By James Gatdet Dak
April 3, 2008 (Malakal) – The 32nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan which convened in Malakal from March 30 to April 2, 2008 resolved to re-unite the Church and decentralize its administration after more than twenty years of separate administrations resulting from conflicts and divisions among various factions of the Church.
Delegates to the Assembly were drawn from Presbyteries all over the Sudan.
In the first two sessions of an Extra-ordinary General Assembly deliberations under the guidance and mediation of the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, the Assembly reconciled and united, passed a new constitution for the Church and adopted the system of decentralization of the Church into the presently established ten Presbyteries that include Abong, Akobo, Doleib Hills, Eastern Jonglei, Eastern Upper Nile, Equatoria, Northern Sudan, Western Jonglei, Western Upper Nile and Malakal Presbyteries, respectively.
The endorsed Constitution also confirmed Malakal as the General Headquarters of the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan with a Moderator General as the top administrator of the Church to coordinate the work of the Presbyteries while each of the other nine presbyteries shall be headed by a Moderator.
The Constitution, however, does not restrict the number of Presbyteries to ten only and leaves it open to creation of more Presbyteries if need be as the Church expands into areas where presently there are no Presbytery Churches throughout the country.
The Constitution also stipulates that each Presbytery shall have 34 candidates to the General Assembly.
In very close but free and fair elections of nominated candidates, the General Assembly on Tuesday March 1, elected, for four years term in office, Rev. Peter Makuach Nyak as the Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan beating his rival Rev. John Both Reath by 179 to 161 votes, respectively.
He is deputized by Rev. Paul Bol Kuel who beat his rival Rev. Peter Gai Lual by 175 to 164 votes, respectively while Rev. Gideon Tai Tutdeal was elected as the Secretary General beating his rival Rev. Joseph Anai Deng by 175 to 165 votes, respectively.
Rev. James Apay Ochala was elected Treasurer beating his rival Rev. James Tor Monydit by 172 to 168 votes, respectively.
The Assembly also elected eight members to the Executive Committee at the Malakal General Headquarters one from each of the established Presbyteries.
The Church Constitution also stipulates that there shall be established eight departments to be specialized in different functions at the General Headquarters in Malakal.
Each of the nine other Presbyteries shall also elect its executive body and departments at their respective headquarters.
In his closing remarks after witnessing the elections, Dr. Riek Machar who himself is member of the Presbyterian Church congratulated the General Assembly for the successful reconciliation, unity of the Church and democratic elections.
He said the Government of Southern Sudan felt to help the Church to reconcile and re-unite after decades of divisions and conflicts.
Machar urged the leadership of the Church to work for the development of the Church in all its aspects and preserve its unity.
For more than twenty years the Presbyterian Church of the Sudan split into separate administrations during the war some of which were under the government controlled towns while others in the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army liberated areas.
The Presbytery church in the liberated areas further split into many groups with bitter rivals struggling over control and administration of church congregations.
The newly elected Moderator General, Rev. Peter Makuach assured the Assembly of his commitment to work for preservation of the achieved unity of the Church as well as its development in order to smoothly and successfully carry out its spiritual duty.