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In Canberra there are two South Sudanese Congregations, one at St Paul’s Ginninderra (the South Sudanese Anglican Mission – SSAM) and the other which has just moved from St George’s to worship at the Radford College Chapel. Together these two hosted the National Meeting of the
South Sudanese JWL Youth Ministry in Canberra for three days in August 2019.

The latest national JWL elections took place in Brisbane in June 2019. This meeting in Canberra was to facilitate the handover of responsibility from the previous JWL National Leadership to the newly elected team. The three day event culminated in a Service presided over by the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop Mark Short.

The interstate JWL arrived in Canberra on the Friday evening, 9 August, when there was a welcome from the Canberra JWL and Churches, with songs, music and dancing for all. Everyone enjoyed the renewal of friendships with those who live far off.

Saturday started with early morning devotions and Bible study. The core business for the event of handing over the JWL management responsibilities was covered during the morning. The recurring difficulties experienced across the regions were discussed. These matters included: the problems of transport to meetings and the need for individuals to spare the time from their other responsibilities; the new songs that had been approved for the repertoire; the level of national and regional membership fees; awards and honours for good work; a summary of work and support provided to people in South Sudan and refugee camps in Kenya and Uganda, as well as a list of requests that had not been possible to satisfy; and a report of assistance given to a JWL Member in Nakuru (Kenya) who had suffered elephantiasis as a result of an insect bite.

The afternoon was spent primarily in preparing for Sunday’s Service. JWL Members practiced their singing and dancing. There were a number of talks and teaching by Clergy. In the evening there was worship, praise and prayer.

On Sunday activities moved to the Merici College Hall.  The morning was spent preparing the hall and all the equipment needed for a large gathering.

The whole JWL Community was delighted that Bishop Mark was able to come to the event – Bishop Mark and Monica were obviously already known by many JWL Members. The Worship was in the form of a traditional South Sudanese Anglican Service, extended by the addresses given by a number of Clergy and community leaders to encourage this fine youth movement. Two separate displays of South Sudanese dancing, one by the youth, the other by the leaders, added to the joy of the occasion.

After the Service there was time for photographs, and then two parties! The main dinner of traditional South Sudanese fare was enjoyed by all, and on one side of the hall two very young members, Deng, five, and Awuor, three, celebrated their birthdays.

Many of the interstate visitors had expressed their appreciation of the wonderful welcome they had received from the Canberra JWL Community.

Well done to all who worked so hard! The few of us non-JWL people who attended also received a very warm welcome, and were given lots of help to understand what was happening throughout.