Icons and Anglicanism

In light of the recent appearance of Metropolitan Jonah at the ACNA Assembly, it may be worth re-posting this paper, "Images in the Church of England." One of the primary ideas recovered during the Reformation was to reject idolatry, something that is often ignored today. The paper quotes John Donne, who wrote:

God, we see, was the first that made images, and he was the first that forbade them. He made them for imitation; He forbade in danger of adoration. For – qualis dementiae est id colere, quod melius est – what a drowsiness, what a laziness, what a cowardliness of the soul is it, to worship that which does but represent a better thing than itself. Worship belongs to the best. Know thou thy distance and thy period, how far to go and where to stop. Dishonor not God by an image in worshiping it, and yet benefit thyself in following it. There is no more danger out of a picture than out of a history, if thou intend no more in either than example.

Further, Archbishop Wake wrote:

Were the benefits of images never so great, yet you know this is neither that which we dispute with you, nor for which they are set up in your churches. Your Trent Synod expressly defines that due veneration is to be paid to them. Your catechism says that they are to be had not only for instruction but for worship. And this is the point in controversy betwixt us. We retain pictures, and sometimes even images too in our churches for ornament, and (if there be such uses to be made of them) for all the other benefits you have now been mentioning. Only we deny that any service is to be paid to them; or any solemn prayers to be made at their consecration, for any divine virtues, or indeed for any virtues at all, to proceed from them.

This is the historic position of the Anglican Communion: images are good, but they are not to be "venerated" or prayed to / through. In light of I John 5.21, the leadership of ACNA should reconsider rushing into dialog with the Orthodox. We can be co-belligerents on issues of morality in our nation, but we must not unite with them in areas where the Reformation reclaimed Scriptural truths.

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

Rowan Williams, Arch-Heretic

Rowan Williams resigning is not going to solve anything. The Church of England is as far gone as TEC, and will not suddenly produce a reversal. GAFCON should recognize this and create a new See at the center of a new Communion.

Rowan Williams has embraced abomination for some time, see here and here.

Rowan

God

…by the end of the 80’s I had definitely come to the conclusion that scripture was not dealing with the predicament of persons whom we should recognise as homosexual by nature. And many of the arguments assumed by theologians in the Middle Ages and later increasingly seemed to beg questions or to rest on contested grounds. I concluded that an active sexual relationship between two people of the same sex might therefore reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage, if and only if it had about it the same character of absolute covenanted faithfulness.

…realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…

In fact, of course, in a church which accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts, or on a problematic and non-scriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentiation without regard to psychological structures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Sign me up for “an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous texts.”

St. Augustine wrote:

Therefore shameful acts which are contrary to nature, such as the acts of the Sodomites (Gen 19.5 ff),  are everywhere and always to be detested and punished. Even if all peoples should do them, they would be liable to the same condemnation by divine law; for it has not made men to use one another in this way. Indeed, the social bond which should exist between God and us is violated when the nature of which he is the author is polluted by a perversion of sexual desire.

But when God commands something contrary to the customs or laws of a people, even if that has never been previously done, it has to be done. If it has fallen into disuse, it must be restored. If it has not been established, it must be established…how much more must God, the governor of his creation, be unhesitatingly obeyed in whatever he commands!

 

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.

Donlon’s Tractarian Parish

Father Kevin Donlon’s parish in Florida has an article on its website called, “Being Anglican, Being Catholic.” It presumably reflects the thinking of this man who is currently the Canon for Ecclesiastical Affairs of the AMiA.  

The article is thoroughly Anglo-Catholic. I searched in vain for the words “Scripture” or “Bible” in this article – they aren’t there. This is not to say that this parish doesn’t hold to Scriptural norms of course, but it is telling that when you write an article outlining what you are about, you don’t see fit to mention the Bible anywhere in it. The article says of the Prayer Book:

This book provided a consistent tool for liturgical worship and formation throughout England that, over time and after the death of Henry and the accession of his son, Edward VI, became much more Protestant in nature than the former king would have tolerated.

Let’s grant for the sake of argument that this comparison of Edward VI and Henry VII is correct, what of it? This statement says nothing of the relative merits of the positions of Edward or Henry, it just puts it out there as if being “more Protestant” is recognizably a bad thing. This is where the Bible might come in handy as a standard to measure liturgical practices against. Who cares if something is more or less Protestant, or more or less Catholic? What matters is if it is more or less Scriptural.

The article says that the term Catholic, “refers to the idea that the fullness of Christian belief is that which is shared by all believers from the birth of the Faith forward. (St. Vincent of Lérins described this view best when he described the Catholic Faith as that which is believed in all places, in all times, and by all people.)”

This standard from St. Vincent is a pleasant sounding canard that is often used to bless all manner of idolatry. As a standard, what does it really mean?  At bottom, it does not end debate, it merely broadens it to untenable proportions. Take the example of icons as an example, St. Epiphanius was entirely against them, writing to John, the Bishop of Jerusalem written in 394 A.D., he condemns images of men or Christ being set up in churches as against the Scriptures:

Moreover, I have heard that certain persons have this grievance against me: When I accompanied you to the holy place called Bethel, there to join you in celebrating the Collect, after the use of the Church, I came to a villa called Anablatha and, as I was passing, saw a lamp burning there. Asking what place it was, and learning it to be a church, I went in to pray, and found there a curtain hanging on the doors of the said church, dyed and embroidered. It bore an image either of Christ or of one of the saints; I do not rightly remember whose the image was. Seeing this, and being loath that an image of a man should be hung up in Christ’s church contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures, I tore it asunder and advised the custodians of the place to use it as a winding sheet for some poor person. They, however, murmured, and said that if I made up my mind to tear it, it was only fair that I should give them another curtain in its place. As soon as I heard this, I promised that I would give one, and said that I would send it at once. Since then there has been some little delay, due to the fact that I have been seeking a curtain of the best quality to give to them instead of the former one, and thought it right to send to Cyprus for one. I have now sent the best that I could find, and I beg that you will order the presbyter of the place to take the curtain which I have sent from the hands of the Reader, and that you will afterwards give directions that curtains of the other sort—opposed as they are to our religion—shall not be hung up in any church of Christ. A man of your uprightness should be careful to remove an occasion of offence unworthy alike of the Church of Christ and of those Christians who are committed to your charge.

How does this fit the standard of St. Vincent? Or take St. Augustine, who wrote:

Do not hunt up the numbers of ignorant people, who even in the true religion are superstitious, or are so given up to evil passions as to forget what they have promised to God. I know that there are many worshippers of tombs and pictures. I know that there are many who drink to great excess over the dead, and who, in the feasts which they make for corpses, bury themselves over the buried,and give to their gluttony and drunkenness the name of religion.

Both Epiphanius and Augustine disagree with the Seventh Ecumenical Council; how do we decide which of them is correct? Is St. Vincent’s dictum of any help here? No, it isn’t. Instead, we can agree with St. Gregory of Nyssa, who wrote in “On the Soul and the Resurrection”:

I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet; we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings.

And again, we can affirm with St. Cyril who wrote in Glaphyrorum, Genesis, lib. ii.:

That which the holy Scripture has not said, by what means should we receive and account it among those things that be true?

Following the Vicentian canon affirmed by Donlon’s parish, what we end up affirming (if anything) are the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, something that all Classical Anglicans agree with anyway. The article goes on to say this of the Pope:

Where does this leave the Roman Catholic Church? How should we relate to it? There can be no question of the place of the Bishop of Rome within the Western Church; his very title among the great leaders of the Church was, indeed, “Patriarch of the West.”

There can be no question about the position of the Pope? How is this sentiment in any way Anglican? It would be news to Thomas Cranmer, who wrote: “I know none other head but Christ of his catholic church, neither will I acknowledge the bishop of Rome to have any more authority than any other bishop hath, by the word of God, and by the doctrine of the old and pure catholic church four hundred years after Christ.” The church itself realized in times gone by that the supremacy of Rome was due to the supremacy of the Roman Empire, as in the 28th canon of the Council of Chalcedon:

For the Fathers rightly granted privileges to the throne of old Rome, because it was the royal city.

The statement from Donlon’s parish does not elaborate on what our relationship to the Pope should be, but it does say, “ It is vitally important that we recognize the importance of the ministry of the Church of Rome and consider the many spiritual riches they have to offer those seeking to live out the Catholic Faith.” I believe in a degree of receptive ecumenism, which is to say that there are things in Rome that we can learn from. However, this is a church that still holds to Indulgences, Purgatory, prayer to the dead, bowing to inanimate objects, and so on. These are all things universally and correctly rejected by Classical Anglicanism. To embrace them is to reject God’s Word on the subject, and to betray Anglican history.

Finally, the article deals with “Celtic Christianity”, something you hear a lot about from people who like Celtic crosses, St. Patrick’s Day and not being totally submitted to the Pope. Just what is Celtic Christianity? Who knows? Richard Fletcher says:

There never was a ‘Celtic church’. Irish churchmen repeatedly and sincerely professed their Roman allegiances: and if there were divergent practices between Rome and Ireland, well, so there were between Rome and Constantinople – or Alexandria or Carthage or Milan or Toledo. The terms ‘Roman’ and ‘Celtic’ are too monolithic. In terms of custom and practice there were many churches in sixth- and seventh-century Europe, not One Church. Christendom was many-mansioned.

It still is!

You have to wonder why it is that “we” must always be appreciating and gaining from Rome, the East and “Celtic” Christianity, and why they don’t need to accommodate us?

Ultimately, this is a parish that would be more comfortable in the Ordinariate, and I can’t help but wonder if that is where it is headed.

What I find unsettling about this entire article and the position of power that Donlon has been in it that his position is totally opposed to what the AMiA was founded to be. The AMiA’s Solemn Declaration of Principles affirmed the 39 Articles clearly. This declaration was to be re-affirmed annually by every AMiA priest, and initially using these words:

I further affirm the catholic creeds, the  dogmatic definitions of the General Councils of the undivided Church, the Book of  Common Prayer and the Ordinal, 1662, the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of  England in their literal and grammatical sense, and the Lambeth Quadrilateral of 1888,  since the same are conformable to the Scriptures, and I consequently hold myself bound to teach nothing contrary thereto, therefore I do solemnly engage to conform to the  Doctrines, Discipline and Worship of the Anglican Mission in America.”

Did vows like this mean anything to our modern Tractarians?

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.