The Nairobi Communiqué that Wasn’t

Ten days ago, Anglican Ink announced that there was a “make or break” meeting about to occur in Nairobi, Kenya for the resigned bishop Chuck Murphy. We now know that other attendees included the Primate of Kenya and head of GAFCON, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop Rwaje and Bishop Mbanda from Rwanda, resigned bishops Murphy and Miller, and other bishops from Nigeria.

The substance of the meeting is still not known definitively, but resigned Bishop John Miller spoke about the meeting, so we have his version of events to go by. I will provide the full text of his remarks below. Miller’s account of events is that the Rwandan bishops asked for at least three things from the Pawleys Island leadership:

There was talk about us coming back under Rwanda, it was made very clear from Rwanda’s side that if that was to happen there would need to be repentance, especially on our part, and that the conversation about a Missionary Society would need to cease, for no less than six months and that while we needed to share with our founding Primates how thankful we were for their leadership, we were going to have to really distance ourselves from their care and counsel. As you might imagine, that was something of a blow to us, because we really do believe as a Council of Bishops that the way forward for the Anglican Mission is as a Missionary Society and we don’t think that, ah, we should distance ourself from the counsel of these men who have been with us from day one and have stood by us through everything.

If Miller’s report is accurate, Rwanda is demanding:

  1. A 6 month pause to the Global Missionary Society talk.
  2. Repentance – probably for several actions and statements.
  3. An end to the Triumvirate of former Bishops being the leaders of this breakaway faction.

Miller goes on to say that “we hadn’t said to them ‘we have done this, it was wrong and that we repent and ask for your forgiveness.” i.e., Murphy and Miller did not see the need to repent. Since that meeting, the Winter Conference has occurred, at which the central message was to implement the Global Missionary Society in the face of “attacks” on the organization. Further, the Triumvirate has been front and center at the Winter Conference. So, the actions of the Pawleys Island leadership would indicate that they have utterly rejected everything that Rwanda requested. In fact, Bishop John Rodgers has rejected Rwandan oversight according to Virtue’s story:

It will not be one of oversight, according to Bishop John Rodgers, AMIA bishop and theologian.

He said recent meetings with ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan and Bishop Chuck Murphy revealed concerns for inclusion; roundtable talks came to the fore, but met with no conclusion. “We entered into a process with the ACNA, but in terms of the arrangement (which AMIA had helped form), it would allow AMIA to keep its unique structure and culture. We are not committing hari-kari. We laid it before Archbishop Duncan and we have set up a process for resolution by June of this year. We will see then if it still fits.

It sounds like Pawleys Island wants it their way, or there will be no union with ACNA. No communiqué was issued, and we can now begin to ascertain why.

TEXT OF BISHOP JOHN MILLER’S REMARKS:

There was talk about us coming back under Rwanda, it was made very clear from Rwanda’s side that if that was to happen there would need to be repentance, especially on our part, and that the conversation about a Missionary Society would need to cease, for no less than six months and that while we needed to share with our founding Primates how thankful we were for their leadership, we were going to have to really distance ourselves from their care and counsel. As you might imagine, that was something of a blow to us, because we really do believe as a Council of Bishops that the way forward for the Anglican Mission is as a Missionary Society and we don’t think that, ah, we should distance ourself from the counsel of these men who have been with us from day one and have stood by us through everything. (applause)

And then the other thing, the other two things that did happen towards the close of the meeting is that Bishop Eliud said he was going to put out a communiqué…and the first point in that communiqué was going to be that Rwanda and the Anglican Mission had reconciled. Again I had a check in my spirit about that because my understanding of reconciliation hadn’t actually happened as far as I could tell during the meeting.

Again, we were there, we were certainly willing, but it was only an initial step. And I said, ‘In all due respect, your Grace, I believe that if you’re going to say anything about reconciliation in your communique, you should probably say it has begun” because there was great pain on both sides of the table, both in our brothers from Rwanda and pain on our side of the table. And yet, we hadn’t said to them ‘we have done this, it was wrong and that we repent and ask for your forgiveness’ nor had we heard that from the other side so I don’t know if a communiqué comes out if it will say that reconciliation has occurred, but it was started.

The other thing that I suggested at that meeting was that Bishop Eliud do everything he could to broker a meeting between Chuck Murphy and Archbishop Rwaje and the three founding Primates. Again, one of the greatest offenses to the Rwandans is that we, or Chuck especially, had been taking counsel from our founding fathers and so I thought a good place for reconciliation and healing would be at the very top where they could sort of set an example for us, as it moves down in the ranks.

I left the meeting optimistic and hopeful. I heard very clearly that Bishop Eliud and his observers were willing to work with us to do whatever it would take to bring about peace and that even if we were to walk apart, in the end it would be on parallel paths where we could say to one another, “go in peace to love and to serve the Lord” and to mean it with charity and sincerity.

5 thoughts on “The Nairobi Communiqué that Wasn’t”

  1. Joel,

    It is regretable that the other parties in the Nairobi meeting have not issued their own account of the meeting. They have played into Bishop Murphy’s hands. He and his Leadership Council are able to spin the meeting anyway that they want. Having accepted Murphy and Miller’s account of what occurred, people are also less likely to believe the other parties’ account when they do issue it.

    1. Amen. GAFCON’s charity is being used against them, although I think that if they do speak, it will have far greater authority than Pawleys Island.

    1. No, I don’t see it. What are you viewing this on? A PC? Internet Explorer? Something else? Thanks for letting me know.

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