February 2, 2012

More on AMiA

A few days ago, I wrote a post about the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). Since then, I was made aware of an interesting narrative from three AMiA priests in the D.C. area. “Why Did AMiA Break Away from the Anglican Province of Rwanda?” was written by Dan Claire, Chuck Colson, and Tommy Hinson of RenewDC. Unlike the official AMiA Web site, this document takes the side of Rwanda in the current dispute. “Why Did AMiA Break Away” is dated January 14, 2012, however, and may not reflect the latest developments. The authors state their purpose this way:
This article and the appended timeline are an effort to summarize what happened from the perspective of the Rwandan House of Bishops, based on extensive interviews with the bishops as well as public documents.
Not surprisingly, the cause of the AMiA/Rwanda split comes across as a matter of money and power. The priests begin their story this way:
During the past year, the relationship of Bishop Chuck Murphy, Chairman of the AMiA, and the Rwandan House of Bishops broke down. Under new leadership last January, the House of Bishops sought to understand their working relationship with the AMiA for the sake of providing better accountability and oversight. Murphy, however, preferred to maintain the autonomy he had enjoyed under Emmanuel Kolini, the former Rwandan Archbishop. Kolini retired at the end of 2010 but has sought to remain the primary Rwandan liaison with Murphy and the AMiA. Onesphore Rwaje, the new Archbishop of Rwanda, values collaborative and collegial leadership, and has endeavored to include the entire House of Bishops in overseeing the AMiA.
The House of Bishops of the Rwandan church wrote to Murphy on November 30, 2011, charging that he had
  • “constantly disregarded the decisions and counsels of the House of Bishops”;
  • “misused the authority given to him” in advancing a plan to break away from the Province of Rwanda, and had ignored their repeated requests to halt;
  • dodged their questions regarding financial gifts designated for Rwanda[; and]
  • used “abusive language” in speaking of the Rwandan bishops (e.g. “knucklehead, reversed colonialism, lawlessness”).
The narrative of “Why Did AMiA Break Away” necessarily ends without a satisfying conclusion, as the relationships of AMiA, the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, and the Anglican Church in North America are in flux. The authors offer these observations and questions:
Archbishop Rwaje and the House of Bishops are grieved by the resignations and the fractures within the AMiA. Particularly in light of their spiritual heritage in the East African Revival, they mourn the divisions that have occurred in the body of Christ. Likewise, they are saddened by the ways that they have been mischaracterized. At a time when they are enjoying unprecedented unity as a House of Bishops, why do they continue to be described as a divided house? Further, their motives have been misunderstood. Why have their efforts to work together as a team with the full AMiA Council of Bishops and to achieve transparent communication and finances been construed perversely as a lust for power? These unforeseen and undesired outcomes are heartbreaking to the Rwandan bishops.
“Why Did AMiA Break Away” makes interesting reading. Especially enlightening is the timeline, which carefully documents the AMiA conflicts, quotes extensively from relevant documents, and takes up most of the 13 pages of the document from the three D.C. priests.

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