Reviewing Laurent Mbanda’s Book, “Committed to Conflict”

Even in the 1994 genocide, I believe that there were people who followed whatever their leaders decided to do, without ever exercising their own minds. – Laurent Mbanda (Page 133)

I’ve previously written about some snippets of Laurent Mbanda’s book “Committed to Conflict, the destruction of the church in Rwanda,” 1)These posts: one, two, three, four and five. now I will take a look at the rest of the book. The book was written in 1997, long before Mbanda became a bishop in the Anglican Church of Rwanda and I suspect that it had something to do with the powers that be selecting him as a bishop, along with his work for Compassion International and Western connections.

Bishop Mbanda is well connected in the West. He currently sits on the board of Compassion International, the International Justice Mission, Food for the Hungry, the Mustard Seed Project, and the Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda. He succeeded Bishop John Rucyahana in 2010, as the Bishop of the Shyira Diocese. Bishop Mbanda was at the center of the split between the Anglican Mission in America and the Rwandan Church with AMiA leaders making accusations against him of leaking communications to George Conger – charges which he denied at the “Sacred Assembly” in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The book was “assisted” by Steve Wamberg, who functioned as a Communications Specialist for Compassion International from 1992-97.

I have not seen any analysis of Mbanda’s book, and I doubt that many, if any, clergy of PEARUSA have taken the time to read it and think through its implications.

Mbanda correctly points out that the early Protestant missionaries and thus the Protestant communities in Rwanda avoided overt political connections:

The colonial administrators and the mission leaders had different views regarding the people of Rwanda, especially Hutu and Tutsi. The traditional structure used to accomplish colonial objectives was not favoured by the Catholic missionaries, who termed it ‘oppressive’, while the Protestants tried to remain apolitical. (Page 7)

This was partly due to the origins of Anglicanism in Rwanda, which was brought by missionaries who were steeped in Keswick theology and dispensationalism, both of which are often apolitical. Keswick’s emphasis in this regard is profoundly un-Biblical. Mbanda returns to the apolitical nature of Rwandan Protestants over and over:

The Protestant Christian missions were largely apolitical in their approach to the Rwandan sociopolitical structure. The first Protestant missionaries to enter the country supported the indirect German colonial approach and in so doing, raised no sociopolitical issues. A small minority in the country, they were not highly visible and had limited personal influence; their interest was in evangelism, leaving the social issues alone. (Page 49)

Note that in this case Mbanda suggests that “leaving the social issues alone” was a good thing when compared to the Catholic Church. He he launches repeated diatribes against the Catholic Church, such as this:

This favouritism, and its closeness and involvement with the colonial administrators, virtually married the Catholic Church to the state, such that under the leadership of Bishop Classe, it became a state church with a strong influence in matters of civil government. (Page 20)

Mbanda’s position on the Catholic Church is accurate, but as I cannot emphasize enough, this is the same situation that the Anglican Church finds itself in today! It is tied at the hip to Paul Kagame.

I am told by a former advisor of Kagame’s that he is an atheist who uses witch doctors and mocks Christians behind closed doors. He uses the churches as tools to propagandize the West with genocide guilt and a false narrative of reconciliation.

Mbanda says that the former colonial powers and the churches share a large part of the blame for the 1994 genocide:

The most recent genocide in Rwanda derives in part from the deep historic divisions in Rwandan society created by the colonial rulers and the churches. (Page 25) 2)Mbanda’s take on the colonial past meshes with the RPF “victor’s narrative.” Jennifer Melvin describes this narrative in her article, “Correcting history: Mandatory education in Rwanda.” She says: “In its most general form, this remit seeks to create a single set of conclusions about Rwanda’s past, present, and future. his interpretation is informed by a singular narrative of Rwandan history referred to in this article as the ‘victor’s narrative’. The term ‘victor’ refers to the RPF’s role in creating and disseminating this particular version of events. Like the term ‘victor’s justice’ used by authors including Tiemessen (2004), Sarkin (2001), and Waldorf (2010) to describe RPF impunity at gacaca, the ‘victor’s narrative’ denies RPF involvement in human rights abuses and violations in Rwanda and DRC. These allegations include: limiting the freedom of speech, press, and association; silencing journalists and political opponents through politically motivated accusations of ‘divisionism’ and ‘genocide ideology’; and contributing to conlict in DRC, such as the M23 rebellion. The ‘victor’s narrative’ emphasises pre-colonial unity, the detriments of ethnic identities, and the beneits of RPF-led programming. In the context of education camps and school classrooms, this narrative functions to limit critical analysis, bolster political support, and denounce criticism of the RPF regime.”

The contradiction at the heart of Mbanda’s book is that he condemns the church for its involvement in politics, but turns around to blast the church for silence in the face of injustice! He is correct about the problem of silence, but speaking up about injustice is an inherently political activity. In the following quote Mbanda condemns Christian silence:

The policy of Iringaniza (total exclusion of one ethnic group) in most cases was not different from the colonial discriminatory school system executed at the expense of Rwandan children of the time. And the silence of many Christian missions in the face of such injustices was deafening. (Page 43)

Yes, this silence was deafening, as is the silence of Anglicans today when their government tortures and kills its own citizens!

Calvin teaches Christians that resisting evil authorities is salutary: “For earthly princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from heaven.”

Bishop Mbanda seems to agree with Calvin’s sentiments in this book, and yet, in authority as a bishop he has only praised the wicked rule of Kagame and has maintained silence in the face of evil. He has in fact gone beyond silence and has openly praised Rwanda’s leadership as “visionary.”

This is in clear contrast to his past self, who decried silence in the face of injustice:

It is important to protect people and strive for unity in the nation, but without true justice there can’t be sincere unity. Under the previous government, killings and other social injustices went unchallenged. (Page 105)

And again, Mbanda says the role of the Church:

Hopefully, the new Kigali government will keep its hands clean in the matters of the Church, just as they have so far. My prayer is that the Church can divorce itself from the kind of church-state relationships that seek favours from politicians in exchange for the Church’s prophetic voice. The former Vice President of Kenya, Mr Mwai Kibaki, put it well while addressing members of the National Council of Churches of Kenya : “The church leaders should not spend their time praising politicians; we have enough people to praise us. Your task is to correct us when we go wrong and need to be reminded of the justice of God, and to pray for us.” Respect for church leaders does not come from their association with political leaders, but from their relationship with God, a relationship proven in non-conformity to ungodly things. Christian leaders are often caught in the political trap of their countries; this has been the case for Rwandan church leaders. David Gitari in his book Let the Bishop Speak wrote:
A position of active and positive support for the state is obviously the easiest position for the Church to adopt; however, it is also the most unfortunate posture in which the Church can be found. Churches which are favored by the state find it very tempting to respond by giving full support to their patron; but they tend to suffer most when the regime they support is removed and replace by a new government.
It is likely that Bishop Gitari was well aware of the Rwandan situation; at least his insight describes exactly where the Rwandan church leadership has been. (Page 116)

Mbanda says:

Remembering the Kinyarwanda saying, ‘Wibuba uhetse ukabawigish uwo mu umugongo’, meaning if you steal when carrying a youngster on your back, you are teaching the youngster to steal, could this be what happened as a result of Catholic involvement in power politics while they were simultaneously preaching good news and its message of unity, love and peace? (Page 48)

Some say that the Anglican Church today is not involved in “power politics” like the Catholic Church was before, but the role of her bishops on government bodies such as NURC and the praise they speak for Kagame’s leadership shows a dangerous degree of affinity for the current regime. As American Bishop Steve Breedlove pointed out, “In Rwanda, the church’s program IS the community program, and in many places the government yields the platform of developing and transforming communities to the church.” According to Mbanda’s own reasoning, being aligned with a police state that oppresses Hutus and Tutsis who speak up against it is a terrible witness to the Rwandan population.

Mbanda goes on to blasts the Church for not defending the rights of all, but again, the current Anglican Church is silent about oppression:

Somewhere in the process, the Church lost its prophetic role. It could have been an instrument of positive change as a witnessing, worshipping and serving community – by acting as salt and light. But the Church in Rwanda failed to give warning, or even advice, concerning the actions of its own people, while playing political power games. The Church failed to defend the rights of all, whether the attack came through abuse of power or through dehumanizing propaganda. (Page 52)

Today there is a diaspora of Rwandans — Hutu and Tutsi — who have fled to the DRC, other African nations and the West to escape imprisonment or death at the hands of Paul Kagame. The Anglican Province of Rwanda has said nothing about this that I am aware of. But Mbanda critiques the Church of the past for not speaking up for Tutsi refugees:

Unfortunately, it does not seem that the Church wanted the Tutsis back, and if it did, there were no clear steps taken by the church leadership to address the refugee problem, or even condemn the evil acts that led to thousands of deaths and sent hundreds of thousands into exile. Was the Church in Rwanda in a position to plead for the return of the Rwandan refugees in exile? Given its status at that time, and the role it played in the bloody massacres, I believe it could have contributed significantly. Even if there had been no government response, if the Church had done its part, the international community would probably have echoed the message. But the Church’s silence contributed to the perception of its previous political involvement, thus indicating its support of ethnic distinction and separation. And if the Catholic Church’s militant spirit regarding social issues during the German colonial rule and politics of the 1950s was a sincere response to social injustice and oppression, surely the Church would have spoken up for the gross human rights abuses of the period from the 1960s to 1994. What do we say of the Rwandan church’s theology regarding God’s creation of humankind? Is this an issue for Hutu and Tutsi alone, or an issue that Christians around the world need to address? (Page 58)

Mbanda is critical of the pre-genocide Church’s adaptation of the government’s agenda:

Even though the Church tended to be sympathetic to the social status and conditions of the surviving Tutsis in general, both the Catholic and Protestant churches (and more so the leadership) were politicized enough to keep in line with what the Rwandan government wanted. It did not matter about belief, the biblical teaching of love and unity, or one’s view of humankind; the Church chose to listen and move with the political agenda of the country. (Page 59)

Mbanda points out that the pre-genocide Church was silent, that is published the government’s agenda in its journal, that favoritism blinded it, and that prestigious positions manipulated its leaders:

By 1961, the Catholic Church was profoundly connected with the Hutu-dominated republics; Kayibanda’s proclamation of the ‘Country of the Battutu’ received wide support from the Church, which knew that the government’s aim was to promote Hutu solidarity against what it called ‘Tutsi feudalism’. The identity card introduced by the colonial rule was retained and the Church said nothing about it. The newly formed government managed to use the Church for furthering much of what had been started and propagated through Kinyamateka, the White Fathers’ journal. Favouritism and the prestigious position of both the Church and its leaders served to blind the Church. As the Burundi people’s saying goes, ‘Na Umugabo uvugana irya mukanwa’, meaning ‘No man talks with food in his mouth.’ The favours and prestigious positions were used to manipulate the church leaders, who, for fear of losing these, could not address real issues. (65-66)

Is any of this different today? The evidence says no:

Mbanda shows that the Rwandan government imprisoned or disappeared those who stood against it:

In 1973, the Protestant Church was still unprepared to participate in the conflict or take a pastoral role. The missionaries had left by then, and Protestant church leaders were not courageous enough to stand up and speak against the evils of the Rwandan leadership and Hutu extremists’ acts. Nothing had been done to address the Church’s political involvement against the Tutsis in 1959-61, much less the public acts. This would not be the time either. Instead, Tutsi priests suspected by the government (or anyone else who wanted them to be killed) of having contacts with outside Rwandans were imprisoned. Others disappeared. (Page 67)

It is hard to read this and not be struck with the paradox that Mbanda himself is now silent when the Rwandan government of Paul Kagame imprisons, tortures and disappears Rwandans. You can read examples of this here, here, and here.

Mbanda correctly says that clergy serving in the ruling party of Habyarimana signaled to a watching public that the Church agreed with the government.

The seating of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Rwanda on the Central Committee of the ruling party of ex-President Habyarimana’s government was like putting a stamp of approval on the politics and policies of a government that discriminated against its own people. The Archbishop’s position and relationship to the government identified the Church with the position of the government on the social and political issues regarding the Tutsi population. […] In later years the goal for many Christian church leaders, as they competed for relationships with Rwandan authorities, became clear. Each not only desire to be a close friend of the president, about which they bragged, but also sought to become a powerful voice of whatever church they were leading. (Page 68-69)

How is this different from bishops such as Rucyahana, Kolini, and Gasatura serving on government bodies? How is it different from Kolini and Rucyahana hosting meetings for the CNDP/M23? How is it different from Pastor Antoine Rutayisire laughing it up with Kagame at annual prayer breakfasts in Kigali? How is it different from the Archbishop penning a letter to the United Nations attacking the Group of Experts on the DRC in line with the government’s position? How is it different from Bishop Mbanda calling Paul Kagame’s leadership “visionary?” The answer is, it is not different. Mbanda is now part of something he condemned in this book.

Mbanda discusses how the government influenced who was picked to lead the churches prior to the genocide:

Among the Protestant bishops, Episcopal Archbishop Nshamihigo and Bishop Sebununguri (even though some say that he had fallen out of grace with Habyarimana) were very close confidants of the president. […] Many sources have indicated that most church leaders had been bought off by the government officials through favours. The government’s patronage of top church leaders had strings attached to it, and church leadership selection was one among many. Within the Rwandan Christian Church, among Protestants as well as Catholics, tensions always arose when there was an election or selection of church leaders. Scandalous situations and acts were observed more in the Episcopal Church of Rwanda. The selection of the very first bishop was a more political than spiritual matter. After dealings that were characterized by corruption and deceitful acts, the church ended up selecting a bishop based on ethnic criteria to satisfy the government’s unwritten policy; the president of the country had to give his approval to the selection. Where ethnic distinction was not an issue for the top government authority, geographical origin could play a key factor, especially in the lay leadership of the Habyarimana regime. (Page 70)

I could also remember hearing stories of the Episcopal Church fights involving the late Bishop Ndandali, Bishop Sebununguri and Archbishop Nshamihigo. There were serious fights were weapons were carried into meetings and special bodyguards hired on suspicion of life-threatening plans. (Page 82)

He shows how the Church gave up its prophetic role to be involved in national politics:

It is no secret that the church leaders in Rwanda responded to two basic and related situations: the possible advantages of having extremely close ties to the colonial interests, and the pursuit of such ties with the first and the second Rwandan governments (the Kayibanda and Habyiramana regimes); these caused church leaders to compromise their prophetic and pastoral roles in exchange for being power-brokers of national politics. (Page 72)

He shows that when some in the Catholic Church did speak out in 1990, it was a good thing, but far too late:

When the Catholic priests formally spoke out on ethnically sensitive issues in March 1990, it signalled a change in the thinking of the Catholic church leadership. The voices involved may not have been high enough in the hierarchy to be heard immediately as in past political involvements (such as those from 1916 to the 1960s), but they definitely provided a significant, if belated, warning. These priests spoke against the ethnic quotas in education and in civil service that limited Tutsi participation. Whether this was God’s Spirit at work or the result of an intellectual analysis of the political situation (or both), I can’t judge. Still, the warning should have been voiced at least some 30 years before. (Page 73)

The fact today is that Tutsis run every level of government, and are often “twinned” with Hutus who serve as puppets for a Tutsi boss behind the scenes. The United States government knows this, as this leaked State Department cable shows. So why isn’t the Anglican Church speaking out against the ethnic discrimination going on in Rwanda today?

Mbanda shows how the dictator Habyarimana eliminated his opponents, which is exactly what happens with Paul Kagame’s opponents today:

(Habyarimana) had political enemies both inside and outside the country and was basically ruling through a gun in his opponents’ backs and ‘suspicious’ car accidents. The whereabouts of his identified enemies was top secret; human rights abuse had become a way of life, and his own conscience bothered him. (Page 74)

Kagame in fact boasted about an assassination at a prayer breakfast in 2014, with Mbanda in attendance. The Anglican Church was silent about Kagame’s boasting.

Mbanda returns again and again to the silence of the Church:

In Rwanda, certain denominational leaders were close friends and strong supporters of the Habyarimana regime. Among them were all the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda (except one non-diocesan titular bishop formerly in Kigeme, a Tutsi and survivor of the genocide), […] Some of the church leaders’ reputations became widely blurred as they appeared in political scenes, advancing political agendas, leading political party demonstrations, and making inappropriate political declarations in public support of the corrupt regime – including the justification of both genocide and the mass killing of Hutu moderates. The Anglican leader Augustin Nshamihigo, the former Presbyterian head, and the Catholic Church’s Archbishop Nsengiyumva acted like competitors. The silence and role of the top church officials during the 1994 massacres made them accomplices in the genocide. (Page 75-76)

And yet today, John Rucyahana was a government puppet in the Rose Kabuye matter, Emmanuel Kolini relayed Kagame’s orders to America to cancel a speaking engagement of Paul Rusesabagina.

Mbanda says that Western partners of Rwanda from before the genocide were confused and did not know what to believe about Rwanda:

Some Christians around the world were disappointed in the Rwandan church leadership, while others were morally and financially behind them. From my discussions with executives of Western-based Christian non-government organizations and mission agencies, I have come to learn that many were confused and did not know what to believe about the Rwandan situation. So they continued working relationships with church other indigenous Christian organizations in the country, based on the relationships and trust developed over the years prior to the 1990 war situation. (Page 76)

This is identical to today’s situation, with the additional factor that many Westerners aligned with Rwanda are so ignorant that they do not even realize there is a problem.

He relates stories of Evangelical Christians who participated in the genocide or later interahamwe killing:

Honest Christians, godly people, the ‘saved’ (in the Kinyarwanda language, ‘Abarokore’) were holding evening and weekend meetings characterized by groups engaging in prayer, fasting, confessions of sins, predictions of what might come, rich Bible studies, willingness to entertain deep thoughts, singing heavenly songs and concern for one another. Both Hutus and Tutsis participated with no fear of each other, even though there was an atmosphere of suspicion in the country. The meetings developed into large public gatherings where political issues were addressed, and the involvement of church leaders in the political scenes was condemned. There was a call to pray, to love each other and to pursue peace and unity. Christian survivors of the genocide who participated in these evangelical meetings tell stories of church members and testifying Christians who, having attended the same meetings, were later seen in the uniforms and activities of Interahamwe (militia). During the killings, many were also seen at roadblocks with machetes. It is hard to believe, but reported by trustworthy individuals. (Page 77)

Mbanda says that most Christians behaved no differently from the average Rwandan:

The behaviour of most church members, including their leaders, was outwardly no different from the non-Christians’ conduct and therefore lacked the Christian testimony that would have made a significant difference. (Page 112)

Mbanda discusses how returnees from the Tutsi exile took over leadership of many denominations in Rwanda. This was true of the Anglican Church, which has turned heavily to those born outside the country to run it in the years after the genocide:

To the surprise of many people in Rwanda, including some Christians, church services resumed immediately following the RPF’s takeover of the country, certain churches being packed to their maximum capacity. Initially, most people found in the capital city of Rwanda were new faces to Kigali. Faces in most churches were also new, then, with few old church members, and among new faces in the churches were old Rwandan refugees. In some churches, the initial church service organizers were from among the returnees who targeted the denominations they were connected with in countries of exile. The new organizers were either elders and ordained pastors in refugee resettlements where they lived, or church pastors in the national churches of their countries of asylum Returning into the homeland, some had actually been eyeing the takeover of local church leadership situations as they thought that most of the former leaders would not want to return to Rwanda due to accusations of involvement in the genocide and compliance with the whole killing situation. (Page 112)

He ominously refers to innocent Hutus who fled the country, believing that RPF forces would take revenge on them when they took over. Mbanda implies that this was not the case:

As churches resumed their responsibility (in most cases with new service and church activity organizers) the newly established government did not waste time in calling upon recent refugees to return home and participate in the rebuilding of the country. The call to return went hand in hand with an assurance of bringing justice to the murderers and planners of the genocide. Those with no direct involvement in the slaughter had nothing to fear and therefore no reason to live in exile, but were being called home. The government knew that there were many innocent people who followed the killers into exile believing that the RPF would exact revenge for murdered Tutsis immediately after it reclaimed the country. (Page 113)

However, this did happen, as documents like the Gersony Report show. The Report said in part:

Local residents, including entire families, were called to community meetings, invited to receive information about “peace,” “security” or “food distribution” issues. Once a crowd had assembled, it was assaulted through sudden sustained gunfire; or locked in buildings into which hand-grenades were thrown; systematically killed with manual instruments; or killed in large numbers by other means. Large-scale killings which did not involve such “meetings” were also reported. House-to-house killings, and attacks on villages and displaced populations.

I have no evidence that Bishop Mbanda has ever spoken about these killings.

Mbanda describes the chaos of the post-genocide environment, where funds were diverted and mis-spent:

Relief and rehabilitation funds have been diverted to hire youth fighters from marketplaces to come and drag pastors from church pulpits, disrupting services and even beating individuals who resist. These thugs have pulled a bishop out of his chair, have cleared sanctuaries filled with worshipers and have overturned tables with communion elements. Pick-up trucks purchased from Christian organizations with church-donated funds have been seen transporting these young fighters to wherever a certain ‘self-imposed’ bishop was to be. (Page 129-130)

Mbanda calls on church leaders to monitor the Church-State relationship, so he should thank me for this blog! See below:

The Hebraic model of theocracy, which would link spiritual leaders with political power, failed to become reality in Rwanda, but made a significant impact on the political leadership. Church leaders in Africa, and elsewhere, have to be careful to avoid combining religious and political functions. Church and mission leaders must watch the relationship between church and state, as these can be dangerous for the Church. In Rwanda they have demonstrated patterns of manipulation within the Church, and the abuse of governmental relationships by the Church. (Page 138)

Mbanda’s summary of the pre-1994 Church rings just as true today when related to massive human rights abuses in Rwanda and the DRC:

The Rwandan church failed to challenge social injustices. It is sin to allow social injustice anywhere, especially in the Church; and yet there are places where Christian missions and churches have actually sought to justify the drawing of lines according to their view of the human race. The Rwandan genocide is a typical example of what can happen when we draw lines and view others as less than people made in God’s image. (Page 139)

To summarize, the Bishop’s book is disappointing. The very things he castigates the old Church for doing, he is now involved in himself. The players have changed, but the song is the same.

References   [ + ]

1. These posts: one, two, three, four and five.
2. Mbanda’s take on the colonial past meshes with the RPF “victor’s narrative.” Jennifer Melvin describes this narrative in her article, “Correcting history: Mandatory education in Rwanda.” She says: “In its most general form, this remit seeks to create a single set of conclusions about Rwanda’s past, present, and future. his interpretation is informed by a singular narrative of Rwandan history referred to in this article as the ‘victor’s narrative’. The term ‘victor’ refers to the RPF’s role in creating and disseminating this particular version of events. Like the term ‘victor’s justice’ used by authors including Tiemessen (2004), Sarkin (2001), and Waldorf (2010) to describe RPF impunity at gacaca, the ‘victor’s narrative’ denies RPF involvement in human rights abuses and violations in Rwanda and DRC. These allegations include: limiting the freedom of speech, press, and association; silencing journalists and political opponents through politically motivated accusations of ‘divisionism’ and ‘genocide ideology’; and contributing to conlict in DRC, such as the M23 rebellion. The ‘victor’s narrative’ emphasises pre-colonial unity, the detriments of ethnic identities, and the beneits of RPF-led programming. In the context of education camps and school classrooms, this narrative functions to limit critical analysis, bolster political support, and denounce criticism of the RPF regime.”

Bishop Nathan Gasatura: “Kagame honors the Lord”

On February 23, 2011 Rwandan Anglican Bishop Nathan Gasatura spoke during the chapel message at Wheaton College. During his message, he mentioned that he went to high school with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame:

I have been in the presence of the Presidents, about four, in our region, and every time I ask the Lord, “Lord give me the strength to just raise your flag, just in a small humble way.” And recently when, you know, we met, the President Kagame with many delegates we talked business and after were done we were to go and in my heart I said, “Oh Lord, I’m failing you help me!” And I put up my hand and asked, I said, “Your excellency, would you allow me to kindly pray in this place?” He said, “Of course Nathan” because we bumped into each other in some high school, so we knew each other a little bit.

And he was right there, it’s a big, big, you know, Presidential hall. And I just felt I need to move and pray with him there, something crazy, some of these things happen. So, I, I said, “if I move the security will think I’m in, you know, I’m up to something.” But I said anyway, “don’t worry” so I walked right across and as I stood behind him, near him, we were almost the same height, so I said, “yeah, I think it’s fitting to put my hand on him.” I prayed, and we all got out so I said, “who knows when I will ever have the opportunity like this?” Praise be to God.

Bishop Gasatura discusses the much-touted reconciliation process in Rwanda between the Hutu and the Tutsi. He goes on to make the astounding claim that “Kagame honors the Lord”:

In Rwanda the story of forgiveness, healing, peacebuilding and reconciliation has been a very painful journey, has been a heartbreaking journey, has been a painful, excruciating journey, has been a very, very, hostile journey, but it has been a worthwhile journey. We thank God for the leadership whom we believe God has used in some way because Kagame honors the Lord. He doesn’t proclaim Christianity openly, many of his ministers, members of Parliament and Senators they honor the Lord. When you come in the Presidential Prayer Breakfast that’s when you see it, it’s, it’s just moving. And we have no doubt that God has used that government to be used as his instrument like he used King Darius. And, Rwanda is changing partly because of the work of the church and government and other forces.

Bishop Gasatura then claims that Kagame was used by God to stop revenge after the genocide of 1994:

When the genocide was beaten and stopped, the very first policy that was put in place was a policy of no revenge, Kagame, somehow was used by God to say, “If we never stop this bloodletting and revenge this vicious cycle will never stop.” So he put in place like a general an order, which had not gone into policy and law, that nobody was allowed whatsoever to shed blood of someone who had killed even 200 of your family members, the government will handle that, nobody (should) take the law in his hands. And today that policy has gone into practice, into law, and a Commission of Unity and Reconciliation has been put in place to re-educate and help the Rwandans unlearn the wrong and poisonous history that they were taught. And if that was not supported by the Church, praying and interceding and teaching, and you know, repenting, it would never go far.

Fact checking the Bishop

Does Kagame honor the Lord?

One of his former cabinet ministers told me, “Like all of us, he grew up Catholic. He has never seriously practiced any faith.Before those he trusts, he ridicules faith in God, and those who believe.”

Furthermore, Kagame is a murderer who crushes all dissent in the open prison that is Rwanda, not quite the qualities of a leader who honors the Lord.

Did Kagame stop the bloodletting?

To the contrary, the entire reign of Kagame is covered in blood. Look at just a couple of the thousands of examples; first, former Kagame bodyguard Aloys Ruyezni wrote:

The Murder of Religious Leaders in Rwanda

The 157th Battalion, led by (then) Col. Fred Ibingira, killed many innocent people in Mutara, Kibungo, Bugesera, Gitarama and elsewhere during the final attack to take control of the country. This includes the bishops who were murdered in Kabgayi. The 157th Battalion’s I.O., Wilson Gumisiriza, organized a section of his staff to kill the bishops. It was led by (then) Sgt. Kwitegetse (alias Burakari), who was briefed on the mission by Gumisiriza. Gen. Kagame gave the final order to kill the bishops to Col. Ibingira. He gave him the order in these words: “Remove those rubbishes,” or “Fagia,” in Swahili.

Ruyenzi again:

Maj. Silas Udahemuka was appointed by President Kagame to supervise the killing of civilians during 1994 and afterwards. He would complete his assigned operation and then report back directly to Gen. Kagame.

The example of Festo Kivengere

Bishop Gasatura rightly praises the example of Ugandan Bishop Festo Kivengere, and says he wants to be like him. However, Kivengere spoke up against his dictator, Idi Amin, and had to flee Uganda because of it. Bishop Festo wrote:

A suffering Church can bless a nation and provide a refuge to which the suffering society may turn for healing, for liberation and hope. This was proved in Uganda as the Church came under more systematic attack, and hundreds of martyrs’ deaths were added to that of the archbishop’s.

Bishop Gasatura is knowingly or unknowingly spreading falsehoods about Rwanda and the nature of Paul Kagame.

http://alivingtext.com/blog/2013/05/06/rwandan-bishop-nathan-gasatura-hosted-awards-event-for-kagame/

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Bishop Mbanda: “So! What?”

In July, I published a brief post showing current Rwandan Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda appearing onstage with Rwanda’s dictator, Paul Kagame, and applauding him. 1)Much as he did at the notorious Prayer Breakfast where Kagame boasted about killing Patrick Karegeya. Bishop Mbanda apparently saw this post, and in a confusing turn of events, commented about it over on my old blog. His response was:

Yes I did. So! What?

This kind of response is astonishing and callous in its utter lack of Biblical awareness about how Christians are to respond to evil. I would say that it is a perfect illustration of the complacency and outright cooperation of the current Rwandan House of Bishops with a dictator who kills, murders and plunders innocents.

Although Bishop Mbanda’s support for Paul Kagame is fairly low-profile, it is there if you start digging. A great example is found in reading his book, which I reviewed at length here. As recently as 2013, Bishop Mbanda referred to Rwanda’s leadership (i.e. Kagame) as “visionary.”

American Anglicans should not be aligned with the Rwandan State, but they are through their own ignorance and apathy.

References   [ + ]

1. Much as he did at the notorious Prayer Breakfast where Kagame boasted about killing Patrick Karegeya.

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.