Dr. Cantrell Again

Dr. Phillip Cantrell commented on my post on RPF massacres below, and I thought it was worth elevating his comment to a post of its own given the seriousness of these issues for ACNA and GAFCON, so here is what he said:

Hello again Joel, and any readers. This is in response to this and your two previous posts from/abt Ryentjens. As a historian of Rwanda and the region, I would say Ryentjens is a major voice in Rwandan studies. For the record, he is more of a political scientist than a historian. He is also, or at least last time I checked, a jurist in Belgium; that is, our equivalent of a Belgian senator. As such, he used to have high-level, credible access to information in Rwanda. He still does, but he has been banned from Rwanda now b/c of his criticisms of Kagame and the RPF (obvious enough perhaps from your posts). He knows he would probably be detained and deported if he tried to enter the country now, which is true of other prominent historians, critics and observers of the country. I have read many of his writings and used them in my own publications. He is regarded by the community of Rwanda scholars as spot-on, accurate and fair; fair that is in his approach to the Hutu/Tutsi question and the issue of culpability in regards to the genocide and RPF attrocities since.

Tying into his comments abt Kagame and the allegations about RPF atrocities and killings since the genocide, these are really no longer in question, however much it may disturb some of the readers of this blog who, like many, including myself once, desperately wanted to believe in the “new Rwanda.” Kagame and the RPF, whatever their intentions may have been when they invaded from Uganda in 1991, did in fact play a role in bringing on the genocide, even as they fought to end it when no one else in the international community, including the U.S./U.N., did not. And they have run an increasingly despotic regime since.

It’s tragically ironic that I write these comments on the very day that the activist politician Victorie Ingabire was sentenced to 8 years in prison in Rwanda for alleged crimes of “speech” after a decidedly unfair trial by any Western standards, and even that assumes that its fair and just to imprison someone for non-violent political opposition. To the readers of this post: what would we say if George W. Bush had imprisoned Al Gore for 8 years for “vocal opposition” or if President Obama had imprisoned Newt Gingrich? Get the picture?

The only remaining, valid question it seems for the readers of this post, and the former AMiA, is to what extent is the Anglican Church in Rwanda complicit in all this, either thru its support or willing silence in Kagame and the RPF’s actions? Does it not behoove us and the Christian community to find out? Is it a just use of our “aid dollars” to inadvertently support such a state in Rwanda? At a time when the evidence is mounting of Rwanda’s support for the M23 rebels? The chickens are coming home to roost for Rwanda and the RPF. The “you owe us your silence b/c of your genocidal guilt” mantra is wearing out. The truth will come out. But even worse, the retribution will flow one day, and retribution in Africa usually, sadly, flows red.

Its not an easy position to be in and I do not envy the decision-makers in the former AMiA. Its not natural for us. As Ryentjens said once its hard for Americans to comprehend African conflicts b/c everything in American history is cast as the “good guys versus the bad guys” so find the bad guys and call the rangers. But, Ryentjans said, in African conflicts its always the “bad guys versus the bad guys” and that makes decision-making difficult. Lastly, I will say this, Ryentjens is a Belgian politician and the Belgians carry alot of guilt. I note that he suggested, from your posts, the problems began in 1959/60. Not really. The problems began even earlier when the country became racialized into Hutus and Tutsis. And the Belgians bear much responsibility for that, but not all of it. Some of it lies at the foot of the Rwandans. But they are not as willing as the Belgians, Ryentjens not withstanding, to admit it. I’m Phil Cantrell (cantrellpa@longwood.edu) and, unlike the RPF, I welcome comments, criticisms and dialogue.

Dr. Phillip Cantrell on Anglicans and Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

“A Scandal in the Body of Christ”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bishops on the Move

The news about the AMiA defections is out there, so I won’t repeat it. You can see an interesting source letter here, which reads in part:

The Rt. Rev. John E. Miller III of Melbourne, Florida, one of the bishops who consecrated me, has therefore requested to be received into this diocese. This is a temporary pastoral measure both for Bishop Miller and his parishes until the larger situation in AMiA is sorted out. He is a very committed, capable bishop and pastor, known and loved by many here in Florida.

I wanted to let you know that I will therefore be accepting Bishop Miller as an Assisting Bishop here as soon as I receive final confirmation of his transfer from the archbishop of Rwanda. Please read Bishop Miller’s and my announcement below.

“Assisting Bishop” is the role proposed by Archbishop Duncan and others, and is used in the recent understanding that has been created between AMiA and ACNA to help during this time of transition for AMiA. An assisting bishop is someone called to a particular and often temporary task, in this case to oversee Anglican Mission parishes in transition. It is not the same as an “Assistant Bishop,” which is a bishop whose appointment requires the consent of Synod. An assistant bishop would be a member of our ACNA College of Bishops, while an assisting bishop would not. We are planning no remuneration for Bishop Miller from our current diocesan funding at this point.

It is not possible to be sure of how long this arrangement will last. The understanding assumes six months.

Bishop Miller and the more than twenty congregations which have been under his care have been through a difficult season. Most but not all of these parishes are within our diocesan territory. I want you to open your hearts to them as we walk this path to care for them. Please keep them all in your prayers.

I know this is messy, and raises many questions. I am responding to a pastoral need with the encouragement of our archbishop. At this moment we are only receiving Bishop Miller. If any of his congregations or clergy wish to join us in our diocese, they may apply and be admitted according to our usual processes. They all have to make affiliation decisions in the next six months.

ACNA and the LCMS

Today, ACNA released a document called “Anglican Church in North America and The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Dialogue—Report on the Discussions (2010-2012).” It is encouraging to see that the LCMS is holding ACNA’s feet to the fire on women’s ordination:

Disagreement exists among Anglicans about the propriety of ordaining women to the pastoral (presbyteral) office, while the LCMS opposes this practice.

LCMS/LCC representatives have discerned agreement with the majority in ACNA in regards to this issue. Although presbyteral ordination for women occurs in ACNA, a majority of ACNA bishops reserve presbyteral ordination only for men.

This “majority” position needs to become the only position within ACNA.

The Dude Abides

As I mentioned last month, Bishop Todd Hunter is slated to be a speaker at the ACNA assembly. That was before AMiA removed itself to the Congo, a Province that has been more in communion with Rowan Williams than Robert Duncan. You might think that Hunter’s participation in disobedience to Rwanda and flight from GAFCON would make him an unlikely speaker at the Assembly, but ACNA now has a story up that very much confirms that he will be there.

Bishop Hunter has hopped from place to place, having worked as National Director of the Association of Vineyard Churches from 1998 until 2001, then from 01-04 he was the Director of Allelon, an emergent movement that seems to have vanished, from 04 to 08 he was the National Director of Alpha USA, from 08 to 10 he headed a non-profit called Society for Kingdom Living. He was then brought in from being a non-Anglican to being ordained and consecrated as a bishop by Chuck Murphy in 2010.

Hunter brings an unorthodox view of women’s ordination to the AMiA (and thus fits right in):

It’s not about ordaining a particular gender or an issue of social justice for me – ordination is not a ‘right’ for anyone. While I recognize and celebrate the differences between genders, I want to raise up human beings gifted and called to Kingdom ministry…I guess you can say I’m an egalitarian of the complementary sort.

I am excited about the potential for women to be part of our church planting movement on the west coast and am already seeing fruit of such ministry in C4SO. This is all about facilitating a missional commitment.

A close eye is going to have to be kept on ACNA to see where it goes on women’s ordination and a host of other issues. Is it going to be TEC without the gay stuff, or is it going to be something better? That story remains to be written.

Leaving AMiA

In one example of what are and will be many, Church of the Redeemer is leaving AMiA:

After months of prayer, research and discussion your Elders believe that our future lies in an orthodox, unified Anglican province on this continent.  Therefore, we have decided to bring our association with the AMiA to a close. We want to express our gratitude for the leadership and oversight that the AMiA provided as we formed Church of the Redeemer, and in particular our bishops – T.J. Johnston and Todd Hunter.

We are sad to lose some of the connections we had in the AMiA.  However, we look forward to the day in which AMiA congregations are all part of one larger Anglican Church again.