Bishop Chuck Murphy has rejected the godly admonition of Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje and he and the members of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) House of Bishops have broken with the Church of Rwanda.
In a letter dated 5 Dec 2011, Bishop Murphy and the AMiA House of Bishops announced that the Lord “is now doing” a “new thing” and that its bishops had decided to reject the discipline and oversight of Anglican Church of Rwanda .
Whether the clergy and congregations of the AMiA will follow their bishops into schism and out of the Anglican Communion is not known at this time. However by this second secession in eleven years along with the adoption of a distinct Roman Catholic ecclesiology and sacramental theology, the AMiA appears to have given up its claim of being Anglican in order to follow its leader, Bishop Murphy.
In his letter to Archbishop Rwaje, Bishop Murphy reminded the Rwandan leader that there was “no covenant from the Anglican Mission to the Province” of Rwanda, nor did the Rwandan canons contain a “canonical mandate” for the erection of the AMiA. Since its inception, the only links the AMiA had with Rwanda was the “personal relationship” between Bishop Murphy and the Archbishop of Rwanda, and the “voluntary submission to the Canons and Constitution of Rwanda by the Anglican Mission and its clergy as renewed annually at each year’s AMiA Winter Conference in the renewal of ordination vows."
Bishop Murphy’s claim that the AMiA has no link to Rwanda other than the goodwill of the primate and the primatial vicar, may come as a surprise to the AMiA members, as the bishop has long stated the AMiA was “embedded” in the constitution and canons of Rwanda. The excuse Bishop Murphy gave for stepping back from its links with the Anglican Church of North America was that the AMiA could not be both American and Rwandan at the same time under the Rwandan canons.
In a three page letter attached to the formal notice of resignation – which purported to include the resignation of the AMiA suffragans, but did not contain their signatures – Bishop Murphy enumerated his points of displeasure with Archbishop Rwaje.
Bishop Murphy’s pride was hurt by the leaking of documents exchanged between Rwanda and the AMiA to Anglican Ink, and further stated he was surprised the Rwandan bishops remained angry with his behavior despite his explanations. He rescinded the invitation to the AMiA bishops to attend the AMiA’s forthcoming winter conference.
However, Bishop Murphy had come to the opinion that it was in God’s plan for the AMiA to quit the Anglican Communion and venture out on its own. “I now see a parallel between the Exodus story and the present situation with Rwanda and the [Province of Rwanda].”
“Things have now been made very clear to me, and I am thankful for the clarity that I now have,” he wrote, adding that “just as leadership changes in Southeast Asia following Archbishop Yong’s retirement brought to an end the oversight that we had enjoyed for a number of years from that Province, so now, the many new leadership changes in the [Province of Rwanda] following Archbishop Kolini’s retirement, have brought to an end the oversight that we have enjoyed from the Province of Rwanda. We actually see the Lord’s hand in all of this, and we are, therefore, at peace with this change and with this new reality."
As such the “individual members of the Council of Missionary Bishops” of the AMiA “will be stepping back from our voluntary submission to the Canons” but will “continue to lead the Anglican Mission [AMiA] as a Missionary Society just as you and I have been discussing over the past few months.”
Bishop Murphy added that “any clergy and churches that may wish to leave the Anglican Mission and simply remain under the oversight of Rwanda will have our support and blessing to do this.”