THE Anglican Church of Rwanda has changed its name from “Province de l’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda” to “Eglise Anglicane du Rwanda” in order to assert that it is not a colonial subject, its Archbishop, Dr Laurent Mbanda, announced this week.
“Removing the word ‘Province’ is a significant change,” he wrote in the monthly letter of GAFCON’s chairman. “We are not subjects. Some want us to accept that it is essential to being Anglican that you are recognised by Canterbury, but we find our identity first and foremost through our biblical and Anglican doctrinal inheritance in Christ. The Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008 concluded ‘We can only come to the devastating conclusion that ‘we are a global Communion with a colonial structure.’” We seek only to be a colony of heaven!”
Dr Mbanda, who is vice-chairman of the GAFCON Primates Council, was invited to write the letter at the invitation of the chairman, the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Dr Foley Beach.
Responding to the news on Monday, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, the Rt Revd Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, said that most Provinces in the Communion did not use the word “Province” in their name.
“Provinces of the Anglican Communion are certainly not subjects of anyone else,” he said. “From the very first Lambeth Conference, in 1867, there has been strong resistance to giving jurisdiction to anybody outside a province, which is why there is no legal jurisdiction by anyone over Provinces.
“Each Province is autonomous, but also interdependent because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. The Anglican Communion is based on fellowship and relationship, a gift of God’s grace and love, no more and no less. The link between Provinces is, and always has been, through relationship — communion — with the see of Canterbury, never as its subject.”
He and the staff of the Anglican Communion Office had just been praying for Dr Mbanda and the Church in Rwanda as part of their cycle of prayer, he said.
A GAFCON conference will be held in Kigali from 9 to 14 June next year, five weeks before the opening of the Lambeth Conference. Dr Mbanda also reported in his letter that every diocese in Rwanda had received a new motorcycle to aid GAFCON church-planting endeavours, in partnership with mission agencies including Campus Crusade for Christ and the Christian Motorcycle Association.