New Brethren Staff Are Placed in South Sudan

Athanasus Ungang (right), who began work in South Sudan in September with sponsorship from the denomination’s Global Mission and Service program, poses with Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the program. Ungang is serving as a program volunteer for the Church of the Brethren placed with an ecumenical partner, the Africa Inland Church (AIC).

Athanasus Ungang and Jillian Foerster have begun work in South Sudan on behalf of the Church of the Brethren. Both have been placed with ecumenical partners, with sponsorship from the denomination’s Global Mission and Service program.

Ungang started in September as a program volunteer with the Africa Inland Church (AIC), a Sudanese church denomination where former Church of the Brethren mission worker Michael Wagner also was placed. Ungang is an ordained minister in the AIC, who became connected with the Church of the Brethren when he was translator for the late Phil and Louise Rieman while they were mission workers in Sudan many years ago. Since then he and his family immigrated to the United States, where he worked for the state of South Dakota on immigrant placement. Ungang’s wife and children continue to live in the US.

Foerster is working with RECONCILE International as an administrative associate, serving through Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS). She is a member of Mill Creek Church of the Brethren in Port Republic, Va., and holds a degree in international relations with a minor in economics.

Photo by Jay Wittmeyer
Jillian Foerster has begun work at RECONCILE in South Sudan, serving as a Brethren Volunteer Service worker with sponsorship from the church’s Global Mission and Service program.

Global Mission and Service executive director Jay Wittmeyer accompanied Foerster to South Sudan and stayed for a week visiting with ecumenical partners, returning to the US on Dec. 6. He met with leaders of AIC, RECONCILE, and the Sudan Council of Churches.

Wittmeyer reported on plans for the Church of the Brethren to establish a Peace Center in the area of Torit in South Sudan as “a place of outreach out of which we will be able to work.” He envisions partnering with AIC to build a site for the Peace Center, which will also be a place for Brethren to work on related efforts such as theological education, community development, and agricultural development. Wittmeyer added that he hopes establishment of the center will enable the placement of a number of BVS volunteers in South Sudan.

During his trip, Wittmeyer learned of new leadership of the Sudan Council of Churches, where a former head of the council has been removed from office after financial irregularities. Wittmeyer met with Rev. Mark Akec Cien, acting general secretary of the council, who is encouraging the Church of the Brethren to be involved in South Sudan “because of our long history there,” Wittmeyer said.

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