"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A few thoughts on the AMiA

The internet has been blessedly silent in the last few days since the majority of the Anglcian Mission in America bishops resigned from the Rwandan house of bishops in an apparent huff. The immediate and expected two days of bustle and then nothing more came from the internet voices. Today I noticed some rather barbed remarks over on Stand Firm, but on the whole, perhaps the silence is as it should be... though it is deafening to those of us who are waiting for the other shoe to drop. How will Rwanda respond? How will the ACNA respond?

But one good thing is that those responses are not happening immediately. Cooler heads seem to be sorting things out, and for that we can be thankful.

But a few reflections:
1. These bishops have resigned on their own behalf. Nothing is up for grabs, parish and priest statuses are not changed. And while, organizationally and ecclesiastically, AMiA has beheadded itself, there is nothing to prevent the existing AMiA dioceses (I think they call them Networks, but I'm not sure) from simply electing new bishops. It would likely be a poor course of action, seen as a public betrayal of the former bishops with no guarantee that Rwanda would accept the new bishops, but it is a sign of how this does not need to trickle down to every parish, priest, deacon, altar guild, etc. in the AMiA.

2. If, for some reason, an AMiA parish or member of the clergy would be better suited to life in the ACNA, he/she/it is no more free to reaffilitate now than at this time last week. No move either to leave Rwanda or to accept a new parish/clergyperson should happen without consultation with Rwanda as the overseeing body.

3. A wholesale move of AMiA into the ACNA is unlikely. The one tragic thing that has come out of this is that dioceses and parishes and clergy are forced to divide their loyalties, to their former bishops and friends or to the overseeing body which sheltered them in the storm. One is near and relational, the other far off but worthy of a particular loyalty and affection. The rest of us are in no place to tell others how to respond.

4. Right now this reflects (and it reflects badly) on certain North American Anglicans, the ones whose names are on the letter. But a free-for-all, parish poach-fest, ACNA support for these bishops or slight to Rwanda, or further division in the AMiA will reflect badly on all North American Anglicans. We haven't shamed ourselves in the eyes of the world, but it will be very easy to do if we don't step out gently in honor and respect, especially for Rwanda's care for our brothers in distress. Even now, Rwanda has not turned its back on the AMiA, let's honor the grace which has been given.

5. Short summary, there are no lone rangers in the Church. Some folks have chosen to learn that the hard way, but the rest deserve our affection and support. We need each other; that's just how we were made.

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