The Diocese of Renk is located in the newly formed Republic of South Sudan, along the border between north and south.
The Diocese of Chicago established a companion relationship with the Diocese of Renk in 2001, four years before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that would eventually end a 20-year civil war. In 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was born, and the Episcopal Church of Sudan has been integrally involved in building this new nation.
The Rt. Rev. Joseph Garang Atem is the second Bishop of the Diocese of Renk, which has over 20,000 members in 12 congregations and was established in 1995. With help from partner parishes in the Dioceses of Chicago and Virginia, the church has built schools and health clinics, and established micro business enterprises. Situated along the border, the Diocese of Renk has received thousands of refugees who have been repatriated to the south, and humanitarian needs there are great.
Christ Church has a companion relationship with St. Michael in the rural village of Paloich, where Fr. Daniel has a growing congregation of over 400 parishioners.
Several small groups from the Diocese of Chicago have visited Renk over the years of our companionship with them, and Bishop Joseph has visited Christ Church. His last visit was in November of 2018.
Pat and Lisa Kerpan, pictured above, were on hand with Christopher last Saturday at St. Michael’s in Barrington to celebrate the companion relationship with Bishop Joseph and the Diocese of Renk in South Sudan. Christ Church has been helping to pay the salary of the Rector of St. Michael’s in Paloch during this time. We heard some heartwarming stories of the faithfulness of both the churches in Renk and those in our own diocese who have been walking with Episcopalians there for many years. Bishop Joseph was especially grateful to us at Christ Church for our many expressions of support over the years. His faithful witness continues to be an inspiration. Over 50 people attended from various parishes in our diocese and we were treated to a slide show of various areas of progress in Renk: crops, medical facilities, new churches, schools, and their theological college used for training parishioners.