A suburban Chicago church sought leadership from Rwanda amid theological disputes with the Episcopal Church. This week, it found itself in conflict with its leaders over Rwandan politics.
All Souls Anglican Church had scheduled Paul Rusesabagina, whose life was featured in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda, to speak during Sunday morning services. The Wheaton, Illinois, church, a member of the Rwandan-led Anglican Mission in America (AMiA), had advertised Rusesabagina's appearance as part of a fundraiser to build a school in Gashirabwoba, Rwanda.
On Thursday, however, All Soul's pastor J. Martin Johnson received a message from AMiA President Canon Ellis Brust that Emmanuel Kolini, the Anglican archbishop of Rwanda, requested that the church not have Rusesabagina speak.
Rusesabagina has been at odds with the president of Rwanda. The archbishop feared that the event could create a strain in the relationship between the Anglican Church of Rwanda and the government.
"Truly I am horrified that we could have such a negative impact without meaning to," Johnson told Christianity Today. "I had no idea this was a controversial issue."
Rwandan president Paul Kagame has criticized the Oscar-nominated movie Hotel Rwanda for inaccurately portraying the country's 1994 genocide.
Hotel Rwanda highlights Paul Rusesabagina's role as a hotel manager who saved more than 1,200 Tutsi refugees. An estimated 800,000 people were massacred during 100 days of the genocide.
Kagame disputed Hotel Rwanda's portrayal of Rusesabagina as a hero. Kagame has said that Rusesabagina happened to be there and that he happened to survive because he was not in the category of those being hunted.
Rusesabagina criticized Kagame in his 2006 autobiography An Ordinary Man, saying ...