A004 Continue Task Force on Dialogue with South Sudanese Anglican Diaspora

The 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church approved Resolution 2018-D088 which called upon the Presiding Bishop to appoint a task force named the Task Force on Dialogue with South Sudanese Anglican Diaspora (Task Force) and consisting of two bishops, two clergy, and two laypersons. The Task Force was tasked with establishing an official conversation with the South Sudanese-American Anglican Diaspora (SSAAD) living in the United States and to develop a statement of understanding regarding the relationship of SSAAD communities and members and The Episcopal Church (TEC).

The Task Force was duly formed and met once in person and on numerous occasions virtually during the triennium. To carry out its mandate, the Task Force intended to host an in-person conference in the spring of 2020 to bring together leaders of SSAAD communities and members of the Task Force. The purpose of the conference was:

  1. to discuss the substance of 2018-D088;
  2. to examine the relationship of SSAAD members and communities with TEC as well as its dioceses and local churches; and
  3. to ascertain the steps and actions needed more fully and appropriately to incorporate local SSAAD communities into the fabric of TEC.

Unfortunately, shortly before the in-person conference was to convene, the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic interrupted all in-person meetings. Therefore, the Task Force was not able to hold the necessary conversations with the SSAAD, thus undermining the Task Force’s ability to carry out its mandate.

Even though in-person meetings have not been possible, and the planned conference has had to be delayed, the Task Force has remained active. The Task Force has held regular meetings by Zoom, typically once per month. The Task Force has liaised with the Rev. Ron Byrd and the Office of Black Ministries. The Task Force, with the assistance and leadership of a Steering Committee (formed to help with the logistics and planning of the in-person conference), has identified South Sudanese Anglican Diaspora leaders and had conversations with them concerning how best to proceed under the circumstances. The Task Force is currently planning for virtual conferences and compiling potential dates to move forward. The Steering Committee is now tasked with setting dates for four to six Zoom conference “listening sessions.” Each will include 12 attendees – two task force members, nine or 10 members of the South Sudanese Diaspora (men and women), plus a facilitator. The Steering Committee will guide the conversations. Those conversations are anticipated to help develop meaningful topics of conversation for the in-person conference, whenever it is safe to hold that gathering.

The Task Force believes the work remains essential and requests the Task Force be continued for the next Triennium to pursue its vital work.