If you examine the history of women’s ordination (WO) in the Episcopal Church (TEC), you find a denomination tracking with the Sexual Revolution and feminism right along with the culture in the United States; see this post for a brief look at that reality. With that in mind, I did a search of the Final Report to see what it might say about such issues and found very little. Here are the results (excluding the bibliography) with the headings of the search terms:
It is easy to see how ECs (the pro-women’s ordination movement) have seen their expectations rise amidst these revolutionary changes. All the old physical and social constraints on women’s leadership have dropped away. The contrast between the Greco-Roman world of New Testament times and western women’s environment today could not be stronger. Women now have up to fifty years of post-childbearing life. Western societies all encourage women to aspire to careers in which their gifts and character determine their success, and in which their sex matters less and less. To recognize all this is not to accuse ECs of capitulating to Enlightenment libertarianism or of embracing the ideologies of radical feminism. But it is plain that women today (and their male advocates) regard Church leadership with assumptions formed in the modern western environment. Protestant Biblically-minded women will read Scripture from a perspective shaped in this world.
From the traditional side of the argument, the question might be
stated, if women’s ordination was not received from Christ, where then does it come from? Unanimously, traditionalists point to the surrounding culture. Kirk (in particular) recounts the importance of maintaining cultural relevance in the debates leading up to the ordination of women in the Church of England; he also goes deeper than most, tracing the lineage of
the case for women’s ordination, through feminism more generally, to Enlightenment principles which were originally articulated in explicit opposition to Christianity.
Moreover, traditionalists frequently hold that to be truly ‘Catholic,’ one’s position should be consistent with both past tradition and the wider Church in the apostolic succession, and thus that proponents of women’s ordination, by definition, cannot be Anglo- Catholic. This paper leaves that debate to one side. Rather, a range of perspectives will be presented, in order to give ‘the lay of the land’ in what might broadly be referred to as sacramentalist Anglican discussion of the ordination of women. The ‘land,’ as it lays, is admittedly broader than the boundaries of Anglo-Catholicism as it finds expression in the Anglican Church in North America. This is particularly the case with regards to feminist perspectives. To limit the discussion to what falls within these ecclesiastical borders, however, would be a dual disservice: it would, on the one hand, provide a truncated and imbalanced view of the discussion’s dynamics; on the other, it would deprive the reader of considering some of the most vigorous arguments against the traditionalist position.
The sexual revolution in the 1960s likewise entailed a re-paganization of British morals, especially in the under-thirty generation. All this meant that if Evangelicals were to re-engage the culture around them, they would face a culture that was far more hostile than (say) the Evangelicals had encountered a century earlier
And that’s it! That’s all I came up with. I don’t believe it’s possible to have an honest debate about these issues without referring to the underlying philosophies behind the exegesis put forth by the various camps, but I’m not sure we have that type of analysis in this report.
At long last we laity can read The Holy Orders Task Force Final Report. In what was (I believe) my first post on this Task Force back in 2013, I quoted this comment from the Titus One Nine blog:
I would suspect that ACNA’s leadership knows exactly how the theological report (if fairly done) will come out. Indeed, pretty much any minimally informed person will know how this report will come out: there are good arguments pro and con, and there is no clear resolution. Therefore, ACNA will continue its current practice as it is the best possible solution to a theologically incoherent problem. In this way, the non-WO activists can be partially mollified, or at least, they can no longer complain about the lack of any theological study. And at the same time, ACNA can continue on its current policy but on a stronger footing.
That comment has guided my thinking on this Task Force throughout and the Task Force has not disappointed.
Where things go now is impossible to predict. I have heard chatter that the College of Bishops strongly leans toward ending women’s ordination and grandfathering in those already ordained. The pro-WO bishops would have the option of sub-jurisdictional status. However, such a move would require a two-thirds vote of the Provincial Assembly. I have no way of knowing if this is possible or not, particularly with the addition of the Diocese of South Carolina. Has anyone counted potential votes? And what happens if the folks voting for the historical position lose the vote in the Provincial Assembly after the House of Bishops has voted in favor of the historical position?
Although the leadership of the denomination seems to think it wise for “discussion” to keep on going over this issue, leaving it perpetually unresolved is like not treating an open wound. In the end, what would be the harm in the two camps going their separate ways? Think of it as the Jeroboam Option.
CANA East has a synod coming up. Bishop Julian Dobbs writes:
2017 is the 500th anniversary of The Reformation, therefore I have called our Synod, “Reformation 500 – Synod 2017.”
We are thrilled this year to have Archbishop Foley Beach (Archbishop of ACNA) and The Rev. Dr. Less Gatiss (Director of Church Society, UK) as our guest speakers. I believe that Archbishop Beach and Dr. Gatiss are two very significant leaders within the Anglican Church in this generation.
I have asked our speakers to address the five solas of The Reformation:
* Sola Fide, by faith alone.
* Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
* Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
* Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
* Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
It is very encouraging to see activity within ACNA that actively promotes the type of Anglicanism that Cranmer, Latimer and so many others would be familiar with, rather than a watered-down version of the same.
I combined the draft “Texts for Common Prayer” on ACNA’s website into a single file. I slapped a cover page on the file and added a Psalter to the end. Hopefully this makes it easier to read the whole thing in one place. You can download my version below:
The latest meeting of the ACNA College of Bishops included a brief update on the Task Force on Holy Orders. As a reminder, we are now in Phase 3 of this Task Force’s work, and to date each phase has taken about a calendar year to complete.
Phase 1: Organization of the Task Force – complete
Phase 2: Hermeneutical Principles – complete
Phase 3: Ecclesiological Principles – in progress
Phase 4: Arguments for and against the Ordination of Women.
Phase 5: Final Report to the College of Bishops
The task force is behind schedule, at least according to their own report last year:
It is our hope that the completed report for Phase Three will be complete by the time of meeting of the College of Bishops in January 2016.
Here is what the bishops reported:
The Theological Task Force on Holy Orders is in phase three of their process. In this phase, they are focusing on the manner in which ecclesiology relates to ordination and holy orders. The Task Force continues to identify those perspectives on ordination which lead to divergent understandings within our tradition about the nature of holy orders.
Three papers are in the process of composition, which will present the manner in which ecclesiology is understood from the three primary perspectives that comprise our Province: Anglo-Catholic, Charismatic, and Evangelical/Reformed. They anticipate that Phase Three will be complete by the next meeting of the bishops in June 2016. A webpage is going to be developed early in the Spring of 2016 to provide the resources developed by the Task Force.
The Task Force communicates with and receives comments from something called The Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Theological Resource group. I have asked who is part of this group and have not heard an answer, although according to this post, the group consisted of these members in 2009:
Dr George Malek (South Africa), Canon Dr Kevin Donlon (USA), Revd Dr Charles Raven (UK), Revd Dr Roger Beckwith (UK), Revd Dr Mark Thompson (Australia), Revd Professor Stephen Noll (Uganda), Canon Dr Chris Sugden (UK), Canon Etienne Mbusa (Congo), Dr Ngozi Okeke (Nigeria), Revd Erin Clifford (UK), Rt Revd John Akao (Nigeria), Rt Revd Ikechi Nwachukwu Nwosu (Nigeria), Mrs Imsola Odunayia (Nigeria), Canon Arthur Middleton (UK).
As a reminder, the members of the Task Force on Holy Orders and their presumptive positions on women’s ordination are as follows:
Rt. Rev. David Hicks, REC Diocese of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic – Against
Rt. Rev. Kevin Allen, Diocese of Cascadia – For
Mrs. Katherine Atwood, Diocese of Ft. Worth – Unknown
The Rev. Dr. Leslie Fairfield, Diocese in New England, Trinity Seminary (Ret.) – For
The Rev. Canon Mary Hays, Diocese of Pittsburgh – For
The Rev. Tobias Karlowicz, Diocese of Quincy – Against
The Rt. Rev. Eric Menees, Diocese of San Joaquin – Against
Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame recently shredded the Constitution and can now be President of Rwanda for the rest of his life. Kagame has blood on his hands and rules over a Police State, which is a highly documented fact.
Retired Anglican bishop John Rucyahana thinks that this move to formalize his dictatorship is a source of joy for Rwanda. According to Rwandan propaganda organ The New Times:
Bishop Rucyahana also added President Paul Kagame’s acceptance to stand again for presidency after his second term ends in 2017 was yet another source of joy as people celebrate the New Year.
“It’s a joy for President Kagame to be able to respond to the request of the nation,” Rucyahana said.
ACNA is attaching itself at the hip to Rwanda. If you are part of ACNA, specifically the future Rwanda Ministry Partners, you should start asking your clergy why praising a dictator is just fine in 2016.
Kevin Kallsen has done yeoman’s work in filming the recent PEARUSA Assembly and thereby shedding light on the official narrative of just how PEARUSA decided to end it’s jurisdictional connection to Rwanda. What follows below is a summary of the timeline for how this decision was reached, followed by a transcription of some of the remarks from the bishops. As with all history, this surface-level narrative must be taken with a grain of salt, but it is the best account we have for now.
The reaction of the bishops can be accurately portrayed as shocked. They did not anticipate this development and apparently hoped to continue as part of Rwanda for many, many years to come. They repeatedly profess their love and trust for the Rwandan bishops, showing that they have no idea of the nature of the RPF, the Kagame regime, and its tentacles into the Church, or that they disbelieve these stories or that they simply do not care. Their personal relationships based on a few annual visits back and forth override actual reason and evidence. In fact, Bishop Thad Barnum again praised John Rucyahana, a close servant of Kagame’s, despite ample evidence of his alignment with actual State evil in Rwanda and the DRC. This must be the subject of another post.
Bishop Breedlove asks the leadership in Rwanda and the leadership of ACNA about the future of the relationship, given that the time for a review of the protocols is almost upon them.
PEARUSA bishops meet with Archbishop Foley Beach, Bishop John Guernsey and the PEAR bishops in Musanze, Rwanda to discuss the protocols governing PEAR/PEARUSA/ACNA relations. The ACNA bishops tell the gathering that they believe that the Missionary District should be transferred to the Anglican Church in North America. The meeting lasted two days and is characterized as “direct” with “tough” work taking place.
The bishops in Musanze
March 30, 2015
PEARUSA bishops present a proposal to the House of Bishops of Rwanda and the Archbishop of ACNA for PEARUSA networks to become diocese within the Anglican Church of North America and continue as canonical residents of Rwanda.
The Rwandan House of Bishops meets to consider the PEARUSA proposal.
Bishops Breedlove and Lawrence meet with Archbishop Rwaje and Bishop Ahimana in Rwanda, where they are told of a unanimous decision that PEARUSA should move fully into ACNA, ending its formal relationship with Rwanda. 1)Note that Ahimana is a vociferous defender of tyrant Paul Kagame and his wicked actions in the DRC. See this post.
The Rwandan Provincial Synod makes a resolution on PEARUSA joining ACNA.
What follows are (1) notes from some of the talks the bishops gave, and (2) direct transcription of portions of those talks. The transcriptions are partial.
Bishop Breedlove’s Talk
By protocol, the protocols between Rwanda and the ACNA that govern and define how we operate had to be revisited, it was a requirement that we had built into the system.
We were coming up to this Assembly and we knew at that time if we were going to have a “synod” meeting an official meeting to vote on changes in our protocols, our charter, we had to be prepared for that so we began in January to ask the leadership in Rwanda and the leadership of ACNA ‘where do you think the future lies, do you see any changes coming, what do we need to sense in the work of the Spirit, here, now?’
At the same time ACNA was moving towards stability as a Province…One of the first to recognize ACNA was Rwanda.
International recognition and affirmation is a crucial part of any new Anglican entity being recognized in the Anglican Communion.
The partnership with Rwanda was crucial, how did we advance the ball together.
In March, four of the five PEARUSA bishops were able to travel to Rwanda; all five of us were there in heart, spirit and mind. We went to a place called Musanze for a face to face meeting with the House of Bishops of Rwanda along with Archbishop Foley Beach and Bishop John Guernsey. And the topic of the conversation was the protocols governing PEARUSA. The talk was loving, it was direct, it was honest. There were genuine questions posed; it was a time in the light, walking in the light, which is one of the monikers of the East African Revival that we live with, “let’s get it out guys, let’s get it out.” 2)Unless it is talk about the Rwandan state, the RPF, or bishops supporting M23.
We were already fully within the ACNA as a sub-jurisdiction, but the Anglican Church in North America believed that the Missionary District should be transferred to the Anglican Church in North America and they put that on the table. The Rwandan leaders needed time to process and so did the PEARUSA bishops.
And the PEARUSA bishops were given the question, “What do you believe you should do?” Not what do you believe you should do by way of emotionally visceral reaction to this question, but what do you believe is the will of God for the work of God in North America in your jurisdiction? What is God’s will? Because what you do emotionally may be satisfying to you, but it does not satisfy the generations to come. Beyond your own emotional sensibilities and reactions, what is the will of God for you? And our brothers in Rwanda kept pushing us to go back in prayer until we were united with one another in what the will of God was for us in the future.
We worked for two days in Rwanda, let me just tell you, it was some of the toughest good work I have ever done in my life. We were hammering it! Weren’t we?
On March…and we came back and prayed through and wrestled with the question here for a few more weeks..on March 30 we presented a proposal to the House of Bishops of Rwanda, the Archbishop of the ACNA for a renewed and strengthening and deepening of our place within the Anglican Church of North America and a continuing canonical residence with Rwanda, we would stay dual citizens, and even go deeper structurally into the ACNA but remain, our connection with Rwanda jurisdictionally.
And it was out of our hands, and we waited and we prayed, and we waited and we prayed, and one of the things about our dear brothers and sisters in Rwanda is they can wait and pray for as long as it needs to be. This sense of urgency…
So we prayed and we waited and uh, we knew that the House of Bishops had met in May to consider our proposal but we heard nothing, we just continued to wait. Finally, it was time, we had the opportunity to have a conversation in July. I had a window of time to go over to Rwanda, Bishop Quigg was there, we knew we had to at least have a couple of us there to meet with Archbishop Rwaje and the representatives of the House of Bishops and it all came together and I met with Quigg and we showed up and we met with Archbishop Rwaje and Bishop Ahimana and they came to report to us the leadership of the House of Bishops of Rwanda concerning our proposal. It was a precious time.
My entire experience and I think I can…I speak on behalf of all of us who have been involved in Episcopal ministry, our entire experience has been walking together in unity. And often that unity, it’s a challenge […] Through it all, the Lord has allowed us to walk together in unity, with one another, with Rwanda, with the Anglican Church in North America. The next logical step in our journey together with Rwanda, which we heard in July, is they had taken a step ahead of us. And were gonna wait until we caught up. And it was surprising for us, unexpected for us, but it, according to the verse we’ve been given, as we have sifted it through we have concluded that the Apostles and the Elders and the Church have gotten together and it seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit.
Bishop Lawrence’s Talk
We love Rwanda, we trust them so much. […]
So, the PEARUSA bishops had met, and really it was not a control thing, we were trying to say, “Lord, what is it you are doing?” … and so we prayed, and we all have our own different temperaments and opinions and we’re wrestling, not in a bad way, but a good way, trying to discern God’s will and we all have such a heart for Rwanda, it really flows through us. And so I think on March 30th, did we send, what seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us. And we decided, “You know, we’re Anglicans, and in the Anglican world you have diocese, not networks.” […] And so, it seemed very logical to us that we should stop being networks and become diocese. And oh by the way, guess who started ACNA, guess who one of the main partners was that started ACNA? Rwanda.
Anyway, the bishops in PEARUSA prayed and we thought and we didn’t argue but we had discussions…and so at the end it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us that we would become diocese in ACNA and remain canonically resident in Rwanda under Archbishop Rwaje, that’s where we landed.
And so, we decided to go to Rwanda…and Steve flew over…so we went over there and we were going to have a nice little meeting and Archbishop Rwaje was there and Bishop Augustin Ahimana was there and Francis the Provincial Secretary was there and some other bishops could not be there but these men were going to relate to us what the Holy Spirit had been speaking to them. And so, Steve and I went in there and we just kinda figured it was just going to be what the Holy Spirit seemed to be saying to us that they were going to go, “Yeah, that is what the Holy Spirit has been saying to us.”
And so, we said what we thought God was doing and we turned to our brothers and said, “Well, what has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you? What do you guys think?” Because unlike in our previous affiliation, we really…believe in being subject to authority. We don’t believe that you’re under an Archbishop wink wink…
And so, Steve and I go and we’re meeting and we’re really eager. We think we know what they’re going to say, but we’re eager to hear what the Lord has been speaking to them. And so, Bishop Ahimana was kind of the main speaker, and he’s very articulate, super bright, and he’s just kind of taking us point by point, and he basically says, “We believe you should become diocese in ACNA and furthermore we think that there’s going to be a change. We believe that you guys should go fully…” we’re already in ACNA, it’s not like we’re kind of circling around ACNA, we’re really in ACNA, Amen? We go to a lot of meetings in ACNA, wow, we go to meetings there!
They just unpacked and they said, “You know what, we believe that you guys are going to go fully into ACNA and you’re no longer going to be a missionary district.” Archbishop Rwaje will tell you more, he has some really good reasons…it involves ecclesiology, it involves what God is doing in America, the thing that they prayed for, that God would birth here: an orthodox Province. That was their heart back then and they’re waiting for our sake, and for the kingdom’s sake to have eyes to see if that happened and when that happened that the plan always was that Rwanda wouldn’t be in two places but that God would raise up an orthodox Anglican Province. And so they basically said, “We see that, we see what God’s done and based on our view of scripture and ecclesiology, we don’t intend to have the Rwandan Church in two places, we think God has done an amazing thing there.”
It wasn’t a bad thing, it was a shocking thing, we didn’t expect that. But, in the context of relationship and trust we were there with open hands. “Lord we just wanna hear what you’re doing.”
Even though it was very shocking to think that they’re a step ahead of us, like, we trusted them and our brain was trying to process it but underneath it was this incredible trust. We love these men, we are under Archbishop’s authority and collegially we are walking alongside the Rwandan bishops, but kind of like as a little brother.
And so when Bishop Ahimana said what the House of Bishops had come up with, what God had been speaking to them, I remember asking the question, I said, “Bishop Ahimana is this the view of every bishop in PEAR, all eleven bishops, is that your view or the view of all eleven bishops?” And without batting an eye he said, “We are all of one accord, we have all heard from the Lord, we are crystal clear on this point.” And maybe like a lawyer myself, I turned and I had another question, and I said, “Archbishop Rwaje, your grace,” I said, “I need to know, is this what you believe the Lord has said?” I’m looking to my spiritual father and without blinking an eye he says, “Yes” with nothing added. “Yes, I believe this is what the Lord is doing.”
And so, while there was great surprise, I will have to tell you there wasn’t really angst. There was surprise…We believe God has spoken to us, he prepared us, but he spoke more fully through our brothers in Rwanda. We are of one accord that we fully submit to our older brothers and also to our Archbishop. And now, in hindsight, once the shock kind of wore off, we can say “Yea and Amen.”
Archbishop Rwaje’s Talk
Looking ahead. Together, walking together, even if it is marching together, let us march together for the Lord. As Quigg mentioned, we are a church with a clear ecclesiology in the matters of leadership. Normally, you have your own Province, you don’t cross the boundary of that Province. A Province is a geographical entity, you don’t cross the boundaries of that geographical entity. That’s the Anglican ecclesiology. After defining the boundaries of that Province you don’t cross, but in the time of crisis, you cross, and we crossed the boundaries in the time of a crisis of faith. Having created, or being involved in the creation of the Anglican Church of North America, we have always been in partnership with ACNA.
We have prayed over and over for now three years and since March this year, working together with the Council of Bishops here, let us create a process, let us take this to the synod to make a decision. So after July, we proposed, we made (an) agenda and proposed to the Provincial Synod to make a resolution on PEARUSA joining ACNA to be (an) integral part of the Anglican Church of North America and continue to walk with us, not in another form but continue to walk with us. So personally, I have been insisting on this ecclesiology, we have a Province in North America and a Province which is our partner in the Anglican Communion….we are praying together for the mission of the church to hear what God is telling us, both from Rwanda, from Global South, from USA, a partner Province.
Bishop Ken Ross’ Talk
I was on sabbatical in July when the meetings happened…and all of the sudden I started getting messages from everybody, “Quigg is trying to get ahold of you”…I learned of this and I’ll be honest my first response was heartbreak…I really did not want to lose this prophetic voice of Americans who think we know all and have all being under and led by Rwanda, I was afraid of losing them. And, we’re under authority, and the truth is, I deeply love and trust Archbishop Rwaje and the Rwandan House of Bishops and their synod. So I could say, this is not what I would have chosen.
The story we are being told about PEARUSA being released by the Rwandan Anglican Church is that this action originated from Rwanda, where the bishops decided it was suddenly time to do this. Some said this decision was made solely by the Rwandan House of Bishops because the PEAR bishops believe that ACNA is a legitimate Anglican Province, so the need for a PEAR missionary district in the United States is no longer necessary and constitutes bad ecclesiology. But why now? Why not three years ago or ten years in the future?
I am told that this is not the whole story, but rather that both PEARUSA and the AMiA were essentially given an ultimatum (or were pressured) by ACNA to either get fully in or out, and to make the decision now. If true, this makes much more sense of the awkward timing that took place around these events. We can surmise that when Archbishop Beach and Bishop John Guernsey travelled to Rwanda in March to meet all the PEARUSA bishops along with the Rwandan bishops and went on retreat in Musanze, the timing of these events was agreed on.
But this is not all, I am also hearing that a great deal of pressure is being applied to CANA to cut ties with Nigeria. Apparently ACNA officials and other bishops are applying this pressure to CANA. The speculation is that non-GAFCON conservative Global South primates are behind this effort to remove the ties to African provinces. What is the reason for this push? One person familiar with these events suggested that an end to formal African oversight would give Global South primates more freedom to compromise with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the upcoming Lambeth meeting, because an end to border crossing would make ACNA more acceptable to Canterbury.
Three and a half years ago PEARUSA came into existence and held its first “Sacred Assembly” called “Moving Forward Together.” I was there as part of the delegation from my parish in Virginia. There was a sense of excitement and also an air of confusion given the explosion that ended AMiA and the uncertainty of what would happen next. 1)I posted from that Assembly: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
I attended a breakout session with Bishop Laurent Mbanda, a central figure in the back and forth with Chuck Murphy, and someone who was very close with our D.C. clergy. The man seemed like a gentle giant, and of course my opinion of Rwandans was based on eight years of imbibing stories about the amazing reconciliation of these folks who were compared to the first-century Church. We had books like Thad Barnum’s Never Silent and movies like Laura Waters’ As We Forgive, both of whichare narratives that completely ignore the velvet-fisted tyranny of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Although I had heard some rumblings that all was not well in Rwanda, I believed that these men were close to God and we were on the right path. There were high hopes of revising Rwanda’s canons to undo Kevin Donlon’s damage, establishing a college ministry, and making PEARUSA into a beachhead of Reformed theology.
I left Raleigh with lots of optimism for the future of PEARUSA and the ACNA, but the dam was about to burst. On July 23, 2012, Anglican journalist George Conger published an article about the involvement of two of the most famous Rwandan bishops 2)Kolini and Rucyahana. in supporting M23, a Rwandan insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Archbishop Rwaje responded to the report by denying all knowledge of the events and saying that PEAR in Rwanda eschewed politics. The story would have died right there had I not pursued it, and I’m not saying that to be arrogant. There was simply no interest or follow up on the part of the Anglican world outside of little old me.
I started writing about the Rwandan/M23/Anglican nexus and was quickly asked by my pastor to remove posts. I was told that bishops in PEARUSA wanted to pursue these questions with the Rwandan House of Bishops without the pressure of an internet firestorm. I complied with this (a mistake). I was told by my pastor that, “Obviously, no one is excited about torture or ruthless dictatorships. It will be good for Mbanda to provide answers. I will put this back on Steve’s (Breedlove) radar” (email 10/8/12).
Bishop Breedlove wanted me to assemble a report for him on the subjects I was learning about. I did just that as I have recounted in this post. Bishop Breedlove’s response to all the heinous information on Rwanda was sanguine and lacking understanding of the facts. He essentially parroted what Bishop Mbanda had told him, even when it was patently absurd.
Later that year, I was stunned to see ACNA bishops Minns and Duncan at the installation of Archbishop Stanley Ntagali standing next to Rwandan Bishop John Rucyahana, named by the United Nations as a minion of Paul Kagame and supporter of M23! When I wrote a post about this (see here), all hell broke loose for me. Bishop Breedlove wanted this post taken down too, in concert with other unnamed ACNA bishops (see this post). This lead to an attempt at church discipline from my pastor at the behest of Bishop Breedlove. The particularly offensive thing about the post to Steve Breedlove and my pastor was that I “issued a prescription to the leadership of ACNA.” Heavens!
This situation was resolved and the rest of what happened would require a long-form piece of epic proportions to recall the half of it. Suffice it to say that I learned by lots of study and interviews that the Rwandan Anglican Church isn’t the shining city on a hill that our American press release narrative makes it out to be. Most of the clergy I knew were so heavily invested in this Rwandan fairy tale that they could not afford to walk it back and probably didn’t believe me anyway. They asked questions of Bishops Mbanda and Rucyahana, and what do you know, these fellows re-assured them that all was well! The Rwandan reality shown in pictures such as the following one of Gitarama prison is not the reality that our clergy and missionaries experience.
And so we arrive at November, 2015 and the “Bear Much Fruit” Assembly back in North Carolina. I have moved on from believing in fairy tales about Rwanda, but I am not clergy and I am not invested in a story that is false, so it’s easier for me to move along and adapt my thinking to truth, as opposed to make believe. Not so for the assembled folks in North Carolina.
Much has changed in PEARUSA, Bishop Glenn is gone, Bishop Thad is quasi-retired, and the whole story of “Rwandan missionaries” who will re-evangelize the United States has been quietly put on the shelf. In its place we have “Walk with Rwanda” a campaign to get more Anglicans in the USA to support a church that functions within a one party State and makes no waves. Bishop Barnum’s book Never Silent with all its talk of resisting evil wherever you see it is a sad joke when you see the total lack of application when it comes to evil in Rwanda.
Rwandan bishops regularly appear with the dictator of their nation in a spirit totally opposite that of a martyr like Janani Luwum. But the sad fact is that religious journalism is almost non-existent in late 2015 so this isn’t covered, and Anglican journalism consists of press releases and occasional interviews with a bishop. If bad news comes from ACNA, it isn’t covered, if it comes from TEC, it makes headlines. This is a hypocritical state of affairs.
More chapters will unfold in the history of Rwanda and the Anglican world. Sadly, the chapter that is beginning to close on PEARUSA is one of silence, compromise, ignorance and failure.
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.
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.
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:
I find the option for clergy to remain canonically resident within Rwanda exceedingly odd.
I wonder where this leaves CANA? I suspect that CANA will not make a similar move until the doctrinal direction of ACNA is clear.
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.