The End of PEARUSA

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 at the podium.
Bishop Breedlove at the podium.

The Timeline

January 2015

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.

March 2015

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 MusanzeThe 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.

May 2015

The Rwandan House of Bishops meets  to consider the PEARUSA proposal.

July 2015

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.

Bishop Ahimana
Bishop Ahimana

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

Bishop Quigg Lawrence
Bishop Quigg Lawrence

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 Bryan
Bishop Bryan

Bishop Ken Ross’ Talk

Bishop Ross
Bishop Ross

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.

 

References   [ + ]

1. Note that Ahimana is a vociferous defender of tyrant Paul Kagame and his wicked actions in the DRC. See this post.
2. Unless it is talk about the Rwandan state, the RPF, or bishops supporting M23.

Is there outside pressure on PEARUSA, AMiA, and CANA to end formal African ties?

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.

Archbishop Beach with Bishop Breedlove shortly after the announcement that PEARUSA would come to an end.
Archbishop Beach with Bishop Breedlove shortly after the announcement that PEARUSA would come to an end.

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.

Archbishop Okoh speaking to CANA.
Archbishop Okoh speaking to CANA.

What a Difference Three Years Makes: PEARUSA Assemblies Now and Then

Bishop Steve Breedlove addresses the "Bear Much Fruit" Assembly
Bishop Steve Breedlove addresses the “Bear Much Fruit” Assembly

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 which are narratives that completely ignore the velvet-fisted tyranny of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Bishop Laurent Mbanda teaching at the Moving Forward Together Assembly.
Bishop Laurent Mbanda teaching at the Moving Forward Together Assembly.

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.

Moving Forward Together, PEARUSA 2012
Moving Forward Together, PEARUSA 2012

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.

Gitarama Prison

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.

IMG_2938
The decline of a false narrative.

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.

Bishops Breedlove and Rwaje, Archbishop Rwaje and Paul Kagame
Bishops Breedlove and Rwaje, Archbishop Rwaje and Paul Kagame

References   [ + ]

1. I posted from that Assembly: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
2. Kolini and Rucyahana.

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.

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

PEARUSA Ending Formal Ties with Rwanda

Quigg_Lawrence_Ordination_2

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.

Bosco Ntaganda’s connection to John Rucyahana

Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda

Rwandan-backed warlord Bosco Ntaganda began his trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for war crimes today. You can listen to an overview of Ntaganda here or watch a brief video about him here.

I would like to remind folks that Anglican Bishop John Rucyahana supported this murderer and his faction as was documented in several highly-sourced reports; see my post about it here. The key takeaway from that post is that I was told by a confidential source that  Rucyahana’s own driver assisted Bosco Ntaganda to escape to the American embassy, proving how closely aligned the Bishop is to this monster.

My former pastor used to say, “If these things are true, they are a scandal in the Church!” Well, they are true, they are a scandal, and the Church (PEARUSA and ACNA) does not care.

Rucyahana_Kayizari

Here is an excerpt from that previous post on how Rucyahana fits in:

Rucyahana’s Bagogwe Connection

Where does Bishop John Rucyahana fit into this picture? In 2012, the UN said that Rucyahana was the “president of the Bagogwe community”:
John Rucyahana has been the head of the Anglican Church at Ruhengeri, president of the Bagogwe community from Rwanda, and President of the Rwandan National Unity and Reconciliation Commission.
Details about this role in the Bagogwe community are lacking, but Rucyahana’s fundraising and recruiting efforts for M23 were clearly in support of the Ntaganda faction, as subsequent evidence makes clear.
In late 2012, Rwanda decided that Bosco Ntaganda was unreliable and decided to eliminate his faction of M23 in favor of a faction led by Sultani Makenga:
…Rwandan officials who had previously supported Ntaganda, and who could no longer control his network in Rwanda or his actions in the DRC, decided to sideline him from M23 and to dismantle his support in Rwanda. In late December 2012, Rwandan authorities arrested RDF Col. Jomba Gakumba, due to his close ties with Ntaganda, according to former RDF officers and an M23 collaborator. A former Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) member, two former RDF officers and a politician loyal to Ntaganda, told the Group that Bishop John Rucyahana, a Ntaganda ally in Rwanda who recruited politicians and raised funds for M23, had to stop his collaboration (emphasis added). The Group has sought clarification from the Government of Rwanda on the matter and is awaiting a response.
A “civil war” of sorts broke out between the two factions within M23, with Bosco’s faction losing badly because Rwanda was determined to eliminate him. Anyone who helped him was arrested:
…on 10 March 2013, Rwandan authorities arrested Gafishi Semikore and Theo Bitwayiki, while they attempted to help Ntaganda from Rwanda by supplying him with small quantities of ammunition, food and medical supplies during the hostilities between the two factions in Kibumba.
With Rwanda hunting him, Bosco Ntaganda had to flee for his life. How he was able to do so is laid out for us by the UN and sources such as this:
Hailing from Northwestern Rwanda and from the reclusive Tutsi Bagogwe’s ethnics, generally hostile to the current Rwandan  government dominated by Tutsis from Uganda and Burundi, General Ntaganda could rely on a network of incorruptible clansmen. So he was moving from relative to relative, avoiding highly circulated areas and moving in trucks carrying staples to the capital city Kigali. While the DMI killing squad was looking for him in Gisenyi, the volcanoes and Masisi, he had already crossed Kinigi on his way to Kigali.
He reached Kigali late at night on Sunday, where a trusted relative was waiting for him. Early morning, the relative dropped him off close to the US Embassy (emphasis added), to where he walked in and asked for being sent to the International Criminal Court.
The UN’s account of Bosco’s flight says:
On 15 March 2013, Ntaganda clandestinely crossed the border into Rwanda using a small path in the Gasizi area, with one escort…he reached Kigali with the help of his family, and arrived at the United States embassy on 18 March where he requested to be transferred to the ICC, without the prior knowledge of Rwandan authorities. Subsequently, Rwandan authorities arrested an individual suspected of having aided Ntaganda’s escape, and interrogated Ntaganda’s wife and brother.
According to confidential sources, the situation of bishops Rucyahana and Kolini is bad because since (a) the escape of Bosco Ntaganda into the American embassy in Rwanda and (b) intense external pressure to end support for M23, Paul Kagame has abandoned the bishops. A sign of this abandonment is his open admission that churches support M23 as a Tutsi self-protection campaign. A source says that Bishop Rucyahana cannot travel outside Rwanda on orders of the Government (or without its explicit permission); and that in fact Rucyahana’s own driver assisted Bosco Ntaganda to escape to the American embassy. If true, this means that Rucyahana’s driver is or was a relative of Bosco’s all along.
In short, Rucyahana (a) had a driver related to Bosco Ntaganda, (b) was the President of the Bagogwe community in Rwanda, and (c) was sidelined when Bosco’s support network was eliminated as part of the M23 civil war.
The civil war between Bosco’s faction and the Makenga faction may have hurt Bagogwe support for M23, since many native sons of the Bagogwe were betrayed by Paul Kagame. The UN says:
The Group notes that M23 recruitment in Rwanda has decreased since the dismantling of Ntaganda’s recruitment network; community leaders in northern Rwanda who supported Ntaganda have ceased collaborating with the M23. […]
Demobilized Rwandan soldiers have been killed on M23 frontlines in the DRC. The Group obtained the identities and addresses of seven families residing in the northern Rwandan villages of Bigogwe and Mukamira, whose sons fought in the ranks of M23 as demobilized soldiers and died during the fighting between Makenga and Ntaganda.

Bishop TJ Johnston Moves to C4SO

7/26/15 UPDATE: Someone informed me that Bishop Johnston never actually returned to AMiA in 2011/12, but that he and John Miller stayed in ACNA. This means Bishop Johnston is only transferring between jurisdictions within ACNA. The strange thing about this is that AMiA had him listed as a leader as recently as December, 2014:

tj in amia

AMiA will have to explain how it is possible that someone active in ACNA was also part of their Conference of Missionary Bishops.

The Churches for the Sake of Others (C4SO) diocese of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) announced that Thomas William (TJ) Johnston, Jr. has transferred to C4SO. In December 2014,  the AMiA listed Johnston as part of the “Conference of Missionary Bishops” in an inactive status.

Bishop Todd Hunter served with Johnston in AMiA and they both participated in the mass resignation from Rwanda that triggered the collapse of AMiA in late 2011. Bishop Hunter later apologized publicly for his actions and was quickly received into ACNA.

Bishop Johnston is a friend of Archbishop Foley Beach. Johnston once said:

But I dropped that into a context of a friend, of a dear friend that I trust completely since seminary, Foley Beach. We’ve been partnering in ministry no matter what label we’ve had, when he was in Tech when I was in the Mission, when he was with Bolivia when I was in the Mission. Now that he’s a bishop, and I was his co-consecrator with Bob Duncan and Frank Lyons.

So this is a natural relationship. This is not something like I just jumped to ACNA ’cause it’s ACNA. Foley Beach is a guy that I’ve been with.

Johnston had one of the first relationships with Rwanda in the 1990s, which as we know turned into AMiA. He said of that time:

 …started with Rwanda in ’98, before there was any other relationship to be had. That is the only way that I was Anglican. Ed Salmon, the bishop of South Carolina, voluntarily took my license and sent it to Rwanda. I was the first that ever had that done. And the national church passed a canon immediately blocking that kind of action from taking place again.

After Bishop Terrell Glenn resigned from AMiA during the conflict of 2011, Bishop Johnston and David Young worked out an arrangement for Glenn and Chuck Murphy attempt reconciliation.

In the wake of the AMiA collapse, Bishop Johnston and Bishop John Miller of AMiA met with Bishop Charlie Masters and Bishop Leonard Riches of REC/ACNA to attempt to reunite AMiA with ACNA. Johnston and Miller were also received into ACNA as “temporary honorary assistant bishops” working with Bishops Neil Lebhar and Foley Beach, while at the same time remaining within AMiA. These talks were not successful and in an email to Bishop Masters on 27 August 2012, Johnston wrote:

Personally, I have appreciated the integrity, leadership, and faithfulness that both you and Leonard brought to our conversations. I am disappointed with the outcome. I had hoped for so much more, but I trust that the Lord of the Church will continue the conversation. Practically, this means that I will be working with Bishop Beach to he transferred from my present position as an assisting bishop in the Anglican Diocese of the South so that I might continue my ministry with the Anglican Mission    

I assumed from this that Johnston and Miller actually did transfer back to AMiA, but this was not the case. Johnston changed his mind and remained in ACNA, as did Miller. Another update for my book!

ACNA Task Force on Holy Orders Update – June 2015

The latest “Report of the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders” is in, located here. I think the key takeaway is the following two sentences:

It remains to be seen whether or not the issue of women’s ordination can be resolved in any direction beyond the status quo, apart from making judgments about these divergent views, thereby further defining holy orders for the  whole church. The bishops and church will need to consider the tension between the values of liberty and unity in this regard.

To me, this sounds like the status quo is here to stay, which is what I have thought all along. The Task Force is going to punt this to the bishops, will report to the bishops who will also bring in GAFCON on the issue – the Task Force is supposed to report its findings out to something called the FCA International Theological Commission (ITC). 1)As an earlier report said: “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.”

The Task Force “hopes” to have a final report ready by January:

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.

I expect another year or two of deliberations after that.

The previous post on this subject is here.

References   [ + ]

1. As an earlier report said: “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.”

Partnership between ACNA and Rwanda?

Bishop Mbanda and Paul Kagame.
Bishop Mbanda and Paul Kagame.

Greg Goebel is Canon to the Ordinary and Chief of Staff for the Anglican Diocese of the South in ACNA. This means he serves Archbishop Foley Beach because Archbishop Beach is also the Bishop of the Diocese of the South. Fr. Goebel travelled to Rwanda with Archbishop Beach and the PEARUSA bishops in March “for discussions related to the Protocols between the Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). The Archbishops will develop new Protocols this year to clarify PEARUSA’s relationship within ACNA and PEAR.” 1)Post by PEARUSA Bishop David Bryan.

Fr. Goebel writes about the working relationships of Fr. Brandon Walsh, an American who works for Archbishop Rwaje, Canon Francis, the provincial secretary in Rwanda and Bishop Steve Breedlove, the Presiding Bishop of PEARUSA.

Fr. Goebel then provides a pretty standard “testimony” about Rwanda that you will hear a version of if you spend any time around PEARUSA (or AMiA before it) parishes:

My time spent as an American priest of Rwanda was formative, and affects me much to this day. The pastors and lay leaders that I’ve met are lifelong friends. The spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness, missionary church planting, and a fully integrated social ministry still serves, for me, as a benchmark of following Jesus faithfully here in the U.S.

When American Anglicans bear witness to Rwanda, they emphasize the East African Revival, reconciliation and church planting; Fr. Goebel is true to form here.

I emphasize his mention of reconciliation, because the narrative that he and many others spread is simply not true. If Fr. Goebel would take the time to consult academic literature on Rwanda, he would find a very different story. For example, Susan Thomson’s article “Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Program” says:

Hearts remain broken as many Rwandans recognize the government-led national unity and reconciliation program as the product of a distorted and self-interested history that legitimizes its own grip on power.

Or he could read Jennifer G. Cooke, who wrote in “Rwanda: Assessing Risks to Stability“:

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has largely skirted—or been forced by the Rwandan government to abandon—investigations and prosecution of RPF war crimes. Similarly, the traditionally inspired gacaca court system, set up by the government to process the many thousands implicated in the genocide and provide some measure of justice and community reconciliation, addresses only those crimes committed during the genocide and excludes RPF crimes committed in the genocide’s aftermath. The issue of RPF war crimes is high- lighted in this report not to obscure or draw parallels to the scope or extreme horror of the 1994 genocide. But the RPF’s refusal to acknowledge the extent of those crimes—and its suppression of independent investigations and reporting—is a source of deep and enduring resentment among many Rwandans. Among Hutu who played no part in the genocide, it fuels a sense that the government and justice system accord less value to innocent Hutu lives lost than those of Tutsi.

Or he could speak to Theogene Rudasingwa, former cabinet member and friend of Paul Kagame, who said:

The fact of the matter is that even when I was part of the establishment, when Kagame called a kitchen cabinet and all of us were military guys, we were all Tutsi and we had a preoccupation of thinking how we could survive in a sea that is populated by Hutu. So during the day Kagame and us would be talking about all these things but the fact of the matter was that this is a regime where you have a tiny minority within an ethnic minority and that kind of minority tends to rely on force, on coercion, on brutality in order to survive.

In fact, Kevin Ward points out that the Anglican church had “reconciliation” going on before the genocide of 1994: “At high-profile meetings of reconciliation, church leaders confessed and sang Tukutenderza in the old spirit of the Balokole fellowship, but these occasions did not seem to have the power to transform the faction-riven nature of the church.” It is quite obvious that this pre-1994 reconciliation is not a model to follow, nor should the post-1994 version inspire more confidence.

But Anglican boosters of Rwanda are not deterred by these facts, and so Fr. Goebel continues:

For this reason, I am sold on a vision of communion and partnership between Anglicans in the U.S. and Anglicans in Rwanda. My trip strengthened this conviction even more. Regardless of which network or diocese we are affiliated with, we can all benefit from partnership with Rwanda.

It seems like Fr. Goebel is advocating for partnership with Rwanda that goes beyond PEARUSA and extends to every part of ACNA! He writes:

Finally, I was inspired by the desire of the leaders of the Rwanda church to maintain relationship with us here in America. Our connection is mutual, affectionate, and important.

So I would encourage all of us to consider how we might be a part of maintaining that communion and partnership. For some churches, it may be through a sister-to-sister parish relationship. For some, through sending visitation teams, or hosting visitors here. For individuals and families, raising awareness, visiting or sponsorships. You will receive so much, and your friendship and fellowship will be a blessing to so many as well. 2)I also would like to know more about the claim “…one bishop told me that his diocese has grown from 23,000 members to over 100,000 members during his episcopate. Most of these new members are converts. The Faithful in Rwanda still have much to teach us.”
In a nation said to be 85% Christian, is it likely that there are roughly 70,000 ‘new converts’ in one Anglican diocese?

If Archbishop Beach and PEARUSA are going to propose that the way for PEARUSA to sever formal links with Rwanda is for all of ACNA to now embrace Rwanda, then we need to raise some serious questions about church subservience to an evil regime in Rwanda, false narratives, racism towards the Hutu and many other specific problems.

Fr. Goebel’s post says nothing about the dictatorship in Rwanda, state sponsored evil, the complicity of bishops in this evil, or any potential future hazards if Rwanda again explodes. This is standard fare, as I have never seen or heard any Anglican in PEAR/AMiA/ACNA discuss these problems openly, they only present the sanitized, false view of Rwanda.

Let’s talk about the missing money that Bishop Alexis was after and that precipitated the AMiA implosion, how bishops Kolini and Rucyahana supported M23, how Archbishop Rwaje wrote the United Nations in favor of Paul Kagame’s position on a U.N report, and many other issues. All of these things are ignored in PEARUSA “City Gates” posts, blog posts from Bishop Breedlove, and other official communications. How long will this kind of whitewashing go on?

References   [ + ]

1. Post by PEARUSA Bishop David Bryan.
2. I also would like to know more about the claim “…one bishop told me that his diocese has grown from 23,000 members to over 100,000 members during his episcopate. Most of these new members are converts. The Faithful in Rwanda still have much to teach us.”
In a nation said to be 85% Christian, is it likely that there are roughly 70,000 ‘new converts’ in one Anglican diocese?