Bishop Martyn Minns has been in rapid order: (i) Rector of Truro Church, in the Diocese of Virginia, (ii) licensed Priest in Charge of Truro Church and Bishop in the Church of Nigeria for CANA, (iii) Bishop in the Church of Nigeria for CANA and pastor of the majority of the people of Truro Church no longer licensed in Virginia, and as of last Sunday, (iv) Bishop of the Church of Nigeria for CANA only. There were two heartfelt and quite gentle statements about Minn's last Sunday at Truro. The one is posted on Truro site. The other is on BabyBlueOneline. The affection of the people of the congregation is readily apparent and we can be glad that they were able to show that affection for them.
So now Bishop Minns is no longer the Pastor for the CANA congregation in Fairfax, Virginia. His ministry now is entirely as bishop in the Church of Nigeria. In that regard there is yet another celebration coming up. This from the Truro Newsletter for April 28-Mar 4, 2007: "There is one more Celebration for which we are all preparing and that is the Celebration of my new Ministry and formal Installation as Missionary Bishop of CANA. Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, Primate of All Nigeria, Chairman of the Global South, will officially install me on Saturday May 5th at 12:30 p.m. at the Hylton Chapel in Woodbridge. It will be a truly festive occasion with guests from all over the world. Everyone is invited—please come and join in with the celebration."
Several things are interesting about this announcement:
- Archbishop Akinola will preside, thus making the Installation, while not to a specific chair or see, none the less an installation in place. It thus further exacerbates the boundary problems between the Church of Nigeria and The Episcopal Church. This is not simply sending a missionary presence into another province of the Anglican Communion. This is establishing a diocese or missionary diocese in place.
- (ii) The Archbishop is named as "Primate of All Nigeria, Chairman of the Global South." While Bishop Minns is given to modest overstatement at times, this is a telling statement. At the very most the Archbishop is the Chair of the Steering Committee of those bishops and provinces that have gathered for the various Global South conferences and who oversee the work of the committees of that Conference, and the secretariat (of whom Bishop Minns is part). But that does not sound nearly as elegant as "Chairman of the Global South."
- The installation will be at the
Hylton Chapel in Woodbridge. This is a "a nondenominational Christian Event Center that opened in 1995. The facility does not accommodate a local church or congregation on a regular basis. It seats nearly 3500. The facility was designed to host large Christian events and facilitate renewal throughout the region." The website states that Hylton Chapel is "Dedicated to Unity, Reconciliation and Restoration." Given its statement of faith, the directors are very clear that unity, reconciliation and restoration are ideas constrained by what they consider orthodox. "Hylton Memorial Chapel accommodates only events of Christian, community, or charitable nature. We reserve the right to refuse to accommodate any group whose events will violate HMC's charter or the instructions of the HMC Board of Directors or whose doctrinal position deviates from orthodox Christian tradition." So, of course, the Installation of Bishop Minns is something they will feel comfortable with. Still, they don't list the Installation as one of the upcoming events.
So Bishop Minns will be installed in a "Chapel" that is not only "nondenominational" but seemingly without any ministerial staff of its own. It is a for rent facility. He will be installed by the Primate of Nigeria who will straightforwardly step across the line and act as Primate in the establishment of a new ministry in a Province not his own without permission of the Bishop of the Diocese or the Primate of the Province. He will be "established" in the specifics of a new ministry with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, and will have at least one other bishop, retired, as part of the convocation, and another, Bishop Ben Kwashi, as "coordinating visiting bishop," meaning he will be around sometimes. To bad Bishop Minns is not being installed in a church congregation, with a decent relationship with the Province in place, and with colleague bishops here who are not retired or imported.
I expressed my concern earlier about this strange mix. My sense is that come September 30th, we will see the emergence of a group of at least three bishops in CANA ready to form a new province. The Archbishop has only promised not to move further on new consecrations until that date. CANA has already had its first ordinations. If it acts like a diocese, walks like a diocese, talks like a diocese, it must be…but wait! Everybody in the Anglican Communion agrees that dioceses are parts of provinces and do not run amok in one another's fields. So CANA is not a diocese in the Anglican Communion, no matter the visit of the Archbishop of Nigeria or its own words to the contrary. But then again, when are we going to hear from the Anglican Consultative Council, the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Primates? Who knows?
The Church of Nigeria is on the move, and the end game is in hand. At some point the rest of the Provinces, and indeed some of our own bishops, are going to have to choose between The Chairman and the fellowship of churches that now constitutes the Anglican Communion. Meanwhile Bishop Minns will now have plenty of time to pursue new tasks.