Fisking the AMiA “Letter on Their Future”

It’s been some time since we’ve had any official word out of the Design Group or AMiA in general about current events. The latest letter of February 16 doesn’t say much, but I’d like to read between the lines a bit and see what is there.

Last week, we gathered in a special meeting of the Council with a deep desire to seek Jesus’ heart for the Anglican Mission.

As we concluded our meeting, we were convinced that the Lord had truly met with us and had given us clear direction, enabling us to consider things in a new way with fresh insight.

We concluded our meeting united and confident that the Lord was showing us an exciting and challenging way forward.

Nothing that is said in the rest of the statement is new, and the bishops have made this claim of a new way for two or three months now, so it isn’t clear what the Lord showed the bishops this time that was new.

In order to more fully embrace our call of service to Christ’s Church, we have determined to form a Mission Society that is authentically Anglican and focused on North America.

The phrase “focused on North America” raises the question of if the “global missionary society” concept with Jon Shuler as some sort of bishop for overseas planting is now dead? If so, this would be a significant walking back from the earlier position of the “new thing” being global in nature. Perhaps the ACNA bishops have made clear to AMiA that the global concept will not work for them. Or perhaps the global idea is still on, but they just failed to mention it here.

The phrase “authentically Anglican” brings to mind Archbishop Duncan’s statement that a personal prelature is not Anglican. Coupled with the phrase “focused on North America”, this may tell us that the AMiA is indeed modifying the original vision of last year. Indeed, what follows in this statement is not at all different from what AMiA was doing prior to the flight from Rwanda (Egypt), except that there is no Rwandan oversight.

Like other mission societies that have historically supported the broader Church by planting churches on its behalf, we also feel called to express our ministry through such a model. (See attached documents.)

It’s difficult to know what this means without the attached documents, but I would guess that it references the same societies mentioned by Kevin Donlon last year in his turgid response to the first Washington Statement. The phraseology at this point is very much from the charismatic renewal, i.e. “feel called to.” And one wonders what was wrong with how AMiA “expressed its ministry” for the past eleven years?

This decision marks the first step in a process to develop the mission society as we continue to seek the Lord’s guidance with your input.

Factually, this is not true. I thought the London Statement issued when the leadership fled Rwanda was the bold declaration of an “emerging Mission Society”? Wouldn’t that make this at least the second step? While this might be a minor point, it does strike me as odd that this letter merely re-states what has already been said again and again, but casts it as if it were new. What is going on?

With this end in mind, we will be reviewing all of our structures and roles in order to discern the specific shape of the mission society as we engage our process.

My read on this is that ACNA is continuing to tell AMiA that Bishop Murphy may want to consider a new phase of ministry and that the bishop to church ratio is too high. This came through in the December statement from the Council of Bishops (COB) as well, but was quickly scuttled in statements from Bishop Murphy and Bishop Rodgers who mentioned “Hari Kari”, DNA and things of that nature.

We are committed to the following:

Again, none of what follows is different in any way from what AMiA was doing for eleven years and begs the question of why this rupture and upheaval was necessary if this is all that results from it?

* evangelism and discipleship through planting churches that plant churches;

* the expression of three streams: the Sacred (sacramental and liturgical) the Scripture (evangelical), and the Spirit (charismatic);

As an aside, it is striking how the “three streams” language is now de rigueur and almost a tenet of orthodoxy in North American Anglicanism.

* orthodox theology (adherence to the 39 Articles of Religion and historic formularies of the Church);

This is encouraging, although false. Kevin Donlon (amongst others) has openly disagreed with the 39 Articles for years and yet continues to operate at the highest levels of AMiA with no problems.

* Anglican polity;

AMiA is signaling its intention to remain Anglican, but Archbishop Ducan has said that they really are not at the present. Duncan has said, “They have not been so good about accountability and the unity of the church.” He also said, “They are now former Anglicans. That’s what they have to grapple with.” The Nairobi Communique from GAFCON said that AMiA would put on hold for six months “other plans for restructuring.” It is clear that AMiA is not complying with GAFCON. Bishop Murphy called the GAFCON statement “unhelpful.”

* fostering an entrepreneurial culture;

* pursuing both temporary (short-term solutions) and enduring relationships with an Anglican jurisdiction.

As I said, nothing is new to this except what entity AMiA is connected with. It is puzzling why there is a need for a temporary and an enduring relationship? Does this mean the Congo (for example) temporarily and ACNA in the long-term? It is another odd turn of phrase that raises more questions than it answers, to quote the Chairman.

This vision is consistent with our clear call to be “a mission, nothing more and nothing less.” Our focus on planting churches as an outreach for an existing judicatory within the one holy catholic and apostolic church continues our established pattern.

This established pattern also includes lack of accountability and fleeing church discipline.

As we continue our conversations and discernment with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), we will keep you fully informed.

This doesn’t seem true, because we have no details of what has been discussed or what is going on. Perhaps this is directed to a subset of AMiA, such as the clergy, who hear more from conference calls. In the cause of transparency, it would be nice if full meeting minutes from the Design Group were published.

 

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