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Disturbingly, Castañeda had previously withdrawn from the Roman Catholic priesthood before coming to the Diocese of San Joaquin and apparently the diocese was warned about his sexual misconduct with an adult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/

CANA East becomes The Diocese of the Living Word

CANA East has decided to remain within the ACNA as The Diocese of the Living Word. This leaves CANA West and the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity as part of the Church of Nigeria. While this move makes sense, it adds to the welter of affinity dioceses within ACNA, several of which now believe essentially the same things. I support affinity dioceses, but not multiple ones within the same geographic area that have no real theological differences.

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.

What is going on with CANA?

A Nigerian Anglican Church

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) is changing its status from being a dual jurisdiction within the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) to being a Ministry Partner of ACNA. The ACNA Constitution says of Ministry Partners:

Ministry Partners may have representatives attend functions or gatherings of the Church upon invitation of the Archbishop, and may attend functions and gatherings of any constituent jurisdiction of the Church upon the invitation of the Bishop with jurisdiction. Representatives of Ministry Partners may have seat and voice as determined by the Archbishop or Bishop with jurisdiction. Ministry Partners may withdraw from affiliation or have their affiliation ended with or without cause.

CANA consists of four dioceses: East, West, the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity, and Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. Each diocese can apparently make its own decision on whether to join ACNA or stay with CANA. What I am hearing initially is that CANA East under Bishop Julian Dobbs may move into ACNA with a new diocesan name, while West and the Trinity stay with Nigeria (CANA). I assume the Armed Forces will have to get sorted out as that impacts the rest of ACNA heavily. On May 17th, CANA East will be discussing and voting on what to do at their synod.

Bishop Dobbs on the right.

What precipitated this development? One major factor was Nigeria consecrating four bishops for the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity without following ACNA’s Constitution and Canons on how this is supposed to work. Further, one of those consecrated, Augustine Unuigbe, embraces the heretical prosperity gospel, which has now put down massive roots in Nigeria (see this article). Unuigbe has written things such as, “I decree and declare that Poverty is banished from my home.”  When he was headed towards trouble in CANA East, it appears that he jumped over to the Missionary Diocese of the Trinity.

Beyond this, Nigeria’s canons and the ACNA’s canons are different on the matter of electing new bishops. Why CANA could not have amended its canons and followed ACNA’s is not clear to me. But perhaps by giving each diocese the ability to decide for itself where they want to land, it has in effect done the same thing.

In some ways this is a result of the messy founding of ACNA. Before ACNA existed Chuck Murphy started AMiA, Martyn Minns more or less started CANA, and then Bob Duncan was the main catalyst behind ACNA. In my opinion each of these men wanted to be “the guy” but Archbishop Duncan sort of won out due in part to being a better organization man. This of course simplifies matters greatly and is a caricature, but I think it is essentially true. We all know how AMiA ended up in a spectacular fireball of confusion, but CANA went on a different path. CANA also transitioned from being friendly to women’s ordination and Arminian theology under Bishop Minns to being Reformed and against women’s ordination under Bishop Dobbs. CANA East and to some extent CANA West have become safe havens for that type of thinking.

To further confuse matters, I believe each CANA congregation could choose to leave its diocese. So if CANA West leaves ACNA, churches within it could leave CANA West. Who knows what will be left when it is all said and done? What this means in the short term however is that we now have several overseas Anglican Provinces still operating in the U.S.A. many years after ACNA has formed. Nigeria in addition to the various illogical connections to the oddball AMiA from Africa have persisted.

Here is some of what the ACNA press release says:

In January of this year, the Church of Nigeria elected four suffragan bishops for the Diocese of the Trinity, a CANA diocese composed primarily of expatriate Nigerians in North America. These elections surprised the Anglican Church in North America and led both provinces to desire clearer lines of authority for the CANA dioceses. A joint committee of representatives from both provinces met in Houston, Texas on March 12, 2019, and the final agreement was signed by both primates this week in Sydney, Australia during the Gafcon Primates Council Meeting.

The agreement provides that CANA become solely a mission of the Church of Nigeria but allows each of the three dioceses (Cana East, Cana West, Trinity) to make its own decision regarding its provincial relationships.

Each diocese will amend its constitution and canons as necessary, and may request to be a ministry partner of the alternative province. Both provinces are thankful that this resolution has been reached and look forward to continued collaboration in Gospel ministry, sharing full communion as provinces in the Anglican Communion.

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.

U.N. Security Council Condemns Outside Support for M23

From this story:

The United Nations Security Council today reiterated its condemnation of and demand for an end to all external support being provided to armed groups – in particular the group known as the March 23 Movement (M23) – which have been destabilizing the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) over recent months.

“In this regard, the Security Council expresses deep concern at reports indicating that such support continues to be provided to the M23 by neighbouring countries. The Security Council demands that any and all outside support to the M23 as well as other armed groups cease immediately,” Ambassador Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala, which holds the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of October, said in a presidential statement.

“The Security Council calls upon all countries in the region to condemn the M23, as well as other armed groups, and to cooperate actively with the Congolese authorities in disarming and demobilizing the M23 as well as other armed groups and dismantling the M23 parallel administration,” the statement added.

The DRC’s eastern provinces of North and South Kivu have witnessed increased fighting over recent months between Government troops and the M23, which is composed of soldiers from the DRC’s national army who mutinied in April.

In addition to the violence leading to an alarming humanitarian situation, marked by rape, murder and pillaging, the fighting has displaced more than 300,000 people, including many who have fled to neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, as well as within DRC.

Peacekeepers from the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) have been aiding the DRC’s Government troops in their efforts to deal with the M23. Earlier this week, six UN peacekeepers and a local interpreter were wounded in an overnight ambush while returning from a patrol with 12 other peacekeepers near Buganza in North Kivu province after finding the bodies of four civilians.

HONA merges with ADGL

How’s that for acronyms? The Heart of North America (HONA) Network was part of the AMiA under the leadership of Bishop Doc Loomis. HONA is now merging into the Anglican Diocese of the Great Lakes (ADGL) under Bishop Roger Ames. Salient portions of the letter announcing this change include:

The ADGL is receptive to the ordination of women in Holy Orders serving as Deacons and Presbyters. We want to be perfectly upfront about our desire to honor the “duel integrity” in regarding the ordination of women to Holy Orders in our shared life together.

Bishop Loomis will continue to serve on the AM Council of Bishops canonically resident in the Anglican Province of Congo and will return to full-time church planting with a focus on building Missional Communities. He intends to begin a new church near his Ohio home and will continue to provide coaching and counsel for the churches in the region. The ADGL fully supports Bishop Loomis in his work and looks forward to continuing in partnership with him and with the AM.

Clergy desiring to remain in the AM are free to request transfer to the Anglican Province of Congo. (Parishes are currently affiliated in the AM and would not have to move). Parishes remaining in the AM may choose to ask Bishop Loomis or any other AM Bishop to be their overseer. This letter is an invitation; any clergyperson or parish is free to choose another option and will be released to go and love and serve the Lord as they feel led.

One wonders how many churches are actually left inside AMiA? You can also see from this that the Wave only talks about good news.