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War in Jonglei Church

By James Atem Kuir

Bishop of Malek Diocese, one of the tens dioceses underthe Jonglei Internal Province (JIP) of theEpiscopal Church of South Sudan(ECSS),Peter Joh Abraham Mayom has defectedto the faction of the church led by the defrocked bishop of JIP, Reuben Akurdid Ngong Akurdid in the latest escalation of the long-running tension within leadership of the Anglican communion.

Bishop Reuben Akurdid was defrocked as Archbishopof JIP and Bishop of the Diocese of Borlast yearby the Primate of the ECSS, Dr Justin Badi Aramaafterhe established three additional dioceses without approval from the churchheadquarters in Juba, leading toheightening of tensions as Akurdid dismissed his removal and declared independence from the administration his boss Justin Badi.

Bishop Peter Joh Abraham Mayom who,until now claimed to have maintained neutrality in the dispute between Archbishop Dr Justin Badi and Bishop Akurdid, said his diocese and him recognizes Bishop Akurdid as the legitimate Bishop of the Diocese of Bor.

“We as the Diocese of Malek maintain position with the Diocese of Bor led by Reuben Akurdid Ngong Akurdid. We are neighbours of the Diocese of Bor and recognize Archbishop Reuben Akurdid as Bishop of Diocese of Bor because he is the available person and archbishop here and we remain under the diocese of Bor and that is our position,” he said in a video footage circulating on social yesterday.

After removing Bishop Akurdid for ‘canonical disobedience, violation of church constitution and dividing faithful’, Primate Badi replaced him with Moses Anur Ayom as Archbishop of JIP ad Bishop of the Diocese of Bor, a move that escalated the disputewith followers of both senior priests, Akurdid and Moses Anur engaging in confrontation.

Bishop Peter Joh who withdrew out of the just concluded eleventh session of the synod general meeting conducted in Juba over the weekends, Bishop Peter Joh claimed he did so because delegates from his diocese of Malekdeclined to recognize Moses Anur as their Archbishop.

“The reason why we did not attend the synod is that [Dr Just] Badi has not been very straight forward without us as a diocese. He invited us as an individual diocese of Malek but when I happened to go there on the ground, he told me and the delegation of the Diocese of Malekthat please go your bishop [Moses] Anur (who is the appointed successor of Akurdid] but we asked how come you invited us as a diocese and now you’re telling to go to bishop Anur?,” he wondered.

“So, he [Dr Justin Badi] was not able to convince us and as a result,I called Bishop Moses Anur and introduced him to the [delegation of the Diocese of Malek] people whom the Primate said belong to him but the people of Malek Diocese declined and decided not to be part of the synod and so did I because I cannot be a participant when the people I am representing are not in the synod,” he said, saying the “Primate has entered so much into communal affairs.”

Peter Joh called on Justin Badi’s appointedBishop Moses Anur to step down in favour of Akurdid for peace to prevail.

“I’m calling on Bishop MosesAnur to step down as Archbishop [of Jonglei Internal Province]. Let him write a resignation letterand go back to the diocese of Athoc and we’ll come and solve our issues. So, the primate should not proceed with consecration of the bishop of the diocese of athoc.

“If he wants love and thepeace of God that surpass all human understanding, Anur has to step down and go back to the Diocese of Athoc until Reuben Akurdid retires, then we can reconcile our people. And if he wants the community of Bor to remain divided, let him hold on to this position with support of people who are not interested in the unity of Bor people,” he demanded, as he appeared standing alongside Bishop Akurdid in the Video.

“My position is very clear, I was doing the right thing and that is why they have approved them but why was I defrocked? Why should they approve new dioceses and remain defrocked? I have to be reinstated and dioceses approved. If I am reinstated then I will people will decide my retirement because I have already written my letter of my retirement but he came confused everything. I was going to retire in December this year,” said the defrocked Bishop Akurdid in the same footage.

The ECSS headquarters has not commented by press time.

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