|Rev. Dr. Sam Hamilton-Poore on ecumenical mission in Southern Sudan
Rev. Dr. Sam Hamilton-Poore is one of four Americans currently visiting Sudan at the invitation of bishops from the Episcopal Diocese of Renk and Malakal. The team includes Dr. Ellen Davis, professor of Old Testament at Duke Divinity School, Dr. Peter Morris, who will be attending to medical needs, and Rev. Ann Coop.
“I’m so grateful for this opportunity to return—after 18 years—and offer some measure of support and prayer to the people there who have suffered so much and for long,” Hamilton-Poore said.
In July, Southern Sudan will become the world’s newest nation, and the Southern Sudanese will begin the long work of rebuilding after decades of warfare, death, and displacement. The church—in all denominations—has been and will continue to be instrumental in rebuilding. For decades, the church has been the one, reliable source for peacemaking, healing and hope, growing in numbers beyond comprehension.
In Renk and Malakal, Hamilton-Poore will work with theological students and pastors on prayer, discernment and spiritual practices. Davis will lead workshops on the topics assigned to her by the Anglican Consultative Council: Bible and Economic Justice, and/or Bible and Gender Justice. Coop will work with women, both lay and ordained, on the Women for Women Initiative. Dr. Morris will work on community health projects.
One of the reasons the group is traveling to Malakal is that it is the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church of Sudan, as well as the location of two Presbyterian-related theological schools. The Americans are expected to meet with these Presbyterian leaders to participate in ongoing ecumenical dialogue about theological education in the new nation. There is a high degree of cooperation, ecumenically, among church leaders in Sudan, and these leaders are beginning to envision training pastors together—Anglican, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, Independent, etc.
“The ecumenical cooperation among church leaders in Sudan is hugely significant—and connects, I believe, to Christ’s own prayer that his friends may ‘be one,’ as he and his Father were/are one,” explained Hamilton-Poore. “Denominational affiliations in Sudan have typically fallen along tribal lines—and these tribal lines sometimes become ‘fault lines’ that lead to conflict. To work and train pastors ecumenically is (therefore) also to work and train inter-tribally—with the possibility of building a more peaceful future for the people of Sudan.”