9/07/2008

Bishop Whalon on Rescue Missions as a Distraction.

Bishop Pierre Whalon, in an article for Anglicans Online titled, On polygamy, homosexuality, and generosity, wrote the following.

"In our discussions, it also became clear that these interventions in the U.S, and Canada, often in dioceses of conservative bishops, have been driven by issues of political power and status, both ecclesial and secular, as well as money, rather than creedal matters calling for fraternal support of beleaguered faithful. A Rwandan bishop, for instance, began the incursions in 1998, four years after the genocide and five years before the General Convention of 2003. “Rescuing” Americans seems to provide a happy distraction from the lingering wounds of the collaboration of Rwandan Christians, including some Anglicans, in that horrific event. That pattern of distraction from pressing problems has been repeated elsewhere."

The Rwanda incursion in 1998 is what gave rise to the Anglican Mission in the Americas, but it began in 1998 with Bishop John Rucyahana's giving oversight to St. Andrews in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The bio page on Bishop Rucyahana says this, "Bishop John testified his belief against the recent contracting issue of homosexuality in the Episcopal Church of America where by some members welcomed the idea of homosexuality. Bishop John begun the spiritual fight against homosexuality and protected Christians of St Andrews in USA who were being persecuted for their true faith. For that in the 1998 Lambeth Conference he proclaimed it to all Anglican Bishops at the conference. Thus, there is a newly christian faith community known as " Anglican Mission in America" supported by both the Episcopal Church of Rwanda and the Episcopal church of South East Asia."

Archbishop Kolini of Rwanda expanded that first effort and in 2000 AMiA was born.

The leaders of the Church in Rwanda are part of the Francophone Network, and so is Bishop Whalon, who is Bishop in Charge of the American Churches in Europe. Bishop Whalon's remarks are no doubt based on solid evidence. His contacts among leaders in several of the Provinces of considerable depth.


Bishop Whalon raises an important idea here - that support of the incursions into the Episcopal Church, can be seen as "a happy distraction" for some in otherwise difficult times. That such distractions might also "have been driven by issues of political power and status, both ecclesial and secular, as well as money" puts a matter on the table that has for too often sat there, unexamined.

His remark reminds us that there is still investigative work to be done. Are the incursions an opportunity for distraction from other matters, involving "political power and status, both ecclesial and secular, as well as money"?

I'm sure you will let us know.

14 comments:

  1. There have been "peculiars" within the Anglican communion/ CofE for centuries. A church in York, for example, might be under the oversight of a bishop from somewhere else. The Royal chapels are Royal Peculiars, not under the local bishop but with their own arrangements.
    For one parish in Little Rock to effect that sort of relationship is rather anglican but not very episcopalian I guess.
    I can imagine that border crossings bishops may heve mixed motives, in the same way that "Murder in the Cathedral" deals with Thomas A Beceketts feelings about martyrdom.
    But to say that only poor motives may have been behind border crossing bishops is in my view to go too far. To say that coming to the aid of what was seen as beleaguered brethren paid no part in what they did is to render too harsh a judgement on these bishops no matter how much you disagree with them.
    And it lays out TEC as an entirely innocent party in what has happened, which is as improbable as saying that the African Bishops were ONLY driven by ego.
    A mixture of good and bad is present in all the players, surely.

    Obadiahslope

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  2. Obadiahslope....you are absolutely right. These matters are no doubt mixed and no one is innocent. My question was if anyone had more to add to the role that power and money played in the Rwanda or any other incursion.

    Mixed motives are all around us, and within. So I appreciate the cautionary note.

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  3. Interestingly, the AMiA was who snapped up the (in)famous Christ Church, Plano, TX. And while this didn't occur until after GC03 & 06, as a former member (2001-2003), it was quite obvious that Christ Church was never happy as an Episcopal Church and was just looking for an excuse to be "rescued."

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  4. obadiah, there are indeed "chapels peculiar" in the Communion, and indeed in the Episcopal Church (for example, hospital chapels). However, they were established in non-adversarial circumstances, and with the consent and support of bishops affected. I am not aware of any that were established at the sole request of the congregation in question.

    It can be hard in the TEC to give much credit to the concerns of "beleaguered brethren" when so often they have rejected out of hand any efforts at alternative pastoral oversight or reconciliation.

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  5. Paint everone in Rawanda as a butcher by association do you? How Christian of you. Border crossing are inconsequential to God. There are hymns about no borders and yet you raise it to the status of scripture. A sad priest indeed.

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  6. ctowles.. it's Monday, and on Mondays I don't have to put up with cranky remarks like yours just posted.

    I don't "paint everyone in Rwanda as a butcher..." etc. I ask if anyone has further information to support the claim that power and money played any part in the involvement with US parishes, or if distraction was an issue.

    It is somewhat odd, but I introduced Bishop Kolini to Bishop Duncan years ago. I was also in Rwanda in 1988 for a meeting of African development officers and was present at a very difficult synod meeting of what was then the Province of Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire, known as BRZ.

    I believe what the church in Rwanda did in the interventions was wrongheaded and wronghearted.

    I have no intention of painting all church people in Rwanda as butchers, so off you go. Come back when you are less in a snit.

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  7. Just out of curiosity: The CAPA Primates were meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 4-5 (last Thursday and Friday). Does anyone know what happened at the meeting?

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  8. Marshall,
    I would be interested to read any examples of successful reconciliation between TEC and dissidents - or even an unsuccessful one in which one side or the other made a red hot go at it.
    Do you have any links?
    The peculiars in the C of E are so old that I am unable to say if there was any conflict in their foundation. Perhaps I am overly cynical, but I have never heard of a bishop (progressive or conservative) willingly surrendering property to the "other side". The CofE peculiars traditionally involved property and a parish, which is not quite the same as a hospital chapel. There was a fresh wave of "proprietary chapels" in the 19th century which often involved planting churches of a different churchpersonship to the local diocese. I have often felt it was not a bad model for the present day.

    Obadiahslope

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  9. Perhaps I am overly cynical, but I have never heard of a bishop (progressive or conservative) willingly surrendering property to the "other side".

    Go research Bishops +Howe in Florida and +Stanton in Texas to start.

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  10. david,
    I am up to date on Howe, at least. He has reported to his diocese that none of the groups leaving have left with property. This includes Trinity Vero Beach where a settlement involving property was changed to one involving cash.
    I think you may have misunderstood me (and I sorry for not being clear)... I was thinking of bishops ceding property willingly to people on the opposite side to them theologically. As both bishops are conservatives you would have to posit a progressive breakaway group from TEC, and I don't think they exist, do they?
    obadiahslope

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  11. obadiahslope:

    Notwithstanding the issues around the "Connecticut 6," I believe that another congregation in Connecticut did request and receive DEPo - I find reference to St. Paul's, Brookfield. I believe there were also congregations in Washington state (I think the Diocese of Olympia) and perhaps in Northern Indiana.

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  12. Instead of dusting other people's shelves, how feeling the shame about the upcoming November 30th closing of these mission churches in the Diocese of South Dakota:
    The Church of Christ, Red Shirt Table; St. John's, Oglala; Epiphany, Wolf Creek; St. Andrew's, Wakpamni Lake; St. Thomas, Manderson; St. Barnabas, Kyle; St. Timothy's, Potato Creek; St. Alban's, Porcupine; and Inestimable Gift, Allen.

    Aren't we supposed to be in mission? We hear that distracting mantra anytime that a question arises about priorities and theological rationales for what separates us from the United Way.

    Millions for lawsuits and yet cuts in missions in South Dakota. Maybe if the Native Americans had a dearer cause other than wanting to be a church there would be hyperactivity and money going to the nine churches on the chopping block.
    Well, back to dusting other shelves.

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  13. I wonder if the shortfall in mission funding is in some way connected to the refusal of fundamentalist parishes and dioceses to pay their assessments?

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  14. "Millions for lawsuits and yet cuts in missions in South Dakota."

    Even the article on the incongruously named Virtue On Line (urp!) admits that there are other issues at work in the closing of those missions - intertribal rivalries and poor attendance, among them. But don't let that get in the way of trashing PECUSA, allen.

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