A week and a half ago I attended the Anglican Awakening in Akron Ohio. This event was meant to bring together the various groups of Anglican jurisdictions who have been scattered recently by the liberalism of the Episcopal Church USA. For about ten years now, bishops from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, South America, and Southeast Asia have been consecrating missionary bishops for the US. In essence, the USA is now a mission field, because the oldest protestant denomination in the country is now so morally and theologically bankrupt. Partnerships have also been formed with other groups who left the Episcopal Church with their orders intact earlier. The purpose of the gathering was to pray together, learn together, and join together for Holy Communion. The gathering was held at Saint Luke's Church, a large vibrant suburban parish. Here is an Icon of Saint Luke in the church
While this had celebratory aspects, The themes of the conference that meant the most to me were about suffering and repentance. Bishop Alexis Biladabago was the first teacher I heard. As a Rwandan, he knows about both the reality of suffering and the transformative power of Jesus Christ. Bishop Alexis has spoken on suffering from the US to Australia. He was once confronted by a high ranking Australian Government official who had many accusatory questions about how anyone could believe in a benevolent God in a world full of pain and suffering. This Bishop who personally suffered the horrors of the genocide said that he did not have all the answers, but he wanted his questioner to be able to know Jesus Christ so that they could stand together in heaven and ask about these things.
Since meeting him, I have been reading about the Rwandan Genocide. Rwanda was a Country where 90 percent of the people were Christian, yet unspeakable horrors happened. As "enlightened westerners" we can write of the genocide as an act of primitive African tribalism, but that answer is not good enough. It will not explain the horrors perpetuated by "advanced" peoples. How did sophisticated Weimar Germans degenerate within a few years into industrial scale butchers? How can 21st Century Americans leave the babies from botched abortions to die in hospital closets? The answers to Rwanda, the Nazis, and ourselves lie in the human heart.
One aspect of Rwanda is that the churches became institutionalized. Membership had certain social advantages. A comfortable Church will not rock the boat or threaten the status quo.
Here is Bishop Alexis
Here are Bishops John Guernsey (Uganda) Bishop Martyn Minns (Nigeria/CANA) and
Bishop Robert Duncan (Pittsburgh/Southern Cone) checking the news.
I am not a very good photographer. most of my pictures from the liturgy got the back of folks' heads. There are many better pictures at Father Richard Dalton's site, which is worth checking out anyway.