Bishops on the Move

The news about the AMiA defections is out there, so I won’t repeat it. You can see an interesting source letter here, which reads in part:

The Rt. Rev. John E. Miller III of Melbourne, Florida, one of the bishops who consecrated me, has therefore requested to be received into this diocese. This is a temporary pastoral measure both for Bishop Miller and his parishes until the larger situation in AMiA is sorted out. He is a very committed, capable bishop and pastor, known and loved by many here in Florida.

I wanted to let you know that I will therefore be accepting Bishop Miller as an Assisting Bishop here as soon as I receive final confirmation of his transfer from the archbishop of Rwanda. Please read Bishop Miller’s and my announcement below.

“Assisting Bishop” is the role proposed by Archbishop Duncan and others, and is used in the recent understanding that has been created between AMiA and ACNA to help during this time of transition for AMiA. An assisting bishop is someone called to a particular and often temporary task, in this case to oversee Anglican Mission parishes in transition. It is not the same as an “Assistant Bishop,” which is a bishop whose appointment requires the consent of Synod. An assistant bishop would be a member of our ACNA College of Bishops, while an assisting bishop would not. We are planning no remuneration for Bishop Miller from our current diocesan funding at this point.

It is not possible to be sure of how long this arrangement will last. The understanding assumes six months.

Bishop Miller and the more than twenty congregations which have been under his care have been through a difficult season. Most but not all of these parishes are within our diocesan territory. I want you to open your hearts to them as we walk this path to care for them. Please keep them all in your prayers.

I know this is messy, and raises many questions. I am responding to a pastoral need with the encouragement of our archbishop. At this moment we are only receiving Bishop Miller. If any of his congregations or clergy wish to join us in our diocese, they may apply and be admitted according to our usual processes. They all have to make affiliation decisions in the next six months.

AMiA Odds and Ends

David Virtue tells us that:

I have just learned that there is a shadow gathering of AMIA leaders here in London that includes Bishop Chuck Murphy, The Very Rev. Canon Mike Murphy, Episcopal Vicar, and former SE Asia Archbishop Moses Tay. That the Archbishop of the Congo is here might have something to do with it, as AMIA has obtained only temporary oversight from this Anglican province since leaving Rwanda.

Meanwhile, Bishop Silas Ng says today on his blog:

Today is a very important day in my life because today I made a very important decisions to join with my brother Anglican Mission bishops to be officially under the Anglican Province of Congo as a Mission Society. Our dreams come true today! God’s Kingdom will be enhanced!

Larry Tomczak on the SGM Whitewash

An email revealed today from the co-founder of Sovereign Grace Ministries minced no words with the attempt at whitewashing the behavior of C.J. Mahaney. Tomczak says in part:

Addressing the illegal, immoral and documented blackmail plus the reprehensible conduct that shattered our reputation, relationships and family ties (plus our livelihood) was afforded a dismissive SIX sentences in the report!  Unbelievable.

I couldn’t agree more. I searched the PDF of the AOR report for Larry’s name and was surprised to see nothing about the blackmail imposed on him. And the Reformed “big dogs” Piper, Mohler, Duncan and Dever seem to think that C.J. is just fine, despite his attempted blackmail. They shouldn’t be taken seriously on much of anything.

Against Theological Laziness

I was encouraged to read Archbishop Eliud Wabukala’s address to GAFCON today, particularly this section:

We must resist the temptation to be theologically lazy. Our aim of a renewed, reformed Anglican Communion will not be sustained if we are unwilling to support and encourage those who are gifted to do the training and the theological heavy lifting so essential to give depth and penetration to our vision both within the Church and beyond it. We need to recover the vision of the Anglican Reformers, of ordinary believers knowing scriptures and being nourished by biblical teaching. Equally we need leaders, lay and ordained, able to give a robust defense of apostolic faith in the global public square. If we do not, secular ideologies which have so powerfully shaped liberal and revisionist Christianity in the Communion will tighten the grip. The Lord our God cannot allow it. He calls us to move on.

Frankly, there is a lot of theological, particularly Biblical, laziness in ACNA ranks. Hopefully this changes over time.

ACNA and the LCMS

Today, ACNA released a document called “Anglican Church in North America and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Dialogue—Report on the Discussions (2010-2012).” It is encouraging to see that the LCMS is holding ACNA’s feet to the fire on women’s ordination:

Disagreement exists among Anglicans about the propriety of ordaining women to the pastoral (presbyteral) office, while the LCMS opposes this practice.

LCMS/LCC representatives have discerned agreement with the majority in ACNA in regards to this issue. Although presbyteral ordination for women occurs in ACNA, a majority of ACNA bishops reserve presbyteral ordination only for men.

This “majority” position needs to become the only position within ACNA.

The Dude Abides

As I mentioned last month, Bishop Todd Hunter is slated to be a speaker at the ACNA assembly. That was before AMiA removed itself to the Congo, a Province that has been more in communion with Rowan Williams than Robert Duncan. You might think that Hunter’s participation in disobedience to Rwanda and flight from GAFCON would make him an unlikely speaker at the Assembly, but ACNA now has a story up that very much confirms that he will be there.

Bishop Hunter has hopped from place to place, having worked as National Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches from 1998 until 2001, then from 01-04 he was the Director of Allelon, an emergent movement that seems to have vanished, from 04 to 08 he was the National Director of Alpha USA, from 08 to 10 he headed a non-profit called Society for Kingdom Living. He was then brought in from being a non-Anglican to being ordained and consecrated as a bishop by Chuck Murphy in 2010.

Hunter brings an unorthodox view of women’s ordination to the AMiA (and thus fits right in):

It’s not about ordaining a particular gender or an issue of social justice for me – ordination is not a ‘right’ for anyone. While I recognize and celebrate the differences between genders, I want to raise up human beings gifted and called to Kingdom ministry…I guess you can say I’m an egalitarian of the complementary sort.

I am excited about the potential for women to be part of our church planting movement on the west coast and am already seeing fruit of such ministry in C4SO. This is all about facilitating a missional commitment.

A close eye is going to have to be kept on ACNA to see where it goes on women’s ordination and a host of other issues. Is it going to be TEC without the gay stuff, or is it going to be something better? That story remains to be written.

Leaving AMiA

In one example of what are and will be many, Church of the Redeemer is leaving AMiA:

After months of prayer, research and discussion your Elders believe that our future lies in an orthodox, unified Anglican province on this continent.  Therefore, we have decided to bring our association with the AMiA to a close. We want to express our gratitude for the leadership and oversight that the AMiA provided as we formed Church of the Redeemer, and in particular our bishops – T.J. Johnston and Todd Hunter.

We are sad to lose some of the connections we had in the AMiA.  However, we look forward to the day in which AMiA congregations are all part of one larger Anglican Church again.

The AM’s MO

The unfolding AMiA story has exhibited a tendency to unravel like the proverbial onion, with each layer yielding another insight into what may in fact be going on. There has been an almost predictable thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis pattern of figuring out the story based on piecing together what little we know outside of official sources, which are generally PR exercises. The latest “flight into Egypt (Congo)” involved:

[1] A letter from Archbishop Rwaje telling the resigned bishops to inform him where their new home would be, resign, or face discipline.

[2] A letter from Bishop Murphy telling us of a new home in the Anglican Church of the Congo. His letter acted as if this was a logical step that had been in the works all along, and yet Bishop Doc Loomis had publicly denied that this was the case two short months ago.

[3] Someone talks to the sources and a fuller story emerges. In this case, it is the fact that the Archbishop of the Congo has offered AMiA “temporary” residence in the Congo, something Chairman Murphy failed to mention. Details, details.

[4] Lurking behind it all is an allegation that “A substantial gift of American dollars from an extremely wealthy lady in Pawleys Island, SC—one of Chuck Murphy’s most loyal and generous donors over the years” is behind the Anglican Church of the Congo’s offer of residence for AMiA. So, the elephant in the room is that ‘money is muscle’ and that theAM has found a home based on a ‘substantial gift.’ Of course none of the official pronouncements from Pawleys Island or the DRC mention this reality, but do we really think that the Anglican Church of the Congo just up and decided to give AMiA a home for no reason?

Christians in the Congo

According to Wolfram Alpha, there are more Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Congo than Anglicans:

The Anglican Church in Congo has a support organization in England called the Congo Church Association. Last year, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Katharine Jefferts Schori visited Congo. David Virtue wrote that Congo’s allegiance was moving towards TEC:

“One should expect to see the leadership of CAPA move away from Nigeria and its leader Archbishop Nicholas Okoh (who is no Akinola) and towards Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. The strength is [now] in East Africa,” VOL was told. Central Africa, which was solidly orthodox under former Anglo-Catholic Archbishop Bernard Malango, may now be lost and with it, Congo and Burundi.

What this means is that Canterbury and the Episcopal Church are going to take advantage of CAPA’s loss of virtual unanimity. In the past, the orthodox elements could count on some degree of support from every province except Southern Africa; that is no longer the case.
At a cultural level Africans value consensus, so they will be reluctant to push Congo, Burundi, or Central Africa, VOL was told.

While Archbishop Wabukala has the strength of character of both Archbishop Akinola and former Rwandan Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, he is faced with dealing with at least two provinces (Congo and Burundi) with whom he doesn’t have the connections that Archbishop Kolini (who started out as a Congo bishop) had. Furthermore, there has always been a close if often tense relationship between Rwanda and Burundi.

The recent appointment of the Rev. Pam Strobel, senior associate at Christ Church, Greenwich, CT, to serve as a Mission Partner in the Anglican Church of Congo for two years, working directly under Archbishop Henri Isingoma to set up systems that will allow other mission partners to come work in the DR Congo is another Western liberal intrusion that only serves TEC’s purposes and deepens the ties TEC would like to have in Africa and thus swing it in their theological direction.

The push by western Anglican liberals takes on greater urgency if they are to win the culture wars in the Global South. It is a race against time. Western pan-Anglicanism is numerically withering and dying but still relatively speaking rich.

The bottom line is that it comes down to money for Congo, Burundi, and Central Africa. These are incredibly poor provinces (not that other African provinces aren’t as well), but as long as The Episcopal Church and Canterbury don’t involve themselves too much in their internal affairs and provide these provinces with money, they either will not support GAFCON or their voices will be conspicuously silent.

Bishop William Bahemuka Mugenyi has been active in soliciting aid for his war-torn diocese, see here and here.

Reverse Colonialism?

Well, the AMiA has found a home, and it is the Congo. You know, the Congo, in Africa. Back in December, the Holy Spirit told Chuck Murphy to leave Africa:

The result, as we saw in the story of Exodus, is that God’s sovereign hand which had led His people into Africa (Egypt) in the earlier Book of Genesis, then took a dramatic turn in the Book of Exodus instructing His people that it was now time for them to leave Africa.

God then begins to move within the hearts of the Egyptian leadership to make it more and more clear to the people of Israel that Africa (Egypt) could no longer be viewed as their lasting home.

But now, the Holy Spirit may have changed course, and it is time for AMiA to head back in to Africa.

Let’s hope that Bishop Murphy has cautioned the Congolese bishops against reverse colonialism. They should know that “directing  and shaping what happens in North America is a bad idea.” In fact, it could be “missiologically crazy and practically foolish.” Certainly, the shortened distance to Pawleys Island from Congo should make oversight more effective now.

You may remember that in February, the AMiA and the Congo fervently denied that any connection was in the works (even though I reported here that Kolini flew directly to Congo after the Winter Conference).

However, when queried, Archbishop Isingoma stated he was unaware of any Congolese move to take over the AMiA from Rwanda.  The archbishop and the Congolese House of Bishops “have never received or approved a special partnership with AMiA. I am very surprised to hear that we are sponsoring AMIA actions.”

Doc Loomis in fact was irate at all the “bad reporting” going on.

Ultimately, this move is not surprising. Chuck Murphy fled church discipline, refused to do what GAFCON asked of him, got off the hook, and now gets a new Province to park in, a Province that welcomed some interesting folks lately:

Here’s the full text of the latest from AMiA:

At the close of this year’s Winter Conference, we issued a Communiqué expressing the mind of the gathering. One of the key components and goals of that Communiqué, as well as subsequent communications from our Council of Bishops, was to “diligently seek appropriate jurisdictional connections” with an authentic and orthodox Anglican Communion province. As we continue to celebrate our Lord’s Resurrection during this Easter season, it is a particular joy to report the good news that our goal has now been realized. This week, I received an official letter from Archbishop Henri Isingoma of the Anglican Church of the Congo, receiving me as a Bishop of the House of Bishops in his Province and offering us a new canonical residence. In response to a recent letter from Archbishop Rwaje asking our bishops to translate to another Anglican jurisdiction by the end of this month, I had earlier requested that he send my letters dimissory to the Province of the Congo.

This transfer follows a process of relational reconciliation with Rwanda facilitated by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. These conversations culminated in our meeting in Johannesburg and the Communiqué in which Archbishop Rwaje agreed to release theAM to develop other jurisdictional relationships. Under our accord with the Province of the Congo, we are now secure and validly attached to the global Anglican Communion. Rooted in the East African Revival, the Province of the Congo [formerly Zaire] was originally joined together as one larger province, which also included Rwanda and Burundi. In 1992, all three were subsequently established as separate provinces. The Anglican Mission’s connection with the Congo began at Winter Conference 2012 when Bishop William Bahemuka Mugenyi generously made provision for scheduled ordinations to go forward.

We are very grateful to Archbishop Henri for his warm welcome to the Province. As we continue to transition toward a Mission Society with oversight provided by a College of Consultors, we remain committed to the multi-jurisdictional model that launched the Anglican Mission in Singapore (the Provinces of Southeast Asia and Rwanda). Toward that end, conversations with other jurisdictions including the Anglican Church in North America will continue.

Now that a new canonical residence provides for our bishops and clergy to transfer from Rwanda to the Congo, I have been asked to facilitate the transition and therefore, requests for transfers should be sent to the Mission Center.

We look forward with great anticipation to the multi-layered process of developing a Mission Society designed to encase our values and facilitate our desire to be a mission, nothing more and nothing less. While we continue our consistent focus on planting churches in North America, our process will include careful consideration of our present structures including the roles of bishops, the Mission Center and its staff, and our Networks as we prepare to develop the constitution and statutes that will ultimately order our common life. We are scheduling several meetings in which we will discuss and seek input from clergy and leaders throughout the Mission to assist us in designing and vetting the shape and specific details of our proposed Mission Society. We expect to complete these conversations by mid-October.

The Council of Bishops and our leadership team are united in a vision to further develop and carry forth an Apostolic/missionary (sodality) call to reach those outside the faith in effective, creative and entrepreneurial ways. This journey is well underway, and we invite and encourage you to celebrate and press on with us.

In Christ,

The Rt. Rev Charles H. Murphy, III