Confusion over the consequences of the AMiA Bishops walkout has spawned a host of contrary opinions as to what the schism means for the organizations' clergy and congregations. While the AMiA leadership insists that congregations and clergy are tied to the person of Chuck Murphy, other AMiA leaders have argued the link is with the Province of Rwanda.
One email circulated within the AMiA ranks outlines the contrary view.
What follows below is from the ___. It is his informed opinion regarding the affiliation and credentials of our churches and clergy respectively.
1. Our orders are held in Rwanda. All of us are clergy of PEAR, not of AMiA. The AMiA is an ecclesial structure established through the primatial vicar to carry out the mandates and mission of the primate. It is not our ordaining body nor our place of canonical residence.
2. No churches exist canonically within the AMiA. Our churches are ecclesially seated in Rwanda.
3. In fact, unless we opt out of Rwanda into the AMiA, we are no longer a part of the AMiA.
4. No bishop who resigned from the Church of Rwanda has canonical authority over us. They certainly can dismantle the structural system of the AMiA, but canonically, they have no authority over us or our churches. We are seated in the church of Rwanda.
5. Therefore those who have left the church of Rwanda by resignation are the one who have departed ecclesially. They are, in terms of Anglican structures, floating without a home. They actually have no churches: the churches do not reside with the bishop but in the province. Unless a church opts OUT of Rwanda it is in Rwanda. It cannot be in the AMiA (as a missionary society) without opting out of Rwanda.
6. Therefore, churches that join the AMiA as a missionary society depart from the Anglican structure of Rwanda. Unless the AMiA somehow finds itself seated within a recognized province, it is no longer ecclesiastically Anglican.
7. It is up to ++Rwaje to create forms and systems for the effective oversight of the churches in the US. All (formerly AMiA?) churches are technically under his oversight until they opt out.
8. Point: we are safe under the oversight of Rwanda. It is not whether or not we consider ourselves to be, or they consider us to be. We are seated in Rwanda. We don’t have to do anything.
Unless an amicable settlement is reached over the opposing views, the dispute may wind up in the courts. But Bishop Murphy’s standing to assert his views could be challenged by his precipitous resignation. While the former AMiA leader has argued the only discipline exercised over him by the Church of Rwanda is the yearly voluntary vow made at the organization’s Winter Conference, Bishop Murphy’s current vow of obedience does not expire until early 2012. Having quit his office before the expiration of his vow might well rob him of the authority to assert his authority.