Constitution of the Anglican Mission in the Americas I

I want to look at pieces of the draft Constitution for the AM. The text is followed by my comments.

The Anglican Mission in the Americas (hereafter known as the Anglican Mission or The Society) is established by competent ecclesiastical authorities…

What is a “competent ecclesiastical authority” and where does this terminology come from? Given Canon Donlon’s background, it is not surprising that this is a term rooted in canon law. We could look at the 1990 Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, referred to favorably by Canon Donlon in his paper “The Challenges of Covenant and Canons as a for the Future of a Ius Commune Anglicanae.” There we find:

Canon 1047 – §1. In the law pious foundations are:
1° autonomous pious foundations, that is, aggregates of things destined to works of piety, of the apostolate and of charity, whether spiritual or temporal, and established as a juridic person by competent authority;

Or, we can turn to Catholic Canon Law, which says:

Can. 298

§ 2 Christ’s faithful are to join especially those associations which have been established, praised or recommended by the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this type of law matters in North American Anglicanism. Are retired Archbishops Kolini, Tay and Yong from overseas competent ecclesiastical authorities to establish this new thing, whatever it is? Roman Catholic canon law says:

Canon: 265:  Every cleric must be incardinated in a particular church, or in a personal Prelature, or in an institute of consecrated life or a society which has this faculty: accordingly, acephalous or ‘wandering’ clergy are in no way to be allowed.

It seems to me to be circular reasoning that retired bishops could create a society when they have no standing to do so, outside of the society that they are creating.  Ultimately, what canon law would be in force over this group anyway? They would probably be better served in just declaring themselves a new Society and dropping the pretense of authority from canonical or ecclesiastical sources.

From AMiA to AMSMAW?

It turns out that unnamed leaders from the AM did meet in Chicago yesterday. The AM issued a press release telling us that the Inaugural Assembly will occur in Atlanta on July 31st. The meeting in Chicago was the Inaugural Convocation. I haven’t seen any pictures from it, nor have I seen names associated with the documents, other than H. Miller’s on the PDF of the draft Constitution.

What follows are my comments on some snippets of the press release, but for a better look at it, see the comments on this thread over at Stand Firm.

The Anglican Mission Society for Mission and Apostolic Works Commits to a Vision for the Future

Is this really the name now? Is it “theAM”, the AMSfMaAW, or the AMSMAW?

Research indicates that adaptive change is necessary for evangelism in today’s world,

I was curious as to what ‘research’ indicates this, so I Googled it and found this quote:

“…our churches have begun to make that adaptive change necessary for evangelism in an unchurched world;”

That was from a paper by some named David C. Schoen located here.

It has been said that “today’s challenges are based on yesterday’s successes.”

I’m not sure where that has been said, although I do find this:

“…today’s challenges can be fixed by yesterday’s success stories…”

From a book called “Sincerely, Jesus” by Ed Goble.The statement goes on to list the adaptive challenge:

Our adaptive challenge now is to continue to reflect theologically, strategize and work collaboratively within our Mission Society to effectively evangelize in local contexts through church planting.

This is exactly what the AMiA was doing for the last twelve years. It is also the task of every church based on the Great Commission. What is new about it?

The primary and most significant shift is systemic as the Anglican Mission adopts a vocational model of mission reflecting the Celtic approach of St. Patrick.

I’ll have to look into this.

Changes include oversight by a College of Consultors, rethinking networks and their role, developing specific episcopal portfolios for bishops and a vision for “hub churches” that will drive our commitment to equipping leaders and planting churches. TheAM will be streamlined for efficiency and effectiveness, and we are committed to improving the nature of our coaching and support for new church plants as well as existing congregations who may be experiencing a plateau.

This idea of a “hub church” can be seen elsewhere, such as here and here. The rest of this boils down to the now familiar “College of Consultors” idea and some corporate world lingo. The statement is notable for what it does not mention, such as:

* The Articles of Religion

* The Congo



* The Jerusalem Declaration

* The AMiA Solemn Declaration

* Who was in attendance

Oh well.

Inaugural Convocation of the Society

The AMiA is supposed to be meeting in Chicago right now:

THE CONSTITUTION AND STATUTES at the end of the 40 days, will be promulgated when those delegated members who seek permanent status as members of the Society will gather for its INAUGURAL CONVOCATION OF THE SOCIETY on 3 June 2012 (Feast of Martyrs of Uganda).

What happened? Is it happening? Did we miss something? It seems to have gone the way of the missing exclusive interview promised to David Virtue…

“A Scandal in the Body of Christ”

The Anglican TV interview with Archbishop Duncan that was released over the weekend was very revealing. Some of the salient points that jumped out at me are summarized below:

[1] Duncan recalled the 2010 separation of AMiA and ACNA and noted that AMiA claimed back then this separation was necessary because “the bishops of Rwanda required it, the canons demanded it, that the Anglican Mission could only be in one Province,” and so the AM moved from jurisdictional participation to Mission Partner status. These claims about why AMiA needed to separate were false (Archbishop Duncan didn’t say that, he implied it. I am saying it).

[2] Archbishop Duncan implied that the move to the Congo came as a shock even to the AM bishops. He said (my paraphrase) that the “statement from the Chairman about Congo came as a great surprise to almost everyone. Every indication, at least in terms of what leaders were saying, is that they were going to return to life and to relationship in North America.” So, Murphy may have acted without getting the prior consent of his bishops – what a shock right? Do you think the congregations and clergy were consulted prior to that announcement?

The Archbishop said, “…until very recent days we believed that the Anglican Mission was trying to come back into relationship with the ACNA, but the move to Congo and the things that have surrounded it, and indeed the bishops who have spoken to some of our bishops who have been AM bishops make it clear that really the AM is moving somewhat erratically and again is disintegrating further…further fracturing as the move to Congo is not widely applauded here in North America.”

[3] The Archbishop gave us a glimpse inside the South Africa meeting between the Rwandan bishops and the Pawleys Island folks. He said that “the result of those two meetings was I think some further pain in which the Anglican Mission in the Johannesburg meeting asked, and actually used the words, it’s time for a divorce. Rwanda has in a sense agreed to set the Anglican Mission free, but still, all of this is a great unhappiness even a scandal in the Body of Christ.”

[4] Duncan confirmed what I think was clear from reading between the lines of his December letter, namely, that any resolution with ACNA depended on Chairman Murphy moving on (something which probably doomed this from the start). He said, “The second issue, that the letter spoke about was the need for a change in leadership. we think that the AMiA really, for these last two years has been going in a direction that is not a direction that God can bless, again, if the vision He’s given is true, it’s a matter of being together here, not separated here. And so, how was the Mission going to take itself in a new direction and that probably meant, as that letter suggested, meant some new leadership.”

[5] The Archbishop also emphasized that a Mission Society cannot also be a jurisdiction, the AM needed to chose one or the other. He said, “in that letter we talked about jurisdiction, and any church body that has bishops and clergy and congregations and ordinations, that’s a jurisdiction, you can call it anything you want, you can call it a Missionary Society if you want, but that’s not classically what it is. Classically, its a jurisdiction.”

Of course, that flies in the face of everything that the AM has been trying to do for the past year. Archbishop Duncan speculated that “we could very soon be in a position where the Anglican Mission is not in any Province….it will look much more like a Continuing Church than as part of the Anglican Family.”

Congratulations to Anglican TV for this very enlightening interview and to Archbishop Duncan for his candor.

AM Missionary Society: Evolution of an Idea

Last May, Rev. Jon Shuler petitioned Archbishop Rwaje with an idea for his New Anglican Missionary Society (NAMS). Shuler said he was advancing this idea at the behest of Chuck Murphy. The idea was for Shuler to become an AMiA bishop and to be the Primatial Vicar for NAMS outreach to the world.

The NAMS idea was not the full-blown, canon law, College of Consultors Frankenstein that later emerged from the AMiA drawing board. In contrast, it envisioned partnering with supporting Provinces and supporting their work, with “Bishop Advocates” in each of nine major global population blocks of the world. Shuler also saw a sitting Archbishop as a “NAMS Archbishop Guardian” who would in some way guide the “Global Leadership Team” through a future Bishop Shuler. Shuler made it clear that he was happy being a priest, but Chuck Murphy had encouraged him to ask about being made a bishop in order to enhance the ministry of NAMS.

This preceded the Rwandan HOB meeting in June, where the document Why Did AMiA Break with Rwanda? tells us that:

The House of Bishops meeting is shortened due to unrelated and unexpected circumstances in the Province. Murphy’s hope of obtaining permission to consecrate more AMiA bishops is not included in the meeting agenda. The Rwandan Bishops unanimously resolve to call a meeting in Kigali in September for all bishops, Rwandan and AMiA, to discuss ways of working together more collegially. Murphy refuses, saying that it is both cost-­‐prohibitive and impractical to do so when they could all meet together in Texas in January 2012 after the Winter Conference. The Rwandan House agrees to delay the joint meeting until then.

The Rwandan bishops ask Murphy to answer questions regarding the AMiA tithe. Murphy has brought AMiA Executive Director H. Miller to give a presentation on the topic. In the interest of time, the Rwandan bishops request direct answers from Murphy and a written report. Murphy indicates that he is unprepared to do so.

During lunch, Murphy chooses not to eat with the bishops. After lunch, he announces that he has a plane to catch and leaves the meeting. After that, he meets for several hours with Kolini before flying home that evening. He later refers to this trip as a “painful visit.”

Bishop Barnum gives us a glimpse behind the curtain and says that Archbishop Kolini decided right then (in June) that the AM should leave Rwanda.

Our Chairman reported that in June, at some point during or after the turbulent House of Bishops meeting in Rwanda, retired Archbishop Kolini said to our Chairman that he believed it was time for AMIA to leave Rwanda.

Now, the NAMS idea was transformed into an idea for the entire Anglican Mission:

By mid-summer, our Chairman met in London with AMIA’s retired and founding archbishops. It was here, as I understand it, that the concept of a new AMIA Missionary Society took shape out of a perceived concern that AMIA was suddenly vulnerable to the leadership changes in Rwanda. As this meeting took place, the vision of the Missionary Society — a real, tangible “option” — was as yet completely unknown to, and outside the counsel of, our own Rwandan Archbishop, Onesphore Rwaje.

Cindy Brust in her press release of November 3rd said the opposite:

As was communicated to Mr. Conger, discussions about the possibility of formalizing what has long been the stated vision of theAM’s functioning as a missionary society, is simply that – a possibility being discussed that represents a consistent trajectory. Remaining connected to Rwanda remains a high value in these conversations, and we have no reason to believe this would change.

Fortunately, Archbishop Duncan has stood his ground and has said that the crazy idea that a Missionary Society with a College of Consultors and a Primatial Vicar (with paid ‘oversight’) is not authentically Anglican and has implicitly indicated that Chuck Murphy needs to move on, something that Murphy has not found himself able to do. This mess has been a long time coming.

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)

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!

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.