Dr. Cantrell Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Phillip Cantrell on Anglicans and Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEAR Elects Breedlove as Bishop

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEARUSA Celebration Assembly

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

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

Read the rest here.

PEAR USA on Women’s Ordination

The Proposed Charter of the new Missionary District says:

Section 3. Men and Women in Ministry

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

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

Rwaje, Muvunyi and Kolini Speak Against Abortion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PEAR USA Inaugural General Assembly and Other News

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

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

Here is the text:

April 10, 2012

Kigali, Rwanda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

31, 2012.

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

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

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

Rwaje, c/o the PEARUSA ___

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

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

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

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

A Retraction

Last week I speculated that GAFCON was dropping the ball on church discipline based on the communique from Johannesburg. I was wrong. The Anglican Church of Rwanda is indeed setting out some clear parameters for the rebellious bishops of AMiA. It still offers the bishops the option of moving on gracefully, when I think there should have already been penalties, but nevertheless, it is a good step for the health of the Church.

The options facing these bishops are to resign their orders, find another Anglican jurisdiction to take them in or to face discipline and ‘get out’ that way. Clearly, if they can find another Anglican Province to take them, that would be their preference. Now, I think they already attempted this with a bishop in the Congo (not the Archbishop), but it came to light and nothing more was heard of it. I am not sure under what authority recent AMiA ordinations have occurred. So maybe their is a possibility that some other Province takes them in.

This does throw a wrench into the meetings of the "Design Group" of ACNA and AMiA bishops. Would ACNA accept AMiA in immediately per Rwanda’s demand? I doubt it, but stranger things have happened. I think it is more likely for AMiA to say that they tried to work with ACNA and it just didn’t pan out.

AMiA has already laid a foundation to say that Rwanda has no authority over it. They claimed that their submission to the canons of Rwanda was ‘voluntary’ and that they would not renew it. They claimed that due process was not followed in threatening to remove Chuck Murphy. So the likely scenario in my mind is to see a Kevin Donlon letter about canon law saying that Rwanda has no authority to do X, Y and Z. Perhaps the bishops could renounce their orders (or have them removed) and then be re-instated by the former Primates to the new Missionary Society that we saw put forward in December. This would be entirely outside of Anglicanism formally, but would retain a veneer of Anglicanism due to the historic connections of the ex-Primates.

Whatever happens, AMiA will be left with a small number of parishes and members, sustained by the donations of a few millionaires. The model looks more and more like many of the Anglican micro-denominations that we have seen over the past thirty years.

The Status of AMiA Bishops

Archbishop Rwaje has addressed the status of the AMiA bishops:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ:

Greetings in the precious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The House of Bishops met together on March 29, 2012, during which time we seriously and prayerfully considered how to respond to the desire of those in the Anglican Mission in the Americas who wish to disaffiliate from the Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda (PEAR). Those AMiA missionary bishops who resigned on December 5, 2011 have maintained their credentials in the Province of Rwanda up until now. However, in a meeting of delegates from PEAR and AMiA in Johannesburg earlier this month, they asked to be “released” from the PEAR.

According to our Provincial Canons, there are only three ways that we may “release” clergy affiliated with us:

    1. By transferring them to another jurisdiction within the Anglican Communion;
    2. By their voluntary renunciation of orders;
    3. By formal ecclesiastical discipline.

Today we wrote to those AMiA missionary bishops who resigned and asked that if they wish to continue in episcopal ministry within another Anglican jurisdiction, that they please inform us of that jurisdiction immediately so that we may translate them appropriately.

For the time being, all remaining AMiA clergy continue to have canonical residence within the PEAR. Any clergy who wish to withdraw their credentials are free to do so in writing. We encourage all North American clergy credentialed in the PEAR to join PEARUSA, which is our missionary district in North America, unanimously erected by our House of Bishops in our today’s meeting.

We pray that you will not be distracted from the higher calling of Jesus’ Great Commission. Preach the good news, love the poor, plant healthy churches, and disciple Christ’s flock.

The grace and peace of God be with you all. Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje

Steve Breedlove’s Latest Letter

An outline of  PEAR USA’s theology is coming into focus. The Rev. Steve Breedlove’s letter of March 30th offers some more reflections on what, if anything, is distinctive about the new Missionary District. What is encouraging about this letter is that it very clearly stands on the shoulders of the Jerusalem Declaration – something that has featured in all the PEAR communications. Why does this matter? Well, the Jerusalem Declaration says:

3. We uphold the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
4. We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.

The essentially Reformed nature of the Anglican Church is thus maintained via the Jerusalem Declaration. Breedlove goes on to say:

We bring a distinct, complementary reformational Anglican theology.

  • Rooted in the robust work of the English Reformers, we stand firmly on the great Reformation doctrines of sola gratia, sola fides and sola scriptura.
  • We acknowledge the unique breadth of theological understanding within biblical, faithful Anglicans, and we are committed to honor and serve joyfully alongside those with whom we honestly differ. In that collegial context we bring a united voice for historic reformational Anglican theology.
  • We also hold firmly to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England as the standard for both faith and worship, believing that it rightly clarifies aspects of doctrine and worship and unites them in the liturgical practices of the Church.
  • We also hold to the conviction that mission requires unshakable convictions concerning doctrine but flexibility and freedom in liturgical practices. We are heirs of worship that has been culturally adapted while remaining fully orthodox, and we believe that is missionally essential.

I regard this as a home run for Classical Anglicans who want to move forward via the past. It does not tie us to sociological models of the past, but it firmly grounds us in the theology of the Reformers (and St. Augustine). The one open issue that I have not seen addressed to date is women’s ordination. If it is properly dealt with, then we could have the possibility of a Missionary District that is committed to being Anglican, has moved on from ordination errors, and is a safe harbor tied to ACNA for those of a like mind. Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I hope so!

Update: Father Shane Copeland writes:  Steve addressed the WO issue in his reflection on Anglican1000.

To be more specific, we are committed to the 1662 Prayer Book as the standard of both doctrine and worship. At the same time, our charter will establish the liturgical flexibility that seeks to make word and worship accessible to people. We also affirm an ecclesiology reflective of the historic understanding of the church concerning women’s ordination to the priesthood.