- REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu
Protestant Churches in the United States and abroad have called for a "Day of Prayer for South Sudan" in response to the recent news of a ceasefire in the violence-ridden nascent nation.
Presbyterian Church (USA), The Episcopal Church, and the Reformed Church in America have issued calls to their members to pray for South Sudan on Sunday, February 16.
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the PC (USA) General Assembly, said in a recently released statement that the Republic of South Sudan needs their prayers and support during this time.
"The ceasefire that went into effect in South Sudan on January 23 provides a sign of hope," said Parsons. "Our brothers and sisters need our prayer and support as they seek to move into a future of justice and peace."
PC (USA) has also called on members to lobby in Washington for the cause and to donate to a disaster relief effort specifically set up for South Sudan.
"God of reconciliation, we ask you to send your Spirit of unity and peace to guide the people and the leaders of South Sudan from violence and into the paths of peace and justice," reads the text of suggested prayer for Feb. 16 in part. "Strengthen them with the power of your Holy Spirit as they witness to the strong love of Christ, advocating for peace and justice in a situation that is only hopeful because we follow a resurrected Christ."
The Republic of South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 due to a referendum overwhelmingly approved by voters. Created from the ten southernmost states of the Republic of Sudan, South Sudan became immersed in a violent political conflict last December.
Having endured decades of civil war before independence, the recent wave of violence has led to an estimated 1,000 deaths and as many as 500,000 displaced.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted in a statement: "The world is increasingly concerned over the rampant violence in South Sudan."
"The recent increase in armed conflict, murder, and mayhem has been fomented in part by inaccurate reports of tribal partisanship. The new nation needs peace, in order that all its people might thrive," said Jefferts Schori. "The Episcopal Church of Sudan is partnering with others on the ground in that work of peace-building. The Sudanese communities within our own Episcopal Church have been important and effective leaders in this work."