Friday, December 09, 2011

Christianity Today: What does AMIA's exodus from Rwanda signal for Global Christianity?

From here:
Under the oversight of the Rwandan province, the South Carolina–based AMIA grew to more than 150 congregations in the United States and Canada, AMIA spokeswoman Cynthia Brust said.

But the 2010 retirement of Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini—who had a strong connection with Bishop Charles Murphy, AMIA's chairman—precipitated a change in the relationship.

Suddenly, AMIA faced questions and accusations from Rwandan church leaders over the American association's finances, oversight, and long-term direction.

"All the Christian churches are becoming increasingly global, and as they do, these kinds of cross-cultural tensions—or perhaps these are better seen as cross-cultural abrasions as we sometimes just rub each other wrong—are likely to increase," said Douglas Jacobsen, author of The World's Christians: Who They Are, Where They Are, and How They Got There.

AMIA claims it gave 12 percent of its collections to the Church of Rwanda over a seven-year period, but bishops there demand to know what happened to the money.

"That's not our question," Brust said. "That's a gift to Rwanda. We give the money with no strings attached." (Update: On Friday afternoon, AMIA officials issued a statement on the $1.2 million in dispute. Much of it, the organization said, went to travel-related expenses for Rwandan church leaders. "Approximately $800,000 was part of the tithe that paid expenses for the Province directly from the Anglican Mission or was designated to another need," it said. "The remaining $460,000 was a designated gift given to the Anglican Mission for special projects in Rwanda … and were given over and above the tithe.")

The dispute reached the boiling point last week (Nov. 30) with a letter from new Rwandan archbishop Onesphore Rwaje to Murphy, giving him a week to submit to the Rwandan bishops' authority.

Murphy responded by resigning his leadership position in the Province of Rwanda. In his resignation letter this week (Dec. 5), he said AMIA's relationship with the African church was a "voluntary submission" that would not be renewed at the association's upcoming winter conference.

AMIA launched more than a decade ago as an alternative to the Episcopal Church. The goal: to promote orthodox teaching and practice in the wake of infighting among American church members over sexual ethics.

"Americans entering into these relationships often described what was going on in the Anglican Communion in terms of the rising dominance of righteous and spiritually gifted Southern Christian leaders—and happily allied themselves with African and Asian archbishops who seemed to fit that mold," said Miranda Hassett, author of Anglican Communion in Crisis: How Episcopal Dissidents and Their African Allies Are Reshaping Anglicanism and now an Episcopal priest in Madison, Wisconsin. "What's happening now with AMIA, on the face of it, seems like a renunciation of that logic or narrative.

Read it all here.

UPDATE: Anglican Ink has the official AMiA press release regarding questions being raised about the expenditures of $1.2 million in contributions.



Anonymous said...

"Much of it, the organization said, went to travel-related expenses for Rwandan church leaders."

How sad. How does "mission" get translated into travel expenses for bishops? Is that for their travel to the US to show support for the AMIA/ consecrate US bishops and speak at US conferences to give a show of wider communion support to the US membership? No wonder they are asking for an accounting, that certainly doesn't sound like expenses for mission in Rwanda to me.

After all that support provided to them over all these years, taking time out from the needs of their own dioceses and people to support and uphold the US church and now the AMIA leadership seems to be issuing statements designed to embarrass the very people that supported them all those years.

Unless someone starts to apologize here this whole church is going to implode as it should do if what we are seeing played out is really the 'Christianity' its leaders are following.

Time for repentance and some soul searching PLEASE. The leadership shown here is no better than that shown by TEC bishops. Why did people leave TEC again? For this?

RMBruton said...

The plot thickens ...
It is like listening to a bunch of old hens gossip. The Continuing Episcopalians have a grossly inflated view of their of their own importance in the grand scheme of things. The Universe revolves around them and this is like watching a train wreck, they can’t resist to look. Before all this “news” broke, like so much flatulence, there was nothing to talk about except Rowan and Schorri; but now, somehow, its all about them.

Anonymous said...

This affirms many suspicions about the type of relationship these splinter groups have with Africa and certainly affirms that Conger is a gun for hire.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an important development:

Lapinbizarre said...

If RMBrunton takes the trouble to check Stand Firm's threads on the AMiA to-do (I can't imagine that he hasn't already done so) he'll see far more Reasserter interest, not to say malice, where AMiA is concerned, than there is among Episcopalians, "continuing" and otherwise, among whom it's very much a shrug and "here we go again, what else did you expect?" thing.

The newly-consecrated (by an already AMiA-resigned Terrell Glenn) Columbia, SC, Church of the Apostles, is staying with Glenn & Rwanda. Wonder how many others will do the same. Apostles' rector, Chip Edgar, posts on the church's facebook page that "the resignations of the majority of the AMiA Council of Bishops does not affect us as a church of the Province of Rwanda. That is where our canonical residence has been and it continues to be. They--the former AMiA bishops, not includng +Thad and +Terrell--are now simply bishops with no jurisdiction. Their resignations have no effect on our canonical status (if they intended it to, they are oddly misinformed about Anglican polity). The question, which will still require prayerful deliberation, is what will the future hold".

RMBruton said...

By "Continuing Episcopalians" I mean precisely those in AMiA and ac/na. I coined this term three years ago.

Anonymous said...

Will AMIA change its name to Anglicans Making It Alone?

Lapinbizarre said...

Had only registered the term as referring to Episcopalians in dioceses like Ft Worth & Pittsburgh who had not followed their bishops into exile, RMB.

Re your "plot thickens" post, Mark Harris's most recent observations on AMiA may be of interest.

Got to ask - why, of all people, E Powell?

Kevin said...

Conger+ third article makes no sense, he seems to be taking exception on HOW something is delegated. Not IF it were delegated.

Maybe it was not clear or maybe they all need to read money blogs, but he opens with an accusation of missing funds but explains money used differently than he's used to with his paper.

That's fine, expect he's paper sounds different than other papers (thus not even in industry standard), so if given and the bishops do not understand it, yet if they few for free, it seems logical that they should have begun to ask "where is this money coming from?"

Very misleading article from someone who is does AR for a living (not AP but it is related).


Re: The other, I guess we're proving Ephraim Radner+'s charge of fissiparousness correct.

Kevin said...

My above comment will make more sense if you know the bishop who was writing the letter, +Alexis, spent a year on sabbatical in the US in 2009 (?)(whatever year I email BB the quote of his quote of the peace that passes all understanding). He very well may not understood that was hitting his budgeted account directly. I do not know, but since this seems less funny business (money lining pockets) verse what account (folk in DC working for Fed know about managers looking for open billets to charge things).