Distinguished Members of the German Federal Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to warmly welcome you to our panel discussion on South Sudan. I especially welcome Miss Hilde F. Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan. Dear Miss Johnson, we are very glad that you are with us tonight.
My name is Bernhard Felmberg. I am the protestant Chairperson of the Joint Conference Church and Development (GKKE) and the representative of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) to the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Our topic tonight is of utmost relevance because Sudan is still in a very crucial situation. In 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement paved the way to the referendum which finally led to the independence of the Republic of South Sudan on the 9th of July 2011. However, both North and South are far from a lasting and just peace.
Both GKKE and EKD with its Special Envoy Volker Faigle have been active with the situation in Sudan for many years, because the churches play a very significant role in this country. In the decades of Civil War, churches were the only places where people found shelter and got support. Until today churches often provide the only permanent infrastructure in this country, they can reach people up to very remote regions. Finally the churches are and should be a witness for peace, hope and reconciliation to the Sudanese people.
Today, we ask ourselves how the two new nations can become good neighbors. How can we contribute to a just peace? What can the international community do? What can the Churches do?
Some time ago, the Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC) initiated a prayer campaign called “101 Days of Prayer for a Peaceful Referendum in Sudan”. During the opening of our last GKKE-panel discussion (Donnerstagsgespräch) organized in November 2010, prior to the Referendum, my catholic colleague and brother Karl Jüsten closed with a prayer. I like to repeat this Prayer for Peace dedicated to all Sudanese people. Today, this prayer is as valid as two years ago.
“Lord Jesus, you who said to us:
‘I leave you in peace. My peace I give you.’
Look upon us your sisters and brothers in Sudan
as we face this moment of referendum.
And I add: as we face this situation of violence and despair.
Send us your Spirit to guide us.
Give us the wisdom we need to choose our future
where we will know your true peace.
You call us out of slavery,
oppression, and persecution
so that we may have life in abundance.
Grant us peace with one another.
Give peace among ethnic groups.
Help us to work together for the good of all.
We ask this in Your name, Lord Jesus” Amen
As for tonight I am now looking forward to get fresh and new insights on the situation in South Sudan. I am sure we will have an interesting discussion. I thank you for your attention.