Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Visit to Lainya

At the beginning of May we went to the re-dedication of the church in Lainya. Lainya is a small town three hours by very rough road to the south-west of Juba. Lazarus Church is currently being used as the cathedral. It was built many years ago as the parish church, but will be used as the cathedral until a much larger, purpose built cathedral on a nearby hill is built.

Lazarus Church was severely damaged in the war. Its roof in particular suffered. The priest's house was blown up, and the area left traumatised after being on the front-line for several years. The Archbishop re-dedicated the church in the usual manner beginning with knocking on the closed doors with his staff. The ceremony began promptly at 10 am. The Eucharist, including sermon, lasted over two hours, and then the other proceedings continued without a break until 4 pm. Those of us at the top end of the church were offered water but the majority just sat it out (or drank their own). However with that length of proceedings one did not feel inclined to drink too much! Inside, the church was decorated with bunting which is common occurrence in the Sudan. The previous day we toured some refugee camps where the Archbishop promised to help with seed and tools so the people could grow their own food. We also visited the Mothers' Union sewing workshop with several Singer treadle machines. See picture.

We climbed up to the site of the new Cathedral with its wonderful view across Lainya diocese where the Archbishop dedicated a large foundation stone. Later, in the church, individual people pledged over £6000 (plus several goats and chickens) as people could afford. Most of this came from community dignitaries as ordinary people have very little beyond what they can grow. We pledged £500 from the Lyme Bay Deanery which is linked with Lainya.

There is a special link between Loka Secondary School in the diocese and the Sir John Colfox School Bridport. They have given us some letters to bring to Bridport when we visit in June. We visited the school but didn't see many people as it was the weekend, but we did managed to talk to three borders and the headteacher and the deputy.

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