An 11-year-old denomination that has prided itself on its submission to majority-world leadership broke away from that leadership Monday. Amid a dispute over authority, bishops in the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA) resigned from their positions in the Anglican Church of Rwanda.
More than a decade ago, the association of churches launched as an alternative to the Episcopal Church. In 2000, Emmanuel Kolini, the archbishop of Rwanda, and Moses Tay, the archbishop of Singapore, ordained two Americans—Charles Murphy and John Rodgers Jr.—as missionary bishops to the United States. The maverick bishops' assignment: to promote orthodox teaching and practice in the wake of infighting among American church members over sexual ethics.
Under the oversight of the Church of Rwanda, the South Carolina-based AMIA has grown to more than 150 congregations in the United States and Canada, with 100-plus additional church plants and mission endeavors in the works, AMIA spokeswoman Cynthia Brust said.
But the 2010 retirement of Kolini—who had a strong connection with Murphy, AMIA's chairman—has precipitated a nasty turn in the relationship between the American association and Rwanda's bishops, said George Conger, a Florida-based correspondent for The Church of England Newspaper in London.
"It's just a sad, sad case all around," Conger said. "There are no doctrinal or theological issues. It's not about women priests or homosexuality or race. It's entirely about egos."
Months of Rwandan concerns and accusations over AMIA's oversight, finances and long-term direction reached the boiling point with a letter last week (Nov. 30) from Rwandan Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje to Murphy.
"You have constantly disregarded the decision ...