He was central to the formation of the Network.
He was present at the Global South meetings of 2005 and the Global South Primates and Steering Committees of 2006,
He was notoriously present at the Primates Meetings in Dromantine in 2005 and in Tanzania in 2007. At Dar Es Salaam he and Bishop Duncan and Canon David Anderson were in constant contact with Archbishop Akinola. (See my article The Amazing Hubris of the Three Amigos)
Of late Bishop Minns has been caught doing what some of us have suspected all along: trying to put words in the mouths of others, or if not in their mouths at least on the papers they sign. There have been questions even then as to whether or not all those it is claimed signed off on documents from the Global South meetings actually did.
Some months ago (August 23) The Church Times wrote an article indicating that Bishop Minns wrote much of a letter for the Archbishop of Nigeria written to his clergy and synod but actually for the whole communion and anyone else interested. I pointed out in my note on the matter that the Archbishop no doubt had people who wrote for him, but that the talking points of the letter were part of a longer campaign in which the same ideas were raised over and over. The script was there and the pitch was made.
Now it appears in a report on the meeting of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa that Bishop Minns also tried to put forward his ideas once again and pass them off as the ideas of the CAPA general assembly. Fr. Jake and Episcopal Cafe have both commented on the CAPA statements and on an article in The Church Times by The Revd Edgar Ruddock,International Relations Director and a Deputy General Secretary of USPG: Anglicans in World Mission.
Mr. Ruddock wrote this:
"How sad that whenever we looked at a document, we found it had been drafted by a Western pen. How sad that paragraphs appeared in the draft communiqué that spoke of matters that had not even been debated. And how encouraging it was that the meeting roundly threw them out, and left the issue of sexuality to the Primates."
"... mood of the meeting was expressed most strongly when the final communiqué, which, it appeared, had been drafted largely by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, was discussed. Its many references to the sexuality debate, which had simply not been discussed, were voted off."
It would appear that Bishop Minns had his hand in the word mill again, but this time the CAPA Assembly saw fit to throw them out. The CAPA Primates it appears have not yet found themselves able to distance themselves from the guiding hand from Virginia.
All of this makes me wonder again about the then Rector of Truro and the meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury in September 2003.
Minns wrote then " The original suggestion came from a meeting that David Anderson, President of the AAC, and I had with Archbishop Rowan Williams at Lambeth Palace on September 18th, 2003. We had been invited to give a first hand report on the state of the Episcopal Church after Minneapolis. We shared something of our struggles and it was at that conversation that he suggested the need for a Network. He called it a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes. He wanted to be sure that we used a positive name and not be identified as dissenters. He was also very deliberate in using the word “Confessing” because that would connect it with the “Confessing Christian” movement that stood for the orthodox faith in Germany at a time when the official Christian bodies were being manipulated and co-opted by the government of Nazi Germany. The name subsequently became the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (or Anglican Communion Network or ACN)."
At the time I took Martyn's words at face value and considered the matter closed. Things in Anglicanland moved on.
About a year later the Archbishop of Canterbury's office stated the following:
"Amongst those with whom the archbishop met last autumn were those dissenting from the impending consecration of Gene Robinson; those involved wished to discuss the shape that might be taken by groups dissenting from the decision of General Convention but remaining within the structures of ECUSA.
The term 'network' was suggested as offering one appropriate model to provide support for those dissenting from the resolution but intending to remain within ECUSA's structures. The Archbishop felt that this might prove a suitable working concept, but no proposals as to its potential form, structure or outworking were advanced."This carefully crafted statement, a year after the event, did not say that the Archbishop had suggested the formation of a network. Rather, "the term 'network' was suggested as offering one appropriate model...." Only later was his name interjected into the report.
The hand of Martyn Minns was no doubt in the mix, and while the words may or may not have come from the Archbishop's mouth, I have little doubt the idea was there before hand.
There is considerable movement from "he suggested the need for a Network. He called it a Network of Confessing Dioceses and Parishes. He wanted to be sure that we used a positive name and not be identified as dissenters. He was also very deliberate in using the word “Confessing” because that would connect it with the “Confessing Christian” movement that stood for the orthodox faith in Germany at a time when the official Christian bodies were being manipulated and co-opted by the government of Nazi Germany." (the Minns note) to "The Archbishop felt that this might prove a suitable working concept." (the Lambeth office report)
Interestingly the Minns comment about the Confessing Christian movement was stated more strongly than the Lambeth office would remember later. Lambeth said, "In relation to the discussion of the term 'confessing church'; this concept indicated, in accordance with traditional Protestant usage - that the dissent was understood to be on a matter of conscience that, for the dissenter, touched on the integrity of the church itself. No narrower example or more specific comparison, for instance to the church in Germany in the 1930s, was intended."
It may be that his hand in things then was as formative as it has been since. It is hard to say. But it is reasonably certain that he has been very formative of ideas expressed by others since then. What might have seemed to be helpful now at CAPA seems to be considered a bit more like manipulation.
Bishop Martyn Minns has a long reach, from the meeting in Lambeth in September 2003 to the present. David Anderson, who is about to join him as a bishop in the Church of Nigeria was there that September and was present at the several meetings of the Primates. Perhaps now that Bishop Minns is beginning to fade Bishop Anderson will come in as relief pitcher. Or perhaps others will begin to think that all this borders on manipulation of the agendas elsewhere in the Anglican Communion to feed the fires of dissent in The Episcopal Church.
And perhaps the Anglican Communion, North or South, East or West, will have had enough of Bishop Martyn Minns and he will have to start a new church, more to his liking.