Lutherans Urged to Press Obama on Sudan Peace

The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is calling on his denomination's members to ask President Obama to help secure lasting peace for the people of Sudan.

In a recent letter, Bishop Mark S. Hanson called on the church's 4.6 million members to add their name to an interfaith letter that urges the United States to be diplomatically active in achieving peace in war-torn Sudan.

"The Gospel inspires us with courage in the face of conflict and calls us to be active in the quest for peace among all nations," Hanson wrote. "Together, we must stand for peace in Sudan in both word and deed, faithful to God's calling to be peacemakers and ever hopeful in the power of the Spirit."

Members of the faith community expressed support for Obama's efforts thus far in securing peace in Sudan. They asked him to continue to help ensure the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the North and South is adhered to.

In January 2005, a CPA was signed between the Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) that ended the 20-year civil war between the North and South. Sudan's civil war was one of Africa's longest and bloodiest conflict during which 2.2 million people were killed and millions more displaced.

Signers of the letter also highlighted the dire situation in Darfur, where millions of people depend on humanitarian aid and live in makeshift camps. They asked the Obama administration to help deliver a sustainable peace agreement that will restore security and allow Darfuri people to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.

"While we represent diverse faith traditions, we are united in our work for peace, justice and the well-being of all God's people," reads the letter. "As we lead our communities in action and prayer, please know that we support you in your work and believe that your strong leadership is critical in realizing peace and justice in Sudan."

Hanson's letter to his denomination comes ahead of the "Interfaith Weekend of Prayer for Sudan," Aug. 28-30. His letter is meant to suggest ways Lutherans can participate in the upcoming event.

In addition to signing the interfaith letter, ELCA members are encouraged to write letters to their representatives in Congress to advocate for "robust U.S. diplomatic engagement that seeks sustainable peace" in Sudan, and to donate financially to support Lutheran ministries and reliefs in Sudan.

Those interested in signing the interfaith letter are asked to do so by Aug. 30.