12/06/2011

So what was AMiA and what is it?

The Anglican Mission in the Americas was a flawed and (in terms of ancient canons) un-canonical messing about in your neighbor's garden. It was the establishment of a purist mission in what was generally thought to be the evil, craven and culture worshiping Episcopal Church. It was an idea cooked up by the evangelical bishop of Singapore, and the Archbishops of the Church in Kenya and Rwanda, both strongly influenced by the East African Revival, in conjunction with several disaffected American Episcopal Clergy eager to both be bishops in a new improved Anglicanism and happy to promote the notion that there was a grand crisis in The Episcopal Church requiring salvation by establishing a mission outpost in bleak EpiscopalLand. 

Well, Bishops Chuck Murphy and John Rodgers and others got their reward - as it fell out AMiA ended up being a wholly owned subsidiary of the Church of Rwanda at work in the United States and in total disregard of the Episcopal Church. They were bishops, and the work they did looked less and less like anything that Anglican Churches (including their own Church of Rwanda). Their work remained un-recognized by the Anglican Communion "instruments" - the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates, and the Lambeth Conference. They were just barely "in" the tent, just.

The Bishops of the Church of Rwanda could not help notice that AMiA was drifting away from Anglican sensibilities and more important Anglican accountability and demanded that Bishop Chuck Murphy  step back from taking AMiA out of the jurisdiction of the Church of Rwanda. He had until December 8 to respond.  Two days before the deadline for a return to conformity or "consequences," Bishop Murphy wrote the Archbishop of Rwanda that AMiA bishops were no longer bound by any relation to the Church of Rwanda. 


Syonara baby (aka Hasta la vista baby). 

Bishop Murphy puts it this way: "... we as individual members of the Council of Missionary Bishops, will be stepping back from our voluntary submission to the Canons of PEAR in order to continue to lead the Anglican Mission (AMiA) as a Missionary Society..."  Apparently the Province of Rwanda doesn't think submission, when given, is retractable simply because it was voluntarily given.



So AMiA is free of Rwanda. Of course what that means is that AMiA which had a shaky relationship to the Anglican Communion, its bishops being members of a Provincial college of bishops in Rwanda, a member church of the Communion, no longer has that link.


AMiA is now a group of congregations related to several bishops who themselves are related to no larger jurisdiction int he Anglican Communion. And they are unrelated to any episcopal synod larger than their own. They are at worse vagrants at best a small Anglican-like body. They are not part of an supposed "Province in the making." They are not part of a Province.

All in all, AMiA has become one of the many false starts to a pure Anglican church. The clergy and people of AMiA may have thought they were part of the larger Anglican enterprise but they are not. Bishop Murphy has indicated that they can, if they wish, stay with the Church of Rwanda, but how will that happen?  Will the Church of Rwanda appoint new bishops or commissioners to carry on the supervisory work in the US?  Will clergy and people drift to the Anglican Church in North America? Will Murphy allow that?  We will see.

Meanwhile, it is clear. George Conger in his article on the subject wrote this: "...Bishop Murphy had come to the opinion that it was in God’s plan for the AMiA to quit the Anglican Communion and venture out on its own."

That about sums it up. 

12 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Mark!

    You have highlighted the importance of being Anglican as something in which Anglicans belong to a church, the church belongs to something greater (a relationship with other churches), and in that relationship there is accountability (with consequences for lack of accountability).

    Rightly you acknowledge that pretension to AMiA being Anglican has now ceased: they have removed themselves from what was effectively a covenanted relationship with Rwanda.

    In sum: being Anglican is about boundaries, knowing when to keep them, hold them or fold them. Something the Covenant will guide us about!

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  2. The prime mover in the consecration of Murphy & Rogers was FitzSimons Allison, surely?

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  3. I've often wondered on this blog why we never, or very, very rarely ever hear anything about Mark's own diocese. The fingers and attention invariably point towards entities outside of Delaware that supposedly don't matter or about people who aren't much worth listening to. What about Delaware? Isn't there work to be done, particularly self-critique that should be forthcoming to improve that diocese's situation? While we're at it - a critique of those trusted to lead it and especially those canonically resident therein?

    Perhaps some real news is there. Who cares about AMiA? How about Delaware and its own bishop and its priests and their trustworthiness and stewardship of what they have been given to do?

    Just asking. It's like this blog doesn't exist except to look at everybody else except what's down the street.

    (Crickets).

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  4. Mark --thank you for drawing out the threads of this situation. I remember when I first heard about the AMiA and its extra-ordinary momentum --It's all so sad.

    And, no... no covenant or Covenant in heaven or earth will prevent from doing so those who wish to build empires and exclude others. I kinda thought the Bible was full of stories about that....

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  5. Lapin, Fitz Allison and Alex Dickson did participate in the ordinations, but the instigation was still Singapore and Rwanda. I had wondered that Allison and Dickson were not disciplined by fellow bishops; but, then, they were retired, with no positions to be deposed from.

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  6. @Peter Carrell: Assuming, you mean, that we sign onto the Covenant.

    TEC's Anglican status pre-dates the Communion, let alone the Covenant. We would be, in my opinion, extremely ill-advised to adopt it, as it creates a vehicle for exclusion (oh, I'm sorry, "relational consequences"), which could be mistaken for a declaration of "un-anglican" status. And that could evolve into a pseudo- RC "magisterium." Been there, done that.

    But we were Anglican when the C of E refused to consecrate our bishops, and, subsequently, when relationships were nowhere near as structured as the "Instruments of Communion" have sought to make them in recent years. We will be so even if the Communion decides they want none of us.

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  7. Peter...breath slowly. We only apparently agree.

    I agree that Anglicans belong to a church ( by which as Episcopal churches we mean churches with bishops, and those bishops are part of something greater - something we might call "National or Regional Churches." So the churches in AMiA are headed by bishops and those bishops were a particular community of bishops within the Church of Rwanda. They are rightly being called to account by their own greater church.

    So the accountabilituy was to that Church, in which there is accountability and consequences for lack of accountability.

    But beyond that level the syondical churches have no accountability vis a vis ecclesia. They do re koinonia - as a community of mutual prayer and affection.

    I suggest the Anglican Communion would be better served by our praying for, listening to, and finding what is admirable in one another and less in seeking out coherence.

    The Covenant almost makes it, but the last section (contrary to the Archbishop's sense) is deadly to koinonia.

    So..we still have a way to go.

    Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas.

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  8. Marshall Scott is correct.

    Moses Tay and Immanuel Kolini, acting without wider consent of the Primates who had gathered before Oporto at Kampala (including +Kenya, +S Cone, +Uganda, et al), consecrated Murphy and Rodgers. Several well-known conservatives opposed it.

    The then Bishop of SC had quite a mess on his hands. The present Bishop inherited that and dealt with it the best he could. The Supreme Court of SC then ruled that the Dennis Canon was inadequate to establish a trust simply by distant declaration.

    Trying to force parishes to remain was impossible and is now legally barred.

    The previous PB left the matter to Diocesans. +Dallas and +CFL and others negotiated departures. Most recently, +NJ has done the same. By most accounts, +VA (Peter Lee) was pressured to enter the courts in the case of his big northern diocese churches.

    Msgr

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  9. Allen, I don't post about my parish church on my blog, either, unless the occasion is a matter of public record or unless I have permission of the people involved.

    I speak for myself, not for my church, and I observe a certain and proper reticence about the activities of my parish. Nor is it my intention to speak for Mark in my comment.

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  10. Allen said,
    "I've often wondered on this blog why we never, or very, very rarely ever hear anything about Mark's own diocese. The fingers and attention invariably point towards entities outside of Delaware that supposedly don't matter or about people who aren't much worth listening to. What about Delaware?"

    While I am not canonically resident in Delaware but live there, I am not sure what Allen is talking about? There may be a neighboring diocese with some issues, but Delaware?

    J

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  11. Allen: I don't post many things about the Diocese of Delaware for the same reason that I don't post much about Executive Council, particularly while it is in session - I don't post because much of what I know in those contexts is a product of confidential sharing among long time companions in the faith. Grandmere Mimi more or less speaks for me in this.

    Being more or less the blogdeacon for this blog, I serve up what I serve, clean up as I need to. I don't feel any need to rise to the bait.

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  12. Hi Mark,
    Thak you for Christmas greetings which are warmly reciprocated.

    I think we agree more than you see.

    What makes AMIA [cut from Rwanda] as a church with bishops different from (say) TEC or ACANZP?

    In our cases we have a connection to the Communion and to Canterbury which AMIA does not.

    Could AMiA have such a connection? You offer a decisive reason why not: they are neither a national Anglican church nor belong to a regional Anglican church (so would not be invited to join the Communion). I suggest you draw that reason from an informal agreement (Covenant) among other members of the Communion that this is decisive for Communion membership.

    I further suggest that all the praying, talking and listening in the world would not change your mind that this is fundamental to being Anglican. On this matter it is vital that there is coherence in the Communion; vital to your understanding of what being an Anglican church means.

    I further suggest that you would find it difficult to entertain a full sense of fellowship with another church which offered AMiA a way of being a part of that church and so part of the Communion.

    The question before us is not whether we have a Covenant or not, but what kind of Covenant, whether its content is explicit (or not), and who controls the understanding of the Covenant.

    Behind the pleasantries of "I suggest the Anglican Communion would be better served by our praying for, listening to, and finding what is admirable in one another and less in seeking out coherence" lies a rigid understanding of who is in and who is out of the Communion!

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