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News : PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC: AMIA Leader Responds to Archbishop Duncan's letter
Posted by David Virtue on 2012/9/8 4:40:00 (7098 reads)

PAWLEYS ISLAND, SC: AMIA Leader Responds to Archbishop Duncan's letter
Bishop Murphy blames ACNA Archbishop for holding "inflexible positions" leading to breakdown
Two model system (ACNA and AMIA) could advance work of the kingdon, says Murphy

By Bishop Chuck Murphy
September 8, 2012

Dear Archbishops, Bishops, and Leaders of the Anglican Mission,

We, the Bishops and key Leaders of the Anglican Mission in the Americas greet you in the strong and gracious Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May His blessings rest in full measure upon you, your families, and upon your ministries.

We are writing this letter, and providing this documentation, in response to a letter recently written by Archbishop Bob Duncan dated August 20, 2012 to Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa and copied to Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda [see attachment #1]. This letter wrongly presents the Anglican Mission as a divisive and hurtful movement that other jurisdictions should no longer support or become involved with until it "repents" and "reconciles." One week later, on August 28, similar arguments were once again advanced by the Archbishop in a televised interview on Anglican Ink.

We believe that the Archbishop's recent letter, and his interview a week later, make it painfully clear that the leadership of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA] is now actively engaged in efforts to isolate and damage the Anglican Mission [AMiA] in the name of North American "unity." We further believe that these efforts demand of us a thoughtful response, along with careful documentation, in an effort to both set the record straight, and encourage a more healthy relationship between the GAFCON/FCA Primates, the ACNA, and the AMiA as we all seek to move forward in our work and in our mission together here in North America and beyond.

Regrettably, rather than acknowledging or affirming the longstanding efforts of the Anglican Mission to join in the building of new coalitions and expressions of unity among orthodox Anglicans in North America, the Archbishop's recent letter portrays the Anglican Mission as exhibiting a pattern of separation and division.

This contention is simply unjustified in view of the fact that the Anglican Mission has repeatedly demonstrated its deep commitment to building both greater unity and more fruitful alliances among the orthodox here in North America by it actions and by its involvements. The Anglican Mission was a founding member of the Common Cause Partnership in June 2006 [see attachment #2], then a founding member of the Federation of Anglican Churches in America {FACA} two months later in August 2006 [see attachment #3]. We served on the Executive Committee responsible for guiding the creation of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA] in the years leading up to its Inaugural Assembly in Bedford, Texas, and then, of course, became a founding member of the ACNA in 2009. Following the founding of the ACNA, the Chairman of the AMiA wrote a letter to all Anglican Mission clergy requesting financial support from AMiA congregations for the work of the ACNA during its start-up year which produced close to $100,000 for the ACNA. These commitments and investments simply do not support the Archbishop's portrayal of the Anglican Mission as having a history and/or a pattern of being a divisive or "separatist" organization.

In this letter, the Archbishop begins his argument by stating that back in 2010, the Anglican Mission, seeking greater autonomy, separated itself from the jurisdictional affiliation with the ACNA. Actually, in 2010 both the Rwandan House of Bishops and the Anglican Mission, being mindful that in established Anglican church order and polity bishops and clergy have never been permitted to affiliate with more than one jurisdiction at a time, sought to make it clear that the Anglican Mission's jurisdictional affiliation continued to be with Rwanda even as it sought to work in a close and complimentary way with the new ACNA which the Anglican Mission had helped to establish.

In taking the steps to clarify this desire and intention, the AMiA sought to affirm its ongoing connection with the ACNA, not through its earlier "protocol" arrangement, but rather, by formally requesting "Ministry Partner" status with the ACNA as provided for in the "On Ministry Partners" section of the ACNA Canons. The decision to do this was taken during a joint meeting of the entire Rwandan House of Bishops and the Council of Bishops of the AMiA at the 2010 Winter Conference in Greensboro, N.C. [see attachment #4].

Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje was among those voting to take this step to clarify our existing relationship with Rwanda, and to seek official "Ministry Partner" status with the ACNA. Contrary to the assertions in the Archbishop's letter, this action was not motivated by the desire for "greater autonomy." This action was taken merely to clarify our connection with the ACNA as we continued our ten-year jurisdictional affiliation with the Province of Rwanda.

That this action was never about a desire for greater autonomy, but simply greater clarity, is made both clear and explicit in the documents that followed the Rwandan House of Bishop's special Canonical Resolution passed in Greensboro on January 29, 2010. Both the "Report from the Executive Committee of the ACNA" that was released the following month on February 25, 2010 [see attachment #5], and then the "2010 Memorandum of Understanding between the ACNA and the AMiA" released a few months later on May 18, 2010 [see attachment #6], clearly indicate that the intention of the Anglican Mission was not to "separate," but rather to remain connected to the ACNA. The Archbishop's assertion in his recent letter to the leadership in Uganda that "greater autonomy was clearly the aim of the 2010 separation" is simply unwarranted.

Nevertheless, this description of the Anglican Mission as being an organization that repeatedly separates itself from others is continued in the Archbishop's letter when referencing the painful decision of nine of the AMiA bishops to end their membership in the House of Bishops through their voluntary submission to the Canons and Constitution of the Province of Rwanda in December of 2011 [see attachment #7].

This decision, taken only after over six months of ongoing conversations and unexpected tensions with the new leadership in the Rwandan House of Bishops in 2011, was in fact, a very painful and exceptional action, rather than just one more example of a familiar pattern found when dealing with the AMiA. The developing strain in the relationship between the Anglican Mission and the Province of Rwanda that was experienced in 2011 was made even more painful and more destructive by those who deliberately chose to release the letters and correspondence between the Mission and the Province to the press and to the Anglican blogs.

This relentless, ungodly, and destructive behavior made the usual steps and patterns for quiet and private reconciliation and restoration provided for us by Jesus Christ in Matthew 18 utterly impossible, and as a result, all efforts to rebuild the relationship between the PEAR and the AMiA appeared to have failed. It began to appear to all involved that, notwithstanding the fact that Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and Bishop Chuck Murphy had built a very close and fruitful long distance working relationship together during Archbishop Kolini's twelve year tenure as Archbishop of Rwanda, the retirement of Archbishop Kolini in January 2011, along with the retirements of several other PEAR bishops, and several supportive Global South Primates, had begun to bring about changes in the relationship between Rwanda and the Anglican Mission (and now it would even seem between the GAFCON Primates and the Mission), that no one could ever have anticipated or foreseen.

This situation began to change, however, and real progress was made both in the way of reconciliation, and in a commitment by all parties to once again move forward with the specific work and the unique ministries that God had given to both Rwanda and to the Anglican Mission, during two special meetings called for and coordinated under the godly leadership of Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. The first meeting took place in January 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya [see attachment #8].

A few months later the second meeting took place in Johannesburg, South Africa. These two extraordinary meetings were designed to create a genuine and lasting reconciliation between the PEAR and the AMiA. The second meeting in Johannesburg, which even included the participation of the AMiA's three founding Archbishops, led everyone involved to conclude that at last it would now be possible for every one of us to simply move forward with the vital work of mission in North America, in Rwanda, and in the various provinces being overseen by the GAFCON Primates [attachment #9].

The positive outcomes of this second and final reconciliation meeting were then stated and summarized with a promising communiqué by Archbishop Wabukala, dated March 13, 2012, voicing this expectation, and declaring among other things, that "we mutually agree to intentionally release each other to develop our God-given ministries for the advancement of His Kingdom."

Sadly, however, Archbishop Duncan's personal positions, expressed through his personal letters and interviews, make it clear that this new way forward may not now be quite as simple or as straightforward as we had all hoped for and expected as we left our reconciliation talks together in Johannesburg six months ago.

Only two weeks after our return from the Johannesburg reconciliation talks, upon learning that the AMiA had been invited by the Chair of the GAFCON Primates to attend an upcoming GAFCON/FCA Leadership Conference in London, Archbishop Duncan wrote a letter to the Chair of the AMiA informing him that he had "formally objected to Anglican Mission participation" in this London conference. [see attachment #10].

The only reason given for the Archbishop's formal objection was that AMiA inclusion (quote) "on its own terms, and once again without consultation, would be more destructive of long-term reconciliation and right order in the American Province than was acceptable." This line of argument, offered without any further explanation, was puzzling in that the Chair of AMiA was invited to join the GAFCON/FCA Council of Reference and Advisory Board by Bishop Wallace Benn back in 2010. Therefore, we did not understand how, exactly, the invitation extended to the Anglican Mission was being interpreted by Archbishop Duncan as having been "on its own terms," and "once again without prior consultation" with the leadership of the ACNA.

In the months following both the March reconciliation agreements in Johannesburg, and the March 29th objections to the AMiA's inclusion in the GAFCON/FCA Leadership Conference in London, Archbishop Duncan continued to voice objection to any involvement of other Anglican leaders with the work of the Anglican Mission. In May, for example, upon learning that both Archbishops Wabukala of Kenya and Henri Isingoma of Congo had agreed in April to participate in the oversight of the AMiA by serving on its newly created "College of Consultors," both Archbishops were urged by Archbishop Duncan, and several other members of his Cabinet, to step back from these decisions to become involved in the work of the Anglican Mission. These efforts by the Archbishop have been both difficult to understand, and personally hurtful to the Anglican Mission, for it has always been the clear practice of the AMiA to intentionally build and maintain relationships with the larger global Anglican family, even as it has also sought to secure and maintain appropriate Anglican oversight (rather than "greater autonomy") in the exercise of its work of evangelism and church planting in North America. For these reasons, then, we believe that the Archbishop's recent assertions in his letter to Bishop Nathan and Archbishop Orombi that "the fruits of the Anglican Mission in the last two years have been fruits of division for everyone associated with them" are both unwarranted and undeserved.

Sadly, even the "division" that presently exists between the ACNA and the AMiA has been created and maintained by the recent decisions and positions of the present ACNA leadership. Nine months ago (on December 18, 2011), without any prior consultation with the Anglican Mission, the Chair of the AMiA was simply informed by the Archbishop of the ACNA that the resignations of nine of the AMiA bishops from the House of Bishops in Rwanda had effectively ended the AMiA's relationship with the ACNA. [see attachment #11].

Recalling that quite a number of other bishops presently serving within the ACNA had also elected to resign from their previously existing overseas jurisdictions [Uganda, Southern Cone, etc.] without resulting in the severing of their relationships with the ACNA, this action seemed, at the very least, to be inconsistent with the previous practice of the ACNA.

This surprising action, following as it did less than six weeks after an earlier letter to the AMiA from Archbishop Duncan (which was copied to all of the GAFCON Primates), in which he recalled and celebrated our common history and work together over the previous decade, and pleaded with us to find a way to somehow move back fully into the framework of the ACNA, left the AMiA bishops shocked and confused [see attachment #12]. In this earlier November 7th letter sent out to both the AMiA bishops and to the GAFCON Primates, the Archbishop not only reminded us of both Jesus' prayer that His Church might be one, but also recalled the AMiA's longstanding vision to one day work together in North America as a "missionary society" within the ACNA.

Understandably, all of this made the Archbishop's pronouncement only six weeks later (through his email of December 18th), that the AMiA's entire relationship with the ACNA had now been effectively severed especially difficult for any of us to understand. In truth, the determination to officially withdraw the "Ministry Partner" status of the Anglican Mission with the ACNA last December was simply reached and then announced to the AMiA [see attachment #11]. The Mission did not seek this "division" with the ACNA, nor did it request this separation from the very emerging province that it had worked tirelessly to see birthed and established.

While the meeting between the ACNA and the AMiA, which was then held in Archbishop Duncan's office on December 20, 2011, provided that "formal conversations" between the two groups might continue in order to explore a possible way forward in reestablishing a relationship between them [see attachment #13]; sadly, those conversations have now ended in failure, hopefully only for the time being. After over eight (8) months of talks exploring new possibilities and new initiatives between individual dioceses in the ACNA and bishops in the AMiA, the leaders of both the appointed "Task Force," and the various other initiatives being offered by both groups have now been forced to acknowledge failure due to the inflexible positions presently being taken by the Archbishop and his Council [see attachment #14].

The initiatives that had been worked out and agreed to by bishops from both the ACNA and the AMiA have all been objected to and ended by their leadership. Sadly, Archbishop Duncan's recent televised interview on Anglican Ink on August 28th only served to further damage the hope and the promise of new and stronger relationships between the two groups. This interview was especially painful to watch by some of those who had been most intimately and tirelessly involved in both the creation of various initiatives to build new bridges and relationships between the ACNA and the AMIA, and, of course, those who had served together on the official "Task Force" that had been set up by Archbishop Duncan last December [see attachment #15].

In closing, we continue to believe that the work and the mission of the Church is made stronger and more effective when both the familiar jurisdictional model for ordering the Church's life (dioceses, provinces, ACNA, etc), and the less familiar vocational model that is found in the structures of the "missionary society" (CMS, AMIA, etc.) are both fully honored by, and embraced, in the ACNA.

We also remain convinced that these two models for advancing the mission of the Church here in North America and beyond must learn to view one another as truly instruments established by God intended to compliment, rather than compete with, one another in the vital work of evangelism and church planting [see attachment #16]. This position is strongly affirmed and commended by both the Rt. Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison and the Rt. Rev. John H. Rodgers, Jr. in their statements below.

The invaluable mission and presence of AMIA deserves acknowledgement, support, and gratitude. The church's institutional polity of administration, dioceses, and provinces has historically needed the complimentary Celtic mission, conciliar and monastic traditions to witness effectively to the world. The very success of Christian mission builds legitimate institutional responsibilities that too often replace the spontaneous and effective mission from the time of Willibrord (658-739) and Boniface (680-754) the medieval monastic orders to the Anglican missionary societies of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The writings of Roland Allen (Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours and The Spontaneous Expansion of the Christian Church) show the extra-institutional aspect of successful missionary endeavors. Paul Valliere's recent Conciliarism: A History of Decision Making in the Church is an eloquent illustration of the myopic tendency toward mission on the part of the best of the institutional/administrative aspect of church polity.

The Anglican Mission in America has demonstrated its effectiveness as perhaps no other Anglican enterprise in the West has done. It has planted a new church every three weeks for well over a decade while the Episcopal Church has lost over a third of its members. It has cooperated with and helped establish the Anglican Church in North America. It is not a divisive element in Anglicanism but a successful and urgently needed mission society that deserves support and encouragement.


*****

The Rt. Rev C. FitzSimons Allison - Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina (Ret.)

I write to encourage you to reflect on this letter from the Anglican Mission in the Americas most carefully. I want to underline the conviction, held by many of us, that the Anglican Mission and the Anglican Church in North America should be in partnership, working closely together in the Gospel, seeking the lost.

As you have seen from this brief, detailed and carefully documented letter, written by the Right Reverend Charles H. Murphy, III and his research team, there has been a growing sense of separation between the ACNA and the AMiA from the time when the AMiA moved from membership in the ACNA to "Ministry Partner" status. Looking back, that move has proven to be the beginning of a gradual growing apart. There are differing interpretations as to why this has taken place. You have heard the interpretation of the ACNA through emails and letters and video presentations. It is important that you also hear the story of the events and developments as the AMiA has experienced and understands them, and know what the AMiA as a Missionary Society under multiple jurisdictions has done to seek deepening relationships with the ACNA and faithful Anglican provinces and dioceses of the wider Anglican Communion.

The longer that divisions continue the harder they are to overcome. There can be no doubt that it is now high time for all of us, in North America and beyond, to take fresh resolve to work together to help bring about the partnership and unity in the Gospel and mission between the ACNA and the AMiA that the Lord intends and by His grace He will surely enable. So help us God.



The Rt. Reverend John H. Rodgers Jr. Th.D - A Founding Bishop in the AMIA, Retired. By the grace of Archbishop Duncan, Assisting Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

We present all of the above to you, along with the many attachments that have also been included, so that you might not be uninformed when you have to make decisions about supporting the Anglican Mission in the Americas, and so that you will help us in our desire to be at one with the Anglican Church in North America. We thank you for hearing us, for all of the support that you have given us in the past and for your encouragement as we look to the future. May God's will be done, the unity of the Church be restored and the lost be reached.

To God, the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be all glory, might, dominion and power. Amen.

Office of the Apostolic Vicar
The Right Reverend Charles H. Murphy, III
Apostolic Vicar

____________________________________

The Rev. Canon Dr. Kevin Frances Donlon
Canon for Ecclesiastical Affairs

____________________________________

Susan K. Grayson
Chairman's Chief of Staff

____________________________________

The Rt. Rev. Sandy Greene
Missionary Bishop

____________________________________

The Rev. Canon Dr. Allen Hughes
Canon Missioner

____________________________________

The Rt. Rev. Thomas W. Johnston, Jr.
Missionary Bishop

____________________________________

The Rt. Rev. Philip Jones
Member of the Conference of Bishops for the Society

____________________________________

The Rt. Rev. Canon Doc Loomis
Missionary Bishop
____________________________________


The Very Rev. H. G. Miller, III
Rector General

__________________________________

The Very Rev. Canon Mike Murphy
Secretary General of the College of Consultors

___________________________________

Silas Ng
The Rt. Rev. Silas Ng


*****

FROM BISHOP CHUCK MURPHY

VOL: I received this letter following the official document above. I am posting this as a courtesy to Bishop Murphy and the AMIA.

Dear Leaders of the Anglican Mission,

Exactly fifteen years ago today I was meeting with a group of bold, courageous, and determined clergy concerning what became known as the First Promise, which as you know grew into the Anglican Mission in America.

I am so thankful for all who have been riding this wave of the Holy Spirit over the last fifteen years, and for those who have joined in more recently. Even as there are now other options, the Anglican Mission continues to attract incredibly gifted leaders; leaders who value creativity, boldness, learning, leadership, and flexibility; a Celtic model for this three stream society. I am thankful that you have chosen to be a leader in this ancient-future work of God.

Please find attached a set of documents that will be sent to several Archbishops, Bishops, and Leaders of the Anglican Mission. This is my attempt to provide a succinct but carefully documented response to Archbishop Duncan's recent critical positions concerning the Anglican Mission.

My willingness to respond became necessary in that his criticisms have not been directed to me personally (as during the past nine months) but rather they have been directed toward the Mission itself. I do not believe this misinformation can be allowed to continue without a careful, thoughtful and documented response.

Now that we know which clergy are ready to move forward with the Anglican Mission, I thought it would be helpful and appropriate to share this information with you as I suspect you are often asked to address the content of Archbishop Duncan's public correspondence and interviews. It might also be helpful for you to know that we now have established three jurisdictional connections with the larger Anglican Communion though we only need one.

Next week we will send out information along with the link for Winter Conference 2013 registration. Please mark your calendars for this upcoming annual gathering of like-minded friends to be held February 6 - 9 in Greensboro, NC.

I want to thank each of you for your support and for the input you have given to my staff and to me over the turbulent times that we have now passed through.

Thank you for your faithfulness and for your continued prayers as we move into the sixteenth year of building an alliance of congregations desiring an intimate connection with Christ, dedicated to hearing God's voice and following His lead. I am thankful to being on this exciting journey with you and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In His Name,

+Chuck

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