12/07/2007

The Minns take on history

Bishop Minns, addressing the meeting of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a subsidiary of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), gave his read once again on the history of CANA. Here are several tidbits from Bishop Minns read on his role in the unfolding of the current troubles.

He wants us to be sure to credit him with work in 1998 at Lambeth:

"We do have decisions to make and resolutions to approve but first I want to remind you about
how this journey of faith began. It started for my wife, Angela, and me at the Lambeth
Conference in 1998 when it became evident that a profound division was emerging within our
beloved Anglican Communion. We were present in Canterbury as part of an international
support team for the bishops from the Global South. Our task was to provide staff support for
them and make sure that their voices were heard and that resources were available for them to
take an active part in the various debates and meetings. We did not speak for them – they were
and are more than capable of speaking for themselves – but we were there to ‘level the playing
field’. They were our friends who, too often, were marginalized and silenced by the unfamiliar
systems and structures of the conference."

The so called "support team," by many accounts was at the very least a coaching service and at the most a directing management agency to further an agenda already in place in the US.

He then recalls that the 2003 General Convention,

"Refused to endorse the traditional formularies of classical Christianity by rejecting
Resolution B001 which states in part that “This 74th General Convention affirms that Holy
Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein,
nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as
an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation,"

Actually, the Convention believed that it was unnecessary to do so since the substance of that statement was present in the language of the vows taken at ordination. B001 was a setup, of course. If it was accepted it would give one portion of the Articles of Religion (Article VI) additional standing and open the door to a strict reading of the Articles as binding. If it was not, it would appear that somehow the Episcopal Church did not believe Holy Scripture, etc. So Bishop Minns now can drag out this bit of setup drivel and make us pay for the appearance of reneging on the historical faith, once delivered etc.

He then wants to make sure that we know he was present at the birth of the Network idea. He says, "It is perhaps worth noting that the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a conversation with Bishopelect David Anderson and me in September 2003, first proposed the idea of a Network of
orthodox congregations and dioceses. This suggestion was later repeated at a meeting with
Bishops Duncan, Herzog, Howe and Iker on October 17th, 2003 in Lambeth Palace. At that time
it was described as a Network of ‘Confessing’ Congregations and Dioceses but later it was simply
called the Anglican Communion Network and officially chartered in January 2004 with
representatives from eleven dioceses."

It is also perhaps worth noting that the Archbishop has never personally affirmed this. His staff did affirm that in conversation with these worthies the idea of a network came up. Given Bishop Minns willingness to coach, there is some question as to who raised the idea. But there it is: Bishop Minns was there at the birth of an idea.

Bishop Minns now turns to the matter of just how CANA came to be:

"The growing division in the Episcopal Church affected all of us, but many Nigerian expatriate
clergy and congregations, now resident in the USA, felt it most keenly. The House of Bishops of
the Church of Nigeria declared that they were in broken communion with the Episcopal Church
and their alienation further increased. Some of them had their positions terminated, others were
refused the renewal of their licenses and still others were advised that they could no longer use
Episcopal Church facilities for their weekly worship. This created a series of personal and
pastoral crises across the USA.

After numerous consultations with clergy and congregational leaders in the USA, the Primate,
Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, and the House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria decided that
they must make pastoral provision for those in need. This led to the formation of CANA – at first the acronym stood for the Convocation of Nigerians in America – but very quickly it became apparent that this was too restrictive. There were thousands of other faithful Anglicans who were alienated by the actions of The Episcopal Church. They needed a home, a safe place where they could continue to serve and reach out as faithful Anglican Christians. The CANA Board of Trustees responded by opening CANA up to all those who wanted to become part of this faith community and so CANA – the Convocation of Anglicans in North America was born."

Gone now from the history is the bit of history that included the appointment of a Nigerian as a joint effort of both the Episcopal Church and the Church of Nigeria, and the charge that that person was unilaterally fired by TEC.

The CANA website however gives this second history - one in which those charges are made:

"It's a little known fact that Nigerians have a significant presence in the US-many are doctors, communications professionals, and successful business people-and a large segment of these Nigerians are Anglican Christians. For a while, the Anglican Church of Nigeria attempted to work with Presiding Bishop Griswold and ECUSA dioceses to meet the pastoral needs of these Anglican Nigerians in the US.

But, ECUSA proved over and over again that it was unwilling to respect the faith of Anglican Nigerians by its divisive actions. One of these actions was that ECUSA unilateraly sacked the former Nigerian chaplain appointed to care for Anglican Nigerians in this country, the Rev. Canon Gordon Okunsanya. So, we can really say that ECUSA itself made the creation of CANA necessary. Necessity is truly the mother of invention.

Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria attempted to meet the needs of Anglican Nigerians in this country himself. But, he soon realized that maintaining a vital mission in the US could not be sustained without the presence of a domestic church structure and a local bishop. Thus, my election as CANA's missionary bishop."

Well, the story is changing, but the old one is still there. Now the story is that CANA came into being because when Nigeria broke communion with TEC and then some of its US based clergy found themselves no longer welcome as clergy working in TEC dioceses. Bishop Minns also makes it appear that he was elected bishop to serve the Nigerians in the US first and then the charge extended to disaffected members of TEC.

Then Bishop Minns drags out he example of the Convocation of American Churches in Europe to bolster his position that he is doing nothing different than what already exists in other contexts:

"Establishing a non-geographic structure to provide pastoral oversight to clergy and
congregations is not without precedent. That is how many of the Provinces of the Anglican
Communion were initially established. This particular model of ministry continues to this day in
Europe. The Episcopal Church oversees a “Convocation of American Churches in Europe”
ministering to Americans and other English-speaking people in Europe - more recently in other
languages as well."

What he doesn't say is that the Convocation of American Churches in Europe exists in arrangement with other Anglican entities in Europe in a cooperative way and with full communion among the participating churches. Furthermore the Convocation of American Churches in Europe makes no claim that they are the rightful representatives of the Anglican Communion in Europe. This bit of humbug is unworthy of the Bishop and he ought to drop it.

The repeated effort to write the history the way he wants to have it be is interesting as an exercise, but it is just an exercise. There is no doubt that Bishop Minns is a major operator in the formation of the current Anglican mess. He wants us to be clear that he is on the front lines doing the work of saving Anglicanism in America. His bits and pieces of rewrite of history is unnecessary and less than useful.

13 comments:

  1. christopher+7/12/07 9:47 AM

    One really has to wonder what causes Bishop Minns to devote so very, very much of his life and energy to "cleansing" the church of gay people.

    Slightly more interesting, however, is the idea behind this tidbit from the CANA website:

    "But, ECUSA proved over and over again that it was unwilling to respect the faith of Anglican Nigerians by its divisive actions."

    Apparently to respect the faith of another (in the view of CANA's leadership) is to say and do only what THEY think is right (whether or not they are right).

    Yes, I imagine that is indeed the way Bishop Minns likes things to be done - as long as it is his (version of) "faith" people are "respecting."

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  2. (Dan)Check for yourself what happened in Irvington, NJ. An Anglican tent maker priest from Nigeria took a dead parish, infused it with life ane energy, built a thriving parish (immigrants and African Americans, primarily) and then got sacked by the bishop because the parish "needed" a full-time priest. He appoitned a gay black priest who promptly ran the parish back into the ground and the parish is closed. The Anglican priest started a new parish, under CANA, that is thriving. There is much truth in what Bishop Minns says and you need to face up to it.

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  3. Well, Dan: there are quite a number of thriving and growing parishes made up largely of gay parishioners and their friends. (See how easy it is to drop anecdotes into the conversation in order to "prove" something or other?)

    More important to me, there are many, many gay people, and others, out there hungry for a Gospel, and for a spiritual life, that doesn't "thrive" on pandering to the majority and its particular dislikes.

    I realize that for many, these people simply don't count and don't matter. For me and others, though, they do.

    If you don't want gay people in your own church, you have - believe me - plenty of choices. Enjoy them, and stop trying to force your views on other people who simply want to live in peace and faith for a change.

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  4. Anonymous - Half-truths are no truths at all. That is the tactic of the Dark One. Willful misrepresentation is, in a word, a lie. Bsp Minns is a liar which is, as Mark said, unworthy of one in his position.

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  5. Does anyone really expect we will take anything +Minns says as being honorable? The man has been a behind-the-scenes suck-em-up to Akinola and all-around TEC loser (+Diocese of Rio Grande for one...what did he plan to do with that Diocese? Make it The Anglican Church of Nigeria and steal that property?)...all his weak slurring and sloptalk about LGBT people being a threat to Nigerians (or anyone elses relationship with God) is hate/fear-mongering, discriminatory and plain stupid...one doesn't have to wonder what the personal power quest is when glancing at the "Adjusted History" +Minns of Nigeria is trying to promote as REAL.

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  6. I find the following quote of Bp. Minns' address either quite ironic or very disingeneous.

    1. RELATIONAL – Each one of us needs to reach out!
    When Jesus first called the disciples he called them into community. The New Testament
    knows nothing of the radical individualism that dominates so much of our Western Culture.
    When we become a Christian we become a member of the community of saints. It is a
    community of radical inclusion where “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor
    female, [Nigerian or British, black or white, Yoruba or Igbo] for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
    (Gal. 3:28) It is in community where we recognize that we are all sinners saved by grace
    alone! It is in community where we see Christ at work most clearly because he promised “For
    where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matt. 18:20)

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  7. If it is true that there are now 60 churches and 100 priests in CANA, then apparently someone is taking Bishop Minns as honorable, despite the slander here. I'm afraid I don't see the conflict between these two brief accounts, and if I was going to insinuate that someone was a liar, I would at least attempt to research and present the facts, which are certainly available. But then again, I'm not an Episcopal priest, and probably don't have a good understanding of Christian ethics.

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  8. Anonymous in NJ - "Thriving?" Is that the word you used to describe Trinity, Irvington under the Nigerian priest's. . . "leadership"? He practically killed House of Prayer, Newark and rendered St. Barnabas, Newark moribund with his arrogant, nose-bleed high pre-Tridentine mass which had absolutely no relevance with the lives of the people he was called to serve.

    Let me repeat that last part, because it is the crux of the matter - that he was called to serve - not vice versa.

    I have two Nigerian families in my congregation who know him - and Akinola - well and they wouldn't attend a church where this man led worship if you paid them. "Thriving?" Sure, and I've got a bridge to sell you in London. You might have some credibility if you identified yourself and gave some statistics and testimony.

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  9. Christian ethics - maybe you have a good understanding RB, maybe you don't, but I would be interested if you would cite a source for the "60 churches and 100 priests" figure, ideally accompanied by a list of the churches and priests.

    Nice post, Elizabeth. And, of course, fine post Fr. Harris. "Wolf's clothing" week, for sure.

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  10. textjunkie8/12/07 1:06 PM

    to Christopher+: One really has to wonder what causes Bishop Minns to devote so very, very much of his life and energy to "cleansing" the church of gay people

    He's a friend of my dad's and I met him first in the early 80's (though I've not exchanged words with him since; I'm working off what my dad tells me). It's hard for me to wrap my head around, but he and most of these others (David Anderson I know well) really believe that saying homosexual behavior is not a sin leads to people spending eternity without God.

    Which is worth splitting the church over, if it means keeping people out of hell. You do what it takes to get people out of a building you think is on fire. Yes, obviously there's political power and ambition involved; but there is also deep conviction.

    Of course, those of us on the other side are equally convicted that this exclusionary, divisive activity is pulling more people away from a loving relationship with God than any mis-reading of Scripture does. The current pain is not worth it.

    It comes down to, IMHO, whether you are focused on Heaven on earth, or Heaven after death at the price of hell on earth.

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  11. I confess I am not familiar with the Nigerian ordinal for a bishop. Does it require that the candidate be faithful to all scripture except, "God hates a liar?" ::sigh::

    FWIW
    jimB

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  12. My source was here:

    The Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA, has expanded to 60 congregations and more than 100 clergy in 20 states, Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns said during a speech at the Church of the Epiphany in Herndon.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a list of churches or priests, and I'm not a member of CANA, and wouldn't know where to find one. So if you continue to assume that Minns is lying, there's not much I can say. It seems rather popular to assume that everyone who disagrees with you is a liar and evil on this site, and I guess that's your business.

    I have, however, noticed their expansion in unlikely places. I was startled to see a CANA church while visiting relatives in Oklahoma City -- a long way from Virginia. It does seem that he is being taken far more seriously than you seem to assume.

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  13. (Dan)
    Pick your bishop. One preaches the Word of God and other has always wanted to be a June bride. CANA leadership or EXCUSA leadership. Choose this day!

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