The prayers on 18 June at the All Saints Cathedral in Mobil, had been organized ahead of an ecumenical pilgrimage to South Sudan by world church leaders led by Pope Francis; Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, England; and Rev. Dr Iain Greenshields, moderator of General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Pope Francis was set to travel to South Sudan from 5-7 July, where he was to be joined by Welby and Greenshields. On an Africa trip, Francis was to first arrive in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he would stay from 2- 5 July before flying to Juba, but on 10 June, the Vatican announced that the trip had been postponed. Pope Francis later regretted that he had to cancel the trip due to a painful knee.
“We pray for our ecumenical leaders …that they may continue to journey together on the path of unity, peace and reconciliation to lead God’s faith people on the common journey towards unity, and may they remain united in their universal leadership of the church,” said Rev. Patrick Jok of the Sudanese Reformed Church.
Analysts say a visit by the leaders to the world’s youngest nation can be a big boost to hope and unity for the people who yearn for peace after decades of war.
Bishop James Lagos Alexander of the African Inland Church reminded the Sudanese people that if they were not united, there would be no church, in a sermon at the prayers centered on unity.
“Unity attracts God’s favour, will bring us blessings, lead us to greater productivity and will lead us to sustainability,” said the cleric.
He reminded that the people’s failure to forgive, remaining bitterness, and jealousy were the evils killing in unity. He urged them to love one another to regain unity.
The churches carried out intercession and healing prayers for their nation.
“Give us the grace that we may all remain one, united in the body of Christ, the church and inspired by the Holy Spirit to be faithful witnesses of the word of God and truly live the unity we receive through Holy spirit,” prayed Bishop James Lado of the Sudan Pentecostal Church in a prayer for unity, thanksgiving and repentance.
In a prayer for the government and political leaders, Bishop Simon Nyamara of Christian Brotherhood Church said: “…Grant them wisdom, strength and health to rule your people in South Sudan in unity and peace…Keep them mindful of the importance of and expectation that they be men and women of integrity.”
Earlier, Rev. James Oyet Latansio, general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches, called on all churches to join together in love, hope, peace and unity in an invite for the event.
“The South Sudan Council of Churches will be honoured by your presence and prayers on this remarkable day. Thank you for all your prayers and support to enhance peace, healing and reconciliation for the people of South Sudan,” said Latansio.