Thoughts on the PEARUSA and ACNA Developments

An earlier meeting of the Rwandan House of Bishops

PEARUSA is ending its formal ties to the Anglican Church of Rwanda. By June 2016, PEARUSA as such will cease to exist, its networks will transition to dioceses within ACNA, and a new entity, called “Rwanda Ministry Partners” will be created as a “ministry association” within the ACNA. As for clergy:

American clergy ordained in the Province of Rwanda prior to June 2016 may remain canonically resident in Rwanda or apply for canonical transfer to the ACNA. Those who remain resident in Rwanda will be licensed by the ACNA and under its singular authority.

The first thought that springs to mind on reading this announcement is: why not dissolve the PEARUSA networks into their local ACNA diocese? My guess is that PEAR still distrusts where the rest of ACNA is theologically and therefore does not want to be totally absorbed just yet. This distrust relates to women’s ordination and Reformed theology. For example, in the parishes that I attended in D.C. and Northern Virginia (sometimes called “RenewDC“) there was some distrust of the leadership of Bishop Guernsey, the Bishop of ACNA’s Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA). Bishop Guernsey is for women’s ordination, and the clergy of RenewDC are against it. For these clergy to have to report in to Bishop Guernsey is probably a bridge too far, so they will be able to remain in a “Rwanda Ministry Partners” diocese, and they overlapping jurisdictions will continue in the DC, Maryland and Virginia region with CANA, REC, ACNA and RMP (?) dioceses.

Rwanda’s Finances

In 2011, AMiA Bishop Chuck Murphy was reportedly:

…concerned about Rwanda’s dependence upon AMiA support. He mentioned that AMiA money given to Rwanda is now 2/3 of the provincial budget. He also said that the Kigali seminary is compromised due to its dependence upon AMiA aid.

One of the presenting causes for the AMiA implosion was that a huge sum of money from America went missing in Rwanda, with the implication being that Archbishop Kolini was the one controlling where the money was allocated. As one insider wrote:

In approximately 2009 it came to the attention of the Rwanda HOB that for several years the annual financial statements of the AMiA showed about $300,000.00 per annum being given to the Province of Rwanda under this 10-10-10 tithing arrangement. Unfortunately, the annual financial reports of the Province of Rwanda showed only $100,000.00 per year coming into the Province of Rwanda (spreadsheets available on request). Above the tithe was an additional $400,000.00 given to ‘the Province’ that never showed up in the Provincial Accounts. The total ‘missing’ monies seem to total at least 1.2 million US dollars.

I say all this because I believe one of PEARUSA’s intentions is to develop an even wider donor base for PEAR in Rwanda. I take some of the statements from ACNA’s press release to mean just that. For example, Bishop Breedlove says, “It’s exciting to think that clergy and churches all across ACNA that were not part of PEARUSA can now be part of Rwanda Ministry Partners.” Archbishop Beach said, “…Rwanda Ministry Partners will allow others in the Province who would like to be connected to Rwanda to do so. I look forward to more partnerships and deeper relationships with Rwanda for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and Bishop Quigg Lawrence said, “Rwanda Ministry Partners will actually enhance and expand what PEARUSA’s ministry and relationship have always been.”

The idea here seems to be of ACNA embracing PEAR at a greater level, providing more money to this financially strapped province. This idea has taken flesh in 2015 as PEARUSA’s “Provincial Sustainability Project” also known as “Walk with Rwanda.”1 According to the PEAR Strategy for Long Term Sustainability: “PEARUSA currently provides $70,000 – $80,000 to PEAR annually.”

Getting the Anglican Church of Rwanda to a place of financial self-sufficiency would be a good thing. Sending money to Rwanda without strict accountability is not. By this, I mean accountability about where the money goes and accountability about the relationship of the Church to the ruling RPF party. If you get on the wrong side of Paul Kagame, even if you are an insider, the consequences to you and your property are severe, as you can see in this recent example.

rwaje dictator

Any move away from formal affiliation with a Church that operates under a Police State and is not opposed to that State is a good thing. The Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR) lives under a dictatorship helmed by Paul Kagame, who rules through a Tutsi elite. There may be a range of opinions with PEAR about how to relate to Paul Kagame, but none of them are expressed publicly. In fact, publicly the Church sides very much with Kagame, which I believe to be sinful. One former missionary to Rwanda told me:

…no person in the Province can take a public stand against the regime without dire (and I mean DIRE) consequences… The only way they could would be to take a unanimous stand… which they won’t because many of them,while aware of the excesses of the Kagame government see it as far better than any alternative on the horizon. They also know that Kagame and crew are very hostile to criticism and only double down…

So, American Anglicans are wise to disconnect from this compromised Church.

Perhaps it is time to work at officially presenting charges of Church-State complicity to the leadership of ACNA. I am not aware of a method to do this, but if ACNA wants to get even closer to Rwanda, it may be the only avenue available of shining light on the situation. ACNA should have a standing body that looks at all of its partner churches and can warn against grave abuses, such as those that led to complicity with the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

A few other thoughts:

  1. I find the option for clergy to remain canonically resident within Rwanda exceedingly odd.
  2. I wonder where this leaves CANA? I suspect that CANA will not make a similar move until the doctrinal direction of ACNA is clear.
  3. I don’t see anything about ministry associations within the Constitution and Canons of ACNA. I will be curious to see how this is fleshed out over time.
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  1. The website is here

Update on the new AMiA Bishops


You may recall that in May of this year (2015) the AMiA consecrated two new bishops: Gerry Schnackenberg and Carl Buffington.1 This action produced some turmoil within the ranks of GAFCON, but the AMiA went ahead with the consecrations. Since then, the story has dropped off the map, which says something about the state of Anglican journalism today.

Recently, Archbishop Henri Isingoma tweeted a picture of the Anglican bishops of the DRC on retreat. A crude translation of his tweet says, “Anglican Diocese of DR Congo in spiritual retreat from the 18th to 24th of August 2015 in Butembo.”

I asked the Archbishop if the Anglican Mission bishops were included in this retreat? He replied:

His language is very direct and strong. Their consecration was “illegal.” Despite what the Archbishop says, the AMiA’s Apostolic Vicar, Bishop Philip Jones, refers to these men as bishops in a YouTube video this week. It remains to be seen how this will be worked out, if at all.

I also asked Archbishop Isingoma about the Congolese bishops who consecrated the AMiA Americans, he replied, “after recognising their big and historical mistake, forgiven they assured to don’t do it again.”

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  1. See this post and this post

Bishop Thad Barnum back to All Saints Church, Pawleys Island

Bishop Thad Barnum, one of the key figures in the founding of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), is moving to ACNA and back to All Saints Church in South Carolina. Bishop Barnum had a less prominent role in PEARUSA, but was still active and visible at its gatherings. According to the Anglican Diocese in New England:

17 September 2015

Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ,

With the blessing of my fellow bishops in PEARUSA, the bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas, and the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, I have received and accepted a call to serve as “Assisting Bishop” under the Rt. Rev. David C. Bryan (Bishop of Southeast PEARUSA) and to serve as “Bishop in Residence” at All Saints Church, Pawleys Island, SC, beginning Sunday, October 4, under the rector, the Rev. Rob Grafe. My primary work under Bishop Bryan will be to serve in “Clergy Care” and encourage discipleship among the churches through our work of “call2disciple” both in PEARUSA and in the Anglican Church of North America.

It has been a profound joy to serve the saints at Church of the Apostles, Fairfield, CT, and as bishop in New England these past eleven years. It is also with joy that we return to our church family at All Saints where we served from 1997-2004. We are deeply indebted to all who have prayed for us in this year of transition. May the Lord be praised for His kindness in sending us back into His service.

In the love and grace of our Savior,

Thaddeus and Erilynne Barnum

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PEARUSA Ending Formal Ties with Rwanda


According to recent information, PEARUSA churches will end their formal ecclesiastical ties with PEAR in Rwanda and will become full members of ACNA.

This should result in approximately three new ACNA dioceses, each will be one of the former regions of PEARUSA. The PEARUSA churches will still have close relations with Rwanda, but not formal ecclesiastical ties.

I am told that this will happen sometime in 2016, probably in late Summer or early Fall.

This explains the presence of Archbishop Beach and Bishop Guernsey with the PEAR bishops on their trip to Rwanda in March, 2015 (see here). It also explains the silence on the PEARUSA website.

While this is a long overdue and welcome development, it is not enough, because PEARUSA will continue to praise Rwanda, not acknowledging the evil that the church is silent in the face of. Having said that, I’m sure it will be a relief to some clergy who do know what is going on in Rwanda and are uncomfortable with it.

{I’ve updated the post title to clarify that PEARUSA was always part of ACNA, but will end formal ties with Rwanda}.

UPDATE: the news is now official: see this link.

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Yawn: the Archbishop of Canterbury calls for Primates’ Gathering

Anglican media and even secular media gets worked up when the Archbishop of Canterbury does something, or a meeting is on the horizon. And so there have been many posts about the Archbishop’s call for a meeting.

Personally, I find it totally lacking in drama. This situation played out many years ago now, and all that is left is to acknowledge the reality that already exists. The Provinces do their own thing with some loose coordination. Doctrinal unity does not exist. That’s just how it is.

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Bishop Mbanda: “So! What?”

Bishop Mbanda applauds Paul Kagame.
Bishop Mbanda applauds Paul Kagame.

In July, I published a brief post showing current Rwandan Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda appearing onstage with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame, and applauding him.1 Bishop Mbanda apparently saw this post, and in a confusing turn of events, commented about it over on my old blog. His response was:

Yes I did. So! What?

This kind of response is astonishing and callous in its utter lack of Biblical awareness about how Christians are to respond to evil. I would say that it is a perfect illustration of the complacency and outright cooperation of the current Rwandan House of Bishops with a dictator who kills, murders and plunders innocents.

Although Bishop Mbanda’s support for Paul Kagame is fairly low-profile, it is there if you start digging. A great example is found in reading his book, which I reviewed at length here. As recently as 2013, Bishop Mbanda referred to Rwanda’s leadership (i.e. Kagame) as “visionary.”

American Anglicans should not be aligned with the Rwandan State, but they are through their own ignorance and apathy.

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  1. Much as he did at the notorious Prayer Breakfast where Kagame boasted about killing Patrick Karegeya.