This diocese has a companion link with a diocese in Rwanda. Last night we had a visit from Meg Guillebaud a CMS Mission Partner from the diocese in question who came and gave an excellent presentation about life in that country.

Over the last few years, I’ve met quite a few people connected with Rwanda – students studying aquaculture, aid workers, people studying Rwanda itself and those involved in Christian mission activity. They tell the most extraordinary stories. They tell of things that happened during the genocide which chill the blood. They also often tell of more hopeful examples of reconcilliation. Talk to someone from Rwanda and you often seem to hear of the best and the very worst of what it is to be a human being.

The more you hear, the more sympathy for the country you tend to have. As I’ve learnt about Rwanda, I’ve certainly found my sympathies growing. At the same time, I’ve learnt about the Anglican Church of Rwanda and I find increasingly my sympathies for that church evaporating.

Last week, we saw a further move from the Rwandan Archbishop to promote schism in the church. (It is important to recognise that the Gafcon movement is a schism within a schism – it is primarily a break away movement not from the Anglican Communion but from the Global South). The ugly words of the schism leaders are the ugly words of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. They are a reminder that almost half of the bishops of the Rwandan Church are now white Americans working in America to split the Church.

The news that our companion bishop from Rwanda was in Jerusalem for the Gafcon (ie alternative Lambeth) Conference (for which we are indebted to Gadgetvicar) turned my stomach.

In St Mary’s we are increasingly asking people to think about how they spend their money. That means thinking about fair trading practises. It means thinking about the environment when shopping. We recognise that what we do with our money is to express our values.

I find that I don’t much want to invest money in anything involving the Anglican Church in Rwanda any more. I’m happy to pray with them, share friendship with them, share bread and wine with them and all that. When in comes to money though, my money has more than just financial value attached to it. If I feel inspired by the stories of Rwanda to invest in that country I would prefer to do so through agencies which share the values that I have. Given the opportunity to invest in sending priests of the Rwandan church motorcycles so that they can get around the diocese faster, I find myself thinking that if I wanted to make a difference, I’d rather give a motorcycle to a local doctor than to the clergy of that church.

These are hard things to say and I’ve no doubt that they were not nice things for Meg to listen to last night. But the Rwandan church is making it clear where it stands.

Time for us to do the same.


  1. Comment Moved says


    Many thanks to Andrew who posted a comment here. I’ve deleted it from this place and will post it later in a separate blog post as I think it would make sense to discuss it away from the topic above.


  2. Robin says

    > I find that I don’t much want to invest money in anything involving the Anglican Church in Rwanda any more . . . If I feel inspired by the stories of Rwanda to invest in that country I would prefer to do so through agencies which share the values that I have. <

    I entirely agree with you.

  3. Yes, sending money feels like handing a gun to someone who has promised to shoot you. Better to support directly or through some other agency.

    I agree about remaining willing to share in prayer. This Sunday the Anglican Cycle of Prayer gave us ++Venables. He’s the villain in these parts, as our schismatic congregations and bishops have placed themselves under the authority of the Southern Cone. I could sense the rector twitch when the name was read, but we prayed on…

  4. David |Dah • veed| says

    You are to be recognized for your courage to speak truth Kelvin, when there would be those who would think it not politically correct.

    Even though the schism does not effect us directly here in Mexico, it weighs heavy on my own mind. I have had much of which to think, sometimes a dangerous thing for me, with all the real time information that has come from GAFCon, and then Lambeth.

    Dan is a Canadian who participates on a number of the same blogs I visit, even OCICBW. He is preparing for a vacation trip to Africa this Fall and has been reading up on how to stay safe as a gay visitor in the various nations. He shared an interesting insight to a misrepresentation by the usual suspects in the African Anglican Gang of Six.

    They often state that homosexuality does not exist in Africa, at least not naturally, but is an apostasy exported from the West which is infecting and seducing modern Africans. What is truly sad is that it is apparent that they have bought into a not-so-subtle racism of Christian missionaries of the 18th and 19th centuries.

    The common knowledge of the day was that homosexuality was not observed, and so did not exist or occur in nature, in the wild, among lower forms of animals. Another common knowledge was that Africans were a lower form of human life, and closer, in fact, to the lower orders of animal life than white Europeans. So, by extension, Africans were subsequently taught the assumption that homosexuality did not exist among their peoples.

    When in actuality, homosexuality and bisexuality not only exist in lower orders of animals, especially primates, but all human cultures as well in relatively the same mathematical numbers worldwide, and so not only existed in Africa, but many native African animist faiths respected and esteemed homosexuals as significant and held as special, as did many Native American cultures.

    So, it is not homosexuality which has invaded or been imported to Africa, but European racism, homophobia, and for that matter Christianity itself.
    As a side note, too bad we did not send modern primatologists to Canterbury to study the strange behaviors of the Primates that occurred at Lambeth!

  5. David |Dah • veed| says

    Sorry. It seems that I certainly put the quash on this discussion!

  6. Ritualist Robert says

    I think the motto ought to be (as in any transaction where you’re not getting ‘bang for your buck’): Don’t reward them with cash.

    Supporting doctors and the like seems a far preferable option, or supporting another country. Let’s face it, there are plenty of people who need our help throughout the entire world.

  7. In the end, it is the poor African folk who suffer as a result of the attitudes and corruption of their leaders. One thing our link does is show us that we are dealing with real human beings rather than “issues”. I am extremely uncomfortable about this post and its consequences.

  8. Robin says

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that we should stop taking an interest in the people of Rwanda. The debate, surely, is about the best way of helping them. I agree with Kelvin when he writes:

    > Given the opportunity to invest in sending priests of the Rwandan church motorcycles so that they can get around the diocese faster, I find myself thinking that if I wanted to make a difference, I’d rather give a motorcycle to a local doctor than to the clergy of that church. <

    But it’s beyond question that we should give the motorcyle!

  9. And for the poor Anglicans, who worry about where their next plate of rice is coming from, rather than the “theology” of Akinola & Co, are they to be denied sacraments cos we don’t agree with their Bishop?

    These are our friends.

  10. Robin says

    No, of course not. Who’s suggesting that they should be denied sacraments? Have you ever turned anyone away from your altar? I’ve never seen it done. Would you hesitate to go to communion in Rwanda, or wherever you found yourself? I certainly wouldn’t. I think Desmond Tutu has got it right – this is a subject on which (for the time being, at least) we should just agree to differ.

  11. Robin says

    My apologies, Kenny – I think I misread your response, and that you were actually speaking about denying the sacraments to ordinary Rwandans by not paying for the motorcycles which we would otherwise have given.

    Yes, it’s a problem, and I’m torn. Of course they are our friends, but on the other hand I have gay friends too. I’ve even met Gene Robinson, heard him preach and received Communion at his hands. He doesn’t have horns and a tail and he doesn’t smell of sulphur!

    I can’t accept Archbishop Kolini’s view of gay people. I think it’s dehumanising, horrible and un-Christian. And yet, I’m sure you’re right and that the ordinary Rwandans we’re speaking about do worry about where their next plate of rice is coming from, rather than about the “theology” of Akinola & Co.

    Do we have to decide to betray and punish one side or the other? Is it as bad as that? Do we help to feed, spiritually as well as physically, our Rwandan brothers and sisters while helping to uphold a creed that dehumanises and persecutes others? Or do we stand up for what we believe to be true as regards the humanity of gay people even if it means that others will go hungry and will go without the Eucharist?

    There’s no easy answer to this. Whatever we choose to do, it seems to me, involves us in collaborating with sin.

  12. The decision to give money to those in need always involves choices. Rwanda has many problems, many of which seem to have come from colonial policies of European countries. Those policies included sending missionaries like those who travelled with CMS. The influence of such mission societies on the current African schism has gone largely unexamined.

    Though there are people who live in poverty in Rwanda, it is not the poorest country in Africa and its people are not the most needy right now. (Think of Zimbabwe).

    Indeed, one of the things that Meg was telling us about the other night was about developing micro-credit systems to allow people to pool their resources and develop with their own resources. It was imaginative and exciting to hear about.

    The fact remains that we have choices as to whom we wish to invest in. Are we concerned primarily with poverty or with church growth in Africa? Our response to that question and other uncomfortable questions like it will determine what we do with our money.

    The suggestion that by not wanting to invest in that hypothetical motorcycle one is denying people the sacraments is an emotive one that I understand only too well. The bishops of Rwanda are currently trying to deny me and people like me the sacrament of ordination and by consequence trying to deny the sacraments to the people whom I serve.

    This schism is not nice. No schism is nice. These kind of moral questions are the reasons why the church has always regarded schism as one of the greatest of sins.

    I don’t want to invest in the growth of a church which is increasingly looking as though it is run by Donatist leaders. I don’t want to invest in schism or schismatic leaders.

    That is not a position that will be agreed on or understood by everyone. But it is a moral position that can be defended today not only through arguments about the actions of our so-called friends, but also using arguments drawn from the wider heritage of the churches, not least in the life of St Augustine of Hippo.

  13. So let’s just invest in poor countries where all the Bishops and priests agree with us and our liberal views. Kelvin, I’m glad you are ordained, but the people of St Mary’s would still be receiving the sacraments without you. The fact is the motorbikes ensured that priests in Rwanda could actually minister to these people far more effectively. s “Godspell” says, “God save the people!”

  14. > I’m glad you are ordained, but the people of St Mary’s would still be receiving the sacraments without you.

    Sounds like I’m expendable then.

  15. This might sound naive, but is there any chance that – if informed of your concerns- Rwanda’s church authorities would alter their position if the SEC threatened to withdraw money?

  16. “Easily replaceable”, Kelvin, as we all are. We are lucky to have so many good and hard-working clergy. It’s not something they have in abundance in Rwanda. Hence the need to mobilise the clergy they have.

  17. Shame on you Ryan! Colonialism again. We give you money and you believe in “our” theology. This whole thread stinks. Denying money to our linked Diocese is obscene, and extremely naughty of Kelvin to even suggest it.

  18. Kenny, blessed are the peacemakers and all that; I doubt Kelvin found it easy to suggest withdrawing money and I am just wondering if there is perhaps a third way. Are there no precedents for dioceses altering their financial relatioships? I wouldn’t be suprised if there were placed that didn’t want to be linked to the SEC due to its inclusive policies (or at least practise). Kelvin doesn’t seem like the sort of person who’d be naughty without a good reason.

    As to your other concerns, why can’t the SEC send “expendable” priests over to Rwanda if lack of ordained bodies is the problem? Surely lots of you guys would be up for gap years?

  19. Robin says

    But Kenny, what do you do if you believe that your linked diocese is teaching things which dehumanise others?

  20. morag says

    When you give money to charity you have hope and faith that the money will be spent on all the people who need it.I agree you can’t dictate terms and then hold the money as ransomTherefore you choose charities and groups that reflect your beliefs and if they don’t you as an individual don’t support that group.However this group is part of our family so it makes it trickier,we can disagree with our families but they are still our families.Providing the Rwandan church is caring for all groups and treating all with compassion and not discriminating and they do not lose sight of what is important-the people in need -then we should support them.(The hypothetical motorcycles could be shared by medics and clergy.)I’m not too sure Jesus would worry too much much about the sacraments at first while people are starving ,I’m sure he would just get on with the practicalities of caring

    If you truly don’t believe they will do all this then you must give your money to an agency who you believe will

  21. Actually Ryan, quite a lot of us guys are not up for a gap year in Rwanda.

    As for Kenny’s claim that not investing in the Rwandan church is colonialism, I think we would find that chosing not to invest in bullies, tyrants and those who advocate human rights abuses is not usually called colonialism these days. In the UK and in most of Western Europe, it’s called an Ethical Foreign Policy.

  22. Do folks really believe that God is dependent on the clergy to bless his people sacramentally? Whatever became of the Kingdom of Heaven? Lodata Maria, e sempre sia.

  23. Kelvin, I was thinking more of the SEC’s many evangelicals; obviously no-one would expect someone like you to serve in a country whose church does not accept you. You do far more for God and his people here in Glasgow than you would as a martyr.

  24. Hmm, as a lurking atheistic humanist around here. How and should one apply Luke 6?

    [27] “But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
    [28] bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
    [29] To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
    [30] Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again.

    [33] And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

  25. David |Dah • veed| says

    Enlighten me please. Why does it seem that Kenny is always the contrarian here?

  26. Thank you ERP – a helpful question indeed, and I do like when atheists know their Bibles.

    To start with, I think we know that most Christians don’t take Jesus’s words literally – they tend not to give to everyone who begs from them.

    Notwithstanding that, it is clear that Jesus’s presumption is that we should repay the badness of our enemies with generosity rather than reflecting their hatred back at them.

    I think in the case of Rwanda, I made a pretty good case for doing good to those who seem to be opposed to me. Blessings, prayers, shared communion, friendship and support for sending medical aid (for example) all seem to fall within the categories.

    What I think I would struggle with is an interpretation of Luke 6 which suggested that in order to do good to enemies we had to give them resources with which they could harm others and damage the wider church. My judgement at the moment, is that giving money to the Anglican Church in Rwanda and particularly passing cash to its hierarchy would do precisely that.

    Jesus told us to do good to our enemies but that is not the same as indulging them.

  27. John Penman says

    I think one way out of the dilemma (but it takes a bit of work and research) is not to give money via the hierachy but directly to a project. In Falkirk we no longer send our our donations to Nyakinoni in Uganda via the diocese but direct to the clinic account. Not only do we avoid propping up the “establishment” which makes the homophobic statements, the cash doesn’t sit in a diocesan account for 6 months before going to pay for the nurse.

  28. Rereading the post, I should point out the bishop to your companion diocese may not have had much choice about going to Gafcon (and not going to Lambeth) without irritating his primate (and the primates in Rwanda, Nigeria, … seem to have a lot more clout than those in Scotland or England). I would certainly agree that sending money (or goods) directly to medical clinics and schools is the best method (but then I have a dim view of religious hierarchies in general).

    I suspect in part the bishops were strongly discouraged from going to Lambeth so as to not let them be exposed to gay friendly bishops in an intimate and extended environment such as a multi-day Bible study group. People working closely with the ‘enemy’ often learn to see them as fellow humans. Perhaps +Williams should have had the groups cook and eat together also for one meal a day (assuming sufficient numbers of bishops can cook edible meals) to really force them to work together.

  29. Robin says

    Erp, I’m glad to say we don’t have Primates at all in Scotland! The last one we had was Archbishop Paterson of Glasgow, who died in 1708.

  30. Robin, we don’t have Archbishops but we do have a Primate– right now +Idris, our Primus. Same role. Different title (though of course what it means to be a Primate will also vary from one place to another.)

  31. Robin says

    No, Kimberley – he ISN’T a Primate. He is merely first among equals and has no powers as a primate or metropolitan.

  32. So what would you use as the collective noun for Archbishops, Presiding Bishops, Primi (Primuses??), etc?

    I have always heard ‘primates’ as a simple short hand and have not assumed that it tells us anything about the form of governance in any particular province.

  33. Robin says

    Ah! But it does! +Idris is Primus (inter pares), but he’s no more a Primate than you or I. This is a delightful distinguishing feature of our Scottish Church. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were various suggestions and attempts to restore some kind of Metropolitan Bishop, but they came to nothing.

    As for a collective noun, I don’t know. I prefer not to think about such meetings!

Speak Your Mind