ACNA Task Force on Holy Orders Update – January 2015

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) recently issued a Communiqué from the College of Bishops, which among other things provided some news about the Task Force on Holy Orders:

The Holy Orders Task Force currently is working on Phase Three of its stated procedure. In this phase, the task force is focusing on the manner in which ecclesiology relates to ordination and holy orders. In 2014, the Task Force met on March 20-21 (Ft. Worth, TX), May 14-15 (Bedford, TX), September 25-26 (Pittsburgh, PA), and November 20-21 (Bedford, TX). With the help of several outside scholars, the task force has developed working documents to assist with its task.

As was the case with the previous phase, the task force found it helpful to identify and summarize what the formularies say about the particular issues related to this phase of work. This represents the commonly accepted foundation, which forms the basis for discussion. The task force also has been working to identify those perspectives on ordination which lead to divergent understandings within our tradition about the nature of ordination and holy orders. This includes, but is not limited to, women’s ordination. By examining the premises upon which varying perspectives are based, the bishops will be in a better position to discuss a way forward in resolving the concerns about how holy orders are understood and function in the life of the Province.

As a reminder, the Task Force said in the past:

The Task Force continues its work, following the Method of Procedure approved by the College of Bishops in January 2013. The study is being conducted in five phases, recognizing that a person’s underlying commitments to hermeneutical methods and a particular understanding of ecclesiology contribute to his or her eventual conclusions about who are appropriate candidates for ordination. The Council and Assembly are reminded of the Method of Procedure, as follows:

Phase 1: Organization of the Task Force

Phase 2: Hermeneutical Principles

Phase 3: Ecclesiological Principles

Phase 4: Arguments for and against the Ordination of Women.

Phase 5: Final Report to the College of Bishops

The first two phases have been completed, and a report on Hermeneutical Principles has been released to the church. The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) has been kept abreast of our work through communication with members of the FCA Theological Resource group, and we have welcomed their comment. The Phase Two report has been submitted to our ecumenical partners, and we anticipate that responses will be forthcoming from them.

The Task Force presently is working on Phase Three, which concerns the ecclesiological principles drawn from the formularies of the Province. We are exploring the nature of ordained ministry and the manner in which the ordained ministry relates to the rest of the Body of Christ. We are aiming to submit the Phase Three report to the College of Bishops by January 2015.

We remind the Council and Assembly that the Task Force is serving in an advisory capacity to the College of Bishops. It is not the purpose of the Task Force to find “the solution” to the ordination issues within the ACNA. The Task Force will provide the necessary scholarly work and advice needed for the College to make informed decisions about how the jurisdictions within the ACNA can move forward in their life together. Please continue to keep the Task Force in your prayers.

Given the minimal glimpses we have inside this process, we can discern that the Task Force has not yet entered Phase 4, where it discusses the central issue, the ordination of women. I expect we are two to three years from any “final” word, meaning that GAFCON / FCA has weighed in on whatever ACNA comes up with. ACNA seems to be frightened of what that outcome could be, and so it is working feverishly to build unity ahead of whatever ruling comes out, so that no one walks away when the ruling / decision / report is finally issued. The message is, “let’s stay together even if we disagree.”

Past posts on this subject:

ACNA’s Task Force on Holy Orders

ACNA: Theological Task Force on Holy Orders Will Not Find the Solution

Bishop Hicks’ interview covering the Task Force:

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A Reduced Anglican Presence at Rwanda’s 2015 National Prayer Breakfast (or not)

One year ago, Rwandan dictator and atheist Paul Kagame attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Kigali, where he gloated in his assassination of former friend Patrick Karegeya. Karegeya had been murdered just a couple weeks prior to the prayer breakfast, and Kagame was riding high on his death. He shared a table with Anglican Archbishop Rwaje, and other Anglicans were in attendance.

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Archbishop Rwaje and Kagame in 2014.

I spoke up about this at the time (see this post) and many news outlets around the world took notice since Kagame was boasting about murder to the applause of clergy. Characteristically, PEARUSA, the American branch of the Rwandan Anglican Church, was silent about its Anglican Archbishop staying mute in the face of a modern Idi Amin.

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This book has no meaning in PEARUSA.

Three days ago, Kagame returned to the Prayer Breakfast and as far as we know, he did not boast about killing.

The Anglican presence at this year’s event was far less than at last year’s event, although Anglicans were not absent, as you will see. Why is this? Is it because:

  1. PEAR in Rwanda was stung by the criticism last year?
  2. They were not invited this year?
  3. PEARUSA was embarrassed at last year’s event, and expressed this to their Rwandan oversight?
  4. Rwandan Anglicans are silently protesting Kagame? This is highly unlikely but I add it here as a possibility.
  5. Something else?

If you have insight into the reasons for Rwaje’s absence, let me know.

UPDATE: No sooner did I click publish, then I looked closer at another picture (below) and saw Archbishop Rwaje, near the right of the picture:

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Rwaje at the right.

 

So it seems that Anglican learned nothing from last year’s debacle.

This year, Archbishop Rwaje was replaced by Bishop Enoch Dusingizimana of the Community of Christian Churches in Africa (C.C.C.A). There was still an Anglican at the dictator’s table however, none other than the notorious Antoine Rutayisire.

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Bishop Enoch Dusingizimana with Kagame and Rutayisire.

Antoine Rutayisire – Kagame’s Anglican

Pastor Rutayisire has been a shill for Kagame for many years, defending him at every turn, in contradiction to all Christian theology. The Bible says, “It is an abomination to kings to do evil,” (Proverbs 16:12) and yet Christians stand inert before Kagame, dumb and deaf, saying nothing of his wickedness.

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Rutayisire at the 2015 Prayer Breakfast.

Rutayisire has made outlandish statements in favor of this modern day Pharaoh. In the past, he said of Kagame:

“He is not authoritarian to the level I would wish. When you’re ruling a country that’s coming out of chaos … you don’t go for democracy, you go for autocracy.”

This year, he moved from saying that Rwanda is an autocracy to saying it is a theocracy! According to Jean Paul Ibambe on Twitter, Rutayisire said Rwanda is a theocracy, “which is better than democracy [which is] full of noise.” If Rwanda is a theocracy, is Rutayisire implying that Kagame is God’s anointed? What does this say to those whom he has tortured and murdered?

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Is Rutayisire a renegade Anglican, outside the normal circles of the Church? Far from it. Here are some pictures of him just recently with Archbishop Rwaje and Bishop Muvunyi, and again, teaching in Musanze to Bishop Mbanda’s clergy:

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Bishop Muvunyi, Pastor Rutayisire, Archbishop Rwaje

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Rutayisire teaching Anglicans in Musanze

What does it say of the Anglican Church of Rwanda that a man at its heart is attached at the hip to a dictator? It is consistent with the actions of Rucyahana, Kolini, Rwaje, Mbanda, Gasatura, Ahimana and others. It is the action of a compromised man within a compromised church, embracing a dictator instead of rebuking him.

Not only does Rutayisire have an audience in Rwanda, he has one in the United States. Last summer, he spoke at Washington D.C Anglican parishes The Church of the Resurrection and the Church of the Advent. He is the President of the As We Forgive Rwanda Initiative, where he shares leadership with many Americans. This is shameful.

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Rutayisire with the First Lady.

In the excerpts of Kagame’s speech available to us this year, he refers to Rutayisire, and says:

Even though I said that I am not a pastor like Rutayisire, I actually love many teachings from the Bible. The teachings of life. History; how it happened, its consequences, its goodness, we find it all in the Bible.

If Kagame is reading his Bible, that is a good thing. He can perhaps open to Psalm 52, and read:

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?
The steadfast love of God endures all the day.
Your tongue plots destruction,
like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit.
You love evil more than good,
and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah
You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.
But God will break you down forever;
he will snatch and tear you from your tent;
he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah
The righteous shall see and fear,
and shall laugh at him, saying,
“See the man who would not make
God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches
and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

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St. Joseph’s Dream by Daniel Mitsui

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Bishop Rucyahana, friend of Bishop Lawrence and Paul Kagame

Top Posts of 2014

I didn’t write as much as I would have liked to this year. I was distracted in the last quarter of the year by moving and other issues. The relationship of American Anglicanism with state-aligned African churches remained at the forefront of my concerns this past year, and it shows in my top ten most viewed posts. The dearth of good reporting on internal ACNA matters, and on the failure of Anglicans to speak against evil in Africa have resulted in lots of viewers for this blog. My most viewed posts were:

1. ACNA: Who Will be the next Archbishop?

2. Who is Archbishop-Elect Foley Beach?

3. Rick Warren, Antoine Rutayisire and Paul Kagame

4. Breedlove Reemphasizes that PEARUSA is deeply joined to Rwanda

5. The Structure and Function of PEARUSA

6. Atrocities in Rwanda, 2014

7. D.C. Church Hosts Dictator’s Associate Antoine Rutayisire

8. John Lennon on Led Zeppelin

9. What does Archbishop Beach’s Election Mean for ACNA?

10. Is Rwanda Meddling in Burundi?

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Rucyahana Joins the Inquisition

The BBC did the world a service earlier this year when it produced the documentary called Rwanda’s Untold Story. Nothing in the documentary is new, it has all been said before, but in print, and sometimes in academic publications or other out of the way places that most nice Western Christians don’t read. For many people, until they watch something on a screen, it isn’t real (see the Ray Rice situation in the NFL).

A measure of how this documentary struck home is the paranoia with which Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame has been trying to eliminate it. In his own country, someone who produced something like this would disappear, be tortured, killed or never heard from again. But Kagame does not control the entire world, as much as he would like to, so he stirs up all kinds of nonsense, equating history and truth telling with genocide denial. Merely labeling something as denying the genocide is enough to silence it for many Westerners who don’t invest time in researching Rwanda.

In Rwanda, discussion is not allowed. Free speech does not exist. Debate cannot happen. The one party state rules all, and exerts its control down to the lowest level. So it should be no surprise that this week, retired Bishop John Rucyahana showed up as part of the dog and pony show Kagame has put together to condemn the BBC documentary. According to reports on Twitter, Rucyahana “testified” to the Inquisition Inquiry Committee that the documentary “poisons the minds of the people” and all kinds of other bad things.

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Why Rucyahana has any expertise on this subject is not apparent. As I have shown repeatedly on this blog, he is a stooge for the regime, a man who says “how high?” whenever Kagame says “jump.” He has no credibility and should be publicly disowned by American bishops and clergy, but instead, they embrace this man. He is a Micaiah to Kagame’s Ahab, if you know what I mean.

Figure 4. Bishops Rucyahana and Barnum

Bishops Rucyahana and Barnum

Figure 5. Bishop Lawrence and Rucyahana

Bishop Lawrence and Rucyahana

While Rucyahana’s support starts with PEARUSA, it by no means ends there. He sits on charities and boards all over the place. Take the Shyira Trust for example, it is a UK charity that works with the Shyira Diocese in Rwanda to fund various development projects. In February, members of the Trust from the U.K. met with Rucyahana — long after the United Nations conclusively showed his support in fundraising and recruiting for M23. You can see their meeting below.

Shyira Trust members with their friend, Rucyahana

Shyira Trust members with their friend, Rucyahana

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I contacted the Trust in March, after this meeting with the “amazing man.” The responses I received are typical of the shallow thinking, lack of reason, and lack of theological wisdom that are hallmarks of western interaction with Rwandans. I wrote:

Hello,
Are you aware of Bishop Rucyahana’s support for M23? In light of that, are you comfortable continuing to work with him?

The answer I received was:




Thank you for your question Joel. We have been working with Bishop John for 14 years now, and have come to respect him as a former diocesan bishop and as a Brother in Christ. Whatever the truth of your statement we see no reason to break our friendship with him – it would not achieve anything.

See what they did there? Who cares what he did? It won’t stop us from being friends. I responded:

Well, Romans 1 says that we should not “approve of those who practice them”, and the group he raised funds for practiced child kidnapping, rape, torture and other atrocities. I think this would reflect poorly on the Trust.

To this, I received the standard “do you know this man?” type of reply. Also, the fact that Rucyahana served on NURC, an Orwellian instrument of oppression in Rwanda, counts as a plus to the Trust:

Joel, I wonder if you have ever met Bishop John and got to know him as a man. I worked with him for the benefit of the people of Shyira parish while he was Bishop of Shyira. Since then I have simply known him as a friend, someone I trust and respect and visit when I am in Rwanda. In Rwanda Bishop John has done outstanding work on reconciliation, including being chairman of the reconciliation Commission. For those and other reasons I completely accept his public letter of 24th July 2012.

So because these nice Westerners have met and “know” Rucyahana, whatever he says must be true, evidence be damned. This is the same response I received from Bishop Breedlove of PEARUSA. As we have seen recently with Bill Cosby, our capacity for self deceit in the face of evidence is a massive weakness in our character.

The Charity Commission might want to investigate the Shyira Trust, to see why they have no problem working with a man who helps send boys off to die for M23, raping and slaughtering all the while. A man who now helps smear the BBC for doing journalism, something that is not allowed in Rwanda.

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Surveying the Internet

Here are some writings that have caught my eye recently:

Paul Anthony McGavin says that Pope Francis “…is anything but impartial, this pope. He wanted the synod to orient the Catholic hierarchy toward a new vision of divorce and homosexuality, and he has succeeded, in spite of the scanty number of votes in favor of the change of course, after two weeks of fiery discussion.

In any case, he will be the one who ultimately decides, he reminded the cardinals and bishops who may have had any doubts. In order to refresh their memory on his “supreme, full, immediate, and universal” power, he brought to the field not a handful of refined passages from “Lumen Gentium,” but the rock-solid canons of the code of canon law.”

A forthcoming book on Pope Francis says that contrary to canon law, an active campaign was behind his election to the Papacy:

“They had learnt their lessons from 2005,” Mr Ivereigh explains. “They first secured Bergoglio’s assent. Asked if he was willing, he said that he believed that at this time of crisis for the Church no cardinal could refuse if asked.
“Murphy-O’Connor knowingly warned him to ‘be careful’, and that it was his turn now, and was told ‘capisco’ – ‘I understand’.
“Then they got to work, touring the cardinals’ dinners to promote their man, arguing that his age – 76 – should no longer be considered an obstacle, given that popes could resign. Having understood from 2005 the dynamics of a conclave, they knew that votes travelled to those who made a strong showing out of the gate.”

Charles Simic says of his father: “My father didn’t want us to have a typical father-son relationship, which wouldn’t have been possible in any case. He loved going out to jazz clubs, bars, restaurants—in fact, he took me out to a jazz club my first night in New York. Talking to him was always fun since he had a lot of good stories. Plus, he read everything: history, literature, political studies, Eastern religions, mysticism, philosophy, mysteries, sports pages, and even gossip columns in newspapers. He was one of those people who are always trying to figure out the big ques- tions. The nice thing about him was that he also had an ability to listen. He was interested in what anyone said, so it was easy being with him.”

A logbook has been found from a builder of one of the pyramids:

Over a hundred fragments make up a personal log book recording the daily activities of a team led by the inspector Merer, who was in charge of a team of about 200 men. A timetable written up in two columns records the transportation of fine limestone blocks from quarries at the site of Tura to Giza, where they were used for the outer casing of the pyramid. It took four days, using the Nile and connecting canals, to transport the blocks about 10km to the pyramid construction site, which was called the ‘Horizon of Khufu’. The logbook documents these activities for a period of more than three months.

The designer of Call of Duty is giving national security advice lectures now…Emily Dickinson’s Norway…a summary page of allegations that John Howard Yoder sexually abused women…this is a wonderful summary of one of my favorite movies, Apocalypse Now.

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Encouraging Words from Archbishop Beach

I have hesitations about ACNA on many fronts, but one thing that heartens me is the basic love for the Bible that Archbishop Beach displays. The latest example of that love is this post on the denomination’s website, part of which says:

4) Learn them – What does the verse or passage really mean? What is the context of the passage? How does this apply today to my life and ministry? How many of the 10 Commandments do you know? How many of Jesus’s Commandments do you know? Can you explain God’s plan of Salvation? Do you know any of the promises of God which apply to your life now? Can you share any of the miracles which Jesus did? Can you explain any of his parables and what they mean? God’s people need to learn the Word of God. Learning the Word of God includes studying and memorizing it.

5) Inwardly digest them – This means to meditate on them; reflect on them; and think on them. The Hebrew word for meditate is a word picture of a cow chewing its food. How does a cow eat the grass? Chews on it; swallows it; brings it back up; chews it some more; swallows it; brings it back up; and chews it some more. This is what we do with the Word of God. We are to inwardly digest it; think about it.

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The Proletariat is the New Israel

Berdyaev writes:

In order to understand the meaning of the sociological determinism of Marxism and of the illusions of consciousness which it exposes, one must turn one’s attention to the existence of an entirely different side of Marxism, which is apparently a contradiction of economic materialism. Marxism is not only a doctrine of historical and economic materialism, concerned with the complete dependence of man on economics, it is also a doctrine of deliverance, of the messianic vocations of the proletariat, of the future perfect society in which man will not be dependent on economics, of the power and victory of man over the irrational forces of nature and society. There is the soul of Marxism, not in its economic determinism. In a capitalist society man is completely determined, and that refers to the past. The complete dependence of man upon economics can be explained as a sin of the past. But the agent which frees humanity from slavery and establishes the best life, is the proletariat. To it are transferred the attributes of the chosen people of God; it is the new Israel. This is a secularization of the ancient Hebrew messianic consciousness. The lever with which it will be possible to turn the world upside down has been found. And there Marx’s materialism turns into extreme idealism.

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Berdyaev on Russian Darwinism

Nicolas Berdyaev writes:

Russians are always inclined to take things in a totalitarian sense; the skeptical criticism of Western peoples is alien to them. This is a weakness which leads to confusion of thought and the substitution of one thing for another, but it is also a merit and indicates the religious integration of the Russian soul. Among the Russian radical intelligentsia there existed an idolatrous attitude to science itself. When a member of the Russian intelligentsia became a Darwinist, to him Darwinism was not a biological theory subject to dispute, but a dogma, and anyone who did not accept that dogma (e.g. a disciple of Lamarck) awoke in him an attitude of moral suspicion. The greatest Russian philosopher of the nineteenth century, Solovev, said that the Russian intelligentsia professed a faith based upon the strange syllogism: man is descended from a monkey, therefore we ought to love one another.

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Analyzing the Appointments of Archbishop Beach

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A couple months ago, the new Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) made some appointments to assist him in governing the Province. While I don’t see anything about Deans in the Canons of ACNA, they do say:

Section 5 – Concerning Officers of the Church

The Archbishop shall be the Presiding Officer of the Church, and the Presiding Officer of the Council. The Council shall appoint a Deputy Chair, a chancellor, a secretary, a treasurer, a registrar, and such other officers of the Church as it deems necessary. The Council shall define the duties of each officer of the Church.

Archbishop Beach appointed seven people to six roles; they are:

  • Bishop Ray Sutton as Dean of College Affairs and Dean of Ecumenical Affairs.
  • Bishop Terrell Glenn as Dean of College Affairs.
  • Bishop John Guernsey as Dean of Provincial Affairs
  • Bishop Bill Atwood as Dean of International Affairs
  • Bishop Don Harvey as Senior College Chaplain, assisted by Bishops Bena and Ackerman.

As noted in this post, Bishop Sutton came close to a victory in the Conclave before he voluntarily stepped aside. Bishop Guernsey was also thought to be a frontrunner for the job of Archbishop heading into the Conclave.With that in mind, these appointments look a bit like consolation prizes for these men. I am not asserting that they are, but it is a very status quo set of appointments.

The affiliation of these men and their position on women’s ordination are:

 

Bishop Affiliation Position on WO
Ackerman ACNA, FiFNA Against
Sutton REC Against
Glenn ACNA Against
Guernsey ACNA For
Atwood ACNA For
Harvey ANiC For
Bena CANA For

This group also skews Anglo-Catholic or charismatic, with only one Bishop being notably Augustinian in conviction (as far as I know). I don’t know how much to invest in these observations, but the convictions of these men may show up in policy in the years ahead. It also signals that as much as we thought the election of Archbishop Beach signaled the arrival of a new generation of leadership, there are a lot of holdovers from the last two decades still in power. This is neither good nor bad of necessity, but is simply the reality.

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