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.

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.

V. AMiA Upheaval – The Road Ahead

I suspect that the Pawleys Island group wants to have something concrete in place to present to folks at the Winter Conference. I don’t see any way that this is possible given what Archbishop Duncan has said. The course suggested by Archbishop Duncan will require time, effort and discussion.

The Pawleys Island group is currently a continuing church, not attached to any Province of the Communion. It has an invented College of Consultors that it claims are providing it oversight and somehow connecting it to the Communion, but both of those claims are dubious. The Washington Statement said, “The Anglican Mission in its current form is a hierarchy in search of a polity” and that has proven to be true. If the Pawleys Island organization can somehow find its way into ACNA, what will it look like, who will remain with it, and what will it do? I have a few guesses:

  1. It needs fewer bishops, not more. Perhaps some of the bishops who have been around longer could step down. The Pawleys group has resisted folding in to ACNA’s geographical dioceses, but one theoretical solution is for this group to simply cease to exist, with its churches fully absorbed into ACNA and its bishops working geographically, or however Archbishop Duncan sees fit for them to work. I see this option as highly unlikely, but the prospect of 7-10 more bishops with not that many churches strikes me as less than optimal.
  2. Could Archbishop Duncan actually embrace the missionary society as outlined by Pawleys Island? I cannot see him sanctioning something as disruptive and unaccountable as what is currently drawn up, but I won’t rule anything out.
  3. I suspect that the current Council of Bishops could find a way to report to ACNA as a Mission Partner, with leadership changes, and with a subset of the former AMiA churches. Perhaps it could be sold as a ‘missionary society’ within ACNA and with the purpose of planting churches in the Americas only, but then what about Anglican 1000? And why exist as a separate structure at all?
  4. I think several existing churches will simply join ACNA of their own accord and say enough of the shenanigans. The individual congregations are free to do whatever they want, and if they have seen enough drama over the past few months, they might head for greener pastures.

Another possibility is that negotiations break down due to something like “a difference in vision.” ACNA’s demands may be too much for Pawleys Island to bear, and they could go looking for another suitor. I can’t imagine who that would be, but we can’t say that this group isn’t creative, so maybe they could come up with someone else. And as the bishops said, “several options have been considered and have presented themselves to us…” ACNA is only one option, one that they probably felt the most pressure to attempt.

I expect the clergy at the Winter Conference to endorse the missionary society ‘nothing more, nothing less’ concept and give the resigned bishops a blank check to negotiate on their behalf. They will land somewhere in the next few months. Given that the churches staying loyal to PEAR are generally the more classically Anglican parishes, what you will have left in the new AM is the emergent, “accidental Anglican” theology, the Kevin Donlon ‘Celtic’ Catholic theology complete with copious canon law, the women’s ordination theology advocated by Cynthia Brust, and miscellaneous a-theological or anything goes thinking in some quarters. There is no unifying prayer book, and indeed the very concept of a prayer *book* is more and more remote. What you will have in short is 1970’s Episcopalianism with somebody akin to a Jesuit near the top setting the rules.

Next, consider the group affiliated with PEAR. I don’t know what to call it, because although the Apostles Mission Network of the former AMiA is the core of the group, no one has officially named it. For the moment I will call these churches the “Rwandan churches.” This group has been silent for the most part throughout this entire upheaval. Bishop Glenn issued a letter when he resigned, bishops Glenn and Barnum issued the call for an Advent respite, and now Archbishop Rwaje has announced the Moving Forward Together assembly in Raleigh, almost immediately after the Winter Conference. Other than this, you have not seen the Rwandan churches providing press releases and interviews with David Virtue.

I have no clear indication of what the results of this assembly will be. I think that it will legitimately look for a collaborative way forward with the PEAR bishops. I don’t think the decisions coming from the assembly are pre-ordained, scripted or stage-managed. So it is harder for me to guess at what the Rwandan churches will do in the future. My hope is for a recommitment to the principles of the Solemn Declaration, the 39 Articles, the Jerusalem Declaration and historic Anglican norms. I know there will be a continued commitment to reaching the lost with the Gospel and planting churches, something we share with all sections of  ACNA and Pawleys Island. Hopefully there will be a commitment to begin our own discussions with ACNA about the eventual union of our two groups. I would eventually like to see a diocese of affinity within ACNA that is committed to a Reformed Anglican position, against women’s ordination, and nimble about ordaining new clergy and planting solid churches. But all this remains to be seen.

In closing, it is worth considering how the stated purpose of the Washington Statement remains unfulfilled. The Statement said, “Our purpose in writing this document is to speak the truth in love, in hopes of fostering honest and open dialogue together, for the sake of our shared Gospel mission to North America.” That honest and open dialogue was never had. Instead, precipitous decisions occurred and attempts were made to shut discussion down. There is a lesson here for ACNA and anyone else willing to heed it: discussions of theology, ecclesiology and just about anything else should be open for all clergy to participate in, and should be transparent to the watching world. Hiding documents from the public view or keeping things secret until it is too late to change them is not consistent with the praxis of a healthy communion of churches.