Living Into an Alternate Reality

or, a Factual Theological and Canonical Critique of the latest Press Release

Just kidding about that subtitle, this really won’t measure up to the canon law standards that govern communications from theAM. Today, press officer and Reverend Cynthia Brust launched another press release out there to let us know about something other than the Winter Conference (Jack Deere will be there by the way). Did the press release apologize for falsely accusing AnglicanTV last week? Did it clarify the canonical status of AMiA with regard to Rwanda? Did it address the financial accountability issues around the 10/10/10 giving to Rwanda? Of course not! Instead, it doubled down on last week’s release with an added dose of Episcopal-esque Newspeak that would make Rowan Williams proud! Let me break it down:

In our world of instant communication and Internet dialogue in and through the blogosphere, it is easy for misinformation and misunderstanding to be rapidly disseminated.

Just as easy as misinformation being rapidly disseminated via a press release, I might add. This sentence casts all of the internet chatter as somehow tainted.

Recently, a video blog made unsubstantiated and false assertions about the Anglican Mission’s relationship with Rwanda,

You would think that she could have at least given AnglicanTV some props here and mentioned their name! But repeating the canard that the claims of Episode 16 are false and unsubstantiated is absurd. Rev. Cynthia should apologize publicly to these men. I’m not going to rehash last week’s press release, just look at my post. Add to this that AnglicanTV today went into more detail about how last week’s story unfolded, and it makes Rev. Cynthia look like she lied to the men about the entire story. So who is making false assertions exactly?

and another statement [separate sources] presented negative commentary about theAM’s consideration of a working proposal presented during a recent Anglican Mission Presbyters’ retreat.

Yes, the Washington Statement gets no love here, and no mention that it came FROM AM CLERGY!!! I will not allow this characterization of the Statement as “negative commentary” to go unchallenged. Once again, there is no interaction with the substance of the Statement itself, just a casual dismissal. The Statement asks for a discussion: “We need clear, fair processes for corporately engaging the issues and challenges all organizations inevitably face. When major changes happen without any formal process involving open communication, the foundations of the movement are shaken.” This call for a discussion is being called “negative commentary.”

Notice also the refrain of “working proposal”, as if all we are talking about is a possibility, just a friendly discussion, nothing more.

Each of these has generated some blog discussion.

On this we are agreed. It has also generated some heated conversations involving Bishop Murphy!

These issues have been publicly addressed in a way that can cause confusion and responding is challenging, as many of those on our mailing list are not aware of the inaccurate reporting and negative commentary. 

This is a poorly constructed sentence. If the confusing, negative reports aren’t known to “those on our mailing list”, then why enlighten them? And really, responding should not be challenging, it should be easy. Simply tell the truth about whatever meetings occurred (don’t deny that meetings happened like you did to Conger). Why not publish the slides that Donlon presented on your website so we can all see what was discussed?

The reporting was not inaccurate, except regarding Christ Church, Plano – which Conger has since retracted. The commentary was not negative, unless you are Bishop Murphy.

We believe it is important, however, to reassure those who have read blogs and may be concerned or confused and to address the misleading information and personal commentary in a general way.  To that end, Archbishop Rwaje and Bishop Murphy have issued a joint statement that you can read below.

Well, she has certainly addressed it in “a general way,” because specifics are entirely lacking. The joint statement is not helpful at all, as I said when it was published.

This unforeseen situation actually provides us with the opportunity to share some potential developments, which we believe promise a new and rich season of ministry together.  The Anglican Mission has been actively engaged in conversations with Rwanda over the last several months, exploring the concept of a Missionary Society designed to formalize what has long been the stated vision of theAM – to be “a mission, nothing more, nothing less.”  A Missionary Society, focused on the apostolic work of church planting, would provide a stable, long-term framework for what we have been communicating and living from our inception.

One wonders if this “opportunity to share” would have ever happened if not for the work of AnglicanTV? My guess is that the opportunity wouldn’t have happened until the decision was made.

Further, the AMiA is already a misson, and there is nothing preventing it from being so. This obfuscation is a head fake about the real issue, which is the formal, canonical relationship with Rwanda. Not only that, but there is nothing stopping AMiA churches from being on mission if they simply joined ACNA. What would change then is the money, offices, and titles of those in Pawley’s Island.

Over its 12-year history, the Anglican Mission has been consistent in vision, while being careful not to rush to structure.  We have established a pattern of processing and discussing in multiple levels of leadership how best to live into our vision, addressing pros and cons, and determining a plan of action. This approach has marked the in-depth process of considering what a Missionary Society would look like and how it would operate. 

How exactly does one process and discuss “in multiple levels of leadership” how to “live into” a vision? Does this sentence mean anything? Someone please send Rev. Brust Orwell’s Rules. Brust is characterizing the Murphy-Kolini discussion as an in depth process that was simply considering how to operate. What is wrong with how things are set up now?

While no decisions have been made, this concept represents a consistent trajectory and is being discussed widely…

It is now!

in an ordered and sequential way…

We were on step 6 of 10 when it went to hell in a handbasket! But let’s be clear, it wasn’t being discussed with clergy, it was told to them. Murphy is quoted as saying “I’m only on the sixth step out of ten. I’m in a process now of trying to tell you the latest thinking. The next steps will be four more meetings. Then when we get to the point that we’re about to pour the concrete, that’s when  we would need to hear back.”

internally and with Rwanda. 

Who in Rwanda? Who internally?

As additional clarity is reached, and an actual proposal is more clearly defined, [my editing follows]:

  1. we intend to – you have to start with intention.
  2. develop a format to – next is developing a format, no easy task.
  3. provide an organized opportunity for – we are getting there, just wait.
  4. clergy and lay representatives from all of our Networks – very nice, and perhaps a new development?
  5. to speak into – not sure what this means, but it is a trendy, Lambeth-like phrase. Perhaps it translates “Indaba.”
  6. the “shape” of a proposed Missionary Society. I suggest a unified church called ACNA. How about you?

Be assured that as decisions are reached regarding any component of our life together, we will communicate that information to you directly.

Of course, we wouldn’t expect anything less than transparency from this outfit.

Because conversations are ongoing as we seek to discern the will of God and the right way forward through wise counsel and prayer, we cannot state definitively the results of this process, but we can make you aware of the conversations, and with confidence and transparency, refute false rumors and offer a different perspective on negative commentary.

You are doing a fine job of this, I admit it. I am glad that you first made us aware of these conversations weeks ago, before we had to hear of them from a video on the web, except that you didn’t.

Our hope is that none of us will become distracted from our mission and ministry.  We ask you to pray for wisdom and discernment as the Anglican Mission and Rwanda seek God’s will and best plan for this missionary movement He has created.  We believe our best days are still ahead as we seek to maintain a long obedience in the same direction.

Copyright Eugene Peterson or Friedrich Nietzsche.

So I’ve had a little fun with this latest balderdash from the folks at theAM. Seriously, they still aren’t putting any substance out there yet. As I wrote earlier today:

Further, Bishop Murphy clearly stated that one reason for moving away from ACNA last year was that “the Mission is embedded in the Constitution and Canons of the Province of Rwanda.” This claim is now disputed by the Washington Statement. It should be a simple matter for AMiA to clear this up: have they, or have they not made a petition to the House of Bishops in Rwanda to become a Missionary Province of Rwanda? Has Bishop Murphy lied, or is there some other explanation? At this point the silence is deafening. Assertion requires evidence. For Rev. Cindy to assert things about AnglicanTV, she should provide some evidence, proving to us that there was no meeting at Pawley’s attended by AMiA clergy where a presentation was made. Bishop Murphy should provide some evidence about the canonical status of AMiA within Rwanda…and the 10/10/10 financial records from the past several years.

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