Thoughts on the PEARUSA and ACNA Developments

IMG_4254
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)The website is here. 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.

References   [ + ]

1. The website is here.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the PEARUSA and ACNA Developments”

  1. Only thing is I do not believe a word of it [meaning PEARUSA justifications]. First there was nothing stopping anyone in ANCA from forming mission partners with or without PEARUSA, so +Breedlove comment is very miss leading.

    However, I think your comments about money are very illuminating. I’m not sure I take this “insider” too seriously, but if we use his numbers ~$400K verse ~$75K [2011 ~150 parish verse 60+ parishes in 2015] – that’s a 18.75% of the original for 40% of the parish [not quite apples to apples because both PEARUSA and AMiA have continued to church plant post schism, with a few flagship parishes leading the entrance into ANCA (Christ Church, Plano, Church of Resurrection, Chicago) during 2012 — therefore the quality will be unequal to that pre-schism. Another interesting point is AMiA in 2015 has 40+ parish (30+ USA /10 Canada) but “Leadership (aka the business overhead)” is 75% of PEARUSA, which indicates to me the money went with AMiA in the mess not PEARUSA (while 40/60 is 2/3, so within feasibility, many of the AMiA parish listed look as if they were formed post 2012).

    One thing to note is that church plants get grants, which tend to be structured a big amount the first year, then less the second and less the third. Often a three year or maybe five year, but following the same pattern. The idea is a parish builds itself up in those years to become self-sustaining. Since these grants appear on the revenue line, they are included in the tithe, at least that was the case at the plant the author and I both attended. Therefore any plant (I still think many in PEARUSA are post 2012 plants but maybe 1/2 the number of AMiA) those grant amounts may expire, also PEARUSA seed monies may have a similar structure or high end donors maybe changing heart.

    *As much as PEARUSA is spinning this, maybe they’re needing to fold in because of very pedestrian reason that they’re out of money?!*

    This is just a guess. Yet, I’ve “shown my math” so not a random guess or one out a malice [maybe much cynicism, but clergy have not always acted as their Boss has called them to act].

    ===

    My two cents worth …

    Good article, I have some opinions over you other points (1,2 &3) but type discussion over a beer or coffee pot type …

  2. From the bottom of the “insider” comment link:
    ==
    42. Connecticutian wrote:

    I think Catholic Mom in #32 has made a substantial taxonomic contribution.
    When a bunch of sheep get together, you have a “flock”
    When a bunch of fish get together, you have a “school”
    When a bunch of wolves get together, you have a “pack”
    When a bunch of bishops get together, you have a “mess”
    grin
    December 8, 11:06 am

    43. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

    Either a “mess” or a “nuthouse”… grin

    ==
    So I’m not the only cynic 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *