Shrove Tuesday pancakes

I found this in an old issue of Notes and Queries and thought I would pass it along:

There is a curious tradition existing in Mansfield, Woodhouse, Bulwell, and several other villages near Sherwood Forest, as to the origin of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. The inhabitants of any of these villages will inform the questioner that when the Danes got to Linby all the Saxon men of the neighboring villages ran off into the Forest, and the Danes took the Saxon women to keep house for them. This happened just before Lent, and the Saxon women, encouraged by their fugitive lords, resolved to massacre their Danish masters on Ash Wednesday. Every woman who agreed to do this was to bake pancakes for their meal on Shrove Tuesday as a kind of pledge to fulfill her vow. This was done, and that the massacre of the Danes did take place on Ash Wednesday is a well-known historical fact.

Notes and Queries, June 4, 1859

Goodbye Baby Blue

Mary Ailes died today. She was one of the pioneers of Anglican blogging who was in the thick of things from Truro in Virginia, in the early days of CANA. To me it feels like yesterday but it is quickly fading into the past. I met her in person once and she was a kind soul. I am thankful for her work in proving that blogs could be a great source of news, something that we have gone backwards on I fear. Her blog is available at:

https://babybluecafe.blogspot.com/

and

https://babyblueonline.org/

In the midst of life we are in death…

LLDM history

I first heard of La Luz del Mundo (LLDM) in 2018 when someone told me about a group trying to buy land in Flowery Branch, Georgia, which was creating controversy. Knowing nothing about them, I started doing some research. One great source of information I found was Native Evangelism In Central Mexico by Hugo and Jean Nutini. The basic history of the sect is as follows.

The Spanish La Luz del Mundo means “the Light of the World” in English.[1] The sect was founded in 1926 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. The founder was a man named Eusebio Joaquín González.

Eusebio Joaquín González, aka Aarón

González was baptized by two Pentecostal prophets going by the names of Saulo and Silas, who had themselves converted to a sect founded by Carmen Valenzuela who became a Pentecostal while in Los Angeles. When González was baptized he was named Abraham, however, on April 6, 1926, “he heard God tell him, “Here is a man whose name will be Aarón.” The clamor made him tremble, and, being very disturbed by this, he awakened his wife, who said she had heard nothing. Eusebio Joaquín went back to sleep, and a thundering celestial vision told him, “Your name will be Aarón.” He saw a hand with the index finger pointing at him. With a great splash of brilliance, the celestial vision told him again, “Your name will be Aarón, and your blessed name will be known and famous throughout the world.”[2]

González/Abraham/Aarón moved to Guadalajara, Jalisco where he tried out the Baptist and Congregational churches but eventually moved on to start his own church. As the church grew, “…Eusebio Joaquín realized that he had not been properly baptized by Saulo and Silas, who had done so in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but not in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. On July 18, 1927, he baptized himself by total immersion and took the name of Aarón, as henceforth he was referred to by his followers.”[3]

Mary Puckett describes what happened next: “In 1954, Apostle Aarón, founder and first Apostle of the Luz del Mundo (LDM), was granted a tract of land from the government of Guadalajara to establish a colony reserved for LDM members. Securing this grant was made possible thanks to Aarón’s indigenous Mexican background and the church’s origins in Mexico. The LDM was posited as an authentically Mexican church in contrast to the Catholic Church, accused of participating in the widespread government corruption which had inspired the Mexican Revolution. In return for the grant, the LDM agreed to contribute to the development of Mexico’s infrastructure…”[4]

Aarón died in 1964, and his son Samuel Joaquín succeeded him as the next apostle.

References

1.The full name is the Church of the Living God, Foundation, and Support of the Truth (La Iglesia del Dios Vivo Columna y Apoyo de la Verdad), abbreviated to La Luz del Mundo.
2.Amatulli Valente 1989:7–8 cited in Nutini, Hugo G.. Native Evangelism in Central Mexico (pp. 74-75).
3.Nutini p. 75.
4.Puckett, p. 10.

A prayer for one in boot camp

Our son just left for boot camp this week, and so we have been ransacking prayer books to find prayers for him. Although there are collects and prayers for the Armed Forces, branches of the same, wars, and remembrance days, we have not found much for someone in boot camp, which is arguably the hardest time for any new recruit.

I did find a good prayer on this website by Priscilla Carroll, but it wasn’t quite Anglican enough for us, so I have modified it a bit to bring it more in line with the Prayer Book tradition. I hope this helps others:

O Gracious Father, We bring to you name who you gave to us. How quickly the time has passed. He has grown up to be an adult. We thank you for choosing us as his parents and giving us the privilege of raising him under your watchful care.  Many prayers have been said for him  by us and others and we thank you, that you have heard them all and answered them according to your own wisdom and the direction that you have always had for him.

O Lord, our heavenly  Father, we come to you again in prayer, as name undergoes training in the Armed Forces of our country. You have guided him in pursuit of this goal and we pray that the good work you have begun in name will be overseen with your supervision and love of him as he completes this training.

We beseech  you to help him in every expectation the military has of him. We ask you to make all things possible for name as he faces the standards and goals that the military has for him.  If anything seems impossible to him, we beseech you to strengthen him with your power in order for him to achieve whatever is expected.

We pray you to  put name in the company of Godly influences who show him Your ways of excellence.  We ask that you will use these people to impress upon him the importance of following and obeying your blessed will to be successful as a member of the Armed Forces and as your child.

We ask you to place name into your protective custody so that he may finish all that is required without any delays. We pray that Your angels would be assigned to keep him in all the ways you have planned for him  to follow.

We turn name completely over to you for all of your good works in him to be secured.  We trust that our prayer  will be answered to your glory as we await name’s  graduation and his official recognition as a member of the Armed Forces in service to you and his country;  through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all glory and honor, world without end. Amen.

Reviewing Laurent Mbanda’s Book, “Committed to Conflict”

Even in the 1994 genocide, I believe that there were people who followed whatever their leaders decided to do, without ever exercising their own minds. – Laurent Mbanda (Page 133)

mbanda 20144
Rwandan Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda

I’ve previously written about some snippets of Laurent Mbanda’s book “Committed to Conflict, the destruction of the church in Rwanda,1 These posts: one, two, three, four and five now I will take a look at the rest of the book. The book was written in 1997, long before Mbanda became a bishop in the Anglican Church of Rwanda and I suspect that it had something to do with the powers that be selecting him as a bishop, along with his work for Compassion International and Western connections.

Bishop Mbanda is well connected in the West. He currently sits on the board of Compassion International, the International Justice Mission, Food for the Hungry, the Mustard Seed Project, and the Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda. He succeeded Bishop John Rucyahana in 2010, as the Bishop of the Shyira Diocese. Bishop Mbanda was at the center of the split between the Anglican Mission in America and the Rwandan Church with AMiA leaders making accusations against him of leaking communications to George Conger – charges which he denied at the “Sacred Assembly” in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The book was “assisted” by Steve Wamberg, who functioned as a Communications Specialist for Compassion International from 1992-97.

I have not seen any analysis of Mbanda’s book, and I doubt that many, if any, clergy of PEARUSA have taken the time to read it and think through its implications.

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Mbanda correctly points out that the early Protestant missionaries and thus the Protestant communities in Rwanda avoided overt political connections:

The colonial administrators and the mission leaders had different views regarding the people of Rwanda, especially Hutu and Tutsi. The traditional structure used to accomplish colonial objectives was not favoured by the Catholic missionaries, who termed it ‘oppressive’, while the Protestants tried to remain apolitical. (Page 7)

This was partly due to the origins of Anglicanism in Rwanda, which was brought by missionaries who were steeped in Keswick theology and dispensationalism, both of which are often apolitical. Keswick’s emphasis in this regard is profoundly un-Biblical. Mbanda returns to the apolitical nature of Rwandan Protestants over and over:

The Protestant Christian missions were largely apolitical in their approach to the Rwandan sociopolitical structure. The first Protestant missionaries to enter the country supported the indirect German colonial approach and in so doing, raised no sociopolitical issues. A small minority in the country, they were not highly visible and had limited personal influence; their interest was in evangelism, leaving the social issues alone. (Page 49)

Note that in this case Mbanda suggests that “leaving the social issues alone” was a good thing when compared to the Catholic Church. He he launches repeated diatribes against the Catholic Church, such as this:

This favouritism, and its closeness and involvement with the colonial administrators, virtually married the Catholic Church to the state, such that under the leadership of Bishop Classe, it became a state church with a strong influence in matters of civil government. (Page 20)

Mbanda’s position on the Catholic Church is accurate, but as I cannot emphasize enough, this is the same situation that the Anglican Church finds itself in today! It is tied at the hip to Paul Kagame.

kagame
Retired Archbishop Kolini, President Kagame, Bishop Mbanda

I am told by a former advisor of Kagame’s that he is an atheist who uses witch doctors and mocks Christians behind closed doors. He uses the churches as tools to propagandize the West with genocide guilt and a false narrative of reconciliation.

Mbanda says that the former colonial powers and the churches share a large part of the blame for the 1994 genocide:

The most recent genocide in Rwanda derives in part from the deep historic divisions in Rwandan society created by the colonial rulers and the churches. (Page 25)2

The contradiction at the heart of Mbanda’s book is that he condemns the church for its involvement in politics, but turns around to blast the church for silence in the face of injustice! He is correct about the problem of silence, but speaking up about injustice is an inherently political activity. In the following quote Mbanda condemns Christian silence:

The policy of Iringaniza (total exclusion of one ethnic group) in most cases was not different from the colonial discriminatory school system executed at the expense of Rwandan children of the time. And the silence of many Christian missions in the face of such injustices was deafening. (Page 43)

Yes, this silence was deafening, as is the silence of Anglicans today when their government tortures and kills its own citizens!

Calvin teaches Christians that resisting evil authorities is salutary: “For earthly princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from heaven.”

Bishop Mbanda seems to agree with Calvin’s sentiments in this book, and yet, in authority as a bishop he has only praised the wicked rule of Kagame and has maintained silence in the face of evil. He has in fact gone beyond silence and has openly praised Rwanda’s leadership as “visionary.”

visionary leadership

This is in clear contrast to his past self, who decried silence in the face of injustice:

It is important to protect people and strive for unity in the nation, but without true justice there can’t be sincere unity. Under the previous government, killings and other social injustices went unchallenged. (Page 105)

And again, Mbanda says the role of the Church:

Hopefully, the new Kigali government will keep its hands clean in the matters of the Church, just as they have so far. My prayer is that the Church can divorce itself from the kind of church-state relationships that seek favours from politicians in exchange for the Church’s prophetic voice. The former Vice President of Kenya, Mr Mwai Kibaki, put it well while addressing members of the National Council of Churches of Kenya : “The church leaders should not spend their time praising politicians; we have enough people to praise us. Your task is to correct us when we go wrong and need to be reminded of the justice of God, and to pray for us.” Respect for church leaders does not come from their association with political leaders, but from their relationship with God, a relationship proven in non-conformity to ungodly things. Christian leaders are often caught in the political trap of their countries; this has been the case for Rwandan church leaders. David Gitari in his book Let the Bishop Speak wrote:
A position of active and positive support for the state is obviously the easiest position for the Church to adopt; however, it is also the most unfortunate posture in which the Church can be found. Churches which are favored by the state find it very tempting to respond by giving full support to their patron; but they tend to suffer most when the regime they support is removed and replace by a new government.
It is likely that Bishop Gitari was well aware of the Rwandan situation; at least his insight describes exactly where the Rwandan church leadership has been. (Page 116)

Mbanda says:

Remembering the Kinyarwanda saying, ‘Wibuba uhetse ukabawigish uwo mu umugongo’, meaning if you steal when carrying a youngster on your back, you are teaching the youngster to steal, could this be what happened as a result of Catholic involvement in power politics while they were simultaneously preaching good news and its message of unity, love and peace? (Page 48)

Some say that the Anglican Church today is not involved in “power politics” like the Catholic Church was before, but the role of her bishops on government bodies such as NURC and the praise they speak for Kagame’s leadership shows a dangerous degree of affinity for the current regime. As American Bishop Steve Breedlove pointed out, “In Rwanda, the church’s program IS the community program, and in many places the government yields the platform of developing and transforming communities to the church.” According to Mbanda’s own reasoning, being aligned with a police state that oppresses Hutus and Tutsis who speak up against it is a terrible witness to the Rwandan population.

Mbanda goes on to blasts the Church for not defending the rights of all, but again, the current Anglican Church is silent about oppression:

Somewhere in the process, the Church lost its prophetic role. It could have been an instrument of positive change as a witnessing, worshipping and serving community – by acting as salt and light. But the Church in Rwanda failed to give warning, or even advice, concerning the actions of its own people, while playing political power games. The Church failed to defend the rights of all, whether the attack came through abuse of power or through dehumanizing propaganda. (Page 52)

Today there is a diaspora of Rwandans — Hutu and Tutsi — who have fled to the DRC, other African nations and the West to escape imprisonment or death at the hands of Paul Kagame. The Anglican Province of Rwanda has said nothing about this that I am aware of. But Mbanda critiques the Church of the past for not speaking up for Tutsi refugees:

Unfortunately, it does not seem that the Church wanted the Tutsis back, and if it did, there were no clear steps taken by the church leadership to address the refugee problem, or even condemn the evil acts that led to thousands of deaths and sent hundreds of thousands into exile. Was the Church in Rwanda in a position to plead for the return of the Rwandan refugees in exile? Given its status at that time, and the role it played in the bloody massacres, I believe it could have contributed significantly. Even if there had been no government response, if the Church had done its part, the international community would probably have echoed the message. But the Church’s silence contributed to the perception of its previous political involvement, thus indicating its support of ethnic distinction and separation. And if the Catholic Church’s militant spirit regarding social issues during the German colonial rule and politics of the 1950s was a sincere response to social injustice and oppression, surely the Church would have spoken up for the gross human rights abuses of the period from the 1960s to 1994. What do we say of the Rwandan church’s theology regarding God’s creation of humankind? Is this an issue for Hutu and Tutsi alone, or an issue that Christians around the world need to address? (Page 58)

Mbanda-1
Bishop Mbanda Teaching in his Diocese

Mbanda is critical of the pre-genocide Church’s adaptation of the government’s agenda:

Even though the Church tended to be sympathetic to the social status and conditions of the surviving Tutsis in general, both the Catholic and Protestant churches (and more so the leadership) were politicized enough to keep in line with what the Rwandan government wanted. It did not matter about belief, the biblical teaching of love and unity, or one’s view of humankind; the Church chose to listen and move with the political agenda of the country. (Page 59)

Mbanda points out that the pre-genocide Church was silent, that is published the government’s agenda in its journal, that favoritism blinded it, and that prestigious positions manipulated its leaders:

By 1961, the Catholic Church was profoundly connected with the Hutu-dominated republics; Kayibanda’s proclamation of the ‘Country of the Battutu’ received wide support from the Church, which knew that the government’s aim was to promote Hutu solidarity against what it called ‘Tutsi feudalism’. The identity card introduced by the colonial rule was retained and the Church said nothing about it. The newly formed government managed to use the Church for furthering much of what had been started and propagated through Kinyamateka, the White Fathers’ journal. Favouritism and the prestigious position of both the Church and its leaders served to blind the Church. As the Burundi people’s saying goes, ‘Na Umugabo uvugana irya mukanwa’, meaning ‘No man talks with food in his mouth.’ The favours and prestigious positions were used to manipulate the church leaders, who, for fear of losing these, could not address real issues. (65-66)

Is any of this different today? The evidence says no:

Rucyahana_Parliament_Nov_13

Mbanda shows that the Rwandan government imprisoned or disappeared those who stood against it:

In 1973, the Protestant Church was still unprepared to participate in the conflict or take a pastoral role. The missionaries had left by then, and Protestant church leaders were not courageous enough to stand up and speak against the evils of the Rwandan leadership and Hutu extremists’ acts. Nothing had been done to address the Church’s political involvement against the Tutsis in 1959-61, much less the public acts. This would not be the time either. Instead, Tutsi priests suspected by the government (or anyone else who wanted them to be killed) of having contacts with outside Rwandans were imprisoned. Others disappeared. (Page 67)

It is hard to read this and not be struck with the paradox that Mbanda himself is now silent when the Rwandan government of Paul Kagame imprisons, tortures and disappears Rwandans. You can read examples of this here, here, and here.

Mbanda correctly says that clergy serving in the ruling party of Habyarimana signaled to a watching public that the Church agreed with the government.

The seating of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Rwanda on the Central Committee of the ruling party of ex-President Habyarimana’s government was like putting a stamp of approval on the politics and policies of a government that discriminated against its own people. The Archbishop’s position and relationship to the government identified the Church with the position of the government on the social and political issues regarding the Tutsi population. […] In later years the goal for many Christian church leaders, as they competed for relationships with Rwandan authorities, became clear. Each not only desire to be a close friend of the president, about which they bragged, but also sought to become a powerful voice of whatever church they were leading. (Page 68-69)

How is this different from bishops such as Rucyahana, Kolini, and Gasatura serving on government bodies? How is it different from Kolini and Rucyahana hosting meetings for the CNDP/M23? How is it different from Pastor Antoine Rutayisire laughing it up with Kagame at annual prayer breakfasts in Kigali? How is it different from the Archbishop penning a letter to the United Nations attacking the Group of Experts on the DRC in line with the government’s position? How is it different from Bishop Mbanda calling Paul Kagame’s leadership “visionary?” The answer is, it is not different. Mbanda is now part of something he condemned in this book.

In-the-Middle-is-The-Rt--Rev--Dr--Laurent-Mbanda-explains-to-the-Archbishop-of-Cantebury-and-the-Archbishop-of-Rwanda-Onesphore-Rwaje-about-different-projects-in-the-diocese-_Photo-by-Eugene-Mutara-Rugamb
Archbishop Rwaje, Bishop Mbanda, Archbishop Justin Welby

Mbanda discusses how the government influenced who was picked to lead the churches prior to the genocide:

Among the Protestant bishops, Episcopal Archbishop Nshamihigo and Bishop Sebununguri (even though some say that he had fallen out of grace with Habyarimana) were very close confidants of the president. […] Many sources have indicated that most church leaders had been bought off by the government officials through favours. The government’s patronage of top church leaders had strings attached to it, and church leadership selection was one among many. Within the Rwandan Christian Church, among Protestants as well as Catholics, tensions always arose when there was an election or selection of church leaders. Scandalous situations and acts were observed more in the Episcopal Church of Rwanda. The selection of the very first bishop was a more political than spiritual matter. After dealings that were characterized by corruption and deceitful acts, the church ended up selecting a bishop based on ethnic criteria to satisfy the government’s unwritten policy; the president of the country had to give his approval to the selection. Where ethnic distinction was not an issue for the top government authority, geographical origin could play a key factor, especially in the lay leadership of the Habyarimana regime. (Page 70)

I could also remember hearing stories of the Episcopal Church fights involving the late Bishop Ndandali, Bishop Sebununguri and Archbishop Nshamihigo. There were serious fights were weapons were carried into meetings and special bodyguards hired on suspicion of life-threatening plans. (Page 82)

He shows how the Church gave up its prophetic role to be involved in national politics:

It is no secret that the church leaders in Rwanda responded to two basic and related situations: the possible advantages of having extremely close ties to the colonial interests, and the pursuit of such ties with the first and the second Rwandan governments (the Kayibanda and Habyiramana regimes); these caused church leaders to compromise their prophetic and pastoral roles in exchange for being power-brokers of national politics. (Page 72)

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Mbanda’s and his Predecessor, Bishop John Rucyahana

He shows that when some in the Catholic Church did speak out in 1990, it was a good thing, but far too late:

When the Catholic priests formally spoke out on ethnically sensitive issues in March 1990, it signalled a change in the thinking of the Catholic church leadership. The voices involved may not have been high enough in the hierarchy to be heard immediately as in past political involvements (such as those from 1916 to the 1960s), but they definitely provided a significant, if belated, warning. These priests spoke against the ethnic quotas in education and in civil service that limited Tutsi participation. Whether this was God’s Spirit at work or the result of an intellectual analysis of the political situation (or both), I can’t judge. Still, the warning should have been voiced at least some 30 years before. (Page 73)

The fact today is that Tutsis run every level of government, and are often “twinned” with Hutus who serve as puppets for a Tutsi boss behind the scenes. The United States government knows this, as this leaked State Department cable shows. So why isn’t the Anglican Church speaking out against the ethnic discrimination going on in Rwanda today?

Mbanda shows how the dictator Habyarimana eliminated his opponents, which is exactly what happens with Paul Kagame’s opponents today:

(Habyarimana) had political enemies both inside and outside the country and was basically ruling through a gun in his opponents’ backs and ‘suspicious’ car accidents. The whereabouts of his identified enemies was top secret; human rights abuse had become a way of life, and his own conscience bothered him. (Page 74)

Kagame in fact boasted about an assassination at a prayer breakfast in 2014, with Mbanda in attendance. The Anglican Church was silent about Kagame’s boasting.

Figure x. Bishop Mbanda (rear) at the recent appalling prayer breakfast
Bishop Mbanda (rear) at the appalling 2014 prayer breakfast

Mbanda returns again and again to the silence of the Church:

In Rwanda, certain denominational leaders were close friends and strong supporters of the Habyarimana regime. Among them were all the bishops of the Episcopal Church of Rwanda (except one non-diocesan titular bishop formerly in Kigeme, a Tutsi and survivor of the genocide), […] Some of the church leaders’ reputations became widely blurred as they appeared in political scenes, advancing political agendas, leading political party demonstrations, and making inappropriate political declarations in public support of the corrupt regime – including the justification of both genocide and the mass killing of Hutu moderates. The Anglican leader Augustin Nshamihigo, the former Presbyterian head, and the Catholic Church’s Archbishop Nsengiyumva acted like competitors. The silence and role of the top church officials during the 1994 massacres made them accomplices in the genocide. (Page 75-76)

And yet today, John Rucyahana was a government puppet in the Rose Kabuye matter, Emmanuel Kolini relayed Kagame’s orders to America to cancel a speaking engagement of Paul Rusesabagina.

Mbanda says that Western partners of Rwanda from before the genocide were confused and did not know what to believe about Rwanda:

Some Christians around the world were disappointed in the Rwandan church leadership, while others were morally and financially behind them. From my discussions with executives of Western-based Christian non-government organizations and mission agencies, I have come to learn that many were confused and did not know what to believe about the Rwandan situation. So they continued working relationships with church other indigenous Christian organizations in the country, based on the relationships and trust developed over the years prior to the 1990 war situation. (Page 76)

This is identical to today’s situation, with the additional factor that many Westerners aligned with Rwanda are so ignorant that they do not even realize there is a problem.

He relates stories of Evangelical Christians who participated in the genocide or later interahamwe killing:

Honest Christians, godly people, the ‘saved’ (in the Kinyarwanda language, ‘Abarokore’) were holding evening and weekend meetings characterized by groups engaging in prayer, fasting, confessions of sins, predictions of what might come, rich Bible studies, willingness to entertain deep thoughts, singing heavenly songs and concern for one another. Both Hutus and Tutsis participated with no fear of each other, even though there was an atmosphere of suspicion in the country. The meetings developed into large public gatherings where political issues were addressed, and the involvement of church leaders in the political scenes was condemned. There was a call to pray, to love each other and to pursue peace and unity. Christian survivors of the genocide who participated in these evangelical meetings tell stories of church members and testifying Christians who, having attended the same meetings, were later seen in the uniforms and activities of Interahamwe (militia). During the killings, many were also seen at roadblocks with machetes. It is hard to believe, but reported by trustworthy individuals. (Page 77)

Mbanda says that most Christians behaved no differently from the average Rwandan:

The behaviour of most church members, including their leaders, was outwardly no different from the non-Christians’ conduct and therefore lacked the Christian testimony that would have made a significant difference. (Page 112)

Mbanda discusses how returnees from the Tutsi exile took over leadership of many denominations in Rwanda. This was true of the Anglican Church, which has turned heavily to those born outside the country to run it in the years after the genocide:

To the surprise of many people in Rwanda, including some Christians, church services resumed immediately following the RPF’s takeover of the country, certain churches being packed to their maximum capacity. Initially, most people found in the capital city of Rwanda were new faces to Kigali. Faces in most churches were also new, then, with few old church members, and among new faces in the churches were old Rwandan refugees. In some churches, the initial church service organizers were from among the returnees who targeted the denominations they were connected with in countries of exile. The new organizers were either elders and ordained pastors in refugee resettlements where they lived, or church pastors in the national churches of their countries of asylum Returning into the homeland, some had actually been eyeing the takeover of local church leadership situations as they thought that most of the former leaders would not want to return to Rwanda due to accusations of involvement in the genocide and compliance with the whole killing situation. (Page 112)

He ominously refers to innocent Hutus who fled the country, believing that RPF forces would take revenge on them when they took over. Mbanda implies that this was not the case:

As churches resumed their responsibility (in most cases with new service and church activity organizers) the newly established government did not waste time in calling upon recent refugees to return home and participate in the rebuilding of the country. The call to return went hand in hand with an assurance of bringing justice to the murderers and planners of the genocide. Those with no direct involvement in the slaughter had nothing to fear and therefore no reason to live in exile, but were being called home. The government knew that there were many innocent people who followed the killers into exile believing that the RPF would exact revenge for murdered Tutsis immediately after it reclaimed the country. (Page 113)

However, this did happen, as documents like the Gersony Report show. The Report said in part:

Local residents, including entire families, were called to community meetings, invited to receive information about “peace,” “security” or “food distribution” issues. Once a crowd had assembled, it was assaulted through sudden sustained gunfire; or locked in buildings into which hand-grenades were thrown; systematically killed with manual instruments; or killed in large numbers by other means. Large-scale killings which did not involve such “meetings” were also reported. House-to-house killings, and attacks on villages and displaced populations.

I have no evidence that Bishop Mbanda has ever spoken about these killings.

Mbanda describes the chaos of the post-genocide environment, where funds were diverted and mis-spent:

Relief and rehabilitation funds have been diverted to hire youth fighters from marketplaces to come and drag pastors from church pulpits, disrupting services and even beating individuals who resist. These thugs have pulled a bishop out of his chair, have cleared sanctuaries filled with worshipers and have overturned tables with communion elements. Pick-up trucks purchased from Christian organizations with church-donated funds have been seen transporting these young fighters to wherever a certain ‘self-imposed’ bishop was to be. (Page 129-130)

Mbanda calls on church leaders to monitor the Church-State relationship, so he should thank me for this blog! See below:

The Hebraic model of theocracy, which would link spiritual leaders with political power, failed to become reality in Rwanda, but made a significant impact on the political leadership. Church leaders in Africa, and elsewhere, have to be careful to avoid combining religious and political functions. Church and mission leaders must watch the relationship between church and state, as these can be dangerous for the Church. In Rwanda they have demonstrated patterns of manipulation within the Church, and the abuse of governmental relationships by the Church. (Page 138)

Mbanda’s summary of the pre-1994 Church rings just as true today when related to massive human rights abuses in Rwanda and the DRC:

The Rwandan church failed to challenge social injustices. It is sin to allow social injustice anywhere, especially in the Church; and yet there are places where Christian missions and churches have actually sought to justify the drawing of lines according to their view of the human race. The Rwandan genocide is a typical example of what can happen when we draw lines and view others as less than people made in God’s image. (Page 139)

To summarize, the Bishop’s book is disappointing. The very things he castigates the old Church for doing, he is now involved in himself. The players have changed, but the song is the same.


  1. These posts: one, two, three, four and five
  2. Mbanda’s take on the colonial past meshes with the RPF “victor’s narrative.” Jennifer Melvin describes this narrative in her article, “Correcting history: Mandatory education in Rwanda.” She says: “In its most general form, this remit seeks to create a single set of conclusions about Rwanda’s past, present, and future. his interpretation is informed by a singular narrative of Rwandan history referred to in this article as the ‘victor’s narrative’. The term ‘victor’ refers to the RPF’s role in creating and disseminating this particular version of events. Like the term ‘victor’s justice’ used by authors including Tiemessen (2004), Sarkin (2001), and Waldorf (2010) to describe RPF impunity at gacaca, the ‘victor’s narrative’ denies RPF involvement in human rights abuses and violations in Rwanda and DRC. These allegations include: limiting the freedom of speech, press, and association; silencing journalists and political opponents through politically motivated accusations of ‘divisionism’ and ‘genocide ideology’; and contributing to conlict in DRC, such as the M23 rebellion. The ‘victor’s narrative’ emphasises pre-colonial unity, the detriments of ethnic identities, and the beneits of RPF-led programming. In the context of education camps and school classrooms, this narrative functions to limit critical analysis, bolster political support, and denounce criticism of the RPF regime.” 

Notes

Hard and Honest Work: The 2014 ACNA Conclave

Former Archbishop Duncan characterized the 2014 Conclave to elect his successor as “hard and honest work” and a variety of other participants offered similar characterizations. The conclave ended with a unanimous vote electing Bishop Foley Beach as the second Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Given this unanimity, what can we discern about what was “hard” about the “work” of electing Archbishop Beach? I collated several sources to look at the process that ACNA used and will probably continue to use to elect its Archbishops in the future.

The ACNA Conclave

Prelude to the Conclave

In the months leading up to the Conclave, the College of Bishops and their congregations committed to prayer and fasting for the election. They also met with Dr. Cynthia Waisner, a consultant with a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change, whose LinkedIn profile says her expertise includes “systemic approaches to change.” 1Dr. Waisner had been involved since at least 2013 in facilitating group unity amongst the College of Bishops. “Their meeting in Orlando this January was of great significance. Cynthia Waisner of Catalyst Consulting had a big role in preparing for and facilitating their time together…Bishop Eric Menees shared about the covenant the bishops made for their relationships with one another: 1) Honesty, avoiding triangulation, discuss matters directly and not indirectly. 2) Avoid pressuring one another and politicizing things. 3) Focus on the things that unite us and not the things that divide us. 4) Do not threaten to leave if we don’t get our way. 5) Give each other the benefit of the doubt and not try to read in motives or agendas. 6) Speak for ourselves and not for unnamed others. 7) All of this would be undergirded with regular prayer for one another. Bishop John and The Rev. Meg Guernsey established a prayer chain for the college of bishops. 8) Think about others and recognize that our actions affect other people in other jurisdictions. 9) Spend special time getting to know one another, especially those close to us geographically. 10) Practice humility – it’s not about building up individual dioceses but about building the Kingdom of God and the ACNA.”

In their January 2014 Communique, the College of Bishops described the process leading up to the Conclave:

Archbishop Duncan then graciously absented himself so we could pursue facilitated conversation with Dr. Cynthia Waisner, who again served as our consultant. Seeking to avoid a political process, the bishops committed to a covenant of behavior and a season of prayer as we move toward the bishops’ conclave in June. The College of Bishops will have regular days of prayer and fasting in the coming months, and then gather the week before the Provincial Assembly to discern in prayer the one whom God is calling as successor to Archbishop Duncan

Instructions for the Conclave

The Conclave followed certain instructions for its proceedings, instructions that I have not seen in writing anywhere. They are not enshrined in ACNA canons and do not seem to be available for public scrutiny as of this writing. However, enough has been said publicly that we can discern the main outlines of the rules.

Bishop Neil Lebhar wrote about the structure of the Conclave prior to its beginning, and he outlined following steps:

As we meet as bishops in conclave, our process contains essentially three stages.

First, we will pray and discuss where we think the Lord is leading us as a Church, and what the corresponding role of the archbishop should be based on that vision.

Second, we will nominate bishops whom we think are gifted to lead in that next direction. Any diocesan bishop is eligible according the canons. Those nominated will of course have the freedom to withdraw their names.

Third, we will go through a prayerful series of ballots until one is chosen by two-thirds of the bishops. There will be no campaigning or pressuring. We will not be free to share the details of the nominations or balloting, but instead will be fully committed to support whomever is finally chosen.

Note the “fully committed” phrase, as it explains the final unanimity of support for Archbishop Beach. It seems that the candidate needed the two-thirds vote, and then the assent of all the bishops to present a united front coming out of the Conclave. Bishop Wood confirms this impression: “The challenge of that is that the ballot has to be unanimous. The challenge of that is, they are sinners, I’m a sinner, and we all have our own agendas, and we all have our own issues.”

The process described by the bishops points to similarities with the Roman Catholic Apostolic Constitution Universi Dominici Gregis (‘the Lord’s whole flock’), available here. For example, Archbishop Beach said, “We made a vow together before the Lord that we would be silent about our time in the Conclave.” Other bishops emphasized the commitment to silence about the proceedings. Bishop Ruch said, “…we made a pledge to each other that we would be confidential about all that occurred in what we called the Conclave…” 2From this video This is similar to: what Universi Dominici Gregis says:

I, N.N., promise and swear that, unless I should receive a special faculty given expressly by the newly- elected Pontiff or by his successors, I will observe absolute and perpetual secrecy with all who are not part of the College of Cardinal electors concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the ballots cast and their scrutiny for the election of the Supreme Pontiff.

I likewise promise and swear to refrain from using any audio or video equipment capable of recording anything which takes place during the period of the election within Vatican City, and in particular anything which in any way, directly or indirectly, is related to the process of the election itself. I declare that I take this oath fully aware that an infraction thereof will make me subject to the spiritual and canonical penalties which the future Supreme Pontiff will see fit to adopt, in accordance with Canon 1399 of the Code of Canon Law.

So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand.

Universi Dominici Gregis also contains instructions for counting votes and burning ballots, called the “post-scrutiny.” I have seen no evidence of how this was handled by ACNA. Papal Conclaves require two-thirds votes for election. We know that no phones were supposed to be used during the sessions and we know the schedule that the bishops followed. Beyond this, I have not seen further details of the rule that they followed.

What Happened During the Conclave

While information on the actual proceedings is sparse, it is not totally lacking. The bishops roomed together, apparently two to a room. They ate together and spent the entirety of their days together. Bishop Steve Wood shared a room with Bishop Beach; Wood described the process:

Days began at seven in the morning and ended at 10:30 at night, we were locked in a crypt, under the Basilica of St. Vincent in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. We had our meals together, and the entire time was spent in prayer, and worship and in conversation.

He described the time to his parishioners: “It was rich. It was honest. We clearly saw the Spirit bring us to a profound unity.” Bishop Ruch described the time as, “unmanaged, carefully allowed freeing spiritual process in which we heard, I believe, from the Holy Spirit.” The schedule the bishops followed was:

DaySessionResult
19 JuneThursday nightPresentation only
20 JuneFriday morningNominating ballot
21 JuneSaturday morningNo decision
21 JuneSaturday afternoonNo decision
22 JuneSunday morningNo decision, or Beach reaches ⅔ here?
22 JuneSunday morningUnanimous decision for Foley Beach

On June 19th, the Thursday night session kicked the Conclave off with, “each of the bishops…given three minutes to share what was on their heart in regards to the church and their view of the direction and priorities for the next phase of our life together.” 3From Bishop Atwood’s comments can be found here. Archbishop Duncan said, “Every single bishop talked and said what he felt the challenges before the church were and the kind of person we need.”

The nominating ballot came on Friday morning, the 20th. Each bishop was allowed to nominate a candidate. I believe they were limited to one nomination per bishop, and the nominees were allowed to withdraw their names from consideration.

The nominating ballot came on Friday morning, the 20th. Each bishop was allowed to nominate a candidate. I believe they were limited to one nomination per bishop, and the nominees were allowed to withdraw their names from consideration. We do not have anything like a session-by-session, ballot-by-ballot breakdown of what occurred, but in general, we know that there was prayer, Scripture reading, and bishops sharing “words from the Lord.” Bishop Bill Atwood writes:

There was a lot of time for worship and prayer, with Scripture being both read and acclaimed as authoritative. There was also time for bishops to share their sense of “words from the Lord,” as distinguished from personal points of view for which there was also ample time to share. Each time someone spoke, there was time for weighing the words that had been given, seeking to honor not only our thoughts and decisions, but also to listen to what God was saying. Naturally, this is something which must be weighed very carefully and measured against Scripture, but the fact that God’s voice and guidance is taken seriously is a great encouragement.

Much of the time was spent articulating different senses of direction for the future of the church, and then resulted in an agreement of what was needed for the present. The process led to prayers of repentance and acts of reconciliation, prayers, brotherly hugs, and even tears. As relationships were strengthened, agreement on what next steps to take and how to engage challenges emerged. In many ways, this was a time of “being the church” and “doing the work of the church.” As trust increased consensus more readily grew, ultimately resulting in enthusiastic and unanimous selection of the new Archbishop.

Bishop Bill Murdoch tells us that a bishop said: “that unity in the church is more often a fruit of faithful prayer and work and living, rather than a destination imagined by the people of God.” 4Murdoch’s comments can be found here.

Archbishop Duncan provided another glimpse into what was said:

It was stirring at the conclave to hear about bishops and their wives who were giving 20% of their income to the work of God.

5Former Archbishop Duncan’s comment is from here.

At some point in the Conclave I am told that Bishop Ray Sutton was almost selected, he is said to have had the numbers required, which I assume means a 2/3 vote. However, there was a strong voice of opposition to his election and the bishops went back to work to find a candidate more suitable to the whole body. While I could speculate on the factions that may have opposed Bishop Sutton and the reasons why, I have no hard evidence on this, but we do know that women’s ordination was a bone of contention.

The fruit of getting back to work was the selection of Bishop Foley Beach. This means that Beach was acceptable to all the camps within the College, rather than simply two-thirds. Remember that a unanimous vote was mandated after the two-thirds line was crossed. It was not enough to simply get to two-thirds.

Bishop Lebhars’s wife, Marcia Lebhar, wrote:

The election. It was undoubtedly arduous and took every minute allowed for it. But all the bishops describe the process as open, transparent, loving. Along the way there must have been discussion over places of disagreement, but disagreement, if handled with the Holy Spirit, builds fellowship rather than destroys it. That was the testimony of the bishops.

I believe that women’s ordination and the near victory of Bishop Sutton explain the many comments about difficulty in the Conclave. Bishop Stewart Ruch said:

…what occurred in that time was real conversation, real tensions real joys, deep prayer, times of spontaneous worship, sharing our hearts one with another. Every one of the 51 bishops who are active and able to make the election for a new Archbishop shared about their heart, their passion for the next five years of the Anglican Church in North America;

Archbishop Duncan himself characterized the Conclave’s conversation as intense: “Over the course of three days of intense conversation and sometimes vigorous fellowship…”

Disputes over Women’s Ordination

George Conger broke the news that women’s ordination generated the most difficulty during the Conclave:

Sources tell Anglican Ink the issue that generated the most vigorous fellowship was the question of women’s orders, with the bishops unable to rally round a common view. The theological issues surrounding women clergy were coupled with fears that behaviors exhibited in the Episcopal Church in its debates were being repeated within the ACNA.

And after the election of Archbishop Beach, Anglo-Catholic bishops emphasized Beach’s position on Holy Orders. In a letter to the Missionary Diocese of All Saints, Bishops Ilgenfritz and Lipka wrote: 6The letter is located here.

The Archbishop-Elect upholds the orthodox position on Holy Orders. He believes the Christian ministerial episcopate and presbyterate are reserved to males.

Archbishop-Elect Beach embraces the Anglican catholic tradition within the ACNA and is supportive of upholding catholic faith and order of the undivided church.

Writing to Forward in Faith North America, Bishop Iker also emphasized women’s ordination:

I am delighted with the selection of Bishop Foley Beach to serve as the next Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America. He is of the same mind as we are on the question of women in holy orders, and he shares our appreciation of the rich catholic tradition of Anglicanism. At the same time, he has close connections with evangelicals and charismatics and is highly regarded by them.

The ability of Archbishop Beach to appeal to Anglo-Catholics, “evangelicals and charismatics” was likely what enabled the college to reach unanimity on his candidacy. Bishop Ruch also spoke to an evangelical, Catholic and charismatic components in Foley Beach:

I have great confidence in Archbishop Foley. I’ve had a chance to build a personal friendship with him and prayer relationship with him over the last year, and so I know his evangelical heart, I know that he’s a deep churchman that loves Mother Church. He’s a man who moves and works and lives in the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

A tentative tally of the voting bishops by their position on women’s ordination yields 32 against and 17 for. These numbers may not account for some factors; for example, I do not know if Archbishop Duncan voted or not, and I am guessing about a few bishops based on their affiliation (i.e. PEAR USA bishops as “against”). The bloc of votes against women’s ordination should be enough to put any candidate over the top, but if unanimity is required, this means the winner cannot be strident in wanting to reverse course on the issue.

The selection of Archbishop Beach produced a wave of unanimity in the bishops who have spoken. Bishop Atwood tells us that:

On Sunday afternoon the bishops’ shout of acclamation rose from the crypt under the Basilica and was heard by those nearby as they reached their decision.

Bishop Murdoch said:

The hard work of this process was one of the deepest places of the work of God by his Holy Spirit that I have had the privilege to go. To do this along with the 51 other bishops present during the conclave was truly extraordinary. The acclamation and thrill of the final vote for our new Archbishop, Foley Beach, is a moment I will carry in my heart forever.

Marcia Lebhar said, “They made a unanimous decision and Neil says he is “thrilled” that Foley Beach is to be our new archbishop.” Bishop Ruch also emphasized the spirit of unity:

we truly bonded as a college, we went from being a group of men with different concerns representing different constituencies to a collegial band of apostolic leaders who are called to do the work the Gospel in our generation. By the end of that time it became unanimously clear that God had selected Bishop, now Archbishop Foley Beach to lead us for the next five years in his five-year term as a leader.

The process was described as exhausting by most of the bishops who commented publicly. Bishop Lyons said that by the end of the Conclave, “We were all fried.”

Reactions to Archbishop Beach

The public reactions were (of course) unanimously positive, ranging from GAFCON to the American Anglican Council, and from Bishop Lebhar to the leaders of Forward in Faith. Marsha Lebhar said, “Foley and Neil are also good friends and often confer on ACNA matters. Neil says of Foley that “he seeks counsel.” We have real confidence in his wisdom and leadership.”

Bishop Ruch sees God’s favor ahead for ACNA:

When I walked out, a day after the election to the Basilica which is the main worship space, and building at the Arch Abbey, to my amazement, I saw the most beautiful, richly colored, expansive rainbow I have ever seen. It literally stretched from one side of the mountain ridge the surrounds Latrobe Pennsylvania to the side over the Basilica. When I looked twice, I saw that actually there was a double rainbow underneath, so that there were two rainbows there. I think that was a supernatural gift from God shown to us there for all of us in the Anglican Church of North America to remind us of God’s promise the days of difficulty and destruction have in so many ways passed as God proved after the Flood, and that days of promise are ahead.

2024

Will ACNA use this same process to select the next Archbishop? I expect that they will. Given the public praise that the bishops have heaped on this process, it makes sense that they will repeat it when the next generation of bishops picks a third Archbishop. Perhaps other bishops have reservations about how this all occurred, but if so, we haven’t heard from them yet.

Notes

  • 1
    Dr. Waisner had been involved since at least 2013 in facilitating group unity amongst the College of Bishops. “Their meeting in Orlando this January was of great significance. Cynthia Waisner of Catalyst Consulting had a big role in preparing for and facilitating their time together…Bishop Eric Menees shared about the covenant the bishops made for their relationships with one another: 1) Honesty, avoiding triangulation, discuss matters directly and not indirectly. 2) Avoid pressuring one another and politicizing things. 3) Focus on the things that unite us and not the things that divide us. 4) Do not threaten to leave if we don’t get our way. 5) Give each other the benefit of the doubt and not try to read in motives or agendas. 6) Speak for ourselves and not for unnamed others. 7) All of this would be undergirded with regular prayer for one another. Bishop John and The Rev. Meg Guernsey established a prayer chain for the college of bishops. 8) Think about others and recognize that our actions affect other people in other jurisdictions. 9) Spend special time getting to know one another, especially those close to us geographically. 10) Practice humility – it’s not about building up individual dioceses but about building the Kingdom of God and the ACNA.”
  • 2
  • 3
    From Bishop Atwood’s comments can be found here.
  • 4
    Murdoch’s comments can be found here.
  • 5
    Former Archbishop Duncan’s comment is from here.
  • 6
    The letter is located here.

The Intercession of Icons

Icon of St. Glykeria
Icon of St. Glykeria

In her book The Formation of Christendom, Judith Herrin writes:

It was in their role as intercessors between man and God that the icons commanded particular devotion. Numerous legends of women, whose inability to conceive a child (or sometimes, more particularly, a son) was removed by prayers directed to icons, reflect an anxiety common to many medieval societies. St. Glykeria, the patron of Herakleia, promised a child to the parents of St. Elizabeth through the medium of her icon; Elizabeth was in due course dedicated to here in front of the same image. Similarly, a childless couple was blessed by the Virgin’s icon at Sozopolis, and the mother of St. Stephen had her longing for a son satisfied at the Blachernae shrine in Constantinople. For the cure of disease rather than infertility, the medical saints, Cosmas and Damian, Artemios, Gebronia, and others, were frequently invoked and their icons consulted. Incubation for one or more nights in their shrines—the pagan custom of sleeping close to the god—was rewarded by nocturnal visits of the saints (again, recognisable in features familiar from their images) and finally by cures. The oil burning in lamps suspended in front of icons also had curative power, as did the miraculous effluents that emerged from the Sozopolis icon or the relics of St. Euphemia in Chalcedon. Icons were also appreciated for their power to move: in the early seventh century, Patriarch Sophronios wrote down the ancient legend of St. Mary the Egyptian, who was allegedly converted by a picture of the Virgin preserved at Jerusalem in his time.

Icons and Paganism

Thomas F. Mathews says that Christian icons “…grew out of a strong tradition of pagan panel paintings of the ancient gods…” (p. 179) Mathews points to some glaring examples of this transfer from paganism to eastern Christianity.

…a fresco painted directly on a house wall in Karanis to serve as a permanent icon shows the enthroned Isis nursing Harpocrates. The enthroned Mother of God with the Christ Child in her lap is one of the most popular of all Christian icon types, and three early examples are known. The Sinai icon transforms the wood throne of Isis into a massive golden throne with a high cushion, and it copies the engaging gaze of both mother and child. Out of modesty, however, it refrains from showing the naked breasts of the goddess. (p. 182)

The Icon of Isis and
The Icon of Isis and Harpocrates
WP_20140719_15_34_01_Pro
Icon of Mary and Jesus from St. Catherine’s, 7th Century

The second example cited by Mathews is that of Jesus, which has influenced our image of him down to the present day.

Icons of Christ himself also offer a remarkable demonstration of the authority of pagan sacred images. Among the sixth-century icons at Sinai, three very different types of Christ’s face can be observed: a young-man type with a rather triangular head, short hair reaching only to the ears and a short beard; an old-man type with long white hair and pointed beard; and the Blessing Christ, commonly called the Pantocrator type, first witnessed in the famous Sinai icon. It is this last type, adapted in coinage and monumental mosaics, that eventually came to predominate, determining our notion of the savior down to modern times. Here a Christ with broad forehead and heavy neck wears a great mass of dark hair and a full but fairly short beard. The potency of this type had nothing to do with its portrait accuracy; it was more potent because of its divine pagan associations with the father of the gods.

In Antiquity, the Jupiter facial type was adopted by a number of the most potent male gods, including Neptune, Asclepius, Serapis, and Suchos. The Getty Museum panel of Serapis illustrates this borrowing. Especially cultivated in Alexandria, where his Serapeum was one of the greatest shrines of the ancient world, Serapis united in himself the underworld powers of Osiris with the healing powers of Asclepius. His head is given the broad bow and copious hair of Jupiter; he wears a wreath of laurel and balances a modius or grain measure, on his head. […]

Similarly, Christians were conscious of the connection of some of their images of Christ with Jupiter, and they saw this as a danger. In the time of Bishop Gennadius of Constantinople (458—71) “a painter who dared to paint the Savior in the likeness of Zeus” found his hand withered. The bishop healed him and instructed him that “the other form of Christ, that is the one with short, frizzy hair, is the more authentic.” Historically, Gennadius was probably closer to the truth as far as first century hair styles were concerned, but the Jupiter type came to win out because it was the more forceful. Christ stole the look of the gods with whom he was in competition (pages 183—186).

serapis
Serapis, from the J. Paul Getty Museum, circa A.D. 100
pantocrator
Christ Pantocrator icon, St. Catherines Monastery, Sinai

Bishop Ruch Describes Tension and Unity at ACNA Conclave

Bishop R
Bishop Stewart Ruch

In a new video to his Diocese, Bishop Stewart Ruch describes his excitement at the bonding experienced last week in the ACNA Conclave:

Brothers and Sisters of the Upper Midwest, I want to give you a brief report on what I just experienced at our Provincial Assembly and Convocation over the course of the last two weeks. When we gathered as bishops to make the election of our new Archbishop, we made a pledge to each other the we would be confidential about all that occurred in what we called the Conclave, this time for electing a new Archbishop. I’m glad we made that pledge, it was important to keep secrecy, but it’s also killing me because I am dying to tell you the story of what happened in those three days as we gather at the Arch Abbey of St. Vincent in Latrobe Pennsylvania.

It is truly one of the great stories of the last 25 years of the new work God is doing in North American Anglicanism and in American Anglicanism. Suffice to say, what occurred in that time was real conversation, real tensions real joys, deep prayer, times of spontaneous worship, sharing our hearts one with another. Every one of the 51 bishops who are active and able to make the election for a new Archbishop shared about their heart, their passion for the next five years of the Anglican Church in North America; we truly bonded as a college, we went from being a group of men with different concerns representing different constituencies to a collegial band of apostolic leaders who are called to do the work the Gospel in our generation. By the end of that time it became unanimously clear that God had selected Bishop, now Archbishop Foley Beach to lead us for the next five years in his five-year term as a leader.

I have great confidence in Archbishop Foley. I’ve had a chance to build a personal friendship with him and prayer relationship with him over the last year, and so I know his evangelical heart, I know that he’s a deep churchman that loves Mother Church. He’s a man who moves and works and lives in the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. But while I have confidence in Archbishop Foley, I have a greater confidence in the way in which he was chosen, which is truly an unmanaged, carefully allowed freeing spiritual process in which we heard, I believe, from the Holy Spirit, who is the man to lead the Anglican Church of North America.

This conference, this Conclave was the most important moment for us in the ACNA, even more important than our founding five years ago in Bedford Texas in 2009, because it was a precarious moment where one generation of leaders, if you will the Moses generation, handed off to the next generation of leaders, Foley Beach has been called our Joshua generation leader. Succession is always a vulnerable time in the life of an organization and a time for incredible opportunity and growth. We in the ACNA by God’s grace have captured this moment as a positive, profound moment, to continue to grow. Succession has occurred, and it’s occurred with great blessing from Archbishop Duncan into the hands of Archbishop Foley.

CANA

When I walked out, a day after the election to the Basilica which is the main worship space, and building at the Arch Abbey, to my amazement, I saw the most beautiful, richly colored, expansive rainbow I have ever seen. It literally stretched from one side of the mountain ridge the surrounds Latrobe Pennsylvania to the side over the Basilica. When I looked twice, I saw that actually there was a double rainbow underneath, so that there were two rainbows there. I think that was a supernatural gift from God shown to us there for all of us in the Anglican Church of North America to remind us of God’s promise the the days of difficulty and destruction have in so many ways passed as God proved after the Flood, and that days of promise are ahead. There will be challenging days for us in the ACNA, we will do the hard work of the Gospel in which our main purpose is to reach the lost and love and ennoble the poor, but we will do it in the presence and the power of God.

Rainbow

In my 20-plus years of being a part of American Anglicanism, I have never been so encouraged I just had to send you this video, to share with you this encouragement.