Two AMIA bishops move to ACNA
By David W. Virtue
May 1, 2012
The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has accepted two bishops from the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA/TheAM) into its ecclesiastical embrace, bringing four bishops that have now left the AMIA.
ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan extended an offer for any of the American bishops who left the Anglican Province of Rwanda to become part of ACNA under appropriate diocesan bishops, serving as assisting bishops delegated to care for the parishes that had been under their charge.
One of the bishops is The Rt. Rev. John E. Miller III of Melbourne, Florida, who will be received into the diocese by Bishop Neil G. Lebhar into the Gulf Atlantic Coast Diocese as an Assisting Bishop, providing him with a canonical residence for the next 180 days (or longer if necessary). Bishop Miller requested a Letter Dimissory from Archbishop Onesphorus Rwaje. He has received acknowledgement from the Archbishop that his request will be granted.
Bishop Miller will continue serving on AMiA's Council of Bishops and provide episcopal oversight to all those clergy and parishes previously under his authority who desire such oversight during this transitional period.
Those ordained by Bishop Miller in his role as Assisting Bishop will be canonically resident in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese of ACNA. They will be granted transfer by Bishop Lebhar to another jurisdiction if they so request.
"This is a temporary pastoral measure both for Bishop Miller and his parishes until the larger situation in AMiA is sorted out. He is a very committed, capable bishop and pastor, known and loved by many here in Florida," Said Lebhar in a press release.
Bishop Foley Beach of the Anglican Diocese of the South (ADOTS) said he had received Bishop T.J. Johnston into his diocese. He will serve as an Assisting Bishop in ADOTS.
The Archbishop of Rwanda said he is in good relationship with the College of Bishops in Rwanda and has indicated he will honor this request.
The Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) is in the midst of refocusing as a missionary society. Until early last December, its bishops, other clergy and parishes were all part of the Province of Rwanda. These relationships were strained following the retirement of Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini and the election of Archbishop Rwaje.
Following a breakdown in relationships between Bishop Chuck Murphy and Archbishop Rwaje, two bishops, Terrell Glenn and Thad Barnum came under PEAR/USA - the Rwandan House of Bishops.
Two of the remaining AMIA bishops (there may be more) then asked to leave Rwanda and began their search for a new home province. The new archbishop of Rwanda required them to find new provincial homes by this past Sunday or face discipline because the Rwandan canons do not allow for actual resignations.
These two bishops requested oversight from ACNA. Both men will have the title of "assisting" (not assistant) bishops in the ACNA.
AMiA Bishop Chuck Murphy said, "I am pleased that an agreement has been reached allowing Bishop TJ Johnston and Bishop John Miller to be received temporarily into the Anglican Church of North America and to serve as assisting bishops within two dioceses. These bishops will continue to oversee Anglican Mission congregations with written permission from their bishops, Neil Lebhar and Foley Beach. This decision demonstrates our commitment to being a multi-jurisdictional entity. Bishops Johnston and Miller will also continue their conversations with Bishops Riches and Masters regarding a future connection with the Anglican Church in North America. There is no need for parishes to make any choice about jurisdictional relationships. Congregations will, of course, remain in the Anglican Mission unless they choose to disaffiliate and join with some other group or entity."
"While I have no idea where this will lead, I am hopeful that this will move us forward in having a united, Biblical Anglicanism here in North America. I have a good and long relationship with +TJ, and I am hopeful that this will create a way for AMiA either to integrate into ACNA or intentionally work together with ACNA in planting churches and leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus," said Beach.
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