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AMiA bishops quit Rwanda: The Church of England Newspaper, December 16, 2011 p 6. December 20, 2011

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Church of England Newspaper.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The American bishops of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) have quit the Church of the Anglican Province of Rwanda (PEAR), rejecting its discipline and oversight.

In a letter dated 5 Dec 2011, Bishop Chuck Murphy announced that the Lord “is now doing” a “new thing” and that he and all but two of the AMiA’s bishops were withdrawing from PEAR.

It is unlikely the bulk of the AMiA’s 152 congregations and its clergy will follow the bishops out of the church.  On 9 Dec Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje appointed the two loyal American bishops, the Rt. Rev. Thad Barnum and the Rt. Rev. Terrell Glenn, to oversee those who wish to remain within the Anglican Communion.

In letter dated 30 Nov Archbishop Rwaje chastised Bishop Murphy for disobedience, writing: “you have constantly disregarded the decisions and counsels of the House of Bishops” and have “misused the authority given to you by the Archbishop in advancing your new missionary society interests.”

At the Sept House of Bishops meeting, Bishop Murphy proposed changing the oversight of the AMiA from PEAR to a council of three archbishops that he would select.  The Rwandans objected to this plan and directed him to halt work until the bishops were of one mind.  However, Bishop Murphy carried on with the work announcing that the proposal would be presented to the 21 Dec meeting of the PEAR bishops for approval.

The PEAR bishops also requested a detailed accounting of funds sent to Rwanda as a tithe of the AMiA’s income after reports reached them that portions of the tithe were being spent on Rwandan related projects that had not been approved by the province.

The AMiA has responded that those portions of the funds not contributed directly to the PEAR central fund had been spent on projects authorized by Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini.   A summary was provided by the AMiA after the split, but no formal accounting of the funds has yet appeared.

However, the PEAR canons do not allow the archbishop to approve off the books transactions.  Title IV Article 17 vests control of “all accounts” of the province with three commissioners elected by the synod.”

Title I.6.10 of the Rwandan canons further obligates Bishop Murphy to “make a report” to the primate on the AMiA’s status “according to the manner established by the House of Bishops or Provincial Synod of the Province.”  His failure to comply violated the canons and was an act of disobedience the Rwandan bishops argued.

In his letter of resignation, Bishop Murphy said the AMiA was under no obligation to PEAR as there was “no covenant from the Anglican Mission to the Province.” He enumerated several areas of displeasure with the conduct of the archbishop, and added that he had come to the belief that it was God’s plan for the AMiA to quit the Anglican Communion and venture out on its own.

“I now see a parallel between the Exodus story and the present situation” with Rwanda and the AMiA.

“Things have now been made very clear to me, and I am thankful for the clarity that I now have,” he wrote, adding that “we actually see the Lord’s hand in all of this, and we are, therefore, at peace with this change and with this new reality.”

According to a statement released on behalf of the faction allied with Rwanda, the resignation will not affect the AMiA’s churches or clergy.

It is “neither an ordaining body nor a place of canonical residence. The orders of AMiA clergy are held in Rwanda. Likewise, all congregations affiliated with AMiA are resident in Rwanda.”

“The bishops who resigned from Rwandan oversight no longer have any authority over churches and clergy which are canonically resident in Rwanda. Clergy and churches may choose to disaffiliate with the Church of Rwanda, just as the resigning bishops did. But unless they do so, they remain under the oversight and spiritual care of Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje,” the statement said.


1. Ian Welch - December 20, 2011

What a tragedy secession really is. But what a joke “apostolic succession” is as well. No wonder the Anglican Communion worldwide is in such a mess when one of the key legs if the Lambeth Quadrilateral is proven to be riddled with woodworm! Anglicans are now down to three legs. Which will be the next to collapse?

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