Seven years ago, St. Olave, Swansea in Toronto opened its doors to the Sudanese Community Church of Toronto, offering a space to worship on Sunday afternoons. Its pastor, the Rev. Peter John Achiek, an Anglican priest and one of the former “Lost Boys” of Sudan, was later named an honorary assistant at St. Olave’s. The Sudanese church is part of the Diocese of Toronto.
The congregations come together for a special joint service every January and have welcomed a who’s who of bishops over the years. On Jan. 15, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, celebrated the Eucharist and preached. In his sermon, he compared the story of the Holy Innocents – baby boys killed at Herod’s decree – to the current violence around the world, particularly in South Sudan.
He said the Sudanese Community Church of Toronto is truly ecumenical, noting how it brings together Sudanese Canadians from different ethnicities, tribes and denominations.
As violence and political unrest continue in South Sudan, the congregation feels the pain. Last year, it held three special prayer vigils and memorial services for family members and friends who were killed back home.
“This annual joint service helps us stay connected to the plight of our South Sudanese brothers and sisters,” says the Rev. Robert Mitchell, incumbent of St. Olave’s. “We are privileged to have the congregation share our space.”
The service included a procession for the Holy Innocents and musical selections from the Sudanese choir in both English and Juba Arabic. A delicious African lunch was enjoyed by all.