Christianity Today picks up the AMiA story

 

Christianity Today picks up the AMiA story

Author: 

George Conger

Bobby Ross Jr., has written a great story of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA).  The article at Christianity Today entitled “Leaving Rwanda: Breakaway Anglicans Break Away Again” is rather clever.  It draws upon the imagery of “Out of Africa” as well as offering an amusing play on “breakaway – break away”.
He also takes the story forward, reporting that Bishop Murphy and his faction of the AMiA will seek another Anglican Province to serve as its sponsor.  They're out of Rwanda but hopefully not out of Africa -- and the Anglican Communion.
I did not envy Bobby when I learned he had been commissioned by CT to do this story.  Explaining intramural Anglican affairs is difficult enough to an audience that self-identifies as being Anglican/Episcopal, but making sense of the story for the wider Protestant world (CT’s audience) is harder still.
Yet, he does a great job summarizing the reasons for the split – and he is the first to report in print what Bishop Murphy’s plans are now that he has cast off the heavy hand of Pharaoh.  (For those looking to take offense at my reporting on this issue I offer this one to you as a freebee – it is a reference to Bishop Murphy’s use of the analogy of Moses and the children of Israel leaving Egypt to describe his decision to withdraw from Rwanda and take his followers with him.)
Bobby quotes me in the story, pairing my observations with those of Cynthia Brust the AMiA’s press officer.
Line one:  "It's just a sad, sad case all around," Conger said. "There are no doctrinal or theological issues. It's not about women priests or homosexuality or race. It's entirely about egos."
Line two: "It's a dispute of personalities," Conger said of the recent turmoil. "Archbishop Kolini had a very strong, good relationship with Bishop Murphy and essentially let Bishop Murphy do what he wanted to do."
The CT story brings Bishop Murphy’s spokesman on board with a response to the concerns raised by Bishop Alex Bilindibagabo that funds the AMiA claims to have given to Rwanda did not make it into the province’s bank account.
AMiA line one: Under the AMIA's "10/10/10" approach to congregational finances, members tithe 10 percent, the church gives 10 percent to the AMIA, and AMIA sends 10 percent to Rwanda, Brust said. However, AMIA actually gave 12 percent of funds to Rwanda over a seven-year period, she said.
"This is the most baffling issue raised to me," said Brust, claiming that AMIA flew a financial official to Rwanda to present its bank records but that the bishops refused to hear him.
CT takes the story further by reporting on three assertions coming from the Murphy camp. 1) Although he resigned as primatial vicar of the AMiA, he remains in charge. 2) The new AMiA under Murphy’s headship will remain in the Anglican Communion. 3) The split was God’s will for the AMiA.
The CT story states that:
Brust said AMIA has every intention of remaining a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The association will seek a group of retired archbishops to serve as a college of consultors and connect to an undetermined Anglican province.
"It's just a difference of opinion in the way Rwanda wanted to move forward and what the Anglican Mission felt like God was leading us to do," Brust said.
CT gives me the last word in the story, closing with my view that by breaking with Rwanda, Bishop Murphy has broken with the Anglican Communion and that this is a lose-lose situation.
As Conger sees it, AMIA has broken not just from the Rwandan church but also from the Anglican Communion.
"Everybody I've talked to is really sad," Conger said. "There's nobody going hip, hip, hurrah about this. A lot of people are just hoping against hope that some people" will let cooler heads prevail.
"The liberals in the Episcopal Church are having a field day," he added. "They're saying, 'They split once, and now they've split again. It must go to show that they are rebels at heart and not really motivated by any gospel imperative."
Bobby Ross, Jr., has done a great job with this difficult story – balancing the official view of the AMiA with those of a knowledgeable outsider.  He is not pushing an agenda, and allows readers to draw their own conclusions.  All in all this is a model of good journalism.  We have the who, what, when and where --- and the why as it is known the day after the dam burst.  I hope to see more from CT on this story as it develops.