Shock, Confusion and hurt across US over sudden disintegration of Anglican Mission in the Americas

News Analysis

By David W. Virtue

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of Rwanda (PEAR) has appointed Bishop Terrell Glenn, Jr., of Charlotte, NC, and Bishop Thad Barnum of Fairfield, CT, to oversee the care and shepherding of all clergy who are canonically resident in PEAR and affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas. Bishops Glenn and Barnum will work on behalf of PEAR and with the leadership of The Anglican Mission in the Americas in assisting clergy and congregations with their present and future canonical residencies.

“We are deeply saddened and dismayed by the recent turn of events that have brought pain and separation between the Province of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission in the Americas. We are also deeply grieved by the subsequent ‘Internet’ eruptions and email trails that have contributed to further damage in our witness before believers and non-believers alike,” wrote The Rev. Alan Hawkins, Network Leader of the Apostles Mission Network in the AMIA. (NOTE: VOL was told that this statement did not include Virtueonline as one of the eruptors.)

“To that end, we are requesting an ‘Advent Respite’ while leaders representing those clergy and congregations concerned can honorably and honestly work through their respective issues. We respectfully ask members of the different media sites and those who ‘blog’ to observe this respite as well.

“We recognize this situation has raised numerous questions, especially those of canonical status and future affiliations. We believe these situations will be addressed and questions will be answered “in a manner worthy of the gospel” of Jesus Christ. We also know that, in God’s time, there will be an opportunity to bear witness a positive and a Christ-honoring resolution to this painful situation.

“In addition, we request of all clergy and congregations in PEAR, that all recruiting, posturing, and gathering for allegiance to one side or another in these matters cease immediately. In place of these, we commit to join everyone in fervent prayer to our Lord that His reconciling love would prevail in our hearts and that His grace would abound as we seek a way forward that blesses Him and brings glory to His Name,” wrote Hawkins.

Across the country the split has caused shock, pain, hurt and confusion among the laity and clergy of some 156 congregations and missions. Emotions are raw. There is mass confusion. Many feel betrayed and unsure of where to turn and what to do, VOL has been told.

The Rev. Mark Quay, an AMIA priest wrote, “My heart is broken over this. I especially feel torn apart by what has happened with Archbishop Rwaje…I came to love him like a favorite uncle.”

For Quay, the evidence favors his leaving the authority of Rwanda. “I have come to the conclusion that it was necessary for the AM to leave the Province of Rwanda. I am angry about this. I am heartbroken about this. I am deeply, deeply, deeply saddened by this. But I am at peace about this. I plan on remaining in the AM until God calls me elsewhere. And I would go elsewhere not in reaction to what’s wrong with the AM, but because God has something for me to do other than in the AM.”

Others feel differently. Opinions, blame and finger-pointing have led many to ask why AMIA did not stay in the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) (when ACNA was first formed) choosing instead to walk apart. On May 18, 2010, it was announced that the AM would seek “ministry partner” status with the ACNA and remain fully a part of the Province of Rwanda. Others reflected on injudicious comments made by AMIA Chairman and Bishop Charles Murphy in the various interactions between him and Rwandan Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.

More believe that AMIA is in the throes of growing up and moving from a subservient position of “personal prelature” to that of Missionary Society (under Rwanda). This had not worked out as hoped, and therefore it was felt that AMIA needed to go it alone…as a missionary society.

Still others believe that Bishop Murphy’s “style” was on a collision course with that of the newly anointed Archbishop Rwaje and that personality differences between the two men made confrontation inevitable. (While this reporter has never met Archbishop Rwaje I am a personal friend of Archbishop Kolini who was probably the easiest archbishop to get along with and one of the most warm and loveable men I have ever met. This also goes for one of his bishops, John Rucyahana.)

Rucyahana wrote VOL saying, “I don’t think there is anyone other than the Lord Jesus who can measure the depth of sadness I have for what has been developing and now transpired in AMIA. I wrote an open letter to +Chuck calling for him and the House of Bishops in Rwanda to put right the differences that developed in the June 2011 meeting. Indeed what I predicted has come true. The formation of a missionary society came at a wrong time when Rwanda was transitioning in leadership from ++ kolini to ++ Rwaje.

Secondly, the formation of a Missionary Society looks [bad] prompted by disappointments from the June meeting. Thirdly, there were trades of accusations such as (the reversal of colonialism) which hurt Rwanda so deeply. The love and support given as sacrifice being turned to a reversal of colonialism. I am glad to hear (from you) that Chuck apologized for his abusive words to Rwandan Bishops.

“I want you to know that I love AMIA so much so that I sacrificed for it in obedience to my God. I was called by God the Almighty to be in His service to get AMIA started with one congregation Saint Andrew’s, to two Bishops and four in Denver so God blessed AMIA to what it was. I am deeply groaning for what is going on. It is sad [that] what started by the wave of the Holy Spirit ends with the human agendas.”

Many are asking why the AMIA leadership chose to announce the formation of the Missionary Society move right after Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini retired and Archbishop Rwaje was on his way in and his feet were still wet. The timing seemed poor to many.

It should be pointed out that Bishop Murphy’s decision to withdraw the AM from Rwanda was not unilateral. It was the result of consultation among the AM Council of Bishops AND Archbishops Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini. I believe the decision was based fundamentally on this-which principle in this instance is more important: to submit to the authority over you (i.e. Rwanda) or to stand against injustice?

Those in AMIA’s leadership who have decided to stay with Archbishop Rwaje and Rwanda’s HOB (and have asked that their names not be revealed) say that Bishop Murphy’s remarks about “reverse colonialism” were painfully received in the Rwandan House of Bishops. As I wrote to Bishop Rucyahana, Murphy later profusely apologized for this remark.

Later he made remarks saying that God is “doing a new thing” and the AMiA is being led out of the Eygpt of Rwanda into the promised land by its Moses, Bishop Murphy. He compared the Rwandan Province to the Egyptians and Rwaje as Pharaoh and himself and the AMIA as the liberated Israelites. This was not only bad theology and exegesis, it was deeply offensive and painful to the Rwandan House of Bishops, making any way back towards reconciliation now virtually impossible.


Outrageous reports by CEN rewrite man George Conger suggesting that AMIA had mismanaged funds is wildly inaccurate and suggests sour grapes and whining hubris.

“The AMiA tithe numbers don’t add up,” he opined. While blasting the numbers he himself admits receiving $6,692 for a “White Paper” written for the province.

The Ven. H. Miller, Executive Director of The Anglican Mission in the Americas, responded to Conger’s charges and wrote VOL saying that during the 2004-05 time frame, the Anglican Mission commissioned the Rev. George Conger to write a series of “white papers” on different matters related to the Anglican Mission and the Province of Rwanda including the parish as the basic unit of the American church and issues of overlapping jurisdictions. Some of the work was charged to the expenses of the Anglican Mission and in consultation with Rwanda; some of it was paid for on behalf of the Province. Only those fees and expenses paid on behalf of the Province were in the accounting publicized last Friday.

“We annually receive an audit by Capin Crouse, LLP one of the premier auditing firms in the country that specializes in non-profit religious entities. In addition we are members of the ECFA and have submitted to their financial standards,” said Miller.

A letter from Cynthia Brust, Communications Director of the AMiA, adequately addresses this issue. The Mission gave above and beyond the 10% tithe (more like 12%). Much of the money was distributed at the discretion of Archbishop Kolini and thus was not under the control of the House of Bishops (some grounds for resentment). If there was a problem here, it was not on the AM’s end, wrote Quay to VOL.

The fact that the Mission has ECFA accreditation is really all that needs to be said here.

What remains a real mystery in the break up is what happened between the time Rwaje met with Murphy in Washington, DC, where apparently both men left on the same page, and two weeks later when Murphy received a letter that was basically an indictment and a summary judgment against him by Rwaje. Indeed, VOL was told Rwaje expressed support for Murphy and gave his assurance that the problems were largely “miscommunications”.

In less than two weeks after the meeting, Murphy was sent a letter reversing most of what was understood and it was downhill from there. Apparently there was no provision for a canonical trial under the very same canons Murphy was accused of disobeying.

Furthermore, Murphy and the AMIA Treasurer were not allowed to present evidence or witnesses to exonerate himself and the AM when they were called to Rwanda.


An article by Matt Kennedy suggesting that there are talks going on between AMIA dissidents and ACNA Archbishop Bob Duncan and that a large portion of AMIA is ready to defect to ACNA is simply untrue.

“Categorically NO,” an ACNA source told VOL. “Yes Duncan has talked to a few people who are in the AMiA, but not about anyone coming into the ACNA. We may reasonably assume that some will come to the ACNA.”

As things now stand, Archbishops Moses Tay, Yong Ping Chung, and Emmanuel Kolini are supporting the AMIA and Bishop Murphy. The bishop has promised some kind of arch-episcopal oversight for the Mission, that he will not “go it alone.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.