Obedience to Rwandan authority, in America

The Christianity Today blog reports:

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 invited 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, invited him as part of a fundraiser to build a school in Gashirabwoba, Rwanda.

On Thursday, however, Emmanuel Kolini, the Anglican archbishop of Rwanda, asked All Soul's pastor J. Martin Johnson to rescind the invitation.

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.
[A]fter President Kagame found out Rusesabagina was supposed to speak to speak at a church overseen by archbishop of Rwanda, he contacted Kolini, who then told the church to cancel the event, Johnson said.

"The bigger reality for us is having to accept the whole concept of obedience, and that is a harder cultural pill to swallow than I realized," he said. "I'm forced to encounter my own resistance and bias."

Johnson, who was previously a priest in the Episcopal Church, has been under the Rwandan authority since 2004.

Read it here.

Thank you to SFiF for the lead.

Comments (3)

This does not surprise me. It may not be the first instance of cultural differences causing unexpected problems, and I doubt that it will be the last.
Also, it is not only a matter of differences in culture but in polity. In the Episcopal Church a rector does not need the bishop's permission to invite anyone to speak. To preach or celebrate is a different matter, but to invite someone to give an address is the rector's decision.

So membership in the AMiA means you have to clear your Sunday Forum speakers with the President of Rwanda?

I think in America we have no sense of how entangled church and state are in other regions--even if there is no official state church.

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