Bishop Wayne Smith to meet with Companion Diocese leaders in Kampala
In mid-May, Debbie Smith and I are traveling to Kampala, Uganda, to meet with leaders from our companion diocese in South Sudan. The warring forces in that country, the government's army and the rebel forces, have been for many months in Western Equatoria State, where Lui is located. Travel to Lui is impossible. The roads are closed, and air travel is not available. Bishop Stephen has not been able to return to Lui since last fall, and he mostly divides his time between Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, and Kampala, Uganda, where his and Lilian's children are in school. So we will meet in Kampala. While we are there, we will also meet with representatives from Lui's other international partners, the Diocese of Lund in the Church of Sweden, and the Blackmore Vale Deanery in the Diocese of Salisbury, in England.
We are meeting in order to collaborate and to learn what is necessary and what is even possible in these hard circumstances. We are meeting most of all to hear from our Moru friends, and we are meeting simply to be with them. We are meeting to talk with them about what a companion relationship looks like in this new situation on the ground, both in the church and in state.
Our brothers and sisters still in Lui are in dire straits, so many of the villages in the diocese having been destroyed. Their access to water is limited, since most of the wells that we assisted them in digging are inside the now-destroyed villages. The war has forced the loss of at least one crop of sorghum and other foodstuffs this year, a disaster for a community of subsistence farmers. I know that providing relief for the people, in food, water, and medicine, is very much on Bishop Stephen's mind, and I know that much of our conversation in Kampala will address the means for providing it.
Debbie and I will carry with us greetings from the people of this Diocese, and we will return here with new learnings to share. Pray for us. But most of all pray for the people of Lui, and for the peace of South Sudan.
--Bishop Wayne Smith