THE traditionalist Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) is in turmoil over moves to split from its backers, the Church of Rwanda.
A letter from a Rwandan bishop, the Rt Revd John Rucyahana, warns the chairman of AMiA, the Rt Revd Chuck Murphy, that “taking AMiA from its original intent and purposes (vision) may distort or derail its destiny”.
He also warns that such a move would seriously damage its relations with the Church of Rwanda, “which stood alone in the whole world for AMiA in the most difficult times”.
Last year, AMiA pulled out of full membership with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), led by Archbishop Robert Duncan, opting to take missionary-partner status instead, and remain fully a part of the province of the Church of Rwanda.
But at a meeting at the end of last month with clergy colleagues, Bishop Murphy set out plans to restructure the organisation so that it would no longer be embedded in the province of Rwanda. Clergy who attended the meeting have written of their concerns at the move, particularly at its “top-heavy leadership”, that would give Bishop Murphy unilateral control of the organisation.
They also say that Bishop Murphy was called to Rwanda to answer questions about the finances of AMiA, particularly the charitable donations sent to Rwanda, and that he became increasingly frustrated by Rwandan bishops who wanted greater authority over it.
Bishop Murphy and the new Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Revd Onesphore Rwaje, have issued a statement in response to the claims, saying that the relationship between AMiA and the Church of Rwanda is “solid and cherished”; and they have pledged to “discuss and explore together the future shape of our life and our work in the mission from the Lord which we share on two continents”.
There have also been rumours of a split between the Nigerian-backed Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and ACNA, led by Archbishop Robert Duncan.
The creation of a new diocese for Nigerians in the United States by the Church of Nigeria had led to claims of friction with ACNA, though these have been vigorously denied by both sides.
The new “Missionary Diocese of the Trinity” is intended as “an evangelical and church planting mission”, its website says. Its new bishop is the former suffragan bishop of CANA, the Rt Revd Amos Fagbamiye.
A CANA missionary bishop, the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, said: “The new diocese has been discussed for a while as a way of giving more structure and visibility to our Nigerian clergy. It is an integral part of CANA and directly under my authority.”
He rebutted suggestions that the creation of a new diocese indicated a “lack of trust” in ACNA. The new diocese supported existing structures.
A fellow CANA bishop, the Rt Revd Julian Dobbs, said: “It is a fiction to say there is any friction or turmoil between CANA and ACNA. We’re in full gospel partnership with each other.”
CANA, ACNA, and the AMiA grew out of objections to liberal policies in the Episcopal Church in the US, particularly those relating to homosexuality.