AMiA has BHAG... but it will pass.

Bishop Chuck Murphy, Bishop in and Chairman of the Anglican Mission in the Americas, is quoted in a Virtueonline article as saying the following “Bishop Bob Duncan is the St. James of Jerusalem.” He then went on to say, “He has a different kind of work - important but different. Our operating paradigm is that we are breaking into new territory. We are planting new churches. We are "unchanged". We are more Celtic than Roman. We are people on mission. We have BHAG - Big, Holy, Audacious Goals.”

Perhaps they have BHAG - Big Heavy Audacious Gas - but it will pass.

I have no notion what the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network thinks of this, nor do I care very much. But I think it is a crock.

I suppose that Bishop Murphy is trying to say that he considers himself the leader of the “get out and find the gentiles” sort of Anglicans and Bishop Duncan is here to hold the territory already Anglican. That doesn’t fit very much with what the Anglican Communion Network claims, what with their claim about new church plants and missionary action, but never mind.

Bishop Murphy has smelled the latest passing of gas coming from the evangelical salesmanship school of ecclesiology and is giddy with big, holy, audacious imagery. AMiA is neither Celtic or Roman. AMiA is schismatic and about as un-Anglican as possible.

As an independent evangelical denomination in the making AMiA can do what it wants. And given the unchurched in the Americas, new efforts to evangelize are on the face of it worthy enterprises. So on that level, more power to them.

But of course that isn’t the end of the story. AMiA claims to be part of the Anglican realignment process in the US and Canada and along with Common Cause Partners is related to the Network. So there is the rub. It is into growth, but also into being part of the great Anglican realignment takeover bid.

AMiA claims a focus on the unchurched, but it is also seems to be loosing its focus regarding the inclusion of women priests, a position that gave it a leg up with some disaffected Episcopalians. In one more mix and match effort to patch together a united front against the awful Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada – aka “North Americans,” AMiA is now the Anglican Mission in the Americas and incorporates some smaller agencies that hold to the ordination of women. Not only that, but Rwanda, its parent oversight body, now ordains women. So AMiA seems watered down a bit. This is distressing to some AMiA proponents.

The same rot of unresolved opinions regarding the ordination of women that sits in the Common Cause circle is now in AMiA itself. The Episcopal Church is getting clearer and clearer: we ordain women and that is the stance of the church. That clarity eludes the Network, AMiA and the patch work thing called the Common Cause Partners.

On another matter, according to this interview, Bishop Murphy seems to think that he is going to Lambeth as a member of the house of bishops of Rwanda. I suppose Bishop Minns believes he will be going as a member of the house of bishops of Nigeria. Maybe they are. If so, the Archbishop of Canterbury would do well to acknowledge this as an anomaly for both these bishops exercise jurisdiction within the territories of other Provinces, without their permission and contrary to ancient canon and modern admonishment. And there damn well better be no question at all about Bishop Robinson’s inclusion at Lambeth, since he indeed exercises jurisdiction with a legitimacy that neither of these two gentlemen can bring.

Remember, The Windsor Report, now a document of such ancient vintage as to be spoiled by time, suggested in paragraph 133, “We also urge the Archbishop, unless and until the Council of Advice (or, if the Council should not come into being, the Primates’ Meeting) indicate to the contrary, to exercise very considerable caution in inviting or admitting him to the councils of the Communion.” On the basis of this, and in the spirit (if there is any left) of Windsor, let us indeed urge the ABC to exercise that caution and then, having done so, to invite Bishop Robinson to Lambeth knowing full well the potential for struggle it entails. Give caution its proper place, but don’t make it an excuse for injustice.


  1. (Dan)
    I don't think Gene Robinson should have been elected or confirmed as a bishop, but if those who endorsed his election and/or participated in his consecration are invited to Lambeth, so should he. If this is about theology, keep the whole bunch on the sidelines but not otherwise.

  2. I'm filing this under "Telling It Like It Is."

    Bravo, Poet Mark. Bravo!

  3. more Celtic than Roman

    This Irish-American suddenly feels like Poo Ba "Oh! My protoplasmic Ancestor!"
    What a load of … gas doesn’t seem to cover it, but its close and comes out of the same orifice. The condescending tone alone would make me think this is a parody.
    The language is a twisted form of management speak, with a good deal of very high-blown “visioning.” I can imagine him doing this little thing in shirt sleeves, sitting on a stool with a power point presentation flashing behind him.

    And who told him that BHAG was a good acronym?

  4. "And given the unchurched in the Americas, new efforts to evangelize are on the face of it worthy enterprises. So on that level, more power to them."

    I'd like to caution the author and readers that evangelical right-wing "Christianity" is not benign. Their "missionary" work to anywhere will come with a Christian wrapper around a political product. The ultimate goal is to get people afraid of some made believe enemy. Then they offer to protect them from it if they will donate their money to the "church" which claims that it will take on the enemy. This is so effective that you can get educated 1st world people to finance a political party that elects a president based on a claim that the 50% divorce rate is the fault of those who aren't even allowed to marry. Imagine what they can get 2nd or 3rd world people to do?

    These people aren't motivated by making Sunday school for indigenous peasants any more than Hitler was motivated by a desire to build kindergartens.

    We need to pay attention to the fruit produced by the works of all types of fundamentalism. That is how we will know them. We don't come to know them by listening to the rhetoric.

    Jim Costich
    St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene
    Rochester, NY

  5. (Dan)
    "The ultimate goal is to get people afraid of some made believe enemy. Then they offer to protect them from it if they will donate their money to the "church" which claims that it will take on the enemy."
    You have a very twisted mind. And following your lead, I suppose that Jews drink the blood of Christian babies at their Passover seders and gays become priests in order to molest little boys. Generalizing about these groups and their motives is childish.

  6. Mark,

    What Rev Susan said.

    And a bit more...

    If the AMIA mishops are invited to Lambeth, then ABp Williams has gone back on the Windsor Fable, and his own statements when their bishops were irregullarly ordained. If they are not, the bullies will be in full cry.

    Similar, unpleasant scenarios abound if New Hampshire or New Westminster are snubbed.

    Rule for a happy life: appeasing bullies never works.


  7. Our wiener dog has BHAG. Nasty!

    Is this helpful information in the context of this discussion?

  8. What Jim-from-Rochester said--- (whose mind only LOOKS "twisted", Dan, because you're projecting onto his mind, your OWN!)

    When we look at this week's brouhaha in Blighty over adoptions, we see that the "secular humanist" values of the Labour cabinet (which won the day: Hurrah!), are VASTLY SUPERIOR ---more Christ-like---to both the CofE and the "Italian Church" (represented by various archbishops and cardinals).

    Oh for a day, when one could assume the "churched" lived more Christian values than the "unchurched". Through the witness of TEC, MAY that day truly come!

  9. JCF prayed, "Oh for a day, when one could assume the "churched" lived more Christian values than the "unchurched".

    Yeah, but sadly, that day sure ain't happened yet...

    /me rolls his eyes

    Oh, and ditto to the "Amen" for Jim in Rochester.

  10. I'm personally amused by the increasingly messianic language these people are utilizing to describe their mission in the world. All that is lacking now is for the nascent "New Canterbury" to proclaim that Peter Akinola is the Kwitsatz Haderach.

  11. Thank God for the AMIA

  12. Has anyone in the Episcopal church explored or considered establishing Episcopal churches throughout the Global South: in Nigeria and the Southern Cone and in Singapore? I'm a Singaporean Anglican among many who are unhappy with the state of our own Anglican churches. We are dissatisfied with the intolerance of our own clergy. We long for our churches: Anglican, liberal, progressive, tolerant and inclusive; something we do not believe our own bigotted clergy will ever allow. We have reached a state when the liturgy and sacraments are disdained and abused, and where our much cherished choral tradition is being rapidly replaced by banal "pop" and rock music. There are more charismatics and pentecostals in our churches then Anglicans, and our church services are becoming nothing more than entertainment. Radical clergy preach from our pulpits (one has just preached that the world will end this year in june).

    If AMiA's justification is that the Americas need re-evangelising by real "Christians" maybe the same rationale holds true for the Global South? We're in need of re-evangelising by real "Christians": real liberal and liturgical, spiritual and inclusive Christians. Maybe the Episcopal Church needs to start sending out missionaries.


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