New Sudanese Mission Church

Even aside from the fact that I was received into the Episcopal Church today, this is a very important day in the Arizona Diocese, and indeed the larger Episcopal Church. Today, the Bishop of the Diocese of Arizona, Kirk Smith (a fellow graduate of Lewis & Clark College, by the way) opened a new mission church--St. Paul's Sudanese Mission. As the name implies, it is a church for the hundreds of Sudanese refugees who now call Phoenix home.

The Arizona Republic has a good article about the new church:

The Lost Boys of Sudan have been in Arizona for years now. So long, in fact, that they are no longer boys.

But only today will they finally feel like they are home.

The precise moment will occur at 1 p.m., just south of downtown Phoenix, when the doors open at an Episcopal church, St. Paul's Sudanese Mission.

The Rev. Samuel Reec will address the congregants in their native language, Dinka, and finally these young men, who have suffered unspeakable pain because of their beliefs, will have a place of their own where they can worship as they did so many years ago when they were young.

"This church will bring our people together," Jany Deng, 28, said. "We are really here now."

Although there are other Sudanese congregations in the U.S., none has had a church of its own. Until today.

The small building will be the home of a particularly fervent congregation because the Sudanese who arrived in this country, mostly in 2001, are renowned for their faith.

The Lost Boys say their devotion is profound because of, not despite, what they have been through.

"It is an incredible faith," said Mark Towsley, who works with the Sudanese as an employee of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.

"You can feel their excitement when they have a chance to pray and worship. Even if you cannot understand what they are saying, it is clear."

Reec, who will lead the new church, says the reason for this is simple. "When you lose everything, all you have is God."

Read it all. The Archbishop of Sudan was in Phoenix for the occasion. The Mission is supported, in part, by the Diocese of Arizona's Alleluia Fund, which is used to support new church plants in the Diocese. For more information about the fund (and perhaps to contribute), go here.


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