South Sudanese bishop named secretary general of Anglican Communion

Bishop Poggo, who became a child refugee before his first birthday, is to begin as secretary general in September. Photo: Geoff Crawford/Anglican Communion
By on August 11, 2022

Bishop Anthony Poggo, a former child refugee who went on to become a South Sudanese bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser on Anglican Communion affairs, has been named the next secretary general of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Poggo succeeds Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who announced in September 2021 that he would be retiring in August 2022. As this issue was headed to press, Poggo was slated to take over as secretary general in September, according to a June news release from the Anglican Communion Office.

The secretary general heads the international secretariat of the Anglican Communion Office. Along with serving as secretary of the Lambeth Conference, the secretary general is responsible for Primates’ Meetings and meetings of the Anglican Consultative Council and its standing committee.

“It is a huge privilege to be appointed as the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, taking over from the Most Reverend Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon,” Poggo said. “His are big shoes to fill.”

A big focus for the Anglican Communion Office, he said, will be supporting other elements of the communion as they implement the calls of August’s Lambeth Conference

“Please pray for me as I take on this role in leading the ACO team so that the Anglican Communion family will continue in its role of being ‘God’s Church for God’s world’ in such a time as this,” he said.

Poggo was born in 1964 in present-day South Sudan. Before his first birthday, his father—who was an Anglican priest—fled with Poggo, his siblings and mother across the border into Uganda to flee the first Sudanese Civil War. The family would not return from exile until 1973, when they moved back to South Sudan, the news release states.

Poggo said he “took the step of accepting Christ and following him” at around the age of 12, when someone spoke with him about the importance of having a personal relationship with Jesus.

“At the time, I thought ‘my father is a priest. Why am I being asked to take this step?’ “ he said. “But then I realised that your relationship with Christ is a personal relationship.

“God only has children; he doesn’t have grandchildren … You become a child of God on your own accord, not through your father and not through your mother.”

Graduating from Juba University with a degree in management and public administration, Poggo joined the ecumenical mission agency Scripture Union. He subsequently earned a master’s degree in biblical studies from the Nairobi International School of Theology in Kenya, and returned to Uganda to minister with Sudanese refugees through Scripture Union.

In 1995 Poggo was ordained as a deacon, and then as a priest the following year. He later joined the Christian mission agency Across, eventually becoming its executive director, and earned an MBA from Oxford Brookes University in England.

In 2007 Poggo was elected bishop of Kajo-Keji and held the position until 2016, when he moved into his supporting role for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said he was “delighted” by Poggo’s appointment.

“Over the past six years he has built up an immense knowledge of our global communion and its people as my adviser on Anglican Communion affairs,” Welby said. “Anthony’s wise counsel and his heart for the gospel will be put to good use in his new role.”

—With files from the Anglican Communion News Service

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  • Matthew Puddister (aka Matt Gardner) is a staff writer for the Anglican Journal. Most recently, Puddister worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014. He previously served as a city reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. A former resident of Kingston, Ont., Puddister has a degree in English literature from Queen’s University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. He will continue to support corporate communications efforts during his time at the Journal.

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