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Bishop Anthony of Kajo Keji to visit Diocese of Bethlehem

Southern Sudanese bishop to visit Diocese of Bethlehem
[Bishop Anthony Poggo and Bethlehem Bishop Paul V. Marshall will be available for a conversation with the media on Saturday, March 6, at 11:00 a.m. at Diocesan House, 333 Wyandotte Street, Bethlehem. Please email Canon Bill Lewellis, blewellis@diobeth.org, by March 3 if you intend to be there.]
Bishop Anthony Poggo of the Diocese of Kajo Keji in Southern Sudan, on the Ugandan border, will be the guest of Bishop Paul Marshall and the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem from March 1 to 8.

Bishop Poggo's public events:
Tuesday, March 2: 6:30-8:00 p.m. –– St. Stephen's Pro-Cathedral, Wilkes-Barre
Thursday, March 4: 6:30-8:00 p.m. –– Christ Episcopal Church, Reading
Friday, March 5: 7:00-9:00 p.m. –– Meeting especially (but not entirely) with youth 6th to 12th grades, Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem
Sunday, March 7: 10:30 a.m. –– Preaching at Church of the Redeemer, Sayre, followed by reception and conversation at noon
During these public events, Bishop Poggo will show updated pictures of the progress in building in Kajo Keji, resulting from the New Hope Campaign (see below) and invite conversation. Additionally, Bishop Poggo will meet privately with clergy groups, the World Mission Committee of the diocese and diocesan staff.

The two dioceses have developed a close partnership relationship which began in 2001, a deliberate policy of reciprocal enrichment. Nearly 20 lay persons and clergy of the Diocese of Bethlehem, as well as Bishop and Mrs. Diana Marshall, two to four at a times, have travelled to Southern Sudan on some 15 mission trips. A few have gone several times. All have been deeply affected by their visits. The former Bishop of Kajo Keji visited the Diocese of Bethlehem in 2002. This will be the current bishop's second trip to the 14-county northeastern Pennsylvania diocese. Bishop Marshall visited in Africa in 2000 and 2005.

Bishop Marshall joined members of the World Mission Committee and other interested people from the diocese on an advocacy trip to Washington, DC, to meet with key senators and representatives and members of the State Department to make the case for alleviating the suffering of the Sudanese people.

"Since 2000, I and others from our diocese have gone to Africa several times to seek a vision for Bethlehem among the suffering and those who care for them, in a place where the Holy Spirit can work," said Marshall.

In July 2004, some 157,000 expatriate Sudanese had come back across the southern border of Sudan after a series of terrorist incidents, including rapes and refugee camp lootings, by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group backed by the government of Sudan. The people had fled to Uganda in the first place after being displaced by the ongoing Sudanese civil war, which had been raging in Africa’s largest nation since independence was granted in 1955. Because of a local drought and other inhospitable conditions, as well as the overwhelming volume of need, the Diocese of Kajo Keji had no food, shelter, clothing, medicines, or agricultural tools to give them.

“We must act now to prevent people in Kajo Keji from starving to death,” Bishop Paul wrote late in July on the diocesan internet list. By mid September, more than $70,000 was received. Funds were wired to the Diocese of Kajo Keji by way of an account in Kampala, Uganda, the closest large city. Because of conditions in Sudan, the diocese decided to buy food and rent the trucks to haul it from Kampala to the refugee enclaves in Kajo Keji. Within days, trucks loaded with staples were on their way over rutted roads into the Kajo Keji area.

“Even if you don’t see it on the national news, “ Bishop Paul said then, “it really happened. This summer we learned again that when followers of Jesus work together, great good comes of it. We best know who we are when we care for others ... The first shipments of food reached Kajo Keji in time to prevent mass starvation, and the funds we provided will continue to feed the refugees for the immediate future.” A correspondent in Sudan wrote: “What the Diocese of Bethlehem has done will enter the history books of Kajo Keji… Their actions have given our people hope that they are not alone...”

“In the last five years,” Bishop Paul said in his address to the 2006 Convention of the Diocese of Bethlehem, “our relatively tiny diocese has given over $800,000 to relief for Africa (to fund scholarships, buy agricultural tools and oxen, adopt schools and stave off starvation in Kajo Keji), for tsunami victims, and for hurricane relief. And that is just the money we know about because it flowed through us to Episcopal Relief and Development. Certainly there has been more. No one can doubt that the love of God lives among us, and I thank you on behalf of the many who have no other way to address you.”

"It is one of the paradoxes of the modern world," onetime ABC News Nightline correspondent Dave Marash has said, "that we can and are made aware of far more serious problems than we can solve. Measuring up to this challenge, finding room in our hearts and our wallets for simultaneous catastrophes … is the challenge of the 21st century."

In 2007, the Diocese of Bethlehem launched the New Hope Campaign, to raise $3.6 million ($2.7 to provide "holistic support for our Sudanese brothers and sisters in areas where they have specifically asked for our support" and $900,000 for programs to support the needy in northeastern Pennsylvania). Contributions and pledges surpassed the goal within a year. To date, the total approaches $4.1 million.

Upon returning from his 2005 mission trip to southern Sudan, Bishop Marshall told a story about the impetus for the New Hope Campaign. “At the end of a week in that bomb-torn country, Diana and I baked in a bus for 14 hours in the Ugandan sun. Finally you give up wiping your face. As we became increasingly caked with red dirt and the overcrowded bus grew hotter and hotter, I found myself baking in a creative and holy sense: I knew God wanted my attention. Genesis says humans began our existence as kind of mud pies, and the red dust of the earth baking into my pores helped me have a new beginning of insight: Here were sisters and brothers with almost nothing to their names trying to build a life and a country — how could I go on as usual? In addition to altering how I live personally, I had to abandon some of my bricks-and-mortar dreams for our own diocese, particularly regarding a conference center, in order to see what God would have us do for others. The question that intrigued me was, Could we dare to have a capital fund drive where we didn’t get the money?”

In 2002, Bishop Marshall had asked Charlie Barebo to help spearhead a capital campaign to develop a camp and conference center for the diocese. "A funny thing happened on the way," said Barebo. "I woke up one morning in the Sudan." It was a "life-changing event that has deepened my faith and forever altered my outlook on this world and the next," said Barebo, a global traveler as CEO of Otterbine Barebo, a lake and pond water quality management firm in Upper MilfordTownship.

Barebo has served as chair of the New Hope Campaign and is volunteer missioner for development on Bishop Marshall's staff.

Born 1964 in Kajo Keji, Bishop Anthony Dangasuk Poggo became Bishop of Kajo Keji in 2007. Ordained a priest in 1996, he has worked with ACROSS, a Christian aid and relief organization in Sudan, Kenya and Uganda, in several capacities, including coordinator, communication and publishing director, and executive director. He has ministered also as attached clergy to St. Luke’s in Kenyatta (part of All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya). He has a bachelor’s degree in public administration and management, a master’s degree in biblical studies, and an MBA. He is fluent in spoken and written English and Bari, fair in spoken Arabic and Kishwahili, and has a working knowledge of biblical Hebrew and Greek. He is married to Jane Basa Namurye. They have three children: Grace, Faith and Joy.

Bishop Paul Marshall has been bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem since 1996. He had been a professor at Yale University Divinity School and director of the Yale Instiute of Sacred Music. His ministry as bishop has been broad and deep: teacher, pastor, preacher, administrator, author, advocate and participant in ministry with people in the developing world, children and youth, the poor and the marginalized, advocate and reconciler with those within the church who consider themselves progressive as well as those who consider themselves traditionalists, interpreter of family systems theory, communicator within and beyond the diocesan community, a leader who consults with colleagues, and a person whose ministry as bishop proceeds from prayer and a contemplative vision of God's kingdom.

Many people beyond the Episcopal Church know him through a monthly column he wrote for the secular press for 13 years. Born 1947 in New York City and raised in Lancaster County (PA) he has also written some ten books and more than 60 articles and reviews for periodicals.

He and Diana, a registered nurse and attorney, have two grown children.

Posted by Bill Lewellis

Comments

Anita L. Atkinson

I would like to say it was an uttmost pleasure to hear the voice of Bishop Poggo this past Sunday. He was a guest on the Hearts of Angels (HAH-S.org) for Health weekly tele-conference. Bishop Poggo gave words of encouragement to the women of KajoKeji who now live in the U. S. and the organization is working together here to help make matters back in KK better. I myself am an American member of the organization who has a heart for international studies and I found HAH to be close to my heart of interest. I pray that the work of your ministry in support of helping the peoples of Southern Sudan shall continue and may God Bless richly bless you in your well doing!

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