Alier Mach Deng

Managing Crises at Controversial Emmanuel Parish Church

By Alier Mach Deng
Alier Mach Deng
Alier Mach Deng

There is a worrisome trend whereby accused politicians manipulate religious leaders in facade of peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and atonement for their sins/atrocities. This is so true particularly when such leaders are perceived as wielding enormous influence on a segment of our society. These religious leaders have to make a difficult decision especially when politicians request an audience with the congregation but for Dr. Riek, the First Vice President, from news reports, he was warmly invited by the church leadership without a regard to the victims whom he vented his anger, venom and frustration on.
Due to the leadership’s reluctance to come out and explain to the congregation before Sunday today, there was a heightened tension at the church culminating in arrests and resignation of a Pastor. I think this pastor is a sacrificial lamb because I really doubt the decision of that nature would have been sanctioned by the pastor, Joseph Maker, the first casualty in this scandal. That what usually happens to subordinates.

What transpired today in the church would have been prevented if the church leadership had addressed the concerns of many followers and communities who condemned and detested the unannounced and unexpected show up of the First Vice President at the pulpit of embattled Emmanuel Parish Church.
The allaying of their concerns and politics inherent in this should have been priority prior to this Sundaysermon. The church leadership chose to wish a crisis of this magnitude away and expected a different outcome than what it had authored.Governing by crisis after crisis is the culture of this church. As a result of not learning from previous incidents, there was a commotion and outrage again at the church today.
Failing to assemble your Bishop or Pastor, Communications Director, lawyer, Information Secretary to issue an official statement, communicate comprehensively regarding the surprise appearance of Dr. Riek Machar at the victims’ backyard resulted into that banner and the consequent weeping of His Eminence Bishop Nathaniel Garang Anyieth.
Interestingly, the church leadership is somehow astute that was why they chose Bishop Nathaniel to preside over the prayers because they knew they had erred intentionally or inadvertently and since he is a widely revered, preeminent, influential and charismatic in the church as well as a highly regarded member of Bor Community, they calculated that all would listen and respect him. My intuition is that if the church leadership had addressed the issue, coupled with Bishop Nathaniel presiding over the prayers and the involvement of influential community leaders, that desire would have placated the disciples and the communities.
What religious leaders have ignored is that during the crisis community leaders emerged and they seem to be more convincing and relevant than mere belching out of superficial verses in the Bible that do not purpose themselves with the underlying problems at hand rather than relying solely on Godly laws.
And these political leaders have shot to prominence according to standards, perceptions and aspirations espoused by each community though these communities are not watertight in support and ideologies that they draw from.
Practically and tentatively, or community members tend to listen and obey Makuei Lueth, Malaak Ayuen, Kuol Manyang, Deng Dau, Aguer Panyang, et cetera whereas members of Twic East are likely to act the same toward Dr. Majak Agot, Ms. Rebecca Nyandeng, Mabior Garang and Aguer Panyang though recently Aguer may not be Twic East darling due to what they perceived as skewed ministrial appointments and allocation of counties. It’s difficult to think of leaders whom citizens would listen to in the middle and that is why we have been polarized because of extreme and unflinching position each community has taken.
Given that most of the people who protested and lamented his shocking visit to the church, were and are from Bor community, the church leadership should and would have worked closely with these leaders and other opinion leaders before Sunday prayers. We would never have had the brawl at the church today. The church leadership had so many tools in their tool box but chose not to clarify and mollify emotions and uproar. I do not know why they were reluctant to issue one. Perhaps they had no reason and they realized they had made a catastrophic mistake and were ashamed to come out clearly. The tendering of resignation by Joseph Maker vindicates and validates that State/Politics and Religion should be separate though their principal and mutual interest is political stability and peace in the country.
Most people are educated in South Sudan wherever they reside. They desire to see religious teachings that are infused with philosophy, logic, rule of law, International law, politics, current issues, human rights, constitution, accountability and transparency than a mere Bible citation which emphasizes forgiveness without other elements of our modernity and evolution; Bible cramming and regurgitation should be tempered with the dynamics of the society especially equality, equity, justice, accountability and transparency.
Eminent persons like Dr. Rev. Stephen Mathiang Kuc would be very helpful in inspiring and convincing people to seek peace and the need for justice, peace and reconciliation. I visited him in his office in Nairobi where he was the Executive Director of Church and Development (C&D), I found him to be very knowledgeable, intellectually rigorous and all-rounded as well as my deceased cousin Rev. Peter Yuang Mach who was a real genius. The same would be said about late Mark Akueen, Mark Atem and Garang Thieel.
Men of collars must know that their congregation has evolved unlike in 1990s and early 2000s where a casual presence of a pastor without invoking the Bible would calm everyone down and discourage a mere contemplation of confrontation; those years church-goers and communities used to submit without questioning clergy whether they were right or wrong are behind us, therefore, there should be a paradigm shift in your mindset toward congregation, communities and political realities.
The followers and the communities have changed in a big way and you ought to be aware of this for oblivion will breed militancy and fragmentation of your flock right at your sanctuary and Mading Akech Ngor unflinchingly exemplified the repercussions of hands-off leadership and he was praised as an icon by the vastest majority of his community members. Ironically, the church leadership should seek forgiveness and atone for its sin even after resignation. Laissez-faire and setting communities against each other at Emmanuel Parish Church can never be the culture. Believers cannot afford highly venomous and toxic environment; arm yourselves with the Bible, philosophy, logic, politics, humanity and knowledge of current issues like our own Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. God helps those who help themselves.
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One thought on “Managing Crises at Controversial Emmanuel Parish Church

  1. The details emerged that it was Dit Bul, the rebel Bishop that invited Riek Machar to the church. Pastor Maker Achiek said he didn’t have the choice. He was told in the last minute that we have important guess coming. He wasn’t sure who the guess was. The plan was cooked by Nyandeng, Dit Bull and Mabior, and Majok Agot to created a sharp division in the church. Its goal was to advance the rebel ajenda and make the innocent Bor county look rebels in the public eyes like Tui yeast. Deng Bul knew this will creat a mess and hide him self from the firestorm he lit. He then pushed Grang Anyieth to appear as head of the church and to extinguish the fire. The aim was to make Garang Anyieht appear to the public as if he is the one that invited Machar. The thinking was that if the church rejected Machar, then it is Bor people that has rejected peace in the eyes of southerners. and if the church that is termed as Bor’s accept him then the bor people appear as rebel to the government. This was the main reason why MaBiarr Garang collected some drunkards last month and photographed them in the media with Alier Ateny, a psychoatic newphew of Mabior Garang and published it in the media that it was Bor elders that were congratulating Riek Machar for all the good work he has done. Nobody in Bor county congraturalted Riek Marchar for killing the elder and childeren in 1991 and 2013. Bor county need peace but not the peace that Riek promised in from the church and kill people later. In 2012 Riek join with Nyandeng told if he applologize to bor then he wil get leadership. He came and cried in from of Malok Aleng and promise peace and swore not to kille people again but did it again in 2013. This is not what we are ready for. If there was justice, Reik should be in the grave by now.
    WARNING: Nyandeng and her son shoudl quit politics and take rest in their home otherwise this game of attempting to terrorise innocent people will cost them dearly to their grand childrent.

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