GAMBELA, ETHIOPIA (August 31, 2011) – In 2006, a flood destroyed a church in the Ethiopia Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church of South Sudan. The church was especially vulnerable to the high waters because, like many other buildings, it was constructed of wood and mud with an iron-sheet roof.
At the time, more than 400 people attended the church weekly. Without a building, there was a dramatic decline in attendance, but it has grown again to more than 300 people, says James Tang, a missionary with the Department of World Mission to South Sudan.
Five Evangelical Covenant Church congregations in the Northwest Conference have combined fundraising efforts to pay for construction of a new building for the Keurgeng Church. Work began earlier this year on the structure, which will have a cement block walls and concrete foundation that will help prevent future flood damage.
So far the churches have raised $22,000 of the $32,000 needed to complete the project. The conference is seeking other congregations to close the gap.
Minnesota churches that have raised funds are Lake Jennie Covenant Church in Dassel, Oak Heights Covenant Church in Hutchinson, Dassel Covenant Church, and Fridley Covenant Church. Bethel Mission Covenant Church in Wallace, Michigan, also has contributed.
Construction has begun using the funds raised so far, but work will be done only as money is contributed, says Simon Chuolnyaang, who heads the Sudanese ministry at the Fridley church.
The congregation in Ethiopia hopes to have a grand opening in December, says Chuolnyaang.
The original church was built in 1997. The South Sudanese denomination has 307 churches, 35 of which are in Ethiopia, says Tang. It has 46 ministers ordained to word and sacrament, and more than 800 volunteer preachers and evangelists.
Churches interested in contributing to the reconstruction of the Keurgeng Church should email Chuolnyaang.