Source: Apostles Mission Network
December 8, 2011
Recent events in the Anglican Mission have left clergy and parishioners saddened and uncertain about the future. Churches and clergy find themselves beset with questions at this critical juncture of how best to press forward in mission. In this brief Q & A, the leaders of the Apostles Mission Network hope to express a brief summary of who we are, what we understand to have happened and our preferred future.
Who is the Apostles Mission Network (AMN)?
AMN is a large but tightly--‐knit network of clergy and churches, a network within the former Anglican Mission in America, and thus sent by the Anglican Church of Rwanda on Christian mission to North America.
Who leads AMN?
The immediate episcopal overseer of AMN is Bishop Thad Barnum, who has chosen to remain under the authority and oversight of the Rwandan House of Bishops. Our leadership also includes approximately a dozen presbyters appointed by our former bishop, Terrell Glenn, who serve in the administration of the network by shepherding regional groups of churches and other shepherding functions for the whole network.
What are we seeking to do?
Our mission and vision is to plant orthodox Anglican churches in North America and to proclaim the good news of Jesus. In this endeavor, we are committed to working alongside any and all other faithful Christians, including our brothers and sisters in ACNA, as well as missional churches and movements outside of Anglicanism. Ultimately, we are committed to following Jesus, and walking together with Him in charity, unity, humility, honesty, truth, collegiality, counsel and love. However, we seek to do so as faithful Anglicans, committed to essential principles of theology and ecclesiology that are essential to historic orthodox Anglican mission and ministry. (A working draft of the defining principles of the AMN is provided as an addendum to this document.) As such, in the present climate of significant changes in the Anglican Mission, we find ourselves committed to remaining canonically and relationally seated in Rwanda while we seek to collaboratively work toward a stable future as Anglican churches and clergy in North America.
Does this document speak for everyone in AMN?
No. We speak only as leaders, and not on behalf of all the clergy and churches in the AMN. We welcome everyone’s input and participation as we chart a course forward together. We have not predetermined any outcome beyond that of faithfulness to our vocation as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus.
Can churches and individuals affiliate and disaffiliate from the AMN?
Of course. We assume that as the Lord leads us, there will be those who are led to join us, as well as those who will not be led to join us. We are in the process of an open and lively conversation, hedged and strengthened through prayer. Churches and individuals are free to come and go as the Lord leads. AMN is committed to providing support and structure for all AMN Q&A, p. 2 those who desire to remain resident in Rwanda and to work together in fulfillment of our calling as an orthodox Anglican church planting movement.
How do we understand the events that have overtaken the Anglican Mission?
Earlier this year, Bishop Chuck Murphy came to the conclusion that the Anglican Mission was experiencing “reverse colonialism” under the supervision of the Church of Rwanda. Consequently, he proposed a new structure for the AMiA, namely, a missionary society under the supervision of retired Archbishops Kolini, Yong and Tay. As news spread regarding the proposal, it was welcomed by some and questioned by others. In particular, the Rwandan House of Bishops (HoB) asked that Bishop Murphy halt discussion of the proposal until they were able to discuss it together with the full AMiA Council of Bishops. Conflict arose between Bishop Murphy and the HoB, which ultimately led Bishop Murphy and most of the bishops who served under him to resign from the Church of Rwanda on December 5, 2011. The only bishops who remain under the oversight of the HoB are Thad Barnum and Terrell Glenn.
How does the resignation of Bishop Murphy et al affect AMiA churches and clergy?
The AMiA is neither an ordaining body nor a place of canonical residence. The orders of AMiA clergy are held in Rwanda. Likewise, all congregations affiliated with AMiA are resident in Rwanda. The AMiA is an ecclesial structure established by the Church of Rwanda to serve North America in mission. The bishops who resigned from Rwandan oversight no longer have any authority over churches and clergy which are canonically resident in Rwanda. Clergy and churches may choose to disaffiliate with the Church of Rwanda, just as the resigning bishops did. But unless they do so, they remain under the oversight and spiritual care of Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje.
What do AMN leaders plan to do?
At present, we believe that God is calling us to remain affiliated with and under the spiritual authority of the Province of Rwanda while we explore the best way forward together. We aren’t driven by personal disaffection, and we will not play out our discussions in the public arena. Rather, we are driven by values and convictions that tend us toward a different direction and outcome, and we are seeking to provide a structure and community for ourselves and others who are predisposed to explore a different direction than the Missionary Society proposal that Bishop Murphy and his council are seeking. We have been in frequent contact with the Rwandan HoB, who will convene together in Kigali on December 9 to discern in prayer how to respond to the actions taken by Bishop Murphy and other bishops. We anticipate that Archbishop Rwaje will contact our leaders soon thereafter to provide instructions for next steps, including establishing an interim structure that will allow us to work together on a plan for the future. We will share this information as soon as we receive it.
May we reiterate clearly . . .
Bishop Thad Barnum is walking with us as a continuing network, giving episcopal oversight and spiritual guidance to all that we are doing.
Our clergy’s orders are held in Rwanda.
Likewise, all congregations that have been affiliated with the AMiA are resident in Rwanda.
The bishops who resigned from the Rwanda House of Bishops have stepped away from any canonical authority over the churches and clergy which are canonically resident in Rwanda. AMN Q&A, p. 3.
Clergy and churches may choose to leave Rwanda, as the resigning bishops did, to join the newly formed Missionary Society. Otherwise they remain in Rwanda.
We remain under the spiritual oversight and care of Archbishop Rwaje Onesephore.
We expect Archbishop Rwaje and the Rwanda House of Bishops to establish an interim structure with the Bishops who remain in good standing in the HOB of Rwanda.
The interim structure will allow us to develop a stable structure in submission to our spiritual fathers in Rwanda and to enable us to explore in good faith the best long-term path forward in ongoing relationship with Rwanda and the broader orthodox Anglican Church of North America.
The Apostles Mission Network does not seek to proselytize others but only offers support and structure for those who desire to remain resident in Rwanda and to collaborate together toward fulfillment of our mission and toward a preferred future as Gospel-preaching Anglican churches.
Our structure is collaborative, relational and collegial.
We are developing thorough answers to a number of questions and will post further discussions and briefs on our website at http://www.apostlesmission.org
ADDENDUM: The Defining Principles of the Apostles Mission Network (DRAFT)
First Order Principles:
Gospel: The clear belief in and faithful proclamation of the Gospel of grace through our Lord Jesus Christ, an atmosphere pervaded by grace and faith and the embodiment of his seeking heart through words and deeds of love, mercy and truth.
Mission: A clear impulse to spread the Gospel through churches/ clergy that proclaim the Gospel and that invite people to faith and a visible strategy of expansion and mission – i.e., church planting, focused and earnest prayer for the work of Christ, financial involvement in Gospel/missionary partnerships, etc.
Truth: The presence of orthodox faith and doctrine and leaders and members who hold to the transforming historic faith of the universal Church. For believing Anglicans, this faith is embodied in:
A high view of Scripture as the authoritative, complete, living Word of God.
Scripture authoritatively reveals God’s purposes and mission, identity, character, will and ways. It authoritatively lays out God’s redemptive plan.
Scripture authoritatively embodies all that is necessary for salvation, life and godliness.
The historic faith of the undivided apostolic church as expressed in the Apostles’, Nicene, Chalcedonian and Athanasian creeds.
The historic Books of Common Prayer (1549 and 1662), and the historic ordinal and catechism from the 1662 BCP.
The 39 Articles of Religion as a clear, simple expression of the essentials of Reformed faith.
The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. AMN Q&A, p. 4
A commitment to the Reformation principles of “continual reformation” – that is, the church being reformed through the discovery or recovery of biblical truth.
Spirituality and Prayer: The presence and power of the Holy Spirit as evident in the fruit of the Spirit, faithful ministries of evangelism, discipleship and compassion, genuine stories of spiritual transformation, and ministries and lifestyles of prayer. A healthy Gospel movement is built through prayer and empowered by God.
Healthy Relationships & Collegial Teamwork: Essential to the ongoing health of a Christian movement is love – and with it, a track record of health in the relationships among leaders and constituents. A culture of relational health is essential. This includes a commitment to:
Transparency and openness in personal interactions as well as financial structures.
Genuine collaboration, empowerment, delegation, freedom and release, especially in major decision--‐making.
The ability to entertain “loyal opposition” as a way to balance the power that can accrue with strong visionary leadership.
Healing and reconciliation in the face of brokenness and conflict.
A culture of humility in which it is possible to ask for forgiveness, to receive restoration and to lead in the grace of God.
Second Order Principles
A biblical understanding of the Church in the plan of God: Jesus Christ has promised to establish and build his Church as the means by which the Spirit fulfills the mission of God. The Church is essential to God’s plan of evangelization, discipleship and redemption of the world.
Spiritual Authority: The Church of Jesus Christ is his Bride and he Body, of which he is the head. That translates into the necessary presence of an operational system of spiritual authority. Three fundamental definitions are essential to understand spiritual authority within the Church.
1. All spiritual authority is derived from God's gracious delegation of his authority (Romans 13:1-2) and is by very nature contingent on proper stewardship of that authority (Acts 1:15-26).
2. Spiritual authority is conveyed via the call of the Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:1-19) and the outward call of the Church (Galatians 2:2-10).
3. Spiritual authority is confirmed by the gifts, graces, and fruit consistent with the call to exercise such authority.
Therefore, these implications follow:
Spiritual authority must be embodied within the structures and operations throughout the ministry in an actual, visible system.
In Anglican polity, that includes the healthy tension of being under another person who is designated as one’s overseer as well as functioning within a collegial team.
Therefore, oversight at the “top” involves functional conciliar (or collegial) oversight rather than unilateral leadership. AMN Q&A, p. 5
In the context of Anglican polity, the presence of bishops who embody and exercise spiritual authority and servant leadership is a non-negotiable.
Spiritual authority flows through leaders who embrace the principle of mutuality between all parts of the body of Christ.
Together these translate: leaders who exercise spiritual authority do not seek preeminence but seek to honor, empower and depend upon a broad range of fellow leaders and members within the Body of Christ.)
Unity: Our work together should seek to maximize unity with the body of Christ and move toward greater unity in the Gospel, not toward increased fracturing or disengagement with others working in the kingdom.
Stability of Vision and Structure: It is crucial that an organization find its center quickly and resist the pressure to restructure frequently in the face of challenges. The keys to Gospel-success are not perfect strategies and structures but healthy spiritual life, prayer, relationships and true spiritual authority – a Gospel community, living the Gospel life.
Orderly Succession: Leadership should be preparing for its own replacement. The positions and ministries of leadership are larger than the individuals who occupy them, and a healthy system must provide for orderly succession within the context of spiritual authority and conciliar episcopacy.
“Being Anglican” is not essential to our faith on the same level that the Gospel, or Christ himself, or the authority of Scriptures, are. Nevertheless, “being Anglican” is not incidental to us and our unity. Notwithstanding distinctives of churchmanship and nuances of practice, liturgy, Eucharistically-centered worship, the presence and practice of the sacraments and some elements of prayer book spirituality are all crucial if we are to cohere and grow as Gospel-centered Anglican churches.
The Presence and Function of Orders: The presence of bishop, presbyter and deacon, in healthy partnership and biblical ministries, and the active, effective development and expansion of these orders in recognition of God’s gifts to his church, must be evident. On the basis of these principles, we trust that we share much common ground with all our brothers and sisters we have collaborated with so happily in the Anglican Mission.
Nevertheless, we believe that staying seated in Rwanda, under the oversight of recognized episcopal leadership through the Archbishop and other duly consecrated bishops, working collaboratively with our godly spiritual father(s) and one another to forge a smooth and healthy path toward the best possible future jurisdiction and structure, is the best fulfillment of these principles and the best way to be faithful to God, to our churches and to our orders.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Preliminary Questions & Answers from Apostles Mission Network Leaders (AMiA)
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 7:34 PM