The Long and Winding Road

It is difficult to keep up with the permutations and intricacies of AMiA polity even for a nerd like me. Let me do my best to capture the essence of the changes from the past six months.

1. The Rwandan House of Bishops made numerous attempts to communicate with Murphy via telephone, email, and in person. Finally, on Nov. 30th Archbishop Rwaje sends Murphy a letter that says in part:

You have constantly disregarded the decisions and counsels of the House of Bishops. You have misused the authority given to you by the Archbishop in advancing your New Missionary Society interests.  We wrote  you a letter twice to halt the advancement of the society, and you have ignored us to where you are at step 8th of 10. You have insulted our house using abusive language (knucklehead, reversed colonialism, lawlessness, etc…). You have dogged questions of financial transparency and yet in the September meeting you had promised that you will send all the financial transactions meant for Rwanda.

2. Rather than submitting to his ecclesiastical authority, Murphy and the majority of his bishops flee Rwanda on December 5th. Bishop Barnum says to Murphy prior to this cowardly move, “If we have any authority as bishops to bring ‘godly discipline’ then we’ve got to model being under and complying to ‘godly discipline’ …Model being under authority for us, for the Mission. Don’t let us divide… For the sake of the Mission, for the sake of all who look to you as a model of godly leadership, come under the discipline of your Archbishop.”

Murphy ignores all this and tells Archbishop Rwaje: “I now see a parallel between the Exodus story and the present situation with Rwanda and the PEAR…We actually see the Lord’s hand in all of this, and we are, therefore, at peace with this change and with this new reality.”

3. On December 14th, the AM issues a letter called “Apostolic Covering and Oversight” from the three retired Archbishops. It says: “Hence, we have unanimously agreed to designate you, Bishop Chuck Murphy, as the Lead-Bishop to lead this Anglican Mission in America.”
But that’s not all! They also issued “A Pastoral Declaration for Ministry in The Anglican Mission in the Americas An Emerging Mission Society”. I went over the envisioned structure in this post.

4. The AM bishops then huddled in Charlotte after that meeting sent some bishops to meet with ACNA, establishing a Design Group that attempted to negotiate a way for AMiA to partner with ACNA. The AM folks said:

On December 20, 2011, Bishops Chuck Murphy, Doc Loomis and John Rodgers and representatives from the Anglican Mission in the Americas participated in a very encouraging conversation during a meeting with Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishops Leonard Riches and Charlie Masters of the Anglican Church in North America. The joyful result of these conversations was a mutual pledge to wholeheartedly pursue a restoration of the relationship between The Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA and AMiA have appointed four bishops to engage in a determined effort to bring about at the earliest possible time a reunion of The Anglican Mission, a founding partner of the ACNA, to full participation in the life and ministry of the Anglican Church in North America. Both parties recognize that this is the beginning of a process, which will involve a number of strategic decisions as well as the repair and restoration of relationships.

5. As part of this attempt by AMiA to do something with ACNA, ACNA insists that the rebellious bishops reconcile with Rwanda. This results in a meeting in Nairobi between Murphy, Archbishop Rwaje and others. A communique is issued that includes this:

AMiA agreed to continue to work with the Church of Rwanda and that other plans for restructuring will be put on hold for six [6] months to allow time for healing and for other fruitful discussions.

Note that this was not even six months ago!

Murphy’s response to the communique is puzzling, he tells David Virtue that “it raised more questions than it answered. It was not helpful in moving forward towards reconciliation, as none of the issues of authority were really resolved.”

6. Next comes the AMiA Winter Conference where former Archbishop Kolini tells AMiA clergy that “it is reverse colonialism.” Kolini also says, “Rwanda wanted to hold a remote control to the AM, that had to be resisted. We shall remain in relationship with Rwanda – godly people from Rwanda and America, Baptists, Catholics, whoever. But we shall resist the spirit of remote control.”

Ordinations at the Winter Conference are conducted under the auspices of the Congo.

7. After another ACNA / AMiA meeting in February, the AM bishops send out a letter with a shorter Missionary Society synopsis that is much different from the long-winded document put out in December.

8. Murphy, Rwaje and others meet again in Johannesburg on March 13th. They essentially agree to disagree, and move on.

9. Archbishop Rwaje tells the AM bishops to move on, resign or face discipline.

10. The AM suddenly finds a home in the Congo, “temporarily.”

11. “Several” AM bishops approach ACNA about transferring into ACNA. Archbishops Duncan and Rwaje respond on 28 April.

12. Two AM bishops transfer to ACNA as Assistant Bishops, the AM emphasizes that this is temporary.

13. The AM issues yet another letter, this time a “Decree” establishing (yet again) the Mission Society. By my count, this is the 2nd founding, December was the first. Now, the Congo is home, no repentance happened, AMiA did not join ACNA, and the retired Archbishops get to keep on being involved. It appears that the talks between the Design Group of ACNA and AMiA are over (who knows?), and the new AM setup is utterly confusing. The sequence is:
a. Found the Mission Society (December);
b. Negotiate with ACNA (Dec-April)
c. Found the Mission Society (April)

7 thoughts on “The Long and Winding Road”

  1. How does some random blogger on the internet know whether people answer their phone calls and emails? I don’t think you know as much as you think you do. Proverbs 16:28

      1. Seems like that’s information from 3 men who also aren’t directly involved. Hearsay is hearsay no matter who it’s from.

        1. This isn’t a court case, and you don’t have to believe it. I trust the Rwandan bishops more than the Pawleys PR machine any day of the week.

  2. Court case or not, the problem with this entire situation is there are way too many opinions from people who are not involved and are not well informed. It’s easy to judge a person’s intentions when you have no face on the internet, but it’s still purely gossip. It’s also very interesting that you are posting pictures of Bishop Murphy in his or someone’s home. There is a dog over his shoulder. That seems very invasive.

    1. These actions are public and all of the statements are public. The AMiA is a denomination, and there is nothing wrong with calling them to task for what they have done. I don’t remember all this concern back when AMiA was leaving TEC and folks were (rightly) accusing TEC of things. Why don’t you point out what we are uninformed about?
      Also, given that you do IT work for the AM in Pawleys, I don’t expect you to be anything other than in their corner.

  3. Nick, concerning a man who is the spiritual leader of thousands as he makes public decisions affecting every one of their lives and in some cases splitting their churches down the middle, to call a public critique some sort of “invasion of privacy” or “judging his heart”…this is simply beyond parody…

    People may SAY mean things about Murphy. These things may even be uncharitable. But that that is his best defense is terribly revealing, when what is SAID is in response to what he has DONE … to us, our churches, and our families, as our leader.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.