I’ll try to comment on this later, but for now, here is the text of the letter:
At the conclusion of the January, 2012 Sacred Assembly in Raleigh, NC, Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje established a temporary Steering Team on behalf of the Anglican Church of Rwanda to serve in directing its ongoing missionary efforts in North America. The Steering Team was commissioned to both respond to immediate needs and also to prepare the way for future long‐ term mission and structure. The immediate task of the team was to provide pastoral care and oversight for clergy canonically resident in Rwanda, as well as those congregations desirous of continuing affiliation with Rwanda, all under the auspices of an interim organization known as PEARUSA (Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda en USA). In preparing for the future, the team was charged to explore and develop plans for long‐term ecclesiastical structures. Toward this end, a working group of laity, clergy and bishops met in a retreat center outside of Washington, DC, on Feb 26‐28, 2012, to consider future possibilities. This communiqué reports the outcomes of this working group retreat.
Two Ecclesiastical Options
After many hours of prayer and fruitful dialogue, the working group agreed to recommend two long‐termecclesiastical options to clergy and congregations:
1. Affiliation with a nascent North American Missionary District of Rwanda, in full communion and collaboration with the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA).
2. Direct affiliation with existing dioceses or dioceses‐in‐formation of the ACNA. Each of these options will be explained in further detail below.
1. A North American Missionary District
God willing, the Missionary District is a means for both continuity and stability. It provides continuity as an ongoing missionary endeavor of the Anglican Church of Rwanda to North America, and it offers stability as an Anglican jurisdiction affiliated with both the Province of Rwanda and the ACNA. Reflecting shared convictions and practices of these two member‐jurisdictions of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), the Missionary District is intended to be:
• Centered on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
• Missional – a church planting movement of indigenous missionaries in North America.
• Anglican in beliefs, practices, and structures.
• Vitally connected to the living biblical orthodoxy and missionary passion of the Anglican churches of the Global South by subscription to the Jerusalem Declaration issued by GAFCON in 2008.
• Collegial and collaborative, through structures that always include a plurality of senior leaders and always encourage both voice and vote of laity and clergy.
• Intentionally relational, with a passion for transparency and reconciliation in the spirit of the East African Revival and the Church of Rwanda after the genocide.
• Flexible, allowing for subdivision into multiple missionary districts with varied administrative structures according to what best serves the needs of its constituents.
• United with biblical, mission‐driven North American Anglicans as a sub‐jurisdiction of the ACNA.
The spiritual leadership and friendship of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and ACNA’s God‐given calling to unite biblical, mission‐driven Anglicans in North America are potent sources of sustained mission and ministry in this generation and beyond. By way of analogy, this is like a marriage. In the mystery of marriage, two people who share much in common, but who are different, and remain differentiated throughout life, at the same time become one. They are one at the point when the marriage is established; and they become one over time.
The Rwandan House of Bishops has already confirmed that the Missionary District concept is anticipated in the existing Rwandan canons and is in keeping with their sustained vision to serve the work of the Gospel on this continent. With this in mind, the PEARUSA Steering Team unanimously agreed to petition the House of Bishops to formalize the existence of a Missionary District in North America. The House will consider this petition during their next meeting on March 29, 2012, and hopefully it will be affirmed. Once this Missionary District is established, a task force will develop protocols to govern the Missionary District’s relationship with ACNA, similar to documents established between the ACNA and its other sub‐jurisdictions. In the meantime, a working group is currently developing a Charter for the Missionary District, as well as assisting the Church of Rwanda as it pursues revision of its own canons in recognition of the need to accurately reflect its own (PEAR’s) faith and practices and to provide proper long‐term conciliar episcopal oversight for the Missionary District.
Here is a proposed timeline for implementation of the Missionary District concept (subject to the guidance and blessing of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the ACNA):
• March 2012. Submission of the Petition and Charter to the Rwandan House of Bishops
• March 29, 2012. Consideration and Response of the Rwandan House of Bishops.
• March 30, 2012. Declaration and naming of the formal existence of the Missionary District.
• March‐June 2012. Development and completion of protocols for sub‐jurisdictional relationship with ACNA.
• April 2012. Initiation of formal affiliation processes for clergy and congregations.
• Late April 2012. Assembly to introduce the Missionary District plan, and for prayer, worship, vision, information, and broader collaboration.
• May 2012. Informational teleconferences to introduce the Missionary District plan to those unable to attend the April Assembly.
• May‐August 2012. Collaborative preparation for Inaugural Synod, via proposals and nominations for administrative structures, possible subdivisions, leaders, etc.
• Late August 2012. Inaugural Synod.
2. Direct Affiliation with ACNA
Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje has blessed clergy and churches canonically resident in Rwanda who are finding their way directly into the ACNA. Clergy and congregations may affiliate with ACNA, either through existing or nascent geographical dioceses, or through other sub‐ jurisdictions such as CANA, Forward in Faith, and the Reformed Episcopal Church. While each ACNA diocese or sub‐jurisdiction will provide guidelines for such transitions on a case‐by‐case basis, the PEARUSA Steering Team remains eager to assist affiliated clergy and congregations who choose this alternative. In addition, the Steering Team is working with the House of Bishops of PEAR to provide formal and liturgical resources to facilitate, support, and celebrate those who choose direct affiliation with ACNA.
We anticipate the possibility of a liturgical celebration at the ACNA Provincial Assembly in June 2012 to thank God for the collaboration between PEAR and ACNA on behalf of these clergy and churches. The Mission and Ministry of PEARUSA The PEARUSA Steering Team will continue to provide pastoral care and support for clergy and congregations through the summer of 2012. Assuming the establishment of the North American Missionary District by March 30, 2012, clergy and congregations will be encouraged to make their affiliation decisions by Pentecost Sunday, May 27, 2012. With the Inaugural Synod of the Missionary District in August, 2012, the mission and ministry of PEARUSA will be completed, and the temporary Steering Team will be disbanded.
PETITION TO THE HOUSE OF BISHOPS PROVINCE DE L’EGLISE ANGLICANE AU RWANDA
Greetings in the Name of the Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior: Praise the Lord! We are grateful to God for his grace in the leadership of the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda in its indigenous missionary effort in North America. We are committed to participating in this effort and have a renewed sense of call to that end. It has become necessary to clarify the identity of this effort. Therefore, we petition the House of Bishops to formally recognize this missionary effort as a Missionary District of the Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda in North America.
Attached to this request is a proposed charter that clarifies the anticipated identity, structure and function of this Missionary District.
The Steering Team and Working Group
Bishop Thad Barnum
Rev Dr Steven Breedlove
Rev Paul Briggs
Rev David Bryan
Rev Aaron Burt
Rev Dan Claire
Rev Chuck Colson
Rev Chip Edgar
Bishop Terrell Glenn
Rev Greg Goebel
Rev Arthur Going
Dr Todd Granger
Rev Alan Hawkins
Rev Clark Lowenfield
Bishop Laurent Mbanda
Rev Thomas McKenzie
Dr Bill Roper
Rev Ken Ross
Mr Dhrubo Sircar