January 31, 2012

Anglican? Mission in the Americas

Trying valiantly to suppress schadenfreude, I have been following the stormy relationship of the Anglican Mission in the Americas and the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda with great interest. I was surprised when George Conger reported that relations between the two churches were irretrievably broken, a statement soon contradicted by AMiA Bishop John Rodgers.

Archbishop Robert Duncan
Even more interesting has been the attitude of Archbishop Robert Duncan, head of the Anglican Church in North America. Relations between AMiA and ACNA have been on-again, off-again. AMiA joined ACNA, then left ACNA and became a “mission partner,” and now seems to be in limbo. Duncan needs Rwanda more than he needs AMiA, and being too friendly with an untethered AMiA might alienate Duncan’s African friends, on whom he is counting to eventually gain a seat at the Anglican Communion table.

Duncan, his Cabinet, Executive Committee, and Anglican Relief and Development are meeting in Tallahassee tomorrow and Thursday. No doubt, the mercurial AMiA will have its place in the agenda.

A January 28, 2012, story about the AMiA in The Tennessean included this:
But they’ve been left in limbo recently after most of the group’s [AMiA’s] leaders resigned from the Rwandan church in a fight over money and power.

They are still technically part of the Church of Rwanda, but most of their bishops are not.

“No one on earth recognizes them as a legitimate Anglican group,” [the Rev. Thomas] McKenzie said.

Archbishop Robert Duncan of the Anglican Church in North America agrees.

Duncan’s group, which was formed in 2009, hopes eventually to be recognized by the Anglican Communion as a legitimate alternative to the Episcopal Church. The group includes many congregations that once aligned themselves with overseas bishops.

Since the Anglican Mission’s leaders are not part of the Anglican Church in North America or the Rwandan church they are basically an independent group.

“They are now former Anglicans,” he said. “That’s what they have to grapple with.”
If the AMiA is not Anglican because it is unconnected to a province of the Anglican Communion, is not the Anglican Church in North America, which, despite its self-declared status as a “province-in-formation,” also is unconnected to a province of the Anglican Communion, also not Anglican? Am I missing something, or is Archbishop Duncan?

Postscript: Among the comments on the story from The Tennessean was this wise observation from one David A. Elliott III: “Angry people form angry churches.”

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the note, Lionel. I think of course that there seem to be plenty of "angry people" on all sides of the current fracturing of the Anglican community.

    I would agree that while there is something in our Anglican DNA that seeks communion, there is also something in our "post-modern" and especially American DNA that resists the discipline of relationships of interdependence. Thus this story is, sadly, not really surprising. It's our story as well, tension and distance, and probably we'll hear more of this before we hear the better stories of reconciliation and restoration.

    Our Lord prayed "that they might be one," certainly, and we might join the prayer that all of us in the disintegrated Christian family may be drawn into deeper life together.

    Bruce Robison


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