Follow up on Burundi (revised)

Several days ago I noted that the web pages of the Province of Burundi carried remarks by Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi on the Kigali Meeting. I suggested that his remarks and his actions in the past several months do not seem to support the Kigali Communiqué, at least in so far as it distanced itself from the soon to be invested Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Now the Anglican Communion News Service has posted a statement
from the Burundi House of Bishops, a statement in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reflection, “The Challenge and Hope of Being Anglican Today.” In it they say,

“The Anglican Church of Burundi remains committed to the Anglican Communion and to endeavouring to work with all the Primates who have been entrusted with leadership of its Provinces. We are committed to the Gospel imperative to maintain unity and communion that is rooted in truth and love. We are called to be a "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" church and to affirm loyalty to the authority of Scripture and the traditional teachings of the Church. Though we recognise the principle of unity in diversity, Scripture should remain our guide in all matters of doctrine, ethics and decision-making. As has become apparent, we ignore Biblical teaching, the Apostolic Faith, and Church practice at our peril, and compromise our unity, fellowship, and communion. We must pray that we shall find ways to move forward with renewed commitment to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph.4v3)”

At the close they state, “Finally, we believe that hope for the Anglican Communion is dependent on the Church worldwide earnestly seeking a deep work of the Holy Spirit that will lead to repentance, forgiveness, revival, and healing. We should work for a Church characterised by justice and compassion that strives to be a sanctuary of care where the truth can be told with love. Only then will we be able to meet the challenge to walk together in a way that honours the name of Christ whom we seek to serve, and witness to his reconciling love in a hurting and fragmented world.”

The House of Bishops statement says “We recommend therefore that our relationships should be guided by the decisions of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution I. 10 and Resolution III. 2(e), the Windsor Report recommendations, and the Dromantine requests.

Interestingly, it is Lambeth Resolution III.2 (e) which ought to draw our attention. In these contentious times it is almost never invoked. What it says is, that the conference

“also affirms that "although some of the means by which communion is expressed may be strained or broken, there is a need for courtesy, tolerance, mutual respect, and prayer for one another, and we confirm that our desire to know or be with one another, remains binding on us as Christians". (Eames, p.119).”

The House of Bishops of Burundi wrote this statement in reference to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reflection written some months ago. Coming so soon after the Kigali Communiqué it is of interest primarily because it is precisely a document in which courtesy, tolerance, mutual respect and prayer are communicated. (a second phrase to this sentence was in error and is now deleated.)

Here, I believe, is a Province that disagrees with us, but is committed to courtesy, tolerance and mutual respect, and is not in the business of condemning out of hand the life of the Episcopal Church.


  1. As the Kigali report itself indicates, there is a range of response to TEC from within the GS. Yet even the most polite province will have to puzzle out what response your province has made to Windsor. It would be interesting to see, Mark, how you would respond to Burundi if they asked you what the TEC has done in response to Windsor and Dromantine. (Especially as some of your dioceses appear to wish to add to or clarify the GS response).
    Is the TEC willing to respond kindly to its dissidents as Burundi is to you?

  2. obadiahslope (and others): I'd be glad to see a range of comments clarifying the difference between a dissident and a schismatic.

  3. I am so glad that some commenters on this blog have brought up the issue of relating to each other with kindness. It seems that a sense of 'small c' communion and community and goodness is lacking by some (not all!) people on various sides of this issue.

    There are some in the Episcopal Church who embody kindness and who are willing to listen to various voices, and it is also true that there are those who are looking to realign themselves who also embody kindness. However, in far too many places the norm seems to be more agressive -- mutual distrust -- and actions and statements that bring us all further apart.

    I am most interested not in statements from Bishops or Archbishops, but in what people are saying at the level of people in the congregation, and also what is being said between leaders in those congregations.

    Are there people who are still acting with kindness to welcome the stranger, even when the stranger seems to be an "enemy" on the issue of gay bishops, or whether TEC has lived up to the recommendations of the Windsor Report, or whether the Global South has lived up to other recommendations of Windsor Report.

    Are there any signs of the Spirit moving people who disagree to live kindly with one another, to seek to worship God, and to break bread with one another?

    I know there are people who have wanted to "walk apart" for decades now and have waited for such a time to do this action. However, there are also those who continue to worship in unity, even when there is disagreement, and even when there is hurt and pain and anger.

    I have friends (from various sides of the Episcopal Church) who feel pain about our church, and who feel tension about whether they can stay, however, they are, for the time being, staying and faithfully remaining - even in this time of turmoil, pain and brokenness ....

    Is not Christ in these times as well, redeeming them as well?

    That is my hope.

  4. Admittedly, Anglicans Online (no foaming-at-the-mouth conservatives, they) saw this same statement differently:

    19 October 2006: Anglican Church of Burundi issues a statement

    The Anglican Communion News Service has distributed this statement from the Anglican Church of Burundi announcing their support for some of the resolutions of the most recent Lambeth conference and for various conservative platforms issued since. We predict that Burundi will end up joining the Nigerian Communion once its membership details are defined.

  5. But the more recent statement does contain a reference to Kigali...

    "We support the idea of an Anglican Covenant and trust that it will, as the recent Kigali Communiqué states, “demonstrate to the world that it is possible to be a truly global communion where differences are not affirmed at the expense of faith and truth but within the framework of a common confession of faith and mutual accountability”."

  6. Simon...Oops! You are more than right...in the ACNS piece it was there. When I read it, I saw it as a benign reference and sort of forgot I read it. OK....off to make a correction in the article.

    Thanks for the good eye.



OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.