A Letter from some (formerly Rwandan) Bishops to the AMiA

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Greetings in the name of Christ for whom we wait with joy and anticipation.

We, the undersigned Bishops of the Anglican Mission, write you today at the conclusion of two very important meetings. December 18-19th, we met in Charlotte, NC to seek God’s direction for our Anglican Mission, and on December 20th, a delegation from this Council met with representative bishops from the Anglican Church in North America in Pittsburgh, PA.

Our desire is to share our hearts with you about these meetings and to confirm our support for you and our partnership in the Gospel. May this letter be a word of encouragement to each one of you that Jesus Christ is, even now, lifting a call of peace, reconciliation and vision in our midst!

We want you to know that this Council of Bishops is absolutely united. We have stood together as this whole transitional drama has unfolded and we will continue to stand together through whatever may come until unity and relationships are restored and our mission for the cause of Christ is accomplished.

We apologize for the fallout that you have felt from the collision of what may best be described as two groups of Godly leaders separated by tens of thousands of miles and substantial cultural differences, each seeking to do what they have hoped would bring about a more effective Christian witness in our land. What has happened in the past six months is certainly not reflective of, nor consistent with, the pattern of relationship and mission that has marked our relationship with Rwanda during the previous thirteen years. Nor are the attacks, in particular, against our Chairman, Bishop Chuck Murphy, true in regard to his character or leadership.

In Rwanda there has been significant change in the House of Bishops over the past two years as a result of the election of a new Primate and several new members to that House. It appears to have been their desire to transition our partnership toward a leadership model that would allow this newly constituted House to exercise much greater control over the day-to-day operations and direction of the Anglican Mission, moving in a direction that is inconsistent with anything that had been fully discussed or engaged in over the past thirteen years.

This past summer a process of discernment was initiated by Bishop Murphy with our Council of Bishops regarding next steps in formalizing the structures of the Anglican Mission in a manner consistent with what the Holy Spirit has led us into over the past fourteen years. The structure being considered was a Missionary Society out of the Province of Rwanda (a missionary society is an historically recognized entity within the Church). This conversation was evolving and was involving the HOB of Rwanda, our founding Archbishops, and leadership throughout the Anglican Mission. We believe that it is important for you to know that our founding archbishops, Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini have all encouraged us to move forward toward a formalized Missionary Society. As such, a Society would build on what God has been doing with us and would also reflect what they have sensed in prayer that the Lord is calling us to do. This fall these two transitions met, and none of us could have anticipated the velocity with which they collided.

For today, we will leave the details of these past nine months to history. Things will all be made clearer as the dust settles, as relationships are restored and truth comes to light, and as we remain focused on our primary mission, starting churches and encouraging those who are doing Kingdom work. Know that we love and cherish our Rwandan friends, and they us. We will not speak further of what has happened save in the pursuit of reconciliation among our Houses. You may be assured that reconciliation remains important to us. We offer our apologies to Rwanda and to you for the missteps that we have made, and seek the forgiveness of our brothers and of Almighty God for those places where we have, by our words and actions, caused pain or confusion.

Already Bishop Murphy and Bishop Terrell Glenn have met following Bishop’s Glenn’s recent resignation from our Council. We are happy to report the good news that reconciliation has been reached between our brothers. For this we have not ceased to thank our Lord.

As we move forward we are deeply grateful for the sacrificial and ongoing leadership that our founding archbishops, Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini have provided to our Mission. At this moment in our history, we are particularly thankful that they have stepped into an active oversight and leadership position in our Mission and in the formation process of a Missionary Society.

It may be helpful to say that an Anglican Missionary Society, by name, must have a jurisdictional connection within the Anglican Communion. We had hoped that our jurisdictional connection would have been with the Province of Rwanda, but with our resignation as bishops from that Province, we are prayerfully considering other options. Although several options have been considered and have presented themselves to us, in prayer and conversation with many of you, it became clear that a process of discernment should first be engaged with the Anglican Church in North America.

What follows is a joint statement issued by the ACNA/AM task force which came into being yesterday and which will be leading us through this discernment process. Bishop TJ Johnston and Bishop Doc Loomis will be representing the Anglican Mission in these conversations.

On December 20, 2011, Bishops Chuck Murphy, Doc Loomis and John Rodgers and representatives from the Anglican Mission in the Americas participated in a very encouraging conversation during a meeting with Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishops Leonard Riches and Charlie Masters of the Anglican Church in North America. The joyful result of these conversations was a mutual pledge to wholeheartedly pursue a restoration of the relationship between The Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA and AMiA have appointed four bishops to engage in a determined effort to bring about at the earliest possible time a reunion of The Anglican Mission, a founding partner of the ACNA, to full participation in the life and ministry of the Anglican Church in North America. Both parties recognize that this is the beginning of a process, which will involve a number of strategic decisions as well as the repair and restoration of relationships. We give thanks to God for the ongoing work of His Holy Spirit as He continues to draw us together to form a Biblical, united and missionary Anglican witness to North America.

Finally, during our time in Charlotte, Bishop Murphy and the Council openly engaged a number of important leadership issues and transitions that would be involved in formalizing a Missionary Society. One of the purposes of such a move is to provide a stable, sustainable, and flexible platform for our Mission for decades to come. During this conversation, the Council affirmed Bishop Murphy’s leadership as Chairman, even as all of us, including Bishop Murphy, acknowledged that in this time of transition to a Missionary Society, current positions and leadership roles are likely to change.

We also prayed through and discussed our upcoming Winter Conference, which will be a very important time for us to gather together and seek God’s presence and heart for our Mission. Along with our overseeing archbishops, we invite and encourage all of you to join us in Houston for what will be a defining moment for our Mission.

We implore you to prayerfully consider what we have shared with you. It is our earnest desire that you will trust and join with us as we boldly step forward in our call to press on with the Mission the Lord has laid on our hearts, and to help us work through the process of establishing a Missionary Society that reflects our long held belief that we are a Mission, nothing more, nothing less.

With glad tidings for a blessed Christmas we remain,

Faithfully yours,

(signed)

(The Rt. Rev.) Sandy Greene
(The Rt. Rev.) Doc Loomis
(The Rt. Rev.) Todd Hunter
(The Rt. Rev.) T.J. Johnston
(The Rt. Rev.) Philip Jones
(The Rt. Rev.) John Miller
(The Rt. Rev.) Silas Ng



Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest NewsAnglican ProvincesChurch of Rwanda* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

14 Comments
Posted December 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Saltmarsh Gal wrote:

Well, it sounds as if they are getting it sorted out.  That would be a good thing.  Can someone shed light on what it means to say that AM is a Mission?  Is this as opposed to a denomination or some other church type entity?  Would they consider themselves a para-church organization?  To be a mission, at least to me, presumes that one is sent out by a sending body or leader.  By whom does AM understand itself to be sent out- speaking humanly?  Will it now be Tay, Ping Chung and Kolini?  This is not asked in a hostile tone of voice..just trying to understand the language being used.

December 22, 3:11 pm | [comment link]
2. montanan wrote:

Without assigning blame, I’m happy to hear the words of apology for consequences of their actions and words.  It is still very difficult to figure out what they are trying to accomplish; ++Duncan’s note posted yesterday seemed somewhat restrained.  I also note that they indicate they have had rapproachment with +Terrell Glenn, but they don’t mention +Thad Barnum.

Like #1, I struggle to understand the last paragraph:

It is our earnest desire that you will trust and join with us as we boldly step forward in our call to press on with the Mission the Lord has laid on our hearts, and to help us work through the process of establishing a Missionary Society that reflects our long held belief that we are a Mission, nothing more, nothing less.

A mission from whom - Retired Archbishops Tay, Ping Chung and Kolini?  What mission has bishops not in an established church or province?  Like #1, I don’t mean to be negative; I’m simply trying to understand.

December 22, 5:48 pm | [comment link]
3. A Senior Priest wrote:

This panto is so embarrassing and absurd, not omitting the fact that this schism was completely unnecessary. My liberal TEC friends are rolling on the floor with laughter, pointing their fingers and telling me “I told you so.”

December 22, 9:02 pm | [comment link]
4. Athanasius Returns wrote:

Quick takes:

Fire control boilerplate verbiage.

+Thad Barnum’s signature not to be found on this document.

This resolves nothing at this time.

These folks resigned from the PEAR HoB.  Therefore, they possess no canonical/episcopal authority.

What’s this ++Tay, ++Kolini, ++Yong consortium? Reclaiming the glory years?

When it comes time, barring a change in the direction I prayerfully seem to be going, I won’t opt in to AMiA.  I’ll stay canonically resident in PEAR.

December 22, 9:35 pm | [comment link]
5. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

I am but one parishioner in an AM church with ASA about 900. Kolini and I have had several good conversations in French, which he prefers (slightly) to English and what always struck me was that he understood the evangelical imperative.

When I see some of the blatant attempts at Romanisation now under way I tend to gag. I’ll take it one step farther, which will not be popular on this list—Newman was one of the worst things ever to happen to Anglicanism. Via media ought to mean that whilst we retain some of the Roman traditions and a delightful liturgical component to our worship we are not continually dragged back into the same sorts of theological nonsense we left nearly 500 years ago.

Those who seek Rome should go, and stop attempting to haul the rest of us along with you.

December 22, 9:35 pm | [comment link]
6. Milton Finch wrote:

Back before AMIA broke from the Diocese of SC via the courts, I was at a convention of the Diocese.  I perceived, spiritually, from what I saw, a man who felt he would win in the courts.  He walked in proudly.  He walked in manifesting the spirit of division.  I will never forget what I saw that day.  I did not speak with him or get to know him.  All I know is that he was possessed by a very proud spirit and humility was not a part of him.  I speak the truth through discernment.  I speak the truth through the love of Christ that I know.

December 22, 10:04 pm | [comment link]
7. Eugene wrote:

#3.  Not everyone in TEC is laughing.  Many of us are sad that you all left in the first place and now we are sad that you are going through these times.
#5.  I agree with you.  When many priests in the PECUSA started ignoring parts of the historic 39 articles and crossed their fingers during ordination, it did not take a genius to see that other doctrines in the 39 articles could also be ignored.

December 22, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
8. Milton Finch wrote:

My wife and I had wonderful friends that seemed driven off, through oppression from what they also saw (percieved by my wife and me).  We asked them openly about the situation, yet they would not lower themselves to discredit anyone.  We, my wife and I, percieved trouble that they would not talk about.  They know spiritual realities that come to those that are divisive.  We have never, to this day, been told about what they went through and felt, but we feel strongly this day, what they had to go through at the hands of possessed ones doing their deeds.  I hope and pray that Bishop Duncan realizes who and what he is dealing with.  My friends, Godly people, went through a hell on this earth that no one should have to go through by the han

December 22, 10:37 pm | [comment link]
9. Milton Finch wrote:

Continued…

hands of those that consider themselves Christians.  I still don’t know to this day if they have found themselves a home for their spiritual endeavors in Christ!

December 22, 10:40 pm | [comment link]
10. Milton Finch wrote:

Look it up on YouTube.  David Bowie…don’t judge me!

Soul Love…David Bowie.  It’s there for all to see.

December 22, 11:27 pm | [comment link]
11. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Bart (#5),

As a Wheaton grad who is proudly evangelical, I think I understand where you’re coming from, and I have great admiration for what Christ Church, Overland Park has been able to accomplish for Christ and his kingdom.  FWIW, Alison Barfoot, a former co-rector of your parish, is a friend of mine, although we haven’t been in touch lately, and she is significantly more low church than I am.

But as a great admirer of John Henry Newman, I want to make it clear that even someone as catholic as I am (I’m a son of Albany as well as Wheaton) does NOT support the sort of seemingly underhanded way Canon Donlon has stealthily imported some specifically Roman Catholic or Byzantine aspects of polity into the Constitution and Canons of AMiA and even Rwanda.  I don’t know how in the world to account for such an apparent Trojan Horse sort of canonical offering being accepted so uncritically by the decidedly low church and strongly Protestant leadership of both AMiA and PEAR (Rwanda).

I’m not sure what lies behind your vehement denunciation of Newman above and your valorizing of the 39 Articles.  Suffice to say that, as much as I treasure the sermons and other writings of Newman in general, I think that his notorious Tract 90, that futilely tried to reconcile the 39 Articles with the full teaching of Trent when the Articles were manifestly intended to contradict the “Romanist” dogmas of Trent, was the dumbest and most unconvincing thing he ever wrote.  And if you know ++Kolini personally, you know that he is very far from being a Romanizer.

But just to be cheeky and provocative, as is my wont, as a passionate supporter of “3-D Christianity,” i.e., evangelical, catholic, and charismatic, I want to affirm here that a deep appreciation for the catholic and patristic part of the Anglican heritage does NOT necessarily imply “Romanization,” as you put it.  It does imply an earnest zeal for recovering in Anglicanism the Vincentian (5th century) ideal of upholding “what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all,”  Which includes much taught by both classical Protestants and Catholics alike.

Personally, I’m not the kind of Anglo-Catholic who feels a need to bash the Reformers.  Quite the contrary.  I’m grateful for the courageous witness of the leading Reformers, above all, Luther, whom I like much more than Calvin, Bucer, or Cranmer.  Indeed, when it comes to great church reformers, for years I’ve been heard to say, even in a very Protestant group of friends, the following paraphrase of 1 Cor. 13:

When it comes to great reformers, Luther, Wesley, and Newman abide.  These three.  And the greatest of these was…

(drum roll please)...

John Henry Newman!

But Luther and Wesley aren’t far behind.

Among us Anglicans, a great deal depends on whether we think of ourselves as primarily “liturgical Protestants” or as “biblical catholics.”  Some of us 3-D types are catholic-minded evangelicals, and some of us (myself included) are more like evangelically-minded catholics.  But in the end, I would contend that Anglicanism isn’t so much just the English form of Protestantism, or the most liturgical and hierarchical form of Protestantism (both of which would take the overwhelmingly Protestant nature of Anglicanism for granted) as that it would be better, both historically and theologically to think of Anglicanism as a genuine Protestant-Catholic hybrid, that is deeply indebted to both parents, but has evolved over the last few centuries into a third kind of Christianity, that is similar to, and yet crucially different from, both camps.  A whole different and unique kind of Christianity that ideally combines the best of both traditions.  And yet that is not all, for there is also the need to incorporate the charismatic/Pentecostal dimension as well, in order to be fully biblical and well-balanced.

I hope that doesn’t seem too polemical, and that it sheds more light than heat.  Keep up the good work in Kansas City.

David Handy+
3-D Christian

December 23, 11:53 am | [comment link]
12. c.r.seitz wrote:

I see there is a new letter from PEAR and Bishops Barnum and Glenn. Sounds like ‘their side’ wants to commend/thank ACNA and move forward via a meeting in January in NC (the original AMiA winter event is in Houston, if I have followed this correctly).

December 24, 10:15 am | [comment link]
13. c.r.seitz wrote:

Looks like the Houston meeting (see AM web) is 11-14 January and the Raleigh meeting (#12) 16-18 January.

December 24, 10:37 am | [comment link]
14. evan miller wrote:

If I were ++ Duncan I would be very, very reluctant to offer full integration to the renegade AMIA elements as long as +Murphy is at the helm.  Unless they renounce their past and current rejection of outside authority and customary Anglican polity (and that’s their DNA), it would be very dangerous and disruptive to import such into ACNA.

December 27, 3:21 pm | [comment link]
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