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런던기독교선교단체, 선교200주년기념으로 일백만파운드 기부

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2000-03-31 00:23
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Society donates a million pounds to give thanks for 200 years of
mission
ENI-00-0125

By Cedric Pulford
London, 30 March (ENI)--A missionary society is helping to
produce a new version of the Bible for the Dinka people in
southern Sudan almost 100 years after it brought Christianity to
the tribe with translations of 12 favourite hymns.

The Bible translation is one of a range of projects announced by
the London-based Church Mission Society (CMS), which is giving
away one million pounds (US$1.6 million) as an act of
thanksgiving to mark its 200th anniversary.

These funds have been taken from reserves and not from the
regular budget of the Society which is about seven million pounds
($11 million).

Canon Diana Witts, CMS general secretary, said: "We are deeply
grateful to God that we are able to make these additional funds
available to some of our partners."

The Church Missionary Society, as it was called originally, was
founded in London in 1799 as an evangelical Anglican society
operating alongside existing missionary bodies. It became a
household name in Europe and America in the late 19th century for
its pioneering mission work in Uganda and Sudan in dangerous
political conditions, particularly after Bishop James Hannington
and his party were massacred on the road to Uganda.

CMS has maintained its presence in Uganda and Sudan, providing
support for mission partner organisations in Sudan.

Kevin Huggett, area manager for Uganda and Sudan, told ENI:
"Sudan is a special case. Because of the war [mainly between the
Christian/animist south and the Muslim north, but also between
southern groups], the church has very little ability to manage
its own affairs, yet the Episcopal [Anglican] Church is one of
the biggest organisations that has kept going through the
crisis."

One of the gifts from the fund - for 90 000 pounds ($145 000) -
will help train Episcopal Church leaders in church management,
personnel management and conflict resolution. For security
reasons much of the training will take place across the border,
in Uganda.

Huggett said that although the rebel Sudan People's Liberation
Army controlled a big part of the south, including some towns,
large gatherings ran the risk of being strafed or bombed by
Sudanese government planes.

This month the Samaritan's Purse organisation, run by Franklin
Graham, son of US evangelist Billy Graham, announced that its
hospital at Lui in southern Sudan had been bombed by government
aircraft, with several deaths and damage to the children's and
tuberculosis wards. Graham told journalists: "Throughout our
relief work around the world over the past 20 years, I can say
without a doubt that the worst mass murders, village destruction
and religious and ethnic cleansing I have ever seen have been in
Sudan."

He claimed that the government had caused the deaths of two
million southern Sudanese, mostly Christians, over the past 15
years.

Kevin Huggett explained that the government was not simply
trying to extinguish Christianity in southern Sudan. It was
playing "a double game - it wants to impress the world with its
openness to other faiths, but it is also trying to take church
land from the diocese of Khartoum, for example".

He said churches were able to function in Juba, the heavily
fortified southern capital, which is held by the government, but
not without difficulty.

The Dinka-Cam Bible project, which is being run by the Summer
Institute of Linguistics in the USA with CMS support, is intended
to produce the first translation of the various Dinka dialects
that is wholly satisfactory. Some books of the Bible have already
been issued in draft form.

Among other gifts from the CMS's thanksgiving million are 100
000 pounds ($160 000) to help set up a centre in Singapore for
mission and evangelism in East Asia, 75 000 pounds ($120 000) for
a centre for lay leadership training in China, and support for
church renewal in Sierra Leone and Congo following the civil
wars.

A "networking" project will allow theological centres in Beirut,
in Birmingham (England), in Rawalpindi, in Pakistan, and South
India - some Christian, some Muslim - to collaborate on Islamic
studies.

Phil Simpson, a CMS director and chair of the monitoring group
for the thanksgiving million, told ENI: "Our aims at CMS range
from church renewal and evangelism to broad issues like women,
youth and children, and peace, justice and reconciliation. These
extra funds have allowed us to do things we couldn't have done
otherwise."