Another case of sexual misconduct in ACNA

Antonio Castañeda

While talking to Bart Gingerich about sexual misconduct cases in ACNA he mentioned another case from the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin. A priest named Jesus Antonio Castañeda-Serna was accused of sexual misconduct and arrested on February 24th 2019. The Fresno chief of police said:

…the victims…would seek out Serna for counseling and healing from heartbreak to drug addiction. An arrest warrant says Serna would tell them they were cursed, and needed a healing massage and prayer with a special oil. Dyer said he would have the men disrobe and then carried out sexual acts.

The Diocese put out a statement that said:

Castañeda (commonly known as Father Antonio Castañeda) joined the diocese in 2008 as the vicar of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Fresno, California. On the evening of October 29, 2017, Bishop Eric Menees received credible accusations that Castañeda had committed sexual misconduct against adults in the diocese. The following morning, Bishop Menees suspended Castañeda from all pastoral and priestly ministry and reported the accusations to the police.
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin hired an independent third party to conduct an internal investigation. Pursuant to diocesan policy, Castañeda was notified of his right to representation at an ecclesiastical trial convened to hear the accusations. On November 24, 2017, Castañeda informed the bishop he would not contest the accusations, and he consented to be deposed from priestly ministry in the Anglican Church. Castañeda was then stripped of all priestly roles, privileges, and standing, and Bishop Menees began lending day-to-day pastoral care and oversight to Castañeda’s former congregation.

Disturbingly, Castañeda had previously withdrawn from the Roman Catholic priesthood before coming to the Diocese of San Joaquin and apparently the diocese was warned about his sexual misconduct with an adult and yet took him in! Donald W. Meyers wrote in the Yakima Herald:

Serna was a priest in the Yakima Diocese in 1997, but was suspended in 2005 amid allegations that he had revealed information he received in the confessional, said Monsignor Robert Siler, spokesman for the diocese.

While the diocese was investigating that and seeking direction from the Vatican, Castañeda Serna asked to withdraw from the priesthood, Siler said — a request granted in 2007. The diocese notified regional parishes that Castañeda Serna might attempt to pass himself off as a priest, Siler said.

A year later, the diocese attempted to look into an allegation that Castañeda Serna had engaged in sexual misconduct with an adult while a priest, but Siler said Serna did not cooperate with the diocese’s investigator. That allegation was passed on to Castañeda Serna’s Anglican diocese, Siler said. Siler said the Yakima Diocese has put Fresno investigators in touch with the man who made the allegation.

Anglican priest facing charges in California once served in Yakima Diocese

If the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin knew about the allegations against Castañeda in 2008 and did not remove him at that time, allowing him to assault more victims, that is a sickening failure. ACNA did not exist at this time so he would have come in under The Episcopal Church, which means it is more of a problem with San Joaquin than with the broader church. How on earth was he cleared to be a priest in TEC with his history? This is a clear failure and does show a problem in at least one ACNA diocese.

ACNA and sexual misconduct

Yesterday the ACNA posted this press release:

Earlier this year, the Board of Inquiry, a panel required by the Anglican Church in North America’s Constitution and Canons, found cause for ecclesiastical charges to be brought against The Right Reverend Ron Jackson. These charges were brought forward after private, earlier efforts by the Archbishop and fellow bishops to facilitate restoration proved unfruitful.

On Tuesday, June 2, 2020, Bishop Jackson admitted to the use of pornography over many years and pleaded guilty to the charges of sexual immorality (Canon IV.2(6)) and conduct giving just cause for scandal or offense (Canon IV.2(4)).

According to Canon IV.8(2) it is the responsibility of the College of Bishops to impose a sentence when a bishop is guilty of an ecclesiastical charge. Meeting on June 2, 2020, the College voted to impose the sentence of deposition from the sacred ministry on Bishop Jackson. His holy orders have been removed, and he is no longer permitted to engage in ordained ministry in the Anglican Church in North America.

In making this decision, the College of Bishops grieved the victimization of those caught up in the pornography industry and lamented the impact that moral failure in leadership has upon the whole Church and its witness. They also expressed their love and concern for Ron and Patty Jackson and their whole family, and assured them of the College’s unqualified desire to see Ron continue in the process of repentance and healing.

Please continue to pray for all those involved in or affected by this situation.

http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/2053

Although grievous, this is a good thing. It is good that the man was exposed and removed, although it was so late in life that it worries me to think that he was in the clergy and in leadership for many, many years while engaged in a massively sinful double-life.

I hope that ACNA and the various sub-jurisdictions are doing a good job of screening leaders and guarding the flock. I know some problems are hard to detect and that wolves are good at hiding, but the veneration that many lend to bishops and clergy can make ACNA a very dangerous place if there are sexual crimes or patterns of sin taking root.

On June 10, 2012 Bishop Julian Dobbs ordained the Rev. Kent Hinkson to the diaconate. Hinkson was a volunteer minister at All Saints Church in Durham and had been a pastor at Presbyterian churches in Texas, California and Florida before joining the ACNA. In 2014 Hinkson met a man named Matthew John Reed on a gay website. On August 4 2014 Hinkson left his home and told his family he was going to visit a pharmacy and make a deposit at a Durham bank. Instead he met Reed at a restaurant, then proceeded to the Eno River State Park where there was a sexual encounter. Reed then threatened to reveal the rendezvous and asked for hush money. He became angry and killed Hinkson.

In 2019 Father Eric Dudley of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Tallahassee was found to have “…engaged in sexual misconduct against certain adult staff members and one other non-staff adult, abused his authority as an employer and priest and emotionally harmed those in his charge.”[1]https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/2019/11/25/st-peters-founder-eric-dudley-committed-sexual-misconduct-investigation-finds/4298058002/ This included things like:

With each of these reported victims, the relationships with Father Eric not only grew much more personal, but they eventually crossed physical boundaries. This usually occurred when the men were alone, and Father Eric engaged them in a personal conversation about previously known vulnerabilities. Almost inevitably, this resulted in someone crying and Father Eric engaging in some form of physical contact, such as putting his head in the reported victim’s lap, holding the reported victim’s hands, touching the reported victim’s feet, or otherwise caressing the reported victim. In many cases, the physical contact escalated to the point that Father Eric was arranging to sleep in the same bed as the reported victim; he even kissed a reported victim on the mouth. If the respective person expressed any uneasiness with the touching, Father Eric would either normalize the behavior (such as by explaining that he was just an affectionate person or talking about men holding hands or kissing in other cultures) or reassure the victim that he was not sexually attracted to men.

Eventually this escalated:

As the communications, meetings, and personal activities that Father Eric demanded from these young men grew in frequency and intensity, the reported victims and their spouses became increasingly annoyed and troubled. Attempts by the reported victims to reduce communications and contact with Father Eric, however, were often met with guilt trips, anger, and sometimes rage. Father Eric’s escalation of misconduct over time led each victim to disclose their experiences.

Were there clues in the past of these clergy that might have revealed the problems before they were brought into ACNA? How thorough is the vetting process for established clergy coming in from elsewhere? I know in AMiA before 2010 it was broken and allowed divorced priests in that should never have been allowed in.

ACNA had made a great deal of having a “startup culture” and has valued an “entrepreneurial” mindset in its clergy or aspiring clergy. I would say that we have been “hasty in the laying on of hands” and we are stuck with clergy who should not be ordained. I don’t mean those in sexual sin but unorthodox and unsound, spineless and clueless. But the case of Bishop Jackson shows that there may also be issues of sexual sin. Given the correct conduct of the Council of Bishops we can be grateful, but it is something that bears watching. Let’s hope that there isn’t fire where there is smoke and that we haven’t got a larger problem on our hands.

References

1 https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/2019/11/25/st-peters-founder-eric-dudley-committed-sexual-misconduct-investigation-finds/4298058002/

Disappointment with the ACNA Assembly 2019

The upcoming ACNA Assembly features two troubling speakers: Rwandan Archbishop Laurent Mbanda and the apologist Ravi Zacharias. Why are these men troubling? Zacharias was discovered to be inflating his credentials a couple years ago, something he apologized for, but only when caught in the act. Professor John Stackhouse gets to the point about why this is troubling:

Well, when your whole job is to tell the truth as accurately, carefully, rigorously as possible, when what you’re really asking people to do by setting forth your credentials – which literally comes from the same word as creed or credo – why I should be believed, then you really take on a tremendous burden to speak very circumspectly. And if right out of the gate your credentials are suspect, then what are people supposed to do in the audience when he makes certain claims? Are they all supposed to hit their phones, or tablets and start checking everything you say because the stuff they can check isn’t quite true. Isn’t quite true. And I think as soon as we get into the it’s not quite true phase, I think you’re done. I just don’t think you can continue as an apologist if you’re not going to be scrupulous about telling the truth in a way that you can predict your audience will understand. Otherwise, you’re in the wrong game.

(source)

Zacharias was also involved in a strange ongoing exchange of texts with a woman that may or may not have been inappropriate on his part. We will never know because there is an NDA between the parties, but the gist of the case can be seen here and here. Perhaps it was an extortion attempt, but the credential inflation is still a serious matter and giving him a platform at the Assembly is not necessary.

When it comes to Archbishop Mbanda, you have a man who does nothing but praise a dictator who kills his own people in the Rwandan police state, it would be akin to St. Paul praising Nero as a visionary leader. I have documented this extensively on this site, see this link. Unfortunately it seems that ACNA continues in its uncritical approach to Rwanda, which Mbanda is exploiting, with the new development that GAFCON’s next bishops meeting in opposition to Lambeth will take place in Kigali next year.

It would be one thing if the Rwandan bishops asked for prayer in the face of an oppressive state, but instead they trumpet this evil regime as if it is a great thing. In the future, ACNA’s unthinking acceptance of this narrative will look quite bad, but as of yet this has produced no change in our conduct.

Dr. Cantrell Again

Dr. Phillip Cantrell commented on my post on RPF massacres below, and I thought it was worth elevating his comment to a post of its own given the seriousness of these issues for ACNA and GAFCON, so here is what he said:

Hello again Joel, and any readers. This is in response to this and your two previous posts from/abt Ryentjens. As a historian of Rwanda and the region, I would say Ryentjens is a major voice in Rwandan studies. For the record, he is more of a political scientist than a historian. He is also, or at least last time I checked, a jurist in Belgium; that is, our equivalent of a Belgian senator. As such, he used to have high-level, credible access to information in Rwanda. He still does, but he has been banned from Rwanda now b/c of his criticisms of Kagame and the RPF (obvious enough perhaps from your posts). He knows he would probably be detained and deported if he tried to enter the country now, which is true of other prominent historians, critics and observers of the country. I have read many of his writings and used them in my own publications. He is regarded by the community of Rwanda scholars as spot-on, accurate and fair; fair that is in his approach to the Hutu/Tutsi question and the issue of culpability in regards to the genocide and RPF attrocities since.

Tying into his comments abt Kagame and the allegations about RPF atrocities and killings since the genocide, these are really no longer in question, however much it may disturb some of the readers of this blog who, like many, including myself once, desperately wanted to believe in the “new Rwanda.” Kagame and the RPF, whatever their intentions may have been when they invaded from Uganda in 1991, did in fact play a role in bringing on the genocide, even as they fought to end it when no one else in the international community, including the U.S./U.N., did not. And they have run an increasingly despotic regime since.

It’s tragically ironic that I write these comments on the very day that the activist politician Victorie Ingabire was sentenced to 8 years in prison in Rwanda for alleged crimes of “speech” after a decidedly unfair trial by any Western standards, and even that assumes that its fair and just to imprison someone for non-violent political opposition. To the readers of this post: what would we say if George W. Bush had imprisoned Al Gore for 8 years for “vocal opposition” or if President Obama had imprisoned Newt Gingrich? Get the picture?

The only remaining, valid question it seems for the readers of this post, and the former AMiA, is to what extent is the Anglican Church in Rwanda complicit in all this, either thru its support or willing silence in Kagame and the RPF’s actions? Does it not behoove us and the Christian community to find out? Is it a just use of our “aid dollars” to inadvertently support such a state in Rwanda? At a time when the evidence is mounting of Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels? The chickens are coming home to roost for Rwanda and the RPF. The “you owe us your silence b/c of your genocidal guilt” mantra is wearing out. The truth will come out. But even worse, the retribution will flow one day, and retribution in Africa usually, sadly, flows red.

Its not an easy position to be in and I do not envy the decision-makers in the former AMiA. Its not natural for us. As Ryentjens said once its hard for Americans to comprehend African conflicts b/c everything in American history is cast as the “good guys versus the bad guys” so find the bad guys and call the rangers. But, Ryentjans said, in African conflicts its always the “bad guys versus the bad guys” and that makes decision-making difficult. Lastly, I will say this, Ryentjens is a Belgian politician and the Belgians carry alot of guilt. I note that he suggested, from your posts, the problems began in 1959/60. Not really. The problems began even earlier when the country became racialized into Hutus and Tutsis. And the Belgians bear much responsibility for that, but not all of it. Some of it lies at the foot of the Rwandans. But they are not as willing as the Belgians, Ryentjens not withstanding, to admit it. I’m Phil Cantrell (cantrellpa@longwood.edu) and, unlike the RPF, I welcome comments, criticisms and dialogue.

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.

Todd Hunter at the ACNA Assembly

Bishop Todd Hunter of the AMiA is a featured speaker at ACNA’s Assembly 2012. Why? Although canonically resident in Rwanda, he left PEAR along with Chuck Murphy. Archbishop Duncan said of these folks, “They are now former Anglicans, that’s what they have to grapple with.” [1]

So why would Archbishop Duncan turn around and invite Todd Hunter to teach at the high point of ACNA’s life together? Possibly, it signals that AMiA is on the way to being folded into ACNA. Or, perhaps it means that Todd is a candidate for the Vicar (Provincial Director) for Anglican 1000? Either way, it sends a confusing message when paired with what Archbishop Duncan has previously said.

 

From Nairobi to Johannesburg

The new communique from GAFCON on reconciliation between AMiA and PEAR is probably the end of the road for this chapter of the saga. This latest communique does not seem to agree with many points from the earlier Nairobi communique, for instance:

  • AMiA agreed that they remain canonically under the Church of Rwanda and accept the doctrine of forgiveness.
  • 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.

The latest communique says instead that “we have done the best within our human efforts to fulfill the recommendations of the Nairobi Meeting”. I haven’t seen AMiA putting their plans on hold for six months, so I interpret this to mean that Rwanda is graciously allowing them to go their way.

This again points to a problem for Anglicanism that is at least as old as Bishop Pike and his heresy trial, if not much older, and that is that there is a real failure of church discipline. Renegades can get away with pretty much whatever they want, and that is not in accord with what we see in the Scriptures. Although GAFCON is a new development, it is in for a lot of trouble if it maintains the laissez-faire approach to church discipline that it inherited from Canterbury.

It remains to be seen where theAM ends up, and I’m sure that will take more time to sort itself out.

 

Thoughts on the PEAR Communiqué

The two options presented to the Rwandan churches are a narrowing of the three envisioned options presented at Moving Forward Together, and they make more sense. They boil down to (1) joining ACNA outright, or (2) existing in a close relationship with ACNA on the same pattern that CANA has.

The Missionary District of Rwanda allows for a relationship with Rwanda that honors PEAR for its contribution to keeping orthodox Anglicanism alive in the USA during the last decade. It also means that clergy to clergy and congregation to congregation relationships can be maintained. It also means that these Rwandan congregations in America can work hand in glove with their local ACNA counterparts. This is how CANA is functioning on the ground in Northern Virginia. Truro and the Falls Church seem to see themselves as more a part of ACNA now, with CANA being a secondary affiliation, and this is how it should be. A future Missionary Bishop or two (lets hope its not more than that) can sit in the ACNA College of Bishops and in Rwanda at the same time (cf. Bp Dobbs and Minns).

The Missionary District means that the narrative of Africa re-evangelizing America is not lost. Both Nigeria and Rwanda continue to send missionaries to us (in a sense). This important narrative was threatened to be lost with the Pawleys Island “Missionary Society” concept.

The Jerusalem Declaration is central to the Missionary District, and this is a good thing. A definitively classical Anglican position is outlined for this District. This is a move back towards what most of us thought the AMiA was about given the Solemn Declaration. The other bullet points are clear distinctions against what AMiA had become, such as:

  • Collegiality in place of a Chairman calling the shots.
  • A “passion for transparency” in place of the ongoing drama over the finances of AMiA.
  • Unity with ACNA, in place of rivalry and the pulling away that occurred in 2010. This breach began to be healed very publicly by Bishops Barnum and Duncan in Raleigh. This Communiqué uses the analogy of a marriage and becoming one over time, and that is a wonderful picture of what should happen. A decade from now, these recent struggles may be lost in the fog of the past as thousands of new parishes flourish in the United States.

The canons of Rwanda are being revised with the recognition that they currently do not reflect the faith and practice of PEAR. The travesty authored by Kevin Donlon will be undone, and this is a great thing for the future of GAFCON. A real disaster was averted.

Also, the Missionary District asks for “conciliar episcopal oversight” from Rwanda. This is a clear difference from the language of “reverse colonialism” and Egypt used by both Bishop Murphy and former Archbishop Kolini.

Anyone who wants to simply move to ACNA, CANA or the REC can do so with Rwanda’s blessing. This isn’t a power grab. The existing, interim structure will go out of business soon and churches will be back on track to disciple the nations. God has wrought wonderful things out of a tough situation.

PEAR USA FAQs and Finances

PEAR USA has begun to cobble together a website. Also, the first financial report is up for all the world to see, here. What follows are a report and the FAQs from the new website:

A Visit with the PEARUSA Steering Team, February 10, 2012

May God give grace and peace as you read this report from your brothers serving Christ in the United States and Canada!

Yesterday our Steering Team had its third extended conference call since the Sacred Assembly. We are grateful for the support of our friends at Knox Seminary in providing the technology to enable us to talk across the miles.

The main substance of our conference was hearing from regional leaders who shared reports from their conversations with dozens of PEARUSA clergy over the past week. These conversations were a follow-up to an email blitz that began January 30: this linked message was sent on or shortly after January 30 to all PEARUSA clergy (all clergy whose orders are held in Rwanda) on behalf of Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.

Although a few clergy that we called feel fully cared for in their current relationships and await further guidance through an AM bishop, most were grateful for the contact and conversation. The FAQs produced in previous weeks were helpful for some questions that arose, but many more questions about the future remain unanswered. It is clear that the biggest issue on everyone’s mind is, “What next?” In particular, “What is next for our relationship with the Anglican Church of Rwanda; and what is next in our relationship with the Anglican Church of North America?” Our urgent work lies in unraveling the answers to those questions.

Thankfully, the ball is rolling. Conversations with ACNA Archbishop Duncan and other ACNA bishops and canons are happening daily. The process for direct affiliation within existing and emerging ACNA dioceses is coming into focus, and Archbishop Rwaje has pledged full support to PEARUSA clergy and churches that choose that path. Rev Clark Lowenfield and his team are hard at work assembling the details, knowing that the steps will vary from situation to situation, from diocese to diocese. Nevertheless, a model for moving directly into ACNA is emerging and should come into focus within the next few weeks. Keep checking pearusa.org, or call Clark+.

1. What is PEARUSA?

a. PEARUSA is not a new entity: PEAR is the acronym for the Anglican Church of Rwanda. PEARUSA is simply a way to talk about and identify the US clergy who are seated in Rwanda and the churches they serve. Therefore, we are clergy and churches that seek to remain in active participation in mission and ministry under the oversight and care of the House of Bishops of Rwanda and Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje. In order to clear up confusion, we are using the name PEARUSA in an effort to reclaim and identify what we have always been. Continue reading “PEAR USA FAQs and Finances”

PEAR and ACNA – Options

The statement issued at the close of Moving Forward Together listed three long-term options for parishes still affiliated with Rwanda (not the AMiA parishes):

1. Full participation in an existing diocese of ACNA

2. Remaining affiliated with PEAR while also forming a subjurisdiction of ACNA

3. Remaining affiliated with PEAR by establishing a missionary jurisdiction in North America

I would think, although I am not sure of it, that the first two options will be the most popular. Some churches may want to simply be part of the new province in North America and will move accordingly. Others may desire to have a part in ACNA and do what Archbishop Duncan called for in planting churches with Anglican 1000, still maintaining ties with our Rwandan brothers and sisters.

The option of creating a missionary jurisdiction in North America is what the AMiA was supposed to have been, before all the talk of a ‘personal prelature’ came about. What I don’t understand about that option is why PEAR would want two separate entities within the USA? Also, what would the difference be on the ground between option two and option three? I’m sure time will bring clarity to these options.