The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has declared Sudan a new province of the Anglican Church on Sunday.
The archbishop installed Ezekiel Kondo Kumir Kuku as Sudan's first archbishop and primate in the All Saints Cathedral in Khartoum’s El Amarat district on Sunday. The ceremony was attended by American, European, and African diplomats and hundreds of Sudanese worshippers.
The ceremony in Khartoum added Sudan as the 39th province to the 85 million-strong worldwide Anglican communion's member churches that are known as provinces.
Welby said that the creation of the new province with its own Khartoum-based archbishop represents a “new beginning” for Christians in Sudan.
“It is a responsibility for Christians to make this province work, and for those abroad to support, to pray, and to love this province,” he said. “The church must learn to be sustainable financially, to develop the skills of its people, and to bless this country as the Christians here already do.”
After the secession of South Sudan in July 2011, the Anglican church in Sudan was administered from Juba.
Abubakar Osman, the Sudanese Minister of Guidance and Endowments, told reporters in Khartoum that the inauguration of the Anglican Church in the country “affirms and strengthens the high degree of religious tolerance, freedom of belief, and coexistence among all religious communities in Sudan”.
He said that the inauguration of the Anglican Church “coincides with a special moment in the history of our Sudanese nation. The National Dialogue has led to the formation of a government that considers political and religious freedoms as its fundamental principles”.
Last week, the Sudanese Ministry of Education reportedly issued an order to church schools in the country to observe the weekend on Friday and Saturday, and operate schools on Sunday.
The churches complain that Sunday has been the free day for church schools since their founding in the country.
Earlier this year, the EU Special Envoy for the Promotion of Freedom of Religion or Belief visited Sudan to inquire about the situation of Christians in the country and the planned demolition of 27 church buildings in Khartoum.
The chairman of the parliamentary Legislation and Justice Committee told the envoy that freedom of belief is sanctioned by Sudan’s Interim Constitution. He said the church buildings were demolished for reasons concerning the ownership of the land they were built on.