AMIA Council of Bishops Defend Their Leader, Apologize for Fallout
Founding archbishops supported formalized Misionary Society
December 21, 2011
Greetings in the name of Christ for whom we wait with joy and anticipation.
We, the undersigned Bishops of the Anglican Mission, write you today at the conclusion of two very important meetings. December 18-19th, we met in Charlotte, NC to seek God’s direction for our Anglican Mission, and on December 20th, a delegation from this Council met with representative bishops from the Anglican Church in North America in Pittsburgh, PA.
Our desire is to share our hearts with you about these meetings and to confirm our support for you and our partnership in the Gospel. May this letter be a word of encouragement to each one of you that Jesus Christ is, even now, lifting a call of peace, reconciliation and vision in our midst.
We want you to know that this Council of Bishops is absolutely united. We have stood together as this whole transitional drama has unfolded and we will continue to stand together through whatever may come until unity and relationships are restored and our mission for the cause of Christ is accomplished.
We apologize for the fallout that you have felt from the collision of what may best be described as two groups of Godly leaders separated by tens of thousands of miles and substantial cultural differences, each seeking to do what they have hoped would bring about a more effective Christian witness in our land. What has happened in the past six months is certainly not reflective of, nor consistent with, the pattern of relationship and mission that has marked our relationship with Rwanda during the previous thirteen years. Nor are the attacks, in particular, against our Chairman, Bishop Chuck Murphy, true in regard to his character or leadership.
In Rwanda there has been significant change in the House of Bishops over the past two years as a result of the election of a new Primate and several new members to that House. It appears to have been their desire to transition our partnership toward a leadership model that would allow this newly constituted House to exercise much greater control over the day-to-day operations and direction of the Anglican Mission, moving in a direction that is inconsistent with anything that had been fully discussed or engaged in over the past thirteen years.
This past summer a process of discernment was initiated by Bishop Murphy with our Council of Bishops regarding next steps in formalizing the structures of the Anglican Mission in a manner consistent with what the Holy Spirit has led us into over the past fourteen years. The structure being considered was a Missionary Society out of the Province of Rwanda (a missionary society is an historically recognized entity within the Church). This conversation was evolving and was involving the HOB of Rwanda, our founding Archbishops, and leadership throughout the Anglican Mission. We believe that it is important for you to know that our founding archbishops, Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini have all encouraged us to move forward toward a formalized Missionary Society. As such, a Society would build on what God has been doing with us and would also reflect what they have sensed in prayer that the Lord is calling us to do. This fall these two transitions met, and none of us could have anticipated the velocity with which they collided.
For today, we will leave the details of these past nine months to history. Things will all be made clearer as the dust settles, as relationships are restored and truth comes to light, and as we remain focused on our primary mission, starting churches and encouraging those who are doing Kingdom work. Know that we love and cherish our Rwandan friends, and they us. We will not speak further of what has happened save in the pursuit of reconciliation among our Houses. You may be assured that reconciliation remains important to us. We offer our apologies to Rwanda and to you for the missteps that we have made, and seek the forgiveness of our brothers and of Almighty God for those places where we have, by our words and actions, caused pain or confusion.
Already Bishop Murphy and Bishop Terrell Glenn have met following Bishop’s Glenn’s recent resignation from our Council. We are happy to report the good news that reconciliation has been reached between our brothers. For this we have not ceased to thank our Lord.
As we move forward we are deeply grateful for the sacrificial and ongoing leadership that our founding archbishops, Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini have provided to our Mission. At this moment in our history, we are particularly thankful that they have stepped into an active oversight and leadership position in our Mission and in the formation process of a Missionary Society.
It may be helpful to say that an Anglican Missionary Society, by name, must have a jurisdictional connection within the Anglican Communion. We had hoped that our jurisdictional connection would have been with the Province of Rwanda, but with our resignation as bishops from that Province, we are prayerfully considering other options. Although several options have been considered and have presented themselves to us, in prayer and conversation with many of you, it became clear that a process of discernment should first be engaged with the Anglican Church in North America.
What follows is a joint statement issued by the ACNA/AM task force which came into being yesterday and which will be leading us through this discernment process. Bishop TJ Johnston and Bishop Doc Loomis will be representing the Anglican Mission in these conversations.
On December 20, 2011, Bishops Chuck Murphy, Doc Loomis and John Rodgers and representatives from the Anglican Mission in the Americas participated in a very encouraging conversation during a meeting with Archbishop Robert Duncan, Bishops Leonard Riches and Charlie Masters of the Anglican Church in North America. The joyful result of these conversations was a mutual pledge to wholeheartedly pursue a restoration of the relationship between The Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA and AMiA have appointed four bishops to engage in a determined effort to bring about at the earliest possible time a reunion of The Anglican Mission, a founding partner of the ACNA, to full participation in the life and ministry of the Anglican Church in North America. Both parties recognize that this is the beginning of a process, which will involve a number of strategic decisions as well as the repair and restoration of relationships. We give thanks to God for the ongoing work of His Holy Spirit as He continues to draw us together to form a Biblical, united and missionary Anglican witness to North America.
Finally, during our time in Charlotte, Bishop Murphy and the Council openly engaged a number of important leadership issues and transitions that would be involved in formalizing a Missionary Society. One of the purposes of such a move is to provide a stable, sustainable, and flexible platform for our Mission for decades to come. During this conversation, the Council affirmed Bishop Murphy’s leadership as Chairman, even as all of us, including Bishop Murphy, acknowledged that in this time of transition to a Missionary Society, current positions and leadership roles are likely to change.
We also prayed through and discussed our upcoming Winter Conference, which will be a very important time for us to gather together and seek God’s presence and heart for our Mission. Along with our overseeing archbishops, we invite and encourage all of you to join us in Houston for what will be a defining moment for our Mission.
We implore you to prayerfully consider what we have shared with you. It is our earnest desire that you will trust and join with us as we boldly step forward in our call to press on with the Mission the Lord has laid on our hearts, and to help us work through the process of establishing a Missionary Society that reflects our long held belief that we are a Mission, nothing more, nothing less.
With glad tidings for a blessed Christmas we remain,
Rt. Rev. Sandy Greene
Rt. Rev. Doc Loomis
Rt. Rev. Todd Hunter
Rt. Rev. T.J. Johnston
Rt. Rev. Philip Jones
Rt. Rev. John Miller
Rt. Rev. Silas Ng
This latest report from the council of bishops of the schismatic ‘Anglican Mission in America’ – formed at the instigation of certain Global South Provinces of the Anglican Communion – in direct opposition to the existing Anglican Churches in North America – reveals the embarrassment of both the HoB in AMiA and the HoB in Rwanda, at the confusion that has surfaced since the decision of AMiA Bishop Chuck Murphy to move out from under the ‘protection’ of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. This sentence, in the above communique, gives the clue to their present embarrassment:
“It may be helpful to say that an Anglican Missionary Society, by name, must have a jurisdictional connection within the Anglican Communion. We had hoped that our jurisdictional connection would have been with the Province of Rwanda, but with our resignation as bishops from that Province, we are prayerfully considering other options.”
This highlights the present predicament that AMIA finds itself in – vis a vis their lack of a finite connection, now, with any specific Province of the Anglican Communion – having rid themselves (perhaps prematurely?) of their Rwanda sponsorship.
It would seem, though, that some former Global South Primates have been called upon to provided that missing sponsorship – via the persons of former Archbishops Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini. Whether the sponsorship of retired Provincial Archbishops still provides that vital connection with the current Anglican Communion network might be debatable. However, stranger things have happened within the relationships of the Communion lately, so it is anyone’s guess.
Whatever the eventual outcome, AMiA is still the fruit of one of the Windsor Report’s declared Moratoria – against ‘Border-crossings’ by insurgents within the Anglican communion.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand