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.