Unfortunately, we didn’t do anything at St Nicks to mark this, as the energy at the time the Renk partnerships were starting was around keeping our own programs (and doors) open. This was all pre-merger with Holy Innocents and we all had other things on our minds.
Note at the bottom, Manya Breachear never fails to mention Teh Gay Bishop controversy. When Bishop Katharine visited St Nick’s in 2007, she was asked ONE question about gay clergy, and it was picked up by the Trib and the other papers and made headlines all over.
For nine years, Episcopalians in Chicago have shared a rare relationship with fellow parishioners in Renk, visiting the region regularly; helping build schools, homes and churches; and lobbying officials to pay more attention to troubles in the African nation. Renk Episcopal Bishop Joseph Garang graduated with a master’s degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 2000.
Jackie Kraus, a parishioner at St. Michael Episcopal Church in Barrington, initiated the relationship after her first trip in 1998 when she discovered no roads led to Renk from the capital of Khartoum, forsaking the border town of resources.
“We here have resources that others in other parts of the world do not have,” Kraus said. “The relationship enables them to receive our resources and prayers.”
Bemoaning how the conflict in Sudan often is portrayed between the predominantly Christian and animist south and mostly Muslim north, Chicago Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey Lee said that animosity doesn’t exist in Renk.
“In Renk and elsewhere, people of differing faiths coexist in relative harmony when left to their own devices,” Lee said.
The relationship between American and some African churches in the Anglican Communion have been strained since the 2003 consecration of New Hampshire’s V. Gene Robinson, the church’s first openly gay bishop. But Kraus said those tensions have not been a distraction.
“God transcends all of that,” she said.