A Letter from Bishop Lee on Renk Diocese, South Sudan

April 23, 2014

Dear Friends:

We have received credible reports from our friends in the Diocese of Renk that the area is engulfed in fighting between the South Sudanese army and rebel troops loyal to former deputy president Riek Machar. It is not clear who controls the town.

The Rev. Jacob Panchol, whom some of us have met during trips to the Diocese of Renk, informed us by telephone that he and the local chief, Chief Bior Kuir Aguer Deng, were currently safe and that most of the people in Renk had fled the area several days ago. Some 4,000 worshippers typically attend the celebration of the Easter Vigil, but on Saturday evening, only 60 worshippers were present.

Our friend Bishop Joseph Garang Atem is also safe. Indeed, earlier today he arrived in Chicago on a previously scheduled trip. He and I will participate in the Rev. Matt Gunter’s consecration as bishop of Fond du Lac on Saturday, and Bishop Joseph will be with us on Sunday for a prayer vigil for South Sudan at 4 pm at St. James Cathedral.

Reports of the violence against unarmed civilians in South Sudan are horrifying. Rebel fighters massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu, and armed youth attacked a UN Mission in Bor last week killing at least 48 civilians. More than a million people have fled their homes since the violence broke out late last year.

Please join us, in person or in spirit, for the vigil at the cathedral on Sunday, and hold the people of South Sudan and our companions in the Diocese of Renk in your thoughts and prayers.


The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee