Bishop Todd Hunter of the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA) has been received by the Anglican Church in North America and will serve as an assistant bishop in the office of the primate, the Most Rev. Robert Duncan.
On 4 May 2012 the California-based bishop held a conference call with Archbishop Duncan, Bishop Chuck Murphy of the AMiA, and Bishop Terrell Glenn of PEAR-USA/ACNA to discuss his future plans.
Bishop Hunter stated that he had a “warm and collegial conversations” with the three bishops and “articulated for each of them my vision of C4SO becoming a servant to all the various Anglican entities within North America. C4SO will happily plant churches in partnership with PEARUSA, TheAm and the ACNA.”
C4SO – Churches for the Sake of Others – is a church planting initiative run by Bishop Hunter that will now move under the ecclesial oversight of the ACNA.
In a letter to members of his mission network in the AMiA bishop Hunter explained that “over the past many months there has been much talk, publicly and privately, about who each of us will dance with in terms of Anglican connections. I have been slow in this process, like an awkward junior-high kid at his first dance, struggling to discern direction from God. I realized in the past day or so that I was asking the wrong question, that jurisdictional issues were not on the top of God’s mind for me.”
“Apparently I needed to seek God regarding more fundamental issues, matters of first cause. In so doing I realized that I am to “dance with who ‘brung’ me”—Unity and Mission. I brought Mission with me to this dance. We have been “friends from childhood”. When I walked across the dance floor and was introduced to Anglicanism three years ago I was told repeatedly that we were all working toward one, unified, missional, kingdom-oriented, Spirit-enabled Anglican church in North America. I took that vision into my heart and have pondered it since,” the bishop said.
Bishop Hunter also stated that he had asked for and had received forgiveness from the Primate of Rwanda, Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje for “my part in actions, attitudes or communications that were hurtful to him or to my brother bishops in Rwanda.”
He also stated: “in spite of our recent disagreements, I have respect for the positive aspects of [Bishop Chuck Murphy’s] leadership over the years. I refuse to be dismissive of anyone, to allow “dissing” in my heart at all.”
Bishop Hunter said he was “grateful to Chuck for his acceptance of me into the Anglican world, his investment in C4SO and his willingness to have a cooperative organization-to-organization relationship between theAM and C4SO.”
The draft agreement between C4SO and the ACNA envisions Bishop Hunter serving as a “special bishop to Archbishop Duncan leading the work of C4SO.”
C4SO will not be a diocese within the ACNA but will serve as a church planting agency in cooperation with the ACNA, PEAR-USA and the Anglican Mission in America.
The bishop said that he will not exercise ecclesial jurisdiction over churches and clergy – but will provide pastoral and administrative oversight to church planting projects on behalf of the sponsoring dioceses/ecclesial entities.
Bishop Hunter is the third AMiA bishop to move to the ACNA in the past two weeks: joining John Miller and T.J. Johnston. Bishops Silas Ng and Sandy Greene of the AMiA have announced that they will follow Bishop Murphy to the Congo. The remaining AMiA bishops have not spoken publicly about their plans as of our going to press.
The move to the Congo by Bishop Murphy, however, may not be a long term solution sources in the African province tell Anglican Ink. The invitation extended by Archbishop Henri Isingoma to Bishop Murphy was conditional and must also be affirmed by the provinces general synod, which meets in June.
Congolese church sources also note that there are legal hurdles that need be overcome. Legislation introduced by the late dictator Joseph Sese Seko Mobutu in the early 1970’s that nationalized Catholic schools as part of the country’s Africanization campaign also required prelates in Congolese churches to be citizens of the Congo. It is an open question whether the decree issued by the former dictator and subsequent legislation are still in force.