan of building the church in the words he said to Peter about how he will build his church that “ And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. After the Lord Jesus died, resurrected and ascended into heaven, He did fulfill his promise by sending the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost to create and establish the Church.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus continued to build his church by adding to the membership. The Lord Jesus himself is the cornerstone for the foundation of the Church. Each Christian believer is a living stone with which the whole temple is built for the glory of God through His Spirit.
The stones need to be well shaped and in large quantity to complete one strong and complete building. To scatter few unshaped stones for constructing several buildings may result to incomplete buildings that may not bring a good name to the owner of the building. In light of this, I issued a standing order to suspend the creation of new Dioceses for the time being so that we first concentrate on nurturing and strengthening the existing Dioceses to be matured with adequate leadership for proper administration system that brings glory to God. I understand in families, whose parents do not plan their family well, the children suffer various challenges. As a watchman, I have given you the signal warning to slow down for a moment in order to move with new energy. (Ezekiel 33: 8-9)
The true nature of the church can be understood by examining the statement in the Nicene Creed which talks of ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is an important statement that summarizes the true nature of the church.
The church is one because it is one family of God. God unites in fellowship all those who were once estranged from God and from each other to become one family. All Christians are the sons and daughters of God and God is their heavenly father. God himself talks of being a father to all believers and they shall be sons and daughters to him. The church is one in the Lord Jesus Christ and one in fellowship of the Holy Spirit; the one sacrifice of Christ provides salvation in one fellowship. Hence, as followers of Christ in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, we should always see ourselves as one family. There should be no regionalism, no tribalism and no groupings or schism in the Church.
The church is Holy because it is a community of forgiven sinners that portrays the holiness of God.The holiness of the church is through Christ whose life, death and resurrection justifies believers by grace and sets them in the path of sanctification. This holiness also fulfills the Old Testament ceremonial cleanness by a moral purity through the spirit.
In the New Testament, we receive that holiness by admitting our faults and repenting of our wrong doings. If we violate this and defend our own interest, we make the Church of God unholy and bring shame to His name and His Church.
The church is catholic in the sense that it is in all parts of the world and in all periods of history. The Church joins in fellowship all people from every race and social background and nationalities. All people who confess Christ qualify to be members of the Church and this gives no room for tribalism in the Church because every member fits well everywhere.
The Church is apostolic because it originates from the apostles and it has a direct link with the apostles. Therefore the apostolicity of the church refers to its foundation on the apostolic witness and teachings. The word Apostle in a broad sense can mean a messenger or a pioneer missionary, but in the New Testament, it specifically refers to the Apostles of Jesus Christ. For a person to qualify to be called an Apostle he must have seen Christ after the resurrection with his own eyes or be specifically appointed by Christ himself as an Apostle. The well-known number of apostles in the New Testament is 15. These comprises of the first eleven 11 remaining original apostles after the death of Judas Iscariot, then Matthias who was chosen to replace Judasand James the brother of Jesusthen Barnabas and Paul. All these fifteen 15 men are those who have seen the Lord Jesus after the resurrection. St. Paul calls himself the least of all the Apostles and he says he is unfit to be called an Apostle because of his former deeds. It seems after Paul there were no more apostles appointed.
The only other title after the apostle was that of an elder or a bishop. As the church grew in numbers and extent, the apostles needed assistants in their ministry to represent them in the churches they have founded. Then the bishops were ordained and counted as the successors of the apostles’.
The bishops were entrusted the continuation of the apostolic ministry and the right to ordain the other ministers of the Church. The bishops bore responsibility for the preservation of the apostolic teachings in the Church and supervise the pastoral work of the Church. The bishop also completes the initiation of a Christian by the laying of hands in confirmation. Whenever the bishop is present in any church or congregation under his Diocesan care, he/she performs the priestly act of pronouncing the absolution and the benediction (blessings). The presence of bishop in his/her diocese is vital for the flock entrusted into their care, so constitutionally a bishop is not allowed to stay out of his Cathedral for over three months.
- THE GOVERNANCE SYSTEM OF THE CHURCH
There are many different types of Church governance, but let me only limit myself to talk about the present governance system of our province.
In the Episcopal Church of South Sudan from top, our system of governance starts with the Primate who is the head and final authority of the Church. He oversees the work of the internal provinces, and is responsible for the consecration and installation of bishops. The internal archbishops are the second authority in our Church, and they oversee the work of the Diocesan bishops within their own internal provinces. Thirdly the Diocesan bishops are the third authority in the province; they oversee the work of priests in parishes within their own Diocesan jurisdictions and priests work within their own territorial jurisdictions. Bishops and priests involving in affairs beyond their own Diocesan and parish jurisdictions make a serious violation and canonical disobedience. I have noticed with concern that the devil is trying harder to destroy the Church of God by instilling the spirit of disrespect and abuse to our own system and our leaders by calling them with names such as: “the so called archbishops, useless, ignorant and stupid’’. I see all these as the work of the devil to make us implementers of his agenda of division, creating hate, enmity and destruction. But today, in the name of Jesus the Lord of the Church, I appeal to all my bishops whom God has called to serve in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan to avoid implementing the devils’ agenda by violating and disrespecting the Church system and leadership and be committed to the services that God have called them to display in his Church.
- RESPECT AND OBEDIENCE IN THE CHURCH SYSTEM
Respect and obedience in the Church is a mandatory obligation to every believer. It is a quality that demonstrates our love to God. Respect to parents and elders is the fifth commandment which is placed in the middle of the ten commandments because of its importance. The Lord Jesus himself said: if you love me, you will obey my commandments.
Respect and obedience in the Church does not depend on age, education or intellect, but it is a sign of our call and devotion to the service of God. The first apostles whom Jesus called were of different backgrounds but yet they respected each other. St Paul and Dr Luke were highly learned individuals, yet they gave respect to Peter who was only a traditional fisherman and they considered him as their leader. Even some of us who have attained some education yet come from families that are illiterate and ignorant, we still consider ourselves a child of that illiterate family. We do not abuse our illiterate father and mother, but we use our intelligence and education to help them and make them proud of us and they give their blessings to us.
In that same spirit I appeal to this meeting that we should bring back the spirit of respect in our Church. All Christians must respect their Church leaders, Lay readers must respect their pastors, and pastors must respect their supervisors: the Rural deans, Archdeacons and bishops. All bishops must respect their internal Archbishops and the internal Archbishop gives their respect to the primate. All the bishops should see themselves as brothers and sister with authority to proclaim the Gospel and maintain a common discipline, and respect for one another.
- MISSION AND EVANGELISM
What we need is to do mission and evangelism strategically. This means to nurture and bring the members we have up to a mature level, then we bring in some new members to increase our membership. This needs us to think business or otherwise we continue to lose our membership. In the business world customers are attracted by the quality of services delivered and the customer care they receive, otherwise they will go to places where they are satisfied with the quality of services being delivered. Quality services are mostly being delivered by skilled labour. For us to move forward we need to start doing mission professionally to attract customers. In mission business the goods we provide are the quality of preaching, the pastoral care and counselling, and the worship. Since the time of reformation there has been a concern about what makes a good church. Two Church fathers gave their views on what makes a Church a good Church. The first view was that of Martin Luther who came up with the view that a good Church is the one in which the gospel is rightly taught and the sacraments rightly administered. Similarly another church father John Calvin said that a good Church is where the word of God is purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution.
From the views of these two church fathers it can be said that the right preaching of the word of God, and right administration of the biblical sacraments, is the required practice in mission and evangelism. Indeed the Church is the product of the word of God when it is rightly preached; those who hear and believe the word are admitted through baptism into the fellowship of believers. They continue as active and true members of the church by their regular participation in corporate worship and partaking of the Lord’s Supper. This therefore demands us as ECSS to put our focus, strength and resources in mission and evangelism, to nurture the current believers to grow in the faith, and to win new souls for Christ, bring restoration and transformation in communities. Having said this I therefore propose that there are two groups who exist in our Churches but we have not brought them in and strengthened them for mission. All Dioceses and parishes should work with Jol-wo-liech as an evangelism and mission team in our churches; they should be accepted within our structures. The same should apply in areas where there are revival movement groups; we should support and work with them for God’s glory.
- OUR VISION AND MISSION
We have developed a vision and mission for the province which is:
To see a united, faithful and vibrant Church.
Our Mission is: To proclaim the gospel of Christ, serve and reconcile the people.
Our goals are:
- To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ
- To render services to the people in need
- To advocate for the environment, the voiceless, oppressed and broken hearted
- To reconcile people with one another
- Institutional capacity building for holistic ministry
This was adopted by the House of Bishops’ last year and we are already working with it, but for formalities I would appreciate if this house can officially adopt these for our records.
- OUR CORPORATE WORSHIP
Corporate and orderly worship is one of the ways in which we bring honour to God and glorify His name. Today I present to you our own prayer book which is an important tool to guide and unify our worship as ECSS. My office made the draft and presented the first draft to the Canons of Juba Diocese, then with the input from those Canons, we made the second draft and printed 200 copies and distributed to all our bishops and some priests. The House of Bishops’ adopted the second draft for use, but with some corrections. We equally gave the draft to the provincial board for liturgy and theology in which they did all the technical corrections and amendments and returned the book to my office. So, with due respect I appreciate and recognize the wonderful work done on the prayer Book by the Liturgy and theology Board members. I managed to proof-read and examined the work done by that committee, and now I’m extremely glad and enthusiastic to be able to submit the book today to this standing committee meeting for formal approval.
- HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
The Church of the 21st century needs competent leaders with ability to manage and nurture the Christians, resource, and take the ministry forward. The decision which some of us have taken by ordaining hundreds of untrained people cannot take the Church forward, but instead we ourselves are pulling the standard of ECSS down and destroying the dignity of the ordained ministry. Today I humbly repeat my appeal that the priest whom we ordain should first be trained and adequately prepared for the ministry, otherwise they will be only for maintenance not productivity. We should be reminded that many other denominations are coming up and the competition is becoming very high. If we are weak, untrained and incompetent, most of our strong Christians will be taken from us by other denominations, especially our youths. I encourage you all to rise up and build the capacity of our leaders for quality ministry in our Churches.
The good news for us is that we have established the Episcopal University and it has been validated. The faculty of theology at BGC has progressed very strongly and now offers Bachelor of Divinity. What we now wait for is only a licence from the ministry of higher education and the appointment of a Vice chancellor whom we are now in the process of recruiting. All our regional colleges must cooperate and work through the Episcopal University. Having said this, I now propose the following:
- The Administration of the Episcopal University is to design a unified admission form to be used by all the regional colleges and also plan for a unified certificate and graduation.
- All ministerial formations and theological trainings should be done with the coordination and supervision of Bishop Gwynne College, using a unified single curriculum. For shorter training courses, the staff at Bishop Gwynne will develop materials to enable us have unified practice and knowledge.
- Once or twice a year every Diocese should conduct a clergy retreat to encourage and empower Church workers for ministry.
- I encourage all our dioceses to support the university morally, spiritually and financially.
- I propose that the priests in charge of our Cathedrals should be called by the title “Provost’’. The title of Dean should be left to the senior archbishop in our Province and the senior bishop in our internal provinces, and the heads of faculty in our institutions.
- FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY OF THE CHURCH
We must wake up to be financially sustainable in order to improve mission of the Church. For how long shall we remain complaining and seeing our leaders suffering? For how long shall we see our trained clergy going out of Church to seek employment elsewhere? This requires us to take a painful decision. The Church cannot move on well unless the leaders are well looked after.
Since I came to the office, I have only seen very limited contribution from some few Dioceses and internal provinces to support the ministry of the Church at the Provincial level. I did request the internal provinces to send contributions to the provincial treasury, so far nothing has happened, the general and common complains that we receive and hear from the dioceses is that of the prevalence of poverty in the dioceses, so we need to strategize ourselves in a way that enable us to move with the mind of scarcity to the mind of plenty.
Today I am encouraging all the Bishops and Internal Archbishops to aspire to inspire our people to give to the Church before we expire. Nobody will come and pay our bishops and our clergy. We are the ones to do it by ourselves. When the disciples were worried about where to get food to feed the hungry crowd that was with them, Jesus said to them: You yourself give them something to eat. Having said this I would like to present to you a one million dollar project to generate income for the support of bishops and missions. The following are proposed strategies for raising the one million dollar:
- Each Diocese to raise the amount of 5000 dollars; times 61 Dioceses this will bring the total of $305,000
- The provincial head office will raise $300,000 dollars
- My office will raise the remaining $395,000 by asking for loans and donations from well-wishers.
This project is to start next year 2020. I also propose that each Diocese should plan for the payment of their pastors.
- STRUCTURE OF GLOBAL SOUTH
It is very important for me to bring to your attention the structure of the Global South Anglican fellowship. The goal of this fellowship is to be an ecclesiastical body that is committed to God’s revealed word and effective in Gospel mission to the world. This fellowship has developed a structure that has a clear process to address issues of faith and order, and holding each other accountable to a common dogmatic and liturgical tradition, and in making decisions which carry force in the life of the Global fellowship of Anglicans.
We gave this structure to our internal archbishops and the board of liturgy and theology last year to look at it critically and analytically. Last month the structure was officially adopted by the 7th Global South Assembly in Cairo and each province is requested to adopt it and become a member of the fellowship. We circulated this adopted structure on the bishop’s forum for the bishops to read it. I propose to this meeting that we adopt the structure to enable us be part of this fellowship of Global South Anglicans in keeping the Orthodox faith. We thank God that in the next four years this fellowship of Global South will be headed by the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and this avails the opportunity for us to contribute to global Church.
- PEACE AND RECONCILIATION EFFORTS
Lastly but not the least, I would like to commend you for all the efforts you have been making in pursuing peace and reconciliation amongst our people. I strongly encourage all our bishops to continue with this work because the hope and the future of this nation dwells in our hands if we exercise our Christian values well and are able to influence others.
With this few remarks, I wish you all fruitful deliberations and God’s blessings in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
 Matthew 16:18
 Acts 2:47
 Book of common worship p 92
 2 Cor 6:18
 1 Peter 1:16
 Migliore p 271
 John 1:8-9
 Migliore P 271
 McGrath P 397
 Acts 1:22
 Acts 1:26
 Gal 1:19
 Acts 14:14
 1 Cor 15:7-9
 Shepherd P 200
 Shepherd P 2001
 Ephesians 2: 20
 Grudem p 865
 (Eph 1:6,12,14; 3:10; 1 Cor 10:31)