A small team from Connor will travel to our link diocese of Yei in Southern Sudan this month on a trip that will lay the foundations for a Connor mission team led by the Bishop in the summer.
Archdeacon Stephen Forde, chair of Connor Council for Mission, will lead the team, accompanied by Diocesan Accountant David Cromie and Diocesan Communications Officer, Karen Bushby.
The partnership with Yei, in the heartland of a country which is emerging from a lengthy civil war, dates back to 2006. At Connor Diocesan Synod in 2007, Archdeacon Forde launched the Yei School Project and since then parishes and individuals in Connor have raised more than £113,000 to build a brand new school in the rural parish of Mongo.
Work on the school was completed in December, and the team will visit Mongo and meet staff and pupils during their trip.
The partnership is about more than simply raising funds, and strong links have been built with Bishop Hilary Luata Adebe of Yei, and CMSI Mission Partners John and Poppy Spens who currently work in the Yei Vocational Training College, part of the Diocese of Yei. [You can download a copy of John and Poppy's latest newsletter here]. The link was founded when Billy and Jenny Smith from Connor Diocese were Mission Partners in Yei, and although Billy and Jenny and their young family have now returned home, the partnership continues to thrive. Bishop Hilary has visited Connor on a number of occasions, and Archdeacon Forde travelled to Sudan early in 2007 when the link was in its infancy.
The team will fly to Entebbe, Uganda, on Sunday January 17, and will travel by air on to Yei on Tuesday January 19. They will meet with Bishop Hilary and other key figures in the diocese, as well as John and Poppy, and will visit a number of projects in the diocese. Archdeacon Forde will be establishing the training needs of Yei Diocese so that Connor can get the right people together for the team which visits in July.
David Cromie will be working with Diocesan Bookkeeper Samuel Dino on finance and other administrative matters. Karen Bushby will be looking at communications including the Yei Diocesan newsletter the Witness with Bishop Hilary, she will meet with the MU, and during the week will be recording stories and images to tell the Yei story. It is hoped this will also include interviews with some of those returning to Yei following the civil war who will have amazing stories to tell.
The team will also be involved in daily morning devotions at Diocesan Office, and worship in Immanuel Cathedral, Yei on January 24th. This includes the early morning English language service from 7.30am until 9.30am, and the Bari service, from 10.30am until 1pm. Archdeacon Forde will preach at both services.
They will return to Northern Ireland on Wednesday January 27.
The Mission Experience Team Abroad (META) from Connor will travel to Yei from July 5-18 2010 at the invitation of Bishop Hilary. It will be led by the Bishop of Connor and Canon Cecil Wilson. There are 10 places on this team available to clergy or lay people from Connor Diocese.
Anyone interested in being considered for the summer 2010 Connor Yei META is invited to attend a launch evening at the premises of the Church Mission Society Ireland (CMSI), 33 Dargan Road, Belfast, on Monday February 8 at 7pm.
As the January team prepares to travel to Africa, David Gough of CMS Ireland, who has facilitated this trip, is already out there. David left for Sudan on January 12 and is to speak at the opening of Yei Diocesan Synod on January 14. David will visit various dioceses within Sudan, not returning home until February 3, a day before Bishop Kamani of Ibba Diocese, Sudan, arrives in Belfast.
CMSI has organised a conference – SUDAN – a new dawning which will take place on Saturday February 6 from 10am until 4pm at CMS Ireland offices, 33 Dargan Road, Belfast. Bishop Kamani will be speaking, and it is hoped that members of the Connor team visiting Yei this month will also be reporting back.
A full report of the team’s trip to Yei will appear in the February edition of Connor Connections. Anticipating the trip Karen Bushby said: “I have been writing about the partnership with Yei for so long, it will be wonderful to actually experience life and worship in a culture so different to our own. I hope to at least give the parishioners in Connor who have been so generous in both their prayerful and financial support for Yei a better feel for the life of our friends in Southern Sudan when I return.”