Revd Alan Bartlett, Bishop Francis, Revd David Tomlinson - look forward to the next stage of their african adventure.

 Revd Alan Bartlett, Bishop Francis, Revd David Tomlinson - look forward to the next stage of their african adventure.

Revd Alan Bartlett, Bishop Francis, Revd David Tomlinson – look forward to the next stage of their african adventure.
The Diocese of Durham held an event in honour of a remarkable African Bishop who survived civil war to champion the cause of education. The event at St John’s College in Durham honoured Bishop Francis Loyo, from Southern Sudan, and his involvement with the Durham-based Edith Jackson Trust, which raised money to build a school in the Bishop’s home town of Rokon. The links with Durham came about when Bishop Francis studied at St John’s College in Durham. The Bishop, the second most senior bishop in the Episcopal Church of Sudan, is in England for the 40th anniversary of the link between Salisbury and Sudan. [expand-contract expand-title=”Read-On” swaptitle=”Read-Less” trigclass=”expand-highlight” trigpos=”below” tag=”readon”] Revd Canon Dr Alan Bartlett, Vicar of St Giles’ and Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Sherburn and St Cuthbert’s Shadforth, all Durham, and Cranmer Visiting Fellow in Anglicanism, St John’s College, Durham, said: “The Bishop‘s story reflects that of his nation. As the war raged, he was imprisoned and tortured, his family had fled into the bush and for years they thought one another dead. “With the coming of peace the family were reunited through the work of relief agencies and Bishop Francis was given opportunity to study at Saint John’s theological college in Durham. “The relationships which sprang out of that twelve month sojourn are relationships which have ensured the success of the Trust. “When a nation spends of fifty years ripping itself apart in a bloody civil war the children learn just three things, how to hide, how to hate, how to kill. “The Edith Jackson Trust was set up to enable education in the world’s newest nation of Southern Sudan and has worked hard to challenge those lessons.“ The Chair of the Trust, Alan was also tutor to the Bishop whilst at Saint John’s, and several other trustees have friendships with the Bishop rooted in that period. Based in the Diocese of Durham, and set up with an initial legacy from Edith Jackson, the trust works to make a difference through education. Partnered by Durham churches (both Anglican and Methodist), as well as schools and colleges, the trust has raised more than £120,000 and opened its first school in Rokon, Southern Sudan, in 2011. A former front line area in the long civil war, the playground is still littered with bullet cartridges, and as recently as the spring of this year two children were killed in the bush nearby by a landmine. However, despite the difficulties and physical danger 90 children now squeeze into the two classrooms every day in the hope of giving themselves a better future. Having opened the school and relying on either untrained or expat teachers the trust embarked on a teacher training programme in 2012 with its first teachers due to graduate in 2015. This is an ongoing programme with more students enrolling annually. Alan said: “Bishop Francis is a visionary man who dreams of free, educated, confident people turning the oil rich Southern Sudan into a peaceful prosperous society. He has achieved a lot, with very little, and his visit to Durham is an inspiration to the trust and provided an opportunity to hear a little more about this humble, yet remarkable man.” [/expand-contract] Bishop Francis said: “The peace was signed when I was in Durham in 2004/5. When the peace was signed, we felt it was important for us to start beginning reconstruction, and one of the priorities was the school.Durham came up with support through the Edith Jackson Trust. You can see the hand of God at work here, touching the hearts of many people.”

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