Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bishop Barnum and Bishop Glenn offer a letter of clarity to the churches affiliated with the Anglican Mission in America

BB NOTE: Bishop Barnum and Bishop Glenn are two bishops who did not resign from their seats in the Anglican Church of Rwanda (PEAR).  They sent this letter to the clergy and laity of the Anglican Mission in America following the resignations of AMiA founder Chuck Murphy and the other AMiA bishops from their seats in the Rwanda House of Bishops.

One particular clarification in this letter is noteworthy.  Only those ordained in the AMiA are canonically resident in the Rwanda Church.  The local churches or parishes are not, they are members of a civil corporation.

Anglican provinces are made up of dioceses.  One of the striking differences between AMiA and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) is that while AMiA attempted to be set up as a missionary society, CANA is a missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria in North America.

CANA Bishop Martyn Minns is ranked as a diocesan bishop in the Nigeria House of Bishops (which is why his consecration in particular was signaled out by the Archbishop of Canterbury prior to the Lambeth Conference in 2008).  The other North American CANA bishops in the House of Bishops in Nigeria are ranked as assistant or suffragan bishops and are consecrated by the archbishop of Nigeria.  CANA is designed to be a bridge between a province in the Anglican Communion and the new province in formation in North America, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Some had assumed that AMiA had been set up in a similar fashion in the Church of Rwanda but that appears to not be the case.  It might be possible to form a missionary society in the Roman Catholic tradition such as the Jesuits or the Franciscans or the Benedictines or Trappists - all different kinds of religious orders with different types of mission or functions.  There are lay orders as well, such as the Daughters of the King which I belong to or the Brotherhood of St. Andrew.  But these are not dioceses.  Such an endeavor does not yet seem to solve the problem of providing congregational residences for churches in search of an officially recognized Anglican diocese.

From Anglican Ink:
December 16, 2011 Ember Friday

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Bishop Terrell Glenn
Greetings in the Name of Jesus who was and is and is to come. We are writing in order to send letters to you from the entire House of Bishops in the Anglican Province of Rwanda (PEAR). As you will see, these letters were actually sent a week ago. We had hoped to have the proper mechanism to send them to every member of the clergy in the AMiA but have been unable to have access to this, despite our efforts. As a result, we are sending them to any possible email address list that we can assemble in hopes that you, in turn, will pass it along to those you know in the AMiA. The letters attached to this email were sent to all congregations and clergy from Archbishop Rwaje and a unanimous Rwandan House of Bishops (HoB) on Friday, December 9, in response to the resignations of most of the Anglican Mission in America bishops from the Rwandan HoB.

We also have delayed sending these letters because we needed to clarify with the Rwandan HoB the second bullet point in the letter to clergy and churches. While AMiA affiliated congregations are under the pastoral oversight of Archbishop Rwaje, they are also affiliated with the U.S. non-profit corporation, The Anglican Mission in the Americas. As a result, churches have had a type of "dual citizenship" with Rwanda and the AMiA. Unfortunately, while many of us had been led to think differently, the churches in the AMiA have never been canonically resident in the Anglican Province of Rwanda or anywhere else in the Anglican Communion. We are currently working with the Rwandan HoB to discern ways to rectify this for those congregations that desire a true membership in the Anglican Communion. At the same time, the canonical status of the clergy is clear. If you are clergy in the AMiA, (other than the 8 active bishops who resigned*) you are canonically resident in PEAR.

Bishop Thad Barnum
In addition to the letter to you from the Rwandan HoB, you will find a copy of a letter sent to the two of us appointing us "to work as a team to provide Episcopal oversight for those North American clergy and congregations affiliated to the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda." We have accepted this appointment.

We are all recovering from the shock of the resignations on December 5. Please resist the temptation to "create camps". It is easy when we are hurt, wounded and confused to fall into that, as it makes our decisions seem easier. However, it doesn't honor what is true. All involved are seeking to serve Jesus and follow him. We are brothers and sisters in Christ and we are in crisis. Please do not give way to conjecture and please do not assign motives to anyone. There have been too many damaging things written about our brothers who resigned and about our brothers in Rwanda -- and many of them are merely conjecture and speculation. Only the Lord knows the heart. We need to speak words of blessing to and in reference to one another.

In a situation in which there has been bad behavior on every side, we all have sufficient work to do to clear out our logs so that we might actually see clearly enough to be useful to the Lord as instruments of healing with one another. Our call now is to prayer, repentance and reconciliation. Clarity will come. Our Lord has promised that His Spirit will lead us to truth. But that comes as we seek Him and His kingdom. We know that many of you have questions about the moment in which we find ourselves. We will send another communication to you next week in which we hope to be able to identify individuals who can assist you in determining the most faithful direction for you and your churches as we all go forward. Please pray for our Archbishop, the House of Bishops, the leadership of the AMiA and one another. You remain the focus of our prayers.

Humbly in Christ,

Bishop Terrell L. Glenn, Jr. Bishop Thaddeus R. Barnum

*Bishop "TJ" Johnston was a presbyter of Shyira Diocese in Rwanda before being consecrated as bishop and therefore currently has a presbyteral status in that diocese.

Read it all here.


macpat said...

BabyBlue, love your blog think it is great. But I must disagree on one point where the in paragraph two of the BB note where it is stated that church members are only members of the civil corp. Depending how the corp is set up they may be members of the corp, but certainly members of a local body called a church which would also be part of the Church of Rwanda in the case of the AMiA. At baptism a person becomes a member of the church according to the 39 Articles, Art. 19, 25 and 27. and the Catechism.

Fr. Patrick Malone

Anonymous said...

The good ship Episcopal gained a new Captain. He decided to follow the northern route. Others warned him that was not a safe route, there were many icebergs up there. Some decided to take to lifeboats.

In time the captain was replaced by a new captain. She agreed with the route chosen by her predescessor but decided it was too slow. Full speed ahead she ordered.

Alarmed more lifeboats were lowered and more passengers abandoned ship. Others said it was too dangerous to leave the ship, they should try and replace the captain and they remained on board.

The lifeboats initially tried to all travel in a group, it was thought to be safer that way. But some of the lifeboat captains thought they found a better route. They left the safety of the group and headed out alone.

That captain then hit a small piece of ice. So small it would have never damaged a ship, but in a lifeboat the damage was catastrophic.

Those in the ship stayed put - tut tut - see we were right, it is far too dangerous to take to these waters in a lifeboat!

Those in the other group of lifeboats were now far away. Some left that group to try and rescue those who were now drowning, even though it would mean danger for them and slow their progress. Others just tut tutted...see they should never have left the group.

Some attempted to repair the lifeboat. Someone else brought a smaller lifeboat alongside to try and save as many as possible.

The lesson?
- Don't watch your friends drown, help them in their hour of need.
- Tut Tutting about how bad the captain was is not going to rescue anyone.
- Lifeboats are far more fragile than a ship and many captains can lead people into peril. Choose one captain, find some land and build a new ship together.

United you are strong, divided you are weak, and a lifeboat cannot survive the coming storms any better than a ship headed towards heavy ice.

BabyBlue said...

It appears that unfortunately the local parishes were not a part of the Church of Rwanda, only the ordained clergy. We are all members of one Holy catholic and apostolic church, but to be actually counted on the rolls is a separate issue - and it appears that the congregations are not counted on the rolls of the Church of Rwanda. It appears that in order to do this, Chuck Murphy should have been madea diocesan bishop and then the AMiA could have been a diocese in the Church of Rwanda, but that is not the direction they took. From what is gathered at this point, Rwanda took in the clergy and bishops for oversight, the congregations only have the civil corporation that binds them together at this point. The congregations do not appear to be officially Anglican - there are no provinces that count the congregations in their rolls.


Kevin said...


You are correct. In many ways I think +Minns set up CANA off of what he did not like in AMiA. The conical ambiguity seeming to be the most striking, the money situation being another. I think the AMiA mess has proven +Minns to be wise on both accounts.