Ask members of the Anglican Mission in America (AMIA) what they like about their association of churches, and you're likely to hear two answers. It's orthodoxunlike much of the Episcopal church that AMIA was founded to counteractand it's African, or, more specifically, Rwandan.
Indeed, when Church of Rwanda archbishop Emmanuel Kolini talks about the American mission he leads (started in 2000, it now has more than 100 congregations), he often draws parallels between the Rwandan genocide and Episcopalian apostasy. "When Rwanda cried out to the world for help, no one answered," he said. "So when we heard the American church crying out for help, we decided to answer."
It's not just former Episcopalians who are drawn to the Rwandan church. AMIA parishes are full of members who want to connect to the Christianity of the Global South, the Christianity of a church that has suffered, the Christianity of a church that is working to heal its country.
So it's little surprise that, in seeking to raise funds for a Rwandan school, a prominent AMIA congregation scheduled Paul Rusesabagina (the subject of the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda) to speak. "We're going a bit Hollywood with this, but oh well, it's for the good of the kingdom," pastor J. Martin Johnson thought.
Being a bit Hollywood didn't turn out to be the problem. Rusesabagina is a critic of the current Rwandan government. When Rwandan president Paul Kagame found out about the appearance, he contacted Kolini, who contacted AMIA leadership in the U.S., who contacted Johnson and asked that Rusesabagina be uninvited. The archbishop explained that the event could create a strain between the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the Rwandan government.
"I had no idea this was a controversial ...