The Anglican Province of the Congo has given the Anglican Mission in America a temporary home while it seeks to find a permanent place within the Anglican Communion.
In a statement released on 13 April 2012, the chairman of the AMiA, Bishop Chuck Murphy told supporters he had received “an official letter from Archbishop Henri Isingoma of the Anglican Church of the Congo, receiving me as a Bishop of the House of Bishops in his Province and offering us a new canonical residence.”
The move to the Congo, Bishop Murphy wrote, came in response to a “recent letter from Archbishop Rwaje asking our bishops to translate to another Anglican jurisdiction by the end of this month.” On 2 April the primate of the Anglican Province of Rwanda (PEAR), Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje, asked the AMiA bishops who had resigned to “declare the ecclesiastical jurisdiction to which they wish to be translated within the next few weeks.” PEAR clergy in America were asked to state their intentions by August as to whether they wished to remain in Rwanda, transfer to the ACNA or to another Anglican province.
Bishop Murphy stated the AMiA would continue to develop its particular ecclesiology under the cover of the Congo. “As we continue to transition toward a Mission Society with oversight provided by a College of Consultors, we remain committed to the multi-jurisdictional model that launched the Anglican Mission in Singapore,” he said, adding that “toward that end, conversations with other jurisdictions including the Anglican Church in North America will continue.”
In its 6 April 2012 April to the AMiA, Archbishop Henri Isingoma stated the province would give it temporary ecclesial oversight. The archbishop wrote that the Congo was mindful of the AMiA’s desire to remain in the Anglican Communion “in spite of the differences of opinion among its members and the current acute crisis it undergoes.”
And: “Taking into account the nature of your request to temporarily settle in the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo in order to safeguard the existence of your Mission and to establish its perennial presence in the Anglican Communion;”
And: “Hoping for an appropriate solution within the Communion for a final affiliation of your Mission to one of its provincial entities;”
And with the understanding that the “provisional attachment of your Mission to the Province of the Anglican Church of Congo will not in any way break its long date relationship with the sister-Province of Rwanda and other missionary agencies in the USA …”
And that this temporary oversight while “reconciliation process between your Mission and other entities where our Province intends to play a major role” is under way;”
“We agree to welcome you in our Province as you request in your petition while you move on in normalizing your position as a plausible Anglican missionary society,” the archbishop said. The “nature and modality” of the transfer will be discussed at a forthcoming meeting in London, he added.
The Congolese archbishop told Anglican Ink “we have finally agreed to temporarily welcome AMiA in our Province as a result of a fruitful discussion as a first step of our ongoing dialogue.”
He added that the Congo had also rethought the Anglican Covenant and Windsor Report, moving on from its January 2012 position. The province “silent until the next Provincial Assembly scheduled for June 2012” on the Covenant.
“We appreciate the role played by the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant as reliable ways that helped the Anglican Communion to resist to the division for a long time but at the moment, looking at the way the crisis is deepening, I think they seem to gradually lose ground for a secure future of an effective communion among Anglicans worldwide,” the archbishop said.
The Congo appreciated the AMiA’s fine record of “evangelism and church planting” in the US, but “we remain aware that at the beginning of their mission there were some uncontrolled and not careful enough actions and feelings contrary to the Anglican tradition.”
However, “this seems to have tremendously improved with time and calls out for them to be recognized as mission partners. That is why, by compassion and hoping that some possible positive results, even in the far future, will come out from different dialogue processes, we couldn't appreciate the rejection of their church mission action as expressed in their petition. We really felt unkind not only to welcome them at a time of distress in order to offer to them more opportunities to continue with the dialogue within the wide Anglican Communion,” the archbishop said.
The decision to give temporary oversight to the AMiA came as a surprise, Anglican Ink has learned, to the leaders of the Gafcon movement and the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), as Bishop Murphy said his prayers had led him to move the AMiA out of Africa.
In his 5 Dec 2011 letter to Archbishop Rwaje informing him of his resignation Bishop Murphy wrote that he had been led by the Holy Spirit to believe it was time for the AMiA to withdraw from African oversight.
Citing Exodus 1:8, Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph; Bishop Murphy wrote: “Clearly, with an altogether new and different leadership in place in our African home of refuge and sojourn, the Anglican Mission, like the people of God earlier in Exodus, now finds itself in a very new and different situation. The result, as we saw in the story of Exodus, is that God’s sovereign hand which had led His people into Africa (Egypt) in the earlier Book of Genesis, then took a dramatic turn in the Book of Exodus instructing His people that it was now time for them to leave Africa.”
It was “clear” he said, that Africa “could no longer be viewed as their lasting home.” Bishop Murphy said.