As a High Level Revitalization Forum met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, met to discuss peace in South Sudan, faith groups shared clear messages urging an end to war and suffering.

In a hand-delivered letter, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby shared his greetings and prayers. “For those of you who have laid down arms to be here, it has meant a choice to reject brutality and open a space for hope,” he wrote. “It takes great strength to do that; more than it does to pick up a gun.”

There are many unarmed peacemakers in South Sudan, added Welby. “We have worked for many years with faith leaders and the South Sudan Council of Churches to support those who work tirelessly and often self-sacrificially for peace,” he wrote. “I pray that your discussions will be creative, honest, and passionate.”

Dialogue does not mean letting go of what we believe or compromising justice, Welby reflected. “I pray the reality of God’s presence, love and care for all the people of South Sudan would be real to you as you sit down together,” he concluded.

The South Sudan Council of Churches also shared a statement with the forum. “This despair and hopelessness has gone on for too long, the suffering is unbearable in you and the millions of broken hearts scattered across our land and region,” the statement reads. “We therefore appeal as the church to all the parties involved in the conflict in one way or the other to seek a true peace, with space for all around the table, with the resources shared for our next generations.”

WCC member churches in South Sudan