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.

Dr. Phillip Cantrell on Anglicans and Rwanda

In my previous post on “Playing an Away Game”, I referred to a document written by Dr. Phillip Cantrell called “The Anglican Church of Rwanda : domestic agendas and international linkages.” Dr. Cantrell was kind enough to comment on that post, and his insights are important. He has expanded on that comment a bit and given me permission to post it here. He welcomes dialog on the subject, so please give this a read. His concluding sentence should give PEAR USA, ACNA and GAFCON pause: “I have never been more fearful for Rwanda and the region.” Let’s hope that Anglicans can fulfill the role of Jeremiah in relationship to the government of Rwanda. Dr. Cantrell’s comments follow:

I’m Phil Cantrell, author of the above mentioned article “The Anglican Church of Rwanda: domestic agendas and international linkages.” I came across this blog and mention of myself from following Nkunda Rwanda on Twitter. I decided to write in order to clarify my own position, explain some issues raised here and invite further discussion. I’m a professor of African history at Longwood University in Virginia and I specialize in East Central Africa. I’m also a believer in Christ and was a member of an AMIA church for five years, and would be still if there was such an option where I now live.

In 2004 I undertook a mission trip with AMIA to Rwanda and knowing it was a Franco-phone country I brushed up on my French, only to find that the Anglican pastors and bishops I met with spoke better English than I. Finding this intriguing, I undertook my own research as a professional historian of Africa; research that resulted in the article. Let me state that like Joel, I have found the rank-and-file Anglican pastors and parishioners in Rwanda to be utterly sincere in their faith and desire for a better Rwanda. I have never questioned their faith in my writing and presentations on Rwanda. But I stand by my conclusions regarding the church’s relationship to the ruling RPF of Kagame. In a larger context, this should not be surprising in that mission-minded Americans fail to realize that the concept of separation of church and state as its understood in the West does not exist in Africa. I do not say that disparagingly of Africa; it’s a cultural difference. But it does mean that Rwanda’s Anglican hierarchy supports the RPF’s public face in Rwanda, perhaps unknowingly themselves but they do nevertheless. And their hierarchy certainly does knowingly.

As far as RPF members “infiltrating” the church, I think that is a complicated and arguable proposition. The RPF and the present Anglican hierarchy were born of the same Tutsi refugee diaspora in the camps of Uganda prior to the genocide and the RPF takeover of the country. They were a tight-knit diaspora and so some crossover is to be expected. I do contend however that the Anglican Church has failed to distance itself from the regime, with may contribute to a disastrous future for the country. I harbor no animus towards AMIA and its former relationship to the Anglican Church. As I said, I speak as a grieving member for the broken relationship and Rwanda’s plight.

In 2007, I made another research trip to Rwanda as an advisor to an ad hoc Rwanda Missions Board with AMIA. On that trip, I challenged my own conclusions before the article went to press. My research only confirmed my findings however and I published the article. I will also say Kolini and Rucyahana and other pastors and bishops I interviewed in 2007 were fully aware that I was a historian researching Rwanda and did not withhold talking to me. I suspect that at the time they were unaware of my knowledge of what was happening in the country. Because, after my return, the Mission Board was dissolved and I was disinvited from coming to Rwanda and will not return until the situation is changed. The full reasons for that are still somewhat unknown but it may have become apparent after my departure that I was asking the “wrong” questions. Some of my more outspoken and accomplished colleagues in the academic profession have been threatened if they return.

My concern always, as I was uniquely positioned as a professional historian and an AMIA parishioner, was that if American churches blindly provided aid to Rwanda vis-à-vis the Anglican Church of Rwanda, they would be de facto supporting an increasingly despotic regime which failed to enact the Arusha Accords of 1994, which promised a multi-ethnic and inclusive democracy, which the RPF itself signed in Arusha. Incidentally, the pre-genocide Anglican hierarchy in Rwanda did in fact support the genocidal actions of the previous Habyarimana regime. They were removed after the genocide and replaced with new leadership (i.e. Kolini, Rucyahana, etc) when the RPF took over, hence the close and troubling relationship presently. My fear, as someone who loves Rwanda and the region, is that the church is making the same mistakes the pre-genocide leadership did. And American missionaries must be wary of tacitly endorsing it too.

All that being said, I do not believe the rank-and-file of the church is behaving in an intentionally sinister way. The theological origins of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, born as it was from the English Church Missionary Society of the 1920s, gives it a tendency to avoid political engagement and critique, even as they collude with the false narrative of Rwanda’s history. As for the recent information concerning Kolini and Rucyahana and Rwanda’s actions in Congo, I think we must warily wait and see. I have met both men on several occasions and found them to be entirely sincere in their faith and intentions. I will need more evidence to convince me otherwise, but a connection to M23 is possible. Kolini after all is Congolese Rwanda. Other information was unwittingly provided to me in 2007, which raised my concerns about Rwanda’s intentions in Congo. For example, an Anglican pastor, whose name I will never reveal so as not to endanger him, tried to inform me that Eastern Congo had once been part of Rwanda. This is false but I felt it must have been coming from somewhere higher than him and its implications troubled me. I’m not sure of this clarifies or confuses but I felt like adding it to the debate here. I am happy to continue the dialogue. The things I have written about Rwanda and the AMiA relationship have caused angst and soul-searching for me but I have counseled with pastoral friends and I believe God has called me professionally to seek and speak truth, especially to power. I have never been more fearful for Rwanda and the region.

PEAR Elects Breedlove as Bishop

PEARUSA will begin with three Networks and at least one new bishop (bishops Glenn and Barnum will no longer be actively serving as bishops). Rev. Steve Breedlove will become a Bishop for PEARUSA. An excerpt from the report by Don Schulze:

The first PEARUSA Celebration Assembly meeting in Raleigh, NC elected their first bishop and announced the formation of three network relationship groups that include the West/MidWest, the Southeast, and the North/Northeast. Provisional Network Leaders are Rev. Ken Ross for the West/Mid-West, Rev. David Bryan for the Southeast, and Rev. Steve Breedlove for the North/Northeast.

The Rev. Steve Breedlove was elected by unanimous acclamation to be their first bishop. He has been senior rector of All Saints, Chapel Hill, SC and will leave that position in five weeks. He will serve as the Presider Pro Tem of PEARUSA and as network leader of the North/Northeast regional network of PEARUSA till his inauguration in October.

The working group of the Northeast Network met to identify its members and found that there were approximately thirty-six churches represented, from North Carolina to Connecticut.
Among the issues discussed was the need to find a way to communicate or meet in the months between June and September to consider, propose, and elect one or more network bishops. As various considerations were voiced and a number of ideas were considered, it appeared that the idea of such a large and geographically diverse group working in a cohesive way after leaving Raleigh was going to be difficult and a Network bishop would be necessary.

Breedlove was considered the choice for Network Bishop in view of his past experience in team leadership and pastoral care and oversight. Following a brief discussion the decision to make him the first Bishop Candidate of the new PEARUSA was made by acclamation.

I hope we’ll be able to see video or read the text of the presentations from this Assembly.

PEARUSA Celebration Assembly

Reports are emerging from the PEARUSA Assembly in Raleigh. The Rev. Don Schulze writes:

In a brief ceremony Archbishop Rwaje, Bishop Laurent Mbanda, and Bishop Gasatura formally installed Rev. Steve Breedlove as the "Presider Pro-Tem" of the new Missionary District. A "Missionary Council Pro-Tem" will replace the "steering committee" that has served so well for the last five months. They were also "sworn in" by the Rwandan Bishops.
The Rev. Clark Lowenfield and Rev. Alan Hawkins who played critical roles in getting PEARUSA to this point will not be serving on the provisional missionary council. Lowenfield will take up duties as Vicar of the new Diocese of the Gulf West Coast for ACNA and will be an ACNA clergyman. The Rev. Alan Hawkins will remain as a PEARUSA clergy and rector of his church in Greensboro, NC but will take on additional responsibilities as Vicar of the Anglican 1000 church planting initiative.
It was formally announced that Bishop Terrell Glenn would remain a Bishop in Rwanda. He will not serve in an active role for some time as he takes a much-deserved sabbatical and seeks God’s direction for the future.
Bishop Thad Barnum will not serve on the Missionary Council Pro-Tem in an active role. He was appointed by Rwaje to serve as counselor, advisor, and pastor to Rev. Steve Breedlove as he leads that working group until October.
Another major PEARUSA gathering, an Inaugural Assembly, will be held in October at a place and date to be announced. At that time the Provisional Missionary Council will have done their work of finalizing structures, documents, offices, and regional responsibilities and relationships for the new organization. At that meeting the official episcopal structure of the new PEARUSA Missionary District will be announced. This will entail consecrating new bishops and formally establishing regional oversight.

Read the rest here.

PEAR USA on Women’s Ordination

The Proposed Charter of the new Missionary District says:

Section 3. Men and Women in Ministry

PEARUSA upholds the biblical teaching that both men and women are created in God’s image and called to service in his Kingdom. For this reason, PEARUSA is committed to promoting the ministry of women alongside men, both within and outside the church. At the same time, the Bible also teaches that God created men and women with distinct differences, and has given them different roles within his Kingdom. Within the Anglican Communion there is a diversity of opinion regarding the ordination of women. While the Anglican Province of Rwanda does ordain women as Presbyters, PEARUSA does not, nor does it consecrate women as Bishops, nor does it receive or license women to serve as Presbyters or Bishops.

Technically, AMiA held this same position, although it watered it down over time by creating various sub-jurisdictions and entities. This is a very encouraging step towards rolling back the errors inflicted on the Church in the Seventies.

Rwaje, Muvunyi and Kolini Speak Against Abortion

Articles here and here describe how the bishops and retired Archbishop spoke out against any legalization of abortion in Rwanda. Excerpts:

Article 165 of the draft Penal Code, which was approved last week by the Chamber of Deputies and promptly forwarded to the Senate for further scrutiny, criminalises abortion but outlines four exceptional cases under which it may be permitted by a court of law.

The article stipulates that there is no criminal liability for a woman who causes her own abortion and a medical doctor who helps a woman to abort provided that any of the following conditions are met. They are; in case of pregnancy as a result of incest, rape, forced marriage, and/or when the continuation of a pregnancy seriously jeopardises the health of the unborn baby or the pregnant woman.

But Rwaje insisted that, rather than accepting abortion under those conditions, measures should be taken to address the four highlighted causes “since they are the problem and not abortion”.

He argued that some people were also born as a result of terrible circumstances, like rape, forced marriages or incest, among others, but have gone on to become useful citizens to the nation.

Retired Anglican Archbishop, Most Reverend Emmanuel Kolini, said abortion was wrong, adding that pouring innocent blood brings terrible conditions on a nation.

He, however, couldn’t commit himself regarding clause four of Article 165, which permits abortion to save a life.

Asked his position in case a woman who has been advised by medical personnel to abort due to the fact that the health of mother/baby was at great risk if they continued with the pregnancy, Kolini said the decision should be between the two parents.

“The decision should be made by the two parents of the child and a medical doctor. If they are uncertain about the decision, they should ask for God’s help,” he said.

Asked the same question, Archbishop Rwaje couldn’t also commit himself on whether he would advise a woman in that situation to terminate the pregnancy or not, only insisting that abortion is wrong.

Bishop Mbonyitege, however, stuck to his guns, saying “abortion is killing and therefore wrong”.

Archbishop Rwaje warned that secularism was knocking at the door of the country, so Rwandans should be very careful not to let it in.

Anglican bishop, Louis Muvunyi, of Kigali Diocese, Rwanda is down the same lane the US took when it started legalising abortion “bit-by-bit.”

PEAR USA Inaugural General Assembly and Other News

The Rwandan House of Bishops just issued another letter. The upshot of it is:

  • AMiA clergy have more time than AMiA bishops to make a decision about where they are headed. The bishops must decide within weeks (meaning April), while the clergy have until August to decide.
  • An Inaugural General Assembly for PEAR USA clergy and laity will occur in August, at which time the charter for the Missionary District will be ratified.
  • PEAR is working with ACNA to establish how the new Missionary District will function within ACNA.

Here is the text:

April 10, 2012

Kigali, Rwanda

To the Clergy of Rwanda serving the work of the Gospel in North America: Greetings in the Name of the Lord Jesus, the Risen Christ and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

We write to clarify some important questions that remain after our March 29 Resolution and April 2 Communiqué.

As a result of our March 29 Resolution, a Missionary District of PEAR in North America has been established. We are currently working with members of the PEAR‐USA Steering Team to create a temporary Charter for Ministry which will define the mission and structure of the Missionary District. Once we have approved the recommended Charter we will make it available to you. This Charter will be ratified through a proper process at an Inaugural General Assembly (of laity, clergy, and bishops) for the Missionary District which we hope to host in early August.

Members of the PEAR House of Bishops are also working with leaders from ACNA that Archbishop Robert Duncan has appointed and members of the PEAR‐USA Steering Team in the hope of establishing protocols that will govern the Missionary District as a sub‐ jurisdiction of the ACNA.

It is our clear intention that the Missionary District will be the only option for clergy and churches in North America wishing stay canonically resident in PEAR. As the details of the Charter for Ministry and the sub‐jurisdictional protocols become clear, we hope that all North American clergy resident in PEAR, along with their churches, will eventually join the Missionary District. A process of formal affiliation with the Missionary District will be described in the Charter. Until the Charter is approved, any North American clergy resident in PEAR can affiliate with the Missionary District by a simple declaration of desire and intent. (This declaration should be communicated in writing to the PEARUSA office. They will pass on further instruction for affiliation and participation for both clergy and churches.)

However, we understand that some clergy currently resident and in good standing in PEAR have chosen, with their churches, to begin the process of transferring to dioceses within the ACNA or other Anglican jurisdictions. Bishop Terrell Glenn is coordinating these requests for letters dimissory on my behalf. This process should continue as needed, and we are fully supportive of those moving directly into the ACNA and other Anglican jurisdictions.

We also understand that some clergy and churches may choose to remain affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas. They are free to do so. Again, we will supply those clergy with letters dimissory to another Anglican jurisdiction upon request.

As per our April 2 communiqué, the bishops of the Anglican Mission who resigned in December have been asked to declare the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to which they wish to be translated within the next few weeks. However, we understand that clergy and churches require additional time to make this decision. Therefore, all PEAR clergy in North America must make a clear decision about either affiliating with the Missionary District or transferring directly to the ACNA or another Anglican jurisdiction by August

31, 2012.

In summary, as you come to understand God’s direction for you, please send all requests in writing:

• For those who desire letters dimissory to be sent to a diocese in the ACNA or any other Anglican jurisdiction, to Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, c/o Bishop Terrell____

• For affiliation with the PEAR Missionary District, to Archbishop Onesphore

Rwaje, c/o the PEARUSA ___

It is important that you are aware of one additional deadline: We anticipate the Inaugural General Assembly for the Missionary District to take place in early August. The proposed deadline for submitting lay and clergy delegates, which will be explained in the Charter, will be no later than thirty days prior to the General Assembly. Clergy and churches that have not decided to affiliate with the Missionary District at least thirty days prior to the General Assembly will be welcome to attend, but they will not have voice and vote.

We trust that this answers important questions and clarifies the possible directions that lie ahead for you.

You are beloved in the Lord! You remain the focus of our prayers. May God grant you his

Spirit in full measure as you continue to proclaim the Gospel of the Risen Lord! Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and the House of Bishops of PEAR

Rev. Steve Breedlove on Anglican 1000

Steve Breedlove has a really excellent letter on the PEAR USA website outlining the relationship of PEAR USA churches to ACNA. It is a hopeful letter, with many salient points. One excerpt:

..many key leaders in the ACNA want us to come in as PEARUSA. The zeal for exploring our identity as an entity, for seeking to be formed as a jurisdiction, was shaped by conversations with ACNA leaders. Early on, rectors of large, mission‐minded ACNA congregations proposed: “Come in as a jurisdiction – as a unit. Bring your best to the table to help us do what we are all committed to do.” Archbishop Duncan himself spoke clearly. Sitting in a restaurant near the provincial office in Pittsburgh in early January, +Terrell Glenn asked, “How do we begin to move into a right relationship with the Anglican Church in North America?” ++Bob’s wisdom was, “Begin by being what you always thought that you were.”

Since that time, many conversations have revealed an eagerness to receive the body of churches that we currently refer to as PEARUSA into ACNA. This is not competition: it is the creative synergy that comes as like‐minded people with much in common help each other do the work of Christ. We are being invited to be a part of the big net.

Bishop Barnum on AMiA / ACNA Divisions

PEAR USA has posted a heartfelt reflection from Bishop Barnum on the history of struggle between AMiA and ACNA here. Excerpts:

Because of this alliance, we were allowed to be fully Anglican in America with no  ties to the Episcopal Church and its new gospel. And I believed this movement  would grow, a movement uniting orthodox Anglicans in North America for the  purpose of reaching our culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.

But what happened surprised me. I found, in those early days, the sharpest criticism  AMIA received wasn’t from the “revisionists” in the Episcopal Church. It was from  the orthodox. Some of the strongest evangelical bishops were dead-set against  Anglican overseas provinces crossing into North America, and worse, into their own  diocesan territories. In their mind, Anglican Mission in America was far from a godly  response to the brazen heresy of the Episcopal Church. It was a threat that could  negatively impact their own dioceses. They could lose clergy, churches, leaders,  finances and strength as a united people.

We, at AMIA, made the decision to forge ahead. Like us or not, we decided to devote  ourselves to “Mission: Nothing more, Nothing Less.” It was a choice not to be  distracted by our detractors, keep the focus on gospel mission, and trust the Lord  would bring all things together in His time and in His way.

By 2003, with the consecration of an openly gay bishop, the Episcopal Church broke  from its historic Christian mooring and set a “new gospel” course most orthodox  believers were unwilling to follow. Faced with uncertainty, the trail blazed by AMIA  – though disregarding the ancient Christian tradition of not crossing diocesan  boundaries — seemed worthy of consideration.

This was it, I thought. This was the moment for a united orthodox Anglicanism in  North America to catch fire. Two archbishops had begun the work. More were  coming on board as the Episcopal Church publicly shunned discipline for their  actions. In a day of wild rebellious heresy, Anglicanism was alive in America.

Alive and together.

At least that’s what I thought was going to happen. But it didn’t. Instead, we split  into different groupings. Some went to seek the favor of the Anglican Province of  Uganda; others with Kenya; others with Nigeria; some with us in Rwanda; others to  the Southern Cone and Tanzania. How was this possible? The Episcopal Church had  separated from the gospel. Why were we separating from each other?

I remember preaching at a conference and making a strong appeal that we resist the  temptation to divide in a day of gospel reformation. A priest came up to me  afterward, patted me on the back, and told me I was arrogant to think AMIA was the  answer to unite orthodox Anglicans in America. It wasn’t, he urged, and suggested  we pray for each other as we go our different ways.

Our different ways?

But – are you kidding? — why do that?

And my heart grew colder.

I lost passion for a united orthodox Anglicanism in North America. I turned my full  attention to the daily work of gospel mission in AMIA and to deepening our  fellowship with Rwanda. By the time the “Anglican Church of North America” was  born a few years later, the divisions between us had become so real in my  experience that, for me, a new vision for unity felt strangely shallow and  disingenuous. I was grateful, on the one hand, AMIA played a strong role in the  formation of ACNA. But on the other hand, I couldn’t get past our divisions. How  could AMIA and ACNA possibly reconcile until these underlying tensions between us  were owned, confessed, and publicly dealt with? Isn’t that how biblical unity is  forged?

Let me get this straight, I quietly protested, you refused to be part of us and now you  want us to be part of you? Doesn’t that sound a little strange?

So in May 2010, when the AMIA Council of Bishops re-evaluated our relationship  with ACNA, I was quick to make the decision to move to “Ministry Partner” status with no consideration of the negative impact on ACNA. What mattered to me most  was that this decision strengthened AMIA and our ever-deepening fellowship in  Rwanda.

Fast forward to Raleigh, January 2012, and I am face-to-face with the fact that our  decision, my decision, caused hurt to my brothers and sisters in Christ in ACNA. I  didn’t know that before. But far worse, I was suddenly aware of the dark, ugly  condition of my own heart.

I had come to a place where I didn’t care.

  •       *       *

“So what are you sorry about?” a questioner asked.

On the second day of the Raleigh Assembly, we held a panel discussion with  Archbishop Rwaje, three Rwandan bishops, Terrell and me on stage. Before the  question was asked, we’d already stated that biblical reconciliation requires us to  stop blaming others. It’s imperative, we said, to examine our own hearts and confess  our own sins that led to this break in relationship. That’s when the question came.

I asked for the microphone.

Archbishop Bob Duncan was sitting in the front row of the church. I knew it was not  my place to speak on behalf of my colleagues in AMIA. But I could speak for me. I  could own – among many things to own – my complicity in the hurt I’d caused. And  this was it. The time to take first steps, baby steps.

I looked over to him. I told the congregation the story. I confessed my part in the  May 2010 decision that led to deepening and widening the chasm between AMIA  and ACNA. It was all too unrehearsed. I didn’t know how to say that there had been  too many hurts over the last fifteen years and that for me, my heart had become cold  and uncaring. For whatever reason, that didn’t come out.

I just knew to say “I am sorry for the hurt I’ve caused.” A real sorry. A real  complicity.

He said it loud. He said it clear, for everyone in the congregation to hear.

“Apology received, forgiveness granted.”

  •       *       *

An AMIA priest from the Midwest came over to me after the panel discussion. He  was kind, so gentle in his approach. He wanted me to know that the May 2010  decision didn’t just hurt Christians in ACNA.

“It hurt us too,” he told me. “There’s a huge number of us in AMIA who are still  confused and offended by your decision. It was even harder for us because we  weren’t given voice. It was simply announced.” And with that, he smiled, hugged me,  and said that today had begun the healing process. I thanked him for telling me,  looked him in the eyes, and said it again because I meant it again.

“I’m sorry for the hurt I caused.”

First steps.

  •       *       *

Archbishop Rwaje and his fellow bishops of Rwanda ended the Solemn Assembly  with the same kind of grace that opened our time together. He appointed a “Team”,  with Bishop Terrell Glenn as our “Team Leader”, to help serve, care, and encourage  clergy and churches still in the Anglican Province of Rwanda to find their way in  these days of crisis and division.

He also appointed a “Task Force” with two specific goals. The first, to help those  clergy and churches that wanted to go directly from his oversight straight into a  diocese of ACNA. It was essential to ++Rwaje that at some point, in a few months,  this transfer not simply be a “paper transaction.” Rather, he would hold a service of  worship with Archbishop Duncan and fellow members of the ACNA in which these  clergy and churches would be handed over with blessing from the House of Bishops  of Rwanda.

A profound demonstration of unity.

The second task is meant to serve those clergy and churches that want to remain in  Rwanda. By the good example of our brothers and sisters in CANA (who share full  inclusion in both the Anglican Church of Nigeria and ACNA), we have precedent to  both honor our relationship in Rwanda and to do everything possible to hold up the  vision for a united orthodox Anglican presence in North America.

And in that unity, to go do the work we’re called to do in mission.

But this time, a radically different kind of mission. A John 13:35 mission. The kind  that demands the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ “love one another” – as He has  loved us – for this is ground zero of mission work. This is how the world knows that  we belong to Him and that we’re ambassadors of Him. Not in our fighting against  each other, not in our divisions and schisms, but in allowing the love of God given us  in Christ Jesus our Lord to reign over us. And heal us.

We must do everything to work for reconciliation in all things. It’s hard work to do. I  don’t like it. I hate the way it demands me to examine my heart first, own my sins, and in humility confess them. But that’s what we do. It’s where it starts. In these  days, it’s where we all must start. First steps.

Baby steps.

Until the day comes that we hear the Lord say to us. Say to all of us…

“Apology received. Forgiveness granted.”

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.