Thursday, May 13, 2010

AFRECS National Conference

Debbie Smith to Lead Session

Episcopal News Service has a fine story about the upcoming conference of AFRECS (the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan). Promoting peace and stability in Sudan's dramatically changing political landscape and making that country's peace an American foreign policy priority will top the agenda for the fifth annual conference.

Some of you will remember that we hosted AFRECS’s 2nd annual conference at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis.

Who/What is AFRECS? As ENS reports: “AFRECS is a 200-member network of individuals, churches, dioceses and other organizations that seeks to focus attention on the priorities of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and enable American friends to assist the church in meeting the needs of the Sudanese people.”

This year’s AFRECS conference will be held June 4-6 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Click here for registration information. Through workshops and speakers, the conference will address the role of U.S. and global partners in Sudan's future, advocacy on behalf of peace in Sudan, church building, partners in ministry and development.

Among the plenary sessions and workshops, one on June 5 will address the life cycle of companion diocese relationships. It will be led by Debbie Morris Smith, a member of St. Timothy’s and mission coordinator of our Companion Diocese Relationship Committee.

The ENS report includes this:
Debbie Morris Smith's first introduction to Sudan came 10 years ago while teaching English as a second language to refugees in Des Moines, Iowa.
"There were a lot of Sudanese women," Smith explained in a telephone interview, and as a result, "I became interested in Sudan, the different tribes … before that I had no clue."
Later, after her husband Wayne Smith, was elected bishop of the Diocese of Missouri, Morris Smith traveled to Sudan with a group from the Church of St. Michael and St. George in Clayton.
What started as an informal visit by a church group grew into a formal companion relationship between the Diocese of Missouri and the Diocese of Lui, Smith said, adding that the diocese is working to raise money to build a diocesan center in Lui. .
Today Smith serves on the board of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and as the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri's mission coordinator and liaison to the Diocese of Lui. She will lead the companion diocese workshop.
I do not know who (besides Debbie Morris Smith) will be attending the AFRECS conference from the Diocese of Missouri. But anyone can register. Just go to this page to register.

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