'Lost Boys’ community dedicates own church - East Valley Tribune: Spirituallife

'Lost Boys’ community dedicates own church

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Posted: Saturday, June 9, 2007 12:22 pm | Updated: 8:01 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Valley’s large community of “Lost Boys” from Sudan congregated at its own church building on Sunday. The new St. Paul the Apostle Sudanese Mission is believed to be the first Sudanese congregation in the U.S. to get a church building.

The Valley’s large community of “Lost Boys” from Sudan congregated at its own church building on Sunday. The new St. Paul the Apostle Sudanese Mission is believed to be the first Sudanese congregation in the U.S. to get a church building.

The Lost Boys of Sudan, now adults, are refugees from the civil war and upheaval who began resettling in the Valley in December 2000. Many were orphaned boys who survived the war of the late 1980s by running for their lives from militias.

The Valley has almost 450 Sudanese, one of the largest Lost Boys resettlement communities in the U.S. About 3,000 refugees were admitted to the U.S. under a United Nations resettlement project. Most are now working. Many have graduated from colleges or are enrolled through the Empowerment Through Education Program for Sudanese Students, established by the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona in 2005.

The Rt. Rev. Kirk Stevan Smith, bishop of the diocese, officially turned over the building at 527 W. Pima St., Phoenix, with about 300 attending. Known as the Old San Pablo Mission, it most recently served as the home for Rosie’s House, a music academy for children. The mission will use the church, rectory and parish hall. Smith joined the Rev. Samuel Mathiang Nyok Reec, new vicar of the mission, in the service of dedication and consecration. San Pablo Mission was established in the late 1930s and the present structure was finished in the early 1940s. Reec was educated and ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Bor in the Sudan and came to the U.S. in 2003.

The Lost Boys of Sudan were the original members of the Sudanese community who showed up and began attending services at All Saints Episcopal Church in 2001, said diocesan spokesman Mark Towsley. Two years later, they began holding their own prayer service twice a month in their own language.

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