Skip to comments.Virginia cleric to lead new Anglican group [The Rev. Martyn Minns]
Posted on 08/21/2006 5:34:04 PM PDT by sionnsar
RICHMOND, VA: Virginia cleric to lead new Anglican group Assumption of bishop's post in Nigeria today could add to tensions in church
BY SHAUN BISHOP TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Aug 20, 2006
Fairfax congregation could leave U.S. Episcopal Church A conservative Episcopal rector from Northern Virginia is in Nigeria today to assume leadership of a new organization that could complicate the already simmering tensions in the Episcopal Church.
The U.S. church has faced a polarization among some of its 2.3 million members since the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese in 2003.
Today's consecration of the Rev. Martyn Minns in Abuja, Nigeria, will make him the missionary bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, established by the Church of Nigeria to provide a haven for Episcopalians alienated by the U.S. Episcopal Church.
Minns, 63, is rector of Truro Church in Fairfax.
According to the Nigerian church's Web site, the convocation will provide an outlet for Episcopalians who are concerned with the "lingering crisis in the U.S. Anglican Churches brought about by controversial teachings regarding human sexuality and the Bible."
While they say their disappointment with the Episcopal Church extends beyond Robinson's consecration to some of the church's interpretations of the Bible, conservative members of Episcopal parishes have called for a moratorium on future election of gay bishops.
At its General Convention in June, the church leadership rejected an outright ban but agreed to exercise caution in electing bishops "whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church," an action conservative parishes said didn't go far enough.
"Our intention is not to challenge or intervene in the churches of [U.S. Episcopal Church] and the Anglican Church of Canada but rather to provide safe harbor for those who can no longer find their spiritual home in those churches," Archbishop Peter J. Akinola, primate of the Church of Nigeria, said in a statement, emphasizing that the convocation is open to people of all ethnicity.
Today's event will also bring Minns into a showdown with Bishop Peter Lee of the Diocese of Virginia. Minns has said he plans to remain rector of Truro Church until a successor can be found, but Lee has said he believes Minns' service in both roles would be impossible.
Lee also called the establishment of the convocation "an affront to traditional Anglican Provincial Autonomy" in a June 29 statement released after Minns' election.
Minns would not comment for this report. After several interview requests, he set up and then canceled one interview with a Times-Dispatch reporter and did not respond to questions submitted by e-mail.
The Rev. Jan Nunley, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, said the national church also believes the Church of Nigeria is encroaching on the U.S. church's territory.
"There's a long-standing tradition that you don't go messing about in another bishop's diocese," she said. "It's a slap in the face of [Lee's] authority to be the bishop of the Diocese of Virginia."
Lee said in a letter to the diocese last week that he and Minns had been discussing the election and would release a joint statement by the end of the month explaining the "various jurisdictional and pastoral challenges" resulting from Minns' election.
The ceremony today at the National Christian Centre in Nigeria's capital city comes during an uncertain time for the church.
Since Robinson's consecration, several Episcopal dioceses have asked to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church, but remain within the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members in 164 countries. Several individual parishes, including two in Northern in Virginia, have already left.
The establishment of an Anglican missionary organization in the United States by an overseas church is not without precedent. In 2000, the Church of Rwanda started the Anglican Mission in America, a South Carolina-based organization formed in part to cater to Episcopalians dissatisfied with the U.S. church. It has grown to include 87 churches across the country, including six in Virginia.
The strife in the church ranks stems in part from the church's grappling with changes in American society, particularly evolving attitudes toward homosexuality, observers and scholars say.
"You always have these changes taking place in religious communities, and the Episcopalians have gotten caught in [the middle of] one," said Dewey Wallace, professor of religion at George Washington University.
He said African Anglican churches tend to be more conservative than the Episcopal Church.
Minns' new organization puts "a lot of distance between them and the Episcopal Church," said Heather Warren, a professor of religious studies at the University of Virginia.
Warren said the Episcopal Church's parishioners have had a spectrum of different outlooks on the Bible and on church politics, but lately it appears some have decided that they can no longer agree to disagree.
It is yet unclear how the new organization will operate and what Minns' job functions will be. But an application for congregations that wish to apply to be overseen by the convocation is available on the organization's newly created Web site.
Minns' friends and business associates describe him as a passionate orator with connections to people all over the world.
Among other organizations he is involved with, Minns helped establish Five Talents, an organization that provides loans and support to poor entrepreneurs in developing countries, including several in Africa.
One of Five Talents' board members, Joe Paulini, said he wasn't surprised that Minns was elected to the position.
"He's so highly respected in Africa for the work he's done, when you sit down and think about it, it's not a surprise that they took that step," Paulini said.
The Rt. Rev. Frank Cerveny, former bishop of the Diocese of Florida who has worked with Minns through the Compass Rose Society, a fundraising organization for the Anglican Communion, said that while he doesn't always agree with Minns, he respects his openness in discussing his views.
"On the one hand, I know where Martyn is moving, but on the other hand, I still stay where I am -- strongly embedded in . . . the Episcopal Church," Cerveny said. "But it doesn't change my opinion of him as a brother and friend in Christ."
Gee, look who is all of a sudden in a snit about "tradition." Pathetic..
Fr. Minns is a very powerful and faith based speaker and defender of the faith. If anyone can be called CALLED TO THE PRIESTHOOD, then it is this man. He would be well worth following - and I've only heard him speak one time.
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