Kevin Kallsen has done yeoman’s work in filming the recent PEARUSA Assembly and thereby shedding light on the official narrative of just how PEARUSA decided to end it’s jurisdictional connection to Rwanda. What follows below is a summary of the timeline for how this decision was reached, followed by a transcription of some of the remarks from the bishops. As with all history, this surface-level narrative must be taken with a grain of salt, but it is the best account we have for now.
The reaction of the bishops can be accurately portrayed as shocked. They did not anticipate this development and apparently hoped to continue as part of Rwanda for many, many years to come. They repeatedly profess their love and trust for the Rwandan bishops, showing that they have no idea of the nature of the RPF, the Kagame regime, and its tentacles into the Church, or that they disbelieve these stories or that they simply do not care. Their personal relationships based on a few annual visits back and forth override actual reason and evidence. In fact, Bishop Thad Barnum again praised John Rucyahana, a close servant of Kagame’s, despite ample evidence of his alignment with actual State evil in Rwanda and the DRC. This must be the subject of another post.
Bishop Breedlove asks the leadership in Rwanda and the leadership of ACNA about the future of the relationship, given that the time for a review of the protocols is almost upon them.
PEARUSA bishops meet with Archbishop Foley Beach, Bishop John Guernsey and the PEAR bishops in Musanze, Rwanda to discuss the protocols governing PEAR/PEARUSA/ACNA relations. The ACNA bishops tell the gathering that they believe that the Missionary District should be transferred to the Anglican Church in North America. The meeting lasted two days and is characterized as “direct” with “tough” work taking place.
March 30, 2015
PEARUSA bishops present a proposal to the House of Bishops of Rwanda and the Archbishop of ACNA for PEARUSA networks to become diocese within the Anglican Church of North America and continue as canonical residents of Rwanda.
The Rwandan House of Bishops meets to consider the PEARUSA proposal.
Bishops Breedlove and Lawrence meet with Archbishop Rwaje and Bishop Ahimana in Rwanda, where they are told of a unanimous decision that PEARUSA should move fully into ACNA, ending its formal relationship with Rwanda.
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.”
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.