Lessons from the lands of ACNA and AMiA re Episcopal venue.

The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) were both formed contrary to a long standing canonical understanding that bishops mind the store in their own dioceses,  not mucking about in jurisdictions other than their own.  In both ACNA and AMiA bishops from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion have interjected the polity of their jurisdictions into community already the jurisdiction of an existing Anglican Communion church diocese.  Their justification was that the existing jurisdictions (dioceses in The Episcopal Church) were part of a church whose policies and beliefs were no longer true to "the faith once delivered."  That is, heretical and un-biblical. 

This mucking about has had been a sorry mess, and yet ACNA and AMiA continue on in the rightness of their respective causes, believing that disobedience to ancient canon is trumped by obedience to the higher call of God to a pure and undefiled religion, etc. 

So. Good for them.

But the unfruitful results of their ignoring care about jurisdictional niceties of boundaries has gotten them into some trouble.  A flurry of sparks were reported this last month that show just what a quagmire this jurisdiction business can be.

The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) is part of ACNA and at least in theory bishops ordained in CANA are part of the ACNA house of bishops. At the same time CANA is integral to the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and Bishop Dobbs of CANA believes "As a missionary outreach of the Church of Nigeria, CANA maintains our unimpeachable connection with authentic Anglicanism in the Anglican Communion; with our partners in the Anglican Church in North America we are building a future for faithful Christians,” (From an article by George Conger first written for the Church of England newspaper.)

New bishops for CANA become part of the bishops house of ACNA, so one would suppose prior consultation by CANA and the CofNigeria before election or ordination, if not outright election, by the house of bishops of ACNA.  Well, it didn't happen.  Nigeria went ahead and elected a bishop for a predominately Nigerian diocese in CANA without first doing the connective work. All seems, according to George Conger to be smoothed over. We shall see.  Nigeria owns CANA outright (their bishops are ordained out of that context and are part of the CofNigeria's house. But they are also part of ACNA's house.  Eventually the two master thing will come home to roost, and they will have a tast of the jurisdictional fine points of mucking about in gardens not their own.

Meanwhile over in AMiA land the news is that a variety of jurisdictional problems are arising because of the unique situation where AMiA is an owned subsidiary of the Church of Rwanda without the dual home provided by ACNA. The whole thing is Rwandan. So when the Primatial Vicar / Bishop - Murphy - began to make decisions about recasting the work of AMiA in different terms, Rwanda got a bit put out. And when Murphy muttered about Rwanda acting in a colonialist way, there was, let us say a bit of finger pointing. Read it all in Conger's article HERE.

It turns out that if AMiA really is part of the Church of Rwanda then Murphy can be hauled in and held accountable by the CofRwanda. But he is several thousand miles away, in a foreign land, and the audacious mission of Rwanda that crossed all sorts of jurisdictional boundaries may have crossed one too many.  Murphy may claim his orders from a church of the Anglican Communion, but if he is in disobedience to the house of bishops or the Archbishop of that Church what are they going to do?  Not much. For Murphy it appears Rwanda was a matter of convenience. For Rwanda it was something more - an international missionary effort to the heathen - the people of the US so long suffering under oppressive and heretical actions of a runaway church - The Episcopal Church. 

So the jurisdictional problem for Rwanda is that AMiA may be disobedient but what can it finally do? AMiA is too far away, to independent, and finally not Anglican enough to be bound by jurisdiction. After all it was born in defiance of jurisdiction, why not continue in defiance?

Well,  venue matters. Muck about in others gardens and the next thing you know there will be issues of trespass.  

We have not seen the end of all this.  But we have seen enough.


  1. People who do not care about boundaries or rules, do not care about boundaries and rules. Rwanda deserves the disobedience it enabled. We might wish that they will learn, but they are fanatics, people who never learn or change.

  2. The page on the web site of AMiA's Church of the Apostles, here in Columbia, SC, describes the dedication of the new church this last weekend and leads with a photograph of Terrell Glenn apparently presiding at the dedication. Curious.

  3. good guys play by the rules and bad guys do not have rules.

  4. As my grandmother would say, "Dead wood splinters."

  5. Rules to which they are subject, Dan. Geez! }-p

  6. Oh Dan, do you really want to equate TEC with that list of despots and genocidal demons? Really? Who has actually been killed or maimed or jailed by TEC?

    I was accused on the previous thread of being over the top for using the phrase “lesser of two evils” and here you see a prime example of why I reject the double standard applied to the faithful of TEC versus the rhetoric of the schismatics.

    But, in honor of Thanksgiving and Mark’s hope for civil discourse I will wish Dan et alia a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving! Peace be with you!

  7. Andrew Reid24/11/11 4:47 AM

    Mark, you are right that departures from established church order are likely to lead to all sorts of unforseen difficulties. However, I might respectfully point out that at least they are refraining from suing or engaging in canonical fishing expeditions against one another. Nor are they leading their congregations astray from the apostolic faith as so many in TEC are doing.

    Glloating over ACNA's and AMiA's difficulties while TEC appoints bishops who undermine the faith, and seeks to depose bishops who defend it, is breath taking.

  8. "Bad guys do not have rules?" Who had more rules than Hitler, Stalin, Franco, Mussolini, Pol Pot, etc?"

    The last thing any of those guys wanted was the rule of law. What they wanted was total domination and arbitrary power.

    "Outside the law is tyranny" said Montesquieu.

  9. don francisco25/11/11 10:32 AM

    Thank God for the orthodox witness of ACNA and AMiA

  10. Thank God for the courage of the Episcopal Church, and for others like it, to try to live out the full meaning of the Gospel.

  11. "living out the full witness of the gospel".... april fools isn't for a few more months

  12. God loves even the spiteful.

  13. So true, Counterlight. Posters occasionally elicit one's pity almost as much as one's resentment.


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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.