Thursday, December 29, 2011

Is the AMiA changing course?

 An interesting read over at A Living Text by Joel Martin.  Catch it all here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ho Ho Ho

O come, O come Emmanuel ...

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

AnglicanTV: AMiA, Quincy, Ft. Worth and Charley Brown

Bishop Budde interviewed on National Public Radio

Bishop Budde of the Diocese of Washington.
Washington Episcopal Bishop Marianna Edgar Budde is interviewed by a sympathetic Diane Rehm on National Public Radio here.  At one point Bishop Budde is asked about the current status of Truro Church.  While up to that point she had done a fairly good job of presenting herself as a moderate and reasonable person putting forward the inevitable and necessary change of the Episcopal Church embracing the cultural innovations as God doing a new thing, she cannot at this point refrain from mimicking the 815 talking points when it comes to the massive litigation the Episcopal Church has undertaken, even as it faces a fierce decline.

In fact the NPR program is promoted by focusing on the "decade of schism in the American Episcopal Church" saying that has indeed "taken a toll."  The program interestingly enough focuses on the recent damage to the Washington National Cathedral as a metaphor of this toll of schism.

Bishop Budde, who speaks glowingly of her time with what she calls the "radical" Catholic Workers movement and ardently endorses what she describes as the political and prophetic voice of the Episcopal Church, sees herself as a community organizer placed to make that political and prophetic voice resonate by somehow buttressing up the busted up local parishes of the Diocese of Washington and getting new people to fill up the emptying pews.  She rightly understands that if this new prophetic thing is really going to take off, the flight from the pews has got to stop.

Yet how on one hand can someone be defending the Episcopal litigation as protecting the Episcopal legacy, while at the same time telling the local churches its no longer business as usual and the legacy stuff has got to go?  Though she presents herself not as the politically charged rhetorical political activist promoting active conflict, she sees herself as a conciliatory strategist like an ecclesiastical version of Barack Obama, circa 2008.

Sadly, she categorizes the schism as just a typical problem of the changey stuff, an unfortunate reation to the God-mandated embrace of the hot cultural innovations and social experiments of our time.  She still  pulls out spiritually charged and frankly progressive fundamentalist rhetoric herself (how can there be any honest conversation if the current crop of TEC leaders, including this one, continue to express that they have heard directly from God and that all they are doing is His New Thing?), branding those that disagree with her as the "fundamentalists" and "literalists" who apparently are all about promoting centralized super-authority to bishops (talk about transference, those comments reveal more about the current internal conflict in the Episcopal Church itself over the authority and role of bishops now that some of diocesans are waking up and seeing red ink).  She starts off her vision-thing as sounding so reasonable and just plain nice, until she is left to disparagingly categorize those who hold the views of the vast majority of Anglicans around the world.  Hope fades.

If one is really interested in building trust and openness, it might be wise to start with comprehending why churches like the name-checked Truro Church and other sister churches in Virginia saw 7,000 of its members vote to separate from the Episcopal Church in 2006.  Like the National Cathedral, it isn't just about a few spires on the roof toppling over, but of a deep lost of integrity within the foundations of the church itself.

Listen to it all here or here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bishop Mark Lawrence meets with Province IV bishops

Just don't get the sense they sat around and ate bonbons.  From here:

15 December 2011

On Wednesday, December 14, Province IV bishops diocesan were invited to attend a meeting in Charleston, South Carolina with Bishop Mark Lawrence to discuss the recent issuing of quitclaim deeds by Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to parishes of the diocese. A representative group who were available at the appointed time and date attended the meeting.

Gracious hospitality and collegiality characterized the gathering during which we prayed and participated in open, honest, and forthright conversation. Probing questions were asked by all, and it is fair to say that we did not agree on all matters discussed. For the visiting bishops, the gathering particularly helped to clarify the context of the Diocese of South Carolina’s quitclaims decision. Where we go in the future is a matter of prayer and ongoing engagement of concerns before us, an engagement we embrace out of our love for Christ and his Church.

The Right Reverend Scott Anson Benhase
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia
The Right Reverend Michael B. Curry
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III
The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Don E. Johnson
The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee
The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
The Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor
The Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Horray!! The Hobbit is coming - and just in time!

The Hobbit is directed by Lord of the Rings Trilogy master director, Peter Jackson.

AMiA Bishops who resigned from the Anglican Church of Rwanda House of Bishops lose their status in the ACNA College of Bishops; AMiA loses status as ACNA Mission Partner

The Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) bishops who resigned from the Anglican Church of Rwanda House of Bishops have officially lost their status in the Anglican Church in North American (ACNA) College of Bishops. AMiA has also lost its status as a Ministry Partner in the ACNA .  Work is now underway to work toward restoring relationships between all parties.

Archbishop Bob Duncan writes to the Anglican Church in North America on recent events in the Anglican Mission in America:

“Recent events within the Anglican Mission in the Americas have challenged us all. The vision, however, that governs our fledgling Province remains unchanged: a Biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America.” 

ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan
20th December, A.D. 2011
Eve of St. Thomas the Apostle

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Recent events within the Anglican Mission in the Americas have challenged us all. This letter is a brief report to you all about those events and about our efforts to find a path forward. The present reality is brokenness. The vision, however, that governs our fledgling Province remains unchanged: a Biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America.

The resignation of nine Anglican Mission bishops, including the Bishop Chairman, from the House of Bishops of Rwanda, changed relationships with Rwanda, with fellow bishops and with the Anglican Church in North America. The resigned bishops lost their status in our College of Bishops as a result of their resignation from Rwanda. The Anglican Mission also lost its status as a Ministry Partner, since that status had been predicated on AMiA’s relationship with Rwanda. In addition, confusion and hurt has been created in Rwanda and in North America, and there is much serious work ahead of us.

Representatives of the Anglican Church in North America and of the Pawleys Island leadership met today in Pittsburgh. For the Anglican Church in North America the starting point was the importance of our Provincial relationship with the Province of Rwanda (a sister GAFCON Province) and with His Grace Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, of our relationship with the North American Bishops Terrell Glenn and Thad Barnum and all the clergy licensed in Rwanda, and of our relationship to those represented by the Pawleys Island group with whom we were meeting. We, as the Anglican Church in North America, have been deeply connected to all three, and we can only move forward when issues and relationships have been adequately addressed and necessary transitions are in progress.

The agreement from today’s meeting in Pittsburgh was that the Anglican Church in North America is prepared to enter into a process by which our relationship with those who will rally to the Pawleys’ vision and leadership (Anglican Mission in the Americas, Inc.) might be restored to a status like the one existing before the Ministry Partner decision of 2010. All those at the meeting today agreed “that there were no subjects that were not on the table.” For the Anglican Church in North America, these subjects must include leadership, relationships, and jurisdictional participation in a way that is fully Anglican.

We made a partial beginning. Bishops Leonard Riches and Charlie Masters agreed to lead the negotiations from the Anglican Church in North America. Bishops Doc Loomis and TJ Johnston will lead from the AMiA side. There is much about what has happened that will have to be faced. The other part of this beginning will be to come alongside P.E.A.R. and their designated bishops (Barnum and Glenn), clergy, people and parishes in North America as they discern their next steps. The good news is that we know a God who has called us and who is able. [I Thess. 5:24] We are sure that He wants all the pieces back together in an ever-more dynamic, ever-more-submitted, ever-more transformed and transforming North American Church.  [John 17]

Keep praying. With God nothing shall be impossible. [Luke 1:37] And besides that, He works all things together for good for those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. [Rom. 8:28] Blessed Christmas!

Faithfully in Christ,

Archbishop and Primate  
Anglican Church in North America

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Episcopal Church of the Sudan formally recognizes the Anglican Church in North America; withdraws invitation to the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church

UPDATE: Here is the letter to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori from the Archbishop of Episcopal Church of the Sudan 

The Most Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church
United States of America

Thursday 15th December 2011

Dear Bishop Katharine,

Advent greetings to you in the name of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It is with a heavy heart that I write you informing you of our decision as a House of Bishops to withdraw your invitation to the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS). We acknowledge your personal efforts to spearhead prayer and support campaigns on behalf of the ECS and remain very grateful for this attention you and your church have paid to Sudan and South Sudan. However, it remains difficult for us to invite you when elements of your church continue to flagrantly disregard biblical teaching on human sexuality.

Find attached a statement further explaining our position as a province.


--(The Most Rev.) Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop Primate and Metropolitan of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan and Bishop of the Diocese of Juba

Tip of the Tinfoil to T19.

From here:

Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) officials have withdrawn an invitation for a visit by the head of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church (TEC) because of TEC’s liberal stances on sexual issues. It is a stinging rebuke of the official American branch of the global Anglican Communion.

Equally striking, the Sudanese have recognized the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the Episcopal Church’s conservative American rival.

With about 4.5 million members, the growing church in Sudan outnumbers the declining U.S. based denomination, which has fewer than 2 million. Overwhelmingly poor and besieged for years by war and persecution, mostly from the Islamist regime in Khartoum, ECS is strongly theologically conservative, like most African churches. Many Anglican churches in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South have distanced themselves from TEC even as they remain in the global Anglican Communion of about 80 million believers.

The statement of recognition is a significant move for the Sudanese bishops, who, unlike other Anglican provinces in Africa, had been reluctant to distance themselves from TEC, even as they openly criticized TEC moves. Sudanese Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak briefly visited the Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention in Anaheim, California.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
In a letter dated December 15 and addressed to TEC Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Sudanese Archbishop Deng Bul Yak wrote of the decision of the Sudanese House of Bishops to withdraw the invitation, citing Episcopal Church disregard for biblical teaching on human sexuality.

“We acknowledge your personal efforts to spearhead prayer and support campaigns on behalf of the ECS and remain very grateful for this attention you and your church have paid to Sudan and South Sudan,” the Archbishop wrote. “However, it remains difficult for us to invite you when elements of your church continue to flagrantly disregard biblical teaching on human sexuality.”

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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent Watch: This Little Light of Mine

Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina Standing Committee confronts Clifton Daniel's "requests" to Bishop Lawrence

From here:

From the Diocese of South Carolina: On Friday, December 9, 2011 the Standing Committee responded to the December 5th letter from Bishop Clifton Daniel, acting as Vice-President of Province IV. The letter summarizes the unanimous belief of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina regarding the issues raised by Bishop Daniel's letter:
December 9, 2011

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
Vice President of Province IV of The Episcopal Church
PO Box 1336
Kinston, NC 28503

Rt. Rev.d Sir,
“May the God of peace sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit be kept safe and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Thess. 5:23
Your letter to Bp. Lawrence on Monday of this second week of Advent raises several concerns to which the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina feels it must respond.
First, the stated purpose of your inquiry concerns the release of quitclaim deeds to the parishes of this Diocese.  Given the very public nature of their release, the accompanying explanation (all still widely available on the internet), and their availability from any county deed registrar, the necessity of such questions is puzzling. Of more concern, however, is the character of your requests.
We are sure you are aware that the Constitution of The Episcopal Church does not allow a bishop to act within any other Diocese on any basis except for episcopal acts and then only by request of the Bishop of that Diocese. (Art. II, Sec. 3).  It also provides that a diocese only participates in provincial matters if it consents to such participation. (Art. VII). Further, only the provincial Synod can determine the provincial synodical  “rights and privileges of the several dioceses within the Province.” (Canon 1.9.3) and the Synod  expressly lacks any “power to regulate or control the internal policy or affairs of any constituent diocese.” (Canon 1.9.8)
Therefore, the bishops of Province IV have no constitutional or canonical grounds for these requests, which relate exclusively and entirely to matters involving the internal policies and affairs of this Diocese. Our decisions to date have been made out of a fully informed concern for the people of South Carolina, which we shall continue to exercise, as we prayerfully believe God directs.
Second, the theological underpinning of your request, Matthew 18:15-20 and your oath, is very troubling. We fail to see how the issuance of quitclaim deeds to the parishes of this diocese could be construed to be a “sin against you”, and of course you have ignored the meeting between “you and him alone” and proceeded to the last scriptural step by “tell[ing] it to the church” through your publication of the matter. As to your oaths, if that perceived basis is to uphold the “doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal church”, then you must realize that your inquiries into the affairs of this diocese, without constitutional or canonical support, are contrary to that oath.
Third, this diocese grows weary of the constant interference in its internal affairs that continues to disrupt our mission. First, there was the non-canonical intrusion by the Presiding Bishop’s office hiring counsel for the episcopal church in this diocese to investigate our parishes, then there was the assertion by a subcommittee of the executive council that our constitutional and canonical amendments duly considered and passed were somehow not effective, then there were charges brought against our bishop now correctly recognized by the Disciplinary Board of Bishops for what they were at the outset - without merit. Yet, within less than two weeks of that decision, we have yet another attempt without canonical or constitutional support to inject others into the internal affairs of this autonomous diocese.
So, let us be clear.   We will not use the coercive force of threatened litigation over property to impose a false and destructive unity upon this Diocese.  We cannot sanction the compromise of a full gospel proclamation that is undermined by actions such as the communion of the un-baptized.  We cannot sanction the undermining of Christian marriage by the practice of same sex marriage or blessings.  In such matters of the internal governance of this Diocese, out of the great depths of our love and concern for our people, we will continue to assert the autonomy that is historically and constitutionally ours and we will do so consistent with our belief that God alone dictates our future.
Bp. Lawrence has communicated to us his intent to meet with you and other attending Province IV bishops next week in the spirit of collegiality invoked in your letter.   Given all we have said above, we are concerned about your motives and have expressed these concerns to Bp. Lawrence.  Nevertheless, we fully support Bp. Lawrence and pray that your time together will bring the desired clarity sought by all parties regarding our actions.  The Church is never served well by such conflicts, especially when so unnecessary.
Now, may He -- who came to visit us first in great humility, and when He returns shall come in glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead -- watch between us and direct all our paths through the remainder of this Advent season.

In Christ’s service,

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

View signed copy of letter here. Tip of the Tinfoil to KH.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Keeping the Watch

We will take this season of Advent to keep the watch for the coming of the King of kings, who for freedom came to set us free (Gal. 5:1).
 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” - Mark 13:35-37

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.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Remembering December 7th, 1941

U.S.S. Honolulu
On December 7, 1941, my dad was in elementary school and living on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.  My grandfather was an officer aboard the USS Honolulu stationed at Pearl Harbor.  On that early Sunday morning, as the bombs were falling, some even falling on my father's elementary school, my grandmother packed up her two sons and drove her husband during the attack to join his fellow officers and crew who would take the USS Honolulu out to sea.  Not knowing if she would ever see him again, she took her sons up into the hills off Mount Tantalus Drive to her cousin's home where my dad and his brother watched from the hills the attack on Pearl Harbor on this day in December 1941.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Anglican House of BIshops of Rwanda break with AMiA Bishops

Chuck Murphy was given a choice by the Anglican House of Bishops of Rwanda to either recant or resign according to news reports.  It has now been learned that Bishop Murphy has resigned.  From Anglican Ink:
Bishop Chuck Murphy has rejected the godly admonition of Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and he and the members of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) House of Bishops have broken with the Church of Rwanda.

In a letter dated 5 Dec 2011, Bishop Murphy and the AMiA House of Bishops announced that the Lord “is now doing” a “new thing” and that its bishops had decided to reject the discipline and oversight of Anglican Church of Rwanda .

Whether the clergy and congregations of the AMiA will follow their bishops into schism and out of the Anglican Communion is not known at this time. However by this second secession in eleven years along with the adoption of a distinct Roman Catholic ecclesiology and sacramental theology, the AMiA appears to have given up its claim of being Anglican in order to follow its leader, Bishop Murphy.
In his letter to Archbishop Rwaje, Bishop Murphy reminded the Rwandan leader that there was “no covenant from the Anglican Mission to the Province” of Rwanda, nor did the Rwandan canons contain a “canonical mandate” for the erection of the AMiA.  Since its inception, the only links the AMiA had with Rwanda was the “personal relationship” between Bishop Murphy and the Archbishop of Rwanda, and the “voluntary submission to the Canons and Constitution of Rwanda by the Anglican Mission and its clergy as renewed annually at each year’s AMiA Winter Conference in the renewal of ordination vows."

Bishop Murphy’s claim that the AMiA has no link to Rwanda other than the goodwill of the primate and the primatial vicar, may come as a surprise to the AMiA members, as the bishop has long stated the AMiA was “embedded” in the constitution and canons of Rwanda.  The excuse Bishop Murphy gave for stepping back from its links with the Anglican Church of North America was that the AMiA could not be both American and Rwandan at the same time under the Rwandan canons.
Read it all here

Here is Bishop Chuck Murphy's Resignation Letter to the Rwanda House of Bishops:
The Most Reverend Onesphore Rwaje
Archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda
Bishop of Gasabo
B.P 2487
Kigali, Rwanda

Your Grace:

I write to you this day sending along the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

In addition to the personal concerns I expressed to you in my response to the recent letter of November 30 from the House of Bishops, to which this second letter is attached, the
correspondence lacks the canonical due process that would make it possible to resolve some of the matters expressed therein, thus leaving me without any possibility of appropriate defense and advocacy on my behalf.

Your Grace as you know, there is no covenant from the Anglican Mission to the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, nor is there a Canonical Mandate for the Erection of a Missionary Jurisdiction from the Province of Rwanda for the Anglican Mission by title. Since the inception of the Anglican Mission, there have been only the following identified and mutually agreed upon “structures” in which both organizations have functioned:

a) The personal relationship of Primate to His Vicar; and

b) The voluntary submission to the Canons and Constitution of Rwanda by the
Anglican Mission and its clergy as renewed annually at each year’s AMiA Winter
Conference in the renewal of ordination vows.

Upon study of our Provincial Canons and Constitution, I must note that the Canon Law of this Province does not make provision for a canonical process for bishops other than diocesans to resign (Title III, Canon 23, Sections 7, 8, 9).

Having consulted canonical experts regarding this deficiency, despite this lack of provision in our Provincial Canons, I, Charles Hurt Murphy, III after prayerful discernment regretfully resign as a Primatial Vicar of the Province of Rwanda as established in Title I Canon 6, Section 8.

Respectfully, and in His Name,

The Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy, III
Bishop and Chairman: Anglican Mission in the Americas
UPDATE: SF has the Resignation Letter from the AMiA Bisohps hereSF reports that Terrell Glenn and Thad Barnum have not tendered their resignations from the Rwandan House of Bishops.

Clifton Daniel writes a letter

This letter is incredible.  It's not a friendly letter from brother bishops swapping howdies and catching up with the latest - it's a freakin litigation document.  Wake up, Church. 

December 5, 2011

The Right Reverend Mark Lawrence
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
126 Coming Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29413

Dear Mark,

I write to you following the regular annual meeting of the bishops of Province 4, gathered this year in Memphis,Tennessee. We missed you and understood your need to stay at home and close to your diocese.

The meeting covered a variety of topics: the Denominational Health Plan; the beginning of a search process for a new dean of the School of Theology at Sewanee; the upcoming Provincial Synod in June and the General Convention in July; ministry to retired clergy and their families; Daughters of the King; a prison ministry network in our province; ongoing concerns about the sin of racism in our world and church; and immigration, among other topics.

We also considered, with some concern, recent publicly reported actions regarding quitclaim deeds given to parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina. Since we have had no direct communication from you regarding these reported actions, we determined that it is our duty as bishops of this province to address these concerns in direct communication with you, as Jesus exhorts his followers in Matthew's Gospel (18:15-20), and in accord with our ordination vows regarding the unity and governance of the church. What we seek in the coming weeks is a face-to-face meeting with you and and a representative group of your fellow Bishops Diocesan of Province 4 in order to have a clarifying conversation and to address the concerns raised among us:

A. We have heard and read reports that you have given a quitclaim deed to each congregation in your diocese. Is this true? If this report is true, under what canonical authority did you proceed? Did you involve the Standing Committee and are the members of the Standing Committee in accord? Who signed the deeds? Would you provide a sample copy of a deed and the letter of explanation that accompanied it?

B. In order to better understand your action, the Bishops of Province 4 gathered in Memphis respectfully request that you meet with several of your fellow Provincial Bishops Diocesan in Charleston, or elsewhere if you desire, to discuss what has been noted above. We make this request in a spirit of collegiality and fellowship as well as out of concern for the people of the Diocese of South Carolina and concern for the well-being of The Episcopal Church.

I have contacted you earlier today by telephone and shared with you the content of this letter, as well as seeking a date in the very near future for our proposed meeting. I will send you an email and hard copy of the letter. I am also releasing this letter to Episcopal news organizations today after our conversation.

Faithfully yours,


Clifton Daniel, 3rd
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
Vice President of Province 4 of The Episcopal Church

So much for the Title IV dismissal.  Clearly 815 is worried.

And on that note:

UPDATE: Canon to the Ordinary Jim Lewis has responded to Bishop Daniel's letter:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Yesterday, December 5, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, acting as Vice President of Province IV of The Episcopal Church, contacted Bishop Lawrence to request a meeting with other bishops of the Province to discuss the release of quitclaim deeds by the Diocese of South Carolina. The letter, which the Province IV Bishops released to the media, posted here, requests a detailed explanation of the actions of the Bishop and Standing Committee, as well as the occasion for a personal meeting between Bishop Lawrence and a representative group of Province IV bishops to discuss their concerns.

That meeting will be held on the afternoon of December 14. In addition, the Standing Committee of the Diocese is drafting a response to this new development. While the significance of this request will take time to become clear, I commend it to you as a subject for fervent prayer as a Diocese while we wait for the clarity which time will bring.

In Christ's service,

The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis
Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina
Canon to the Ordinary

Read it all here.  One thing is very clear - attempts keep being made (most recently with the Province IV bureaucrats now attempting to fill in the hole left by the sudden abandonment of the ill-fated Title IV charges) to isolate Bishop Lawrence from the elected leadership of his diocese - and South Carolina just won't play.

Listen to what Phil Ashey of the AAC says:

Bishop Chuck Murphy faces possible removal as the "primatial vicar" of the Anglican Mission in America

From here:
Bishop Chuck Murphy
The head of the Anglican Mission in America has been threatened with ecclesiastical discipline for contumacy. Unless Bishop Chuck Murphy repents of his disobedience and apologizes for his offensive statements within seven days, the Rwanda House of Bishops will assume that he has “made a de facto choice to withdraw as primatial vicar” of the AMiA.

In letter from the Rwandan House of Bishops to Bishop Murphy dated 30 Nov 2011, the AMiA leader was chastised for disobedience and abuse of office.

“You have constantly disregarded the decisions and counsels of the House of Bishops” and have “misused the authority given to you by the Archbishop in advancing your new missionary society interests,” said the letter signed by the Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and the Rwandan bishops.

The censure follows a 17 Nov 2011 meeting in Washington between Bishop Murphy and Archbishop Rwaje, where a full and frank exchange of views took place, sources told Anglican Ink.

Founded by Evangelicals in response to what it saw as the abandonment of the classical Anglicanism in the United States, the AMiA's first leaders, Bishop Murphy and Bishop John Rodgers, were consecrated on 29 January 2000 at St Andrews Cathedral in Singapore by the Archbishop of Southeast Asia and Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini. It has grown rapidly under the leadership of Bishop Murphy, but has begun to witness internal tensions as well as stresses in its relationship with Rwanda.

Over the past few weeks, the tensions within the AMiA became public. Citing personal disagreements with Bishop Murphy, the Rt. Rev. Terrell Glenn, an assistant bishop, last month announced his resignation. A group of Washington clergy released a paper questioning the transparency of the AMiA’s finances and leadership structure. Criticisms have also been raised over new canons prepared for Rwanda by the AMiA’s canon lawyer, Dr. Kevin Donlon, that adopted Roman Catholic ecclesiology and sacramental theology in place of the traditional Anglican formularies.

Disagreements reached a head at a June 2011 meeting of the House of Bishops in Rwanda. Bishop Alex Bilindibagabo pressed Bishop Murphy to account for funds raised for the Rwandan church under the AMiA’s 10-10-10 program, where parishioners are asked to pledge 10 per cent of their income to the congregation, the congregation gives ten per cent of its income to the national offices in Pawleys Island, and the national office tithes ten per cent of its income to the Rwanda.

Bishop Murphy responded the AMiA has no canonical obligation to send money to Rwanda, but has contributed an average of 12 per cent of its income over the last seven years to Rwanda’s general fund. However, no public accounting of the disbursements has been made so far.

Questions were also raised at the meeting about the degree of accountability the AMiA had towards the Rwandan House of Bishops. Bishop Murphy charged the Rwandan bishops with seeking to impose a “reverse colonialism” on the AMiA. Overseeing a church half a world away had not worked during the age of colonial expansion when London missionary societies oversaw African churches and could not work today, he argued.

The meeting, which was shortened by one day due to pressing Rwandan secular issues, closed on a sour note as the House of Bishops declined to approve Bishop Murphy’s assistant bishop nominees.

Upon his return to the United States, Bishop Murphy initiated work on a reorganization plan for the AMiA. One 27 Sept 2011 Bishop Murphy informed the Rwandan bishops that he proposed changing the AMiA into a missionary society with links to but no direct oversight from the Church of Rwanda. He told the bishops the new arrangement would provide stability and continuity by moving oversight from the office of the Archbishop of Rwanda to a self-perpetuating college of consultors, initially led by Archbishops Kolini, Yong Ping Chung and Moses Tay.

The Rwandan church was nonplussed by the proposal. In an open letter to Bishop Murphy, retired Bishop John Rucyhana said the reorganization plan would “take AMiA from its original intent.”

He believed the AMiA was being ungrateful, as “this move may hurt the relationship” between the AMiA and Rwanda, “which stood alone in the whole world with AMiA in the most difficult times.”

He was also distressed by what he saw as the AMiA’s taking Archbishop Kolini out of the Church of Rwanda. “It may be extremely hard to comprehend for the retired Archbishop Kolini who led AMiA as a mission of Rwanda and now moves with AMiA out of the province during his retirement.”

On 31 Oct 2011, Archbishop Rwaje wrote to Bishop Murphy “requesting that all procedures toward the formation of the new missionary society be halted until we go through the Jerusalem moment (are of common mind).”

Bishop Murphy was also to reflect on “the spirit of rebellion and lawlessness.”

Speaking to the Church of England Newspaper after the October meeting, Bishop Murphy said it was “absurd” to say he was in rebellion. He denied the AMiA was seeking to withdraw from Rwanda and stated his relations with the archbishop remained strong – and he looked forward to clearing the air at a 17 Nov 2011 meeting with the archbishop in Washington.

AMiA Bishop Chuck Murphy
Sources tell Anglican Ink the Washington meeting saw a clash of visions with Bishop Murphy urging the AMiA's transformation into a missionary society, while the Rwandan church wished to maintain the current structures.

The status of Bishop Glenn was also discussed. Archbishop Rwaje noted Bishop Glenn remained a member of the Rwandan House of Bishops though he was no longer part of the AMiA. He urged Bishop Murphy to reconcile with Bishop Glenn and to resolve their differences. They also agreed that the missionary society idea was merely a proposal and would not be brought to the 21 Dec 2011 Rwandan House of Bishops meeting for review.

Archbishop Rwaje also repeated his request that Bishop Murphy halt work on the project until he had been given a go from the House of Bishops.

However on 30 Nov 2011 the Rwandan bishops wrote to Bishop Murphy giving him an ultimatum – honor his vow of obedience or go. They stated Bishop Murphy had ignored two requests to halt the reorganization of the AMiA into a missionary society and “insulted” the House of Bishops by “using abusive language.”

The AMiA head had also “dogged questions of financial transparency” and had not yet complied with a commitment given in September to provide an accounting.

The Rwandan bishops requested Bishop Murphy offer a letter of apology for his actions, end his moves to re-organize the AMiA, and confirm his “commitment to refocus on AMiA.”

Unless Bishop Murphy complied with this request within seven days, the Rwanda House of Bishops would assume that he had “made a ‘de facto’ choice to withdraw as primatial vicar” of the AMiA.
Read it all here.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Rowan Williams asks: "If the moratoria are ignored and the Covenant suspected, what are the means by which we maintain some theological coherence as a Communion and some personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ?"

The Archbishop of Canterbury writes an Advent Letter to the archbishops and presiding bishops of the Anglican Communion, as well as the moderators of the united churches.  Here is an excerpt:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams
... the Communion still lives with numerous tensions.  A number of Primates felt unable in conscience to attend the Primates’ Meeting in Dublin early in the year.  However, two-thirds of the Primates were present to pray and take counsel together.  In addition to a number of strong statements in defence of various Christian communities in situations of suffering and stress, and a very clear commitment to work together on issues of gender-based violence, the meeting produced a carefully considered statement on what those present believed was the proper role of a Primates’ gathering; and it was clear in the discussion that the position and powers of the Primate were very different in different Provinces.  These differences affect opinions over the sort of powers a Primates’ Meeting could and should have.  They still need more careful and dispassionate discussion, and a sustained willingness on the part of all Provinces to understand the different ways in which each local part of the Anglican family organizes its life.
This of course relates also to the continuing discussion of the Anglican Covenant.  How it is discussed, the timescale of discussion and the means by which decisions are reached will vary a lot from Province to Province.  We hope to see a full report of progress at next year’s Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting.  In spite of many assurances, some Anglicans evidently still think that the Covenant changes the structure of our Communion or that it gives some sort of absolute power of ‘excommunication’ to some undemocratic or unrepresentative body.  With all respect to those who have raised these concerns, I must repeat that I do not see the Covenant in this light at all.  It sets out an understanding of our common life and common faith and in the light of that proposes making a mutual promise to consult and attend to each other, freely undertaken.  It recognizes that not doing this damages our relations profoundly.  It outlines a procedure, such as we urgently need, for attempting reconciliation and for indicating the sorts of consequences that might result from a failure to be fully reconciled.  It alters no Province’s constitution, as it has no canonical force independent of the life of the Provinces.  It does not create some unaccountable and remote new authority but seeks to identify a representative group that might exercise a crucial advisory function.  I continue to ask what alternatives there are if we want to agree on ways of limiting damage, managing conflict and facing with honesty the actual effects of greater disunity.  In the absence of such alternatives, I must continue to commend the Covenant as strongly as I can to all who are considering its future.
These questions are made all the more sharp by the fact that the repeated requests for moratoria on problematic actions issued by various representative Anglican bodies are increasingly ignored.  Strong conscientious convictions are involved here.  No-one, I believe, acts out of a desire to deepen disunity; some believe that certain matters are more important than what they think of as a superficial unity.  But the effects are often to deepen mutual mistrust, and this must surely be bad for our mission together as Anglicans, and alongside other Christians as well.  The question remains: if the moratoria are ignored and the Covenant suspected, what are the means by which we maintain some theological coherence as a Communion and some personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ?  And we should bear in mind that our coherence as a Communion is also a significant concern in relation to other Christian bodies – especially at a moment when the renewed dialogues with Roman Catholics and Orthodox have begun with great enthusiasm and a very constructive spirit. 

Read it all hereDr. Williams does ask a good rhetorical question, seen in the headline above.  "If the moratoria are ignored and the Covenant suspected, what are the means by which we maintain some theological coherence as a Communion and some personal respect and understanding as a fellowship of people seeking to serve Christ?"  A very good question, indeed.  One might get the impression after all this time that the official leadership of the Anglican Communion just can't stand each other. 

Certainly in parts of the communion there is brokenness - brokenness on all sides.  And what remedy is there to broken trust and broken hearts?