New Cantrell Paper on PEAR

Professor Phillip Cantrell has just published a new paper that traces the East Africa Revival and its impact on the Anglican Church of Rwanda (PEAR) after the genocide. It’s called “We Were a Chosen People”: The East African Revival and Its Return To Post-Genocide Rwanda, published in Church History 83:2 (June 2014), 422–445.

Cantrell points out that the current Anglican Church of Rwanda is complicit with the RPF’s sanitized version of Rwandan history:

Although many contemporary clergy and parishioners in Rwanda are either unaware of it or deny it, the Anglican Church contributed to ethnic division in the past. And, it is doing so again in the post-genocide state. The leadership of the Anglican Church is largely comprised of Tutsi returnees. Its leaders accept and endorse a misleading portrayal of Rwanda’s history, a history endorsed by the ruling party which serves to mask ethnic divisions in the past and social tensions in the present. The church, at times, even builds upon some of the traditions of the Tutsi monarchy.

The RPF version of history (which I have seen parroted in books like Bishop Laurent Mbanda’s) has been debunked by recent historians:

But the remembrance of the Revival as a time of unity between Hutus and Tutsis is problematic in several respects. The official version of Rwanda’s history, endorsed by the RPF regime in Kigali, asserts Rwanda had always been a harmonious country with no conflict or differences between Hutus and Tutsis prior to the racialization of the country under Belgian rule in the 1920s. This author, though, is in agreement with numerous Rwanda scholars, such as Catherine Newbury, Alison Des Forges, and Jan Vansina, who claim the distinction between Hutus and Tutsis was firmly established by the end of the nineteenth century during the reign of Mwami Rwabugiri. Following their arguments, Johan Pottier argues the RPF’s version of the past is used by the Tutsi-dominated regime to mask past oppression of the Hutus and blame the genocide on Europeans.

Along with a revisionist history of the nation, PEAR has embraced a revisionist history of the East African Revival itself, one which claims that the Holy Spirit was virtually absent from Rwanda from 1959 to 1994:

More important than the recounting the Revival’s history through the colonial and post-colonial periods is the contention of this article that the Revival has become the focus of much attention as the Anglican Church has regained its status in post-genocide Rwanda. And along with the ascendency of the post-genocide Anglican Church and the Revival has come a renewed and often revisionist interpretation of the Revival’s history, meaning, and implications for the country.

This is explicitly stated in the following paragraph:

Central to the theology of the current Balokole Revival Movement is the belief that only the Holy Spirit can move people’s hearts to repentance, reform and ultimately revival. Thus, for the Balokole, the revival movement comes and goes with the Holy Spirit, which, as they explain it, left Rwanda in 1959 with the Tutsi refugees but returned with them, their descendants, after the genocide. A retired headmaster of a school in Shyogwe during the 1950s, who left for Uganda after the 1959 Revolution but who now lives in Gahini, claimed there was “no Holy Spirit in Rwanda during the 1960s but [the Spirit] was in Uganda,” presumably with the Tutsi Diaspora. This belief, that the troubles which beset Rwanda during the years from 1959 and until the genocide was over occurred because of the parting of the revival spirit with the Tutsi Balokole, is widespread and endorsed from the highest levels of PEAR.

Cantrell relates a story that retired Archbishop Kolini 1)Currently one of the AMiA’s “College of Consultors.” told him: “Former Archbishop Kolini explained to this author that when the Tutsis, of which he is one, left Rwanda for the refugee camps in Uganda in 1959, the Spirit left as well.” But contrary to Kolini’s theory, Hutus that were part of the Revival legacy stood up against the single party state and the genocide it inspired:

In 1986, three hundred members of the Abarokore and several other Christian sects were brought to trial for refusing to pay the state-required membership dues in the ruling MRND party and for failing to venerate the Rwandan state and its symbols of sovereignty. When the genocide began, a disproportionate number of the Abarokore, including soldiers and policemen, refused to participate. A number of witnesses reported to Longman how people sometimes saved Tutsis from the genocide because they were “umurokore,” a member of the Abarokore. So despite Kolini’s claims, elements of the Revival survived in pre-genocide Rwanda, questioning the policies of Habyarimana’s regime and their church leaders’ collusion with its policies. Interestingly, several interviewees admitted that some Hutus affected by the Revival spirit did not participate in the genocidal killings, and indeed the Anglican hierarchy today includes a small number of Hutu bishops, most prominently Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, formally Bishop of Byumba Diocese.

Cantrell says that despite public protestations that there are no more ethnic divisions, privately all Rwandans know this is not the case (something that the current ndi Umunyarwanda campaign proves even the government knows good and well). The current Archbishop of PEAR is forced to disown his own ethnic background in totalitarian Rwanda:

In a perhaps unexpected way, the contention by many Anglican Church figures of the Revival bringing unity between Hutus and Tutsis serves to undermine the official version of Rwanda’s history, a version that PEAR does not challenge otherwise. Church figures publicly contend there are no more Hutus and Tutsis, only Rwandans. Privately, they know otherwise, although it’s technically illegal in Rwanda to even ask. At a dinner conversation in Byumba Diocese with Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, this author was corrected and gently chastised on this point when he used the terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi.” Later, and privately, Rwaje admitted he “used to be a Hutu,” the only bishop in Rwanda, incidentally, of whom this is true.

Archbishop Rwaje says, “I used to be a Hutu”

Much of PEAR’s political quietism can be traced to the influence of the Keswick Revival in the U.K. Cantrell has some interesting points about this, which are not directly germane to politics in Rwanda, but are of interest to Anglicans in the West. For example, he says that Rwandan Anglicans are unsure if Pentecostal “sign gifts” were evident in the East African Revival in Rwanda:

Another prominent theme in the church’s recounting of the Revival’s history was the alleged harmony between Hutus and Tutsis. Nearly always, when asked what the Revival means for Rwanda, the first point made was the unity it brought between the two groups and the same revival spirit would unite Rwanda again. In actuality, the supposed unity brought about by the Revival was remembered far more than the specific practices of it. For example, several interviewees were unclear and in disagreement about whether the so-called “sign gifts” of the Holy Spirit were practiced by the Balokole at the start of the Revival.

He says that Keswick’s legalistic codes were imported into PEAR:

The Revival’s new-found impact on the post-genocide Anglicans is evident outside of church gatherings as well. The use of alcohol and tobacco products and gambling is strictly prohibited and formal Western dress-codes are adhered to closely, especially by men.

He shows how Simeon Nsibambi, a pioneer of the Revival in Rwanda, came under the dreadful influence of Charles Finney’s theology:

Nsibambi, born in 1897, was an officer in the public health department of the Ugandan civil service. Educated at CMS schools in Kampala and at King’s College in Budo, he served as a sergeant in the African Native Medical Corps during World War I, which interrupted his career. Nsibambi, in a 1952 interview, claimed his first conversion to Christ was on a ship bound for Zanzibar during the war. Nsibambi further claimed to have a “second conversion” by the Holy Spirit in 1922, a direct reflection of the Keswick teachings and the Higher Life Movement.
Throughout the 1920s, Nsibambi was involved in church matters and teaching, often leading Bible study groups in the evenings. In 1929, he resigned from his post in the Ugandan health department and devoted himself to full time evangelism. According to Richard MacMaster, based upon interviews he conducted among the participants, Nsibambi was impressed with American evangelist Charles Finney’s 1835 book Lectures on Revival. Finney’s ideas influenced the Keswick holiness movement and the Anglican revivalists of Uganda and Rwanda.

This is yet another article that should be required reading for PEAR USA clergy and ACNA bishops.


References   [ + ]

1. Currently one of the AMiA’s “College of Consultors.”

Christians and Critical Thinking

Bishop Rucyahana with the Dictator of Rwanda
Bishop Rucyahana with the Dictator of Rwanda

In this post on the Economist’s Erasmus blog, Roman Catholic Cardinal George Pell is quoted as saying the following about the clerical sexual abuse scandal in that denomination:

The attitude of some people at the Vatican was that if accusations were being made against priests, they were being made exclusively or at least predominantly by enemies of the church to make trouble and therefore they should be dealt with skeptically. I think there was more of an inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant rather than listen seriously to the complaints…I think in many ways, the English-speaking world made a significant contribution to the universal church in this area.

Similarly, a friend of mine told me about someone she knows who refuses to hear any criticism of the Roman Church and insists that the media simply doesn’t understand the Church and is out to get it. While I can understand that this is probably true, it should in no way invalidate critical thinking about the problems in a Church. In other words:

  1. Yes, the media by and large does not understand the Roman Church, or any Church.
  2. Yes, the media is in most cases secular and is actively hostile to God.
  3. But, this does not mean that we can therefore ignore stories of wickedness in the Church!

It becomes very easy for Church leaders to appeal to the laity over against blogs, media or outside reports and obtain a sympathetic ear, because we do know of the hostility that exists against us. However, this is often simply a form of manipulation by leaders who can evade critique by playing this card. In Anglican circles we have seen this with followers of Chuck Murphy who attacked “blogs” or “the internet” for their problems instead of looking in the mirror, and I have seen it quite often in conservative, orthodox circles who do not listen to criticism of, for example, John Rucyahana because it comes from the United Nations. For example, I received these responses to a highly sourced report on Rucyahana fundraising for M23:

Caution lights go on when anyone quotes a ‘UN’ report.


So when our own administration puts out a report adhering to a “rigorous investigative methodology”, do you believe it without question? And this is the UN. The United Nations. I’m honestly not sure if you’re serious at this point.

I too used to share these totally negative views towards the UN until I started reading the recent history of East Africa and saw that, for all its flaws, the UN is one of the only forces for good in the region. If the UN did not exist in the DRC, utter chaos and ruin would ensue. Also, we would have no mechanism for reporting on Rwandan crimes in the area, and the UN’s reports follow a strict methodology that critics have no concept of.

What it boils down to is that many people are willing to overlook glaring evil if it is committed by theological / political allies. If a Roman priest is raping a young boy, I don’t want to hear it and will blame the media instead, or if an orthodox Anglican bishop supports a group of raping, murdering, child kidnapping terrorists, I won’t believe it because I have met him and he is a nice guy, also, it’s the UN so there!

Christians of all people should be aware of original sin and how it exists in each of us. How many times do we hear of the pastor who was wonderful and was later found to be cheating on his wife (i.e. Ted Hagard)? Or the murderer who lived next door and was active in church (BTK)? Or in our own lives, we can yell at each other on the way to church, then show up and smile for the world to see, none the wiser about our heart condition.

The frightening thing about this state of denial in Anglican circles is that it currently applies to theological issues. What if, God forbid, we have our own sexual predators in the clergy someday? Will we circle the wagons around them too because they agree with the Jerusalem Declaration?  God’s people need to exercise critical thinking.

AMiA “Attacked”?

Bishop Silas Ng of the Anglican Mission says:

Archbishop Yong and I were sitting in the airport of Toronto sharing with how Anglican Mission was being attacked by wicked and evil men in the past two years. You would never know who those wicked and evil men are until they surface. That’s the sad part. But, if Paul had that experience. How can we get away from this kind of attack. The only way we can do if to teach our people to pray for us so that we won’t be eaten by those wicked and evil men. I have seen too many top Christians leaders being discouraged, quitted or even being thrown into darkness because of the attack of those wicked and evil men.

Another Ugandan Anglican on AMiA

Miranda Hassett recounts this story in her book Anglican Communion in Crisis:

…few Africans seem interested in making a case for suffering as a source of strength or legitimacy for their church; at least, I did not hear many such arguments. One of the younger theology professors at UCU, James, who received part of his training in the United States and thus has some firsthand familiarity with American talk about the African churches, was one of the only Ugandans who mentioned such an argument for African Christian authority. He did so, however, only to refute it, specifically challenging the idea that the Rwandan genocide bestows moral authority upon Rwandan church leaders: “The whole mission [of Anglican Mission in America] is being built on the question of moral purity…[Yet] I can see that the basis of the mission is shaken. What moral authority does the archbishop of Rwanda have to challenge moral problems in North America, when they are killing one another here? What is the moral authority that is there?”

Ugandan Anglicans on AMiA

I am reading Miranda Hassett’s excellent book Anglican Communion in Crisis, where she writes extensively of the origins of the Anglican realignment, and discusses the AMiA. She asked Ugandan Anglicans what their thoughts were on Kolini and Rucyahana’s intervention in America. She writes:

Almost unanimously, Ugandan church leaders and laity told me that AMiA was too confrontational, too schismatic, too disruptive-in short, nothing they would have done or wanted their bishops to do. At the same time, the vast majority of Ugandans I spoke with expressed enthusiasm for having stronger relationships with Northern provinces and having African leaders more actively involved in Anglican Communion affairs. (page 145)

This was written around 2007, and the research was conducted before that, so it predates CANA and ACNA.

Broad Outlines of My Book

I am in the process of writing a book about the Anglican realignment and the Rwandan myth, which has broader implications for GAFCON as a whole. I hope to go back to the First Promise days when Bishop John Rucyahana began to intervene in Episcopal church politics in the USA, which led to the creation of the AMiA. The confluence of Rucyahana, Kolini and Chuck Murphy gave opportunistic leaders on both sides of the Atlantic an opportunity to craft the story that Rwanda was re-evangelizing the United States and that the AMiA was a “missionary movement” from Rwanda, when in fact it was more of a corporation that allowed Americans to do what they wanted in the name of Rwanda (and later Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, etc.).

Chuck Murphy, Archbishop Kolini and Archbishop Rwaje
The salutary desire on the part of orthodox Anglicans to rebuild the Church on a Biblical basis was co-opted by enthusiasm for “the Global South” which led to a view of African Christians as some sort of First Century Super Saints. Meanwhile, the evidence of Paul Kagame’s murderous nature was pouring forth from at least 1994 (prior to the realignment), all unheeded by we Anglicans who heard fantastic tales of reconciliation, unwilling to think about complicity with tyrants. This has led to the current appalling state of affairs, where a retired bishop who argues for the secession of the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and fundraises for a wicked and murderous group of child kidnapers is invited to the ordination of an American bishop with open arms, even after PEAR USA was alerted to his activities. 
Bishops Quigg Lawrence and John Rucyahana et al
The Anglican Church of North America and the broader realignment are at a fork in the road. Will they continue in silence to the cozy church / state relationship in Rwanda, Uganda and other nations run by dictators in violation of Romans 1:32, or will they add the resistance of tyranny to the values they think to be important? I hope my book will lay this choice out in much more detail.
M23 at work

The AMiA’s African “Oversight”

You may recall Chuck Murphy’s creative exegesis of Scripture related to Africa during the collapse of the AMiA. At the time, Scripture pointed to the AMiA leaving Africa, Murphy wrote:

Exodus 1:8 > “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” Clearly, with an altogether new and different leadership in place in our African home of refuge and sojourn, the Anglican Mission, like the people of God earlier in Exodus, now “nds itself in a very new and different situation.The result, as we saw in the story of Exodus, is that God’s sovereign hand which had led His people into Africa (Egypt) in the earlier Book of Genesis, then took a dramatic turn in the Book of Exodus instructing His people that it was now time for them to leave Africa.

Exodus 10:1 > God then begins to move within the hearts of the Egyptian leadership to make it more and more clear to the people of Israel that Africa (Egypt) could no longer be viewed as their lasting home.

Things are very different now though, as the AMiA finds itself “overseen” by no less than four African nations (or bits of them)! See this update from Kevin Donlon’s church:

We are now in a canonical mission partnership with the Bishops from the following Dioceses: 1) Diocese of Dunkwa- On Offin, Ghana 2) Diocese of Boga, Congo, 3) Three Dioceses in Tanzania: Kibondo, Luke Rukwa, Kagera. 4) Two Dioceses in Malawi: Northern Malawi and Upper Shire. Three more Anglican Dioceses are in dialogue with the Mission along with two ecumenical partners.

The AMiA does not seem to be bothered by retired Archbishop Kolini working to help the wicked M23 rebellion in the DRC, and indeed, Donlon’s parish mentions Kolini favorably:

Father Gabriel, Visiting Assistant to Church of the Resurrection is a priest of the Diocese of Boga, led by our friend Bishop William (who was preceded there years before by a young bishop named Emmanuel Kolini).

Note that the United Nations said of Kolini:

Another similar M23 meeting with Rwandan authorities took place on 26 May 2012 in Ruhengeri, Rwanda, at Hotel Ishema. According to intelligence sources and to politicians with close ties to Kigali, the RDF organized the meeting for CNDP politicians, which was chaired by Bishops John Rucyahana and Coline (sic – should read Kolini), both senior RPF party leaders. The aim of the meeting was to convey the message that the Rwandan Government supports M23 politically and militarily. All Rwandophone politicians and officers were instructed to join M23, or otherwise leave the Kivus.

The AMiA also seems to be unaware of or unconcerned about the apparent borrowing/plagiarism of Kevin Donlon (see here, here, hereand here) as he continues in a prominent role for the organization:

I bring you warmest greetings from Bishop Edmund Dawson Ahmoah, who sends his best wishes to all at Center for Anglican Mission . He wishes to announce with great joy, that he will ordain The Rev. David Brookman of the Church of the Resurrection, Tampa and the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin to the Order of the Presbyterate at the Cathedral Church of St Anthony of Padua, in the Diocese of Dunkwa-on-Offin, Ghana on Sunday August 4th at 9:00am (GMT). The preacher will be the Rev. Canon Kevin Donlon.

Back in 2,000, the story of “Rwanda re-evangelizes the United States” made a little sense, even if it never really was true. But what possible story makes sense of various dioceses from Africa lending support to guys in Pawely’s Island? It is truly bizarre.

AMiA No Longer an ACNA Mission Partner

Elsewhere in the Provincial Meeting Journal we find this:

Resolution regarding the Ministry Partner Status for the Anglican Mission
WHEREAS, the Ministry Partner status granted to the Anglican Mission in the Americas in June 2010 was substantively based on its canonical standing in the Province of Rwanda,
WHEREAS, the resignation of bishops from the House of Bishops of Rwanda, and the formal withdrawal of the Anglican Mission, Inc. from Rwandan association took place since the last meeting of the Provincial Council,
RESOLVED, that the grounds on which Ministry Partner status was granted have been substantially altered and that Ministry Partner status no longer exists.
RESOLVED, that health care and insurance benefits participation for clergy and congregations of the Anglican Mission be offered as a one year extension of coverage under the relevant federal and provider regulations.
A vote was taken on this resolution and it was unanimously accepted.

AMiA Confirms Bishop Jones as Next Probable Vicar

The AMiA makes it official:

He also made a brief announcement that the College of Consulters issued a call to the Rt. Reverend Philip Jones as the next Apostolic Vicar for the Anglican Mission for which Jones will enter a season of prayerful consideration.

Meanwhile, Bishop Silas Ng blames the AMiA’s troubles on “bad-mouthing, accusation, persecution” and says that what they have been through is “like a spiritual genocide”! He says:

Recently, I have been thinking the same message the past few days when I attended this year’s AMiA conference. The most wonderful experience if for me to sit beside a retired Rwanda bishop whom I have know for some years. I asked him what did he think when the AMiA and bishop Chuck Murphy has been described as “the bad boy”. He said, “No, Silas. We are the bad boys, not you guys.” Then I asked, “How can this situation be changed so that people know that we are not the bad boys?” He gave me a wonderful surprise, he said, “Just one word – fruit! When you guys bear more fruit then people will know at last you are the good and blessed disciples of Jesus!”

This is what Jesus is talking about today and this is exactly what we, AMiA bishops, clergy, leaders and people, have been focusing the past 15 months in the midst of all kinds of bad-mouthing, accusation, persecution just like a “spiritual genocide”. We keep on bearing much fruit and more is going to come. Jesus says, “By their fruit you will recognize them.”