ABC’s Prescription for Unity Doomed to Fail, says Martyn Minns

By David W. Virtue in Virginia

Citing the gulf oil crisis, a North American Anglican missionary bishop under the ecclesiastical authority of the Anglican Church of Nigeria likened that crisis to the moral and spiritual pollution brought on by The Episcopal Church which threatens the whole Anglican Communion.

“When the decision was taken, years ago, to ignore the plain teaching of the Bible on the unique role of Jesus the Christ as the only Savior; to disregard the delicate balance of relationship between men and women that God has established and promote disobedience to the revealed Word of God … all hell was let loose,” Bishop Martyn Minns told delegates to the Council of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

“It didn’t look that way at first. No one imagined the devastation that would erupt – some people still don’t. They still don’t believe it will affect them. They think that they can continue to live in their own little worlds. After all it was miles away and years ago. How could it possibly affect them? Just a few innovations in the name of progress and enlightenment. But now the cost has become clear. No one can avoid the stain. Everyone is affected by it. A church that was renowned for its aesthetics in music and liturgy, a beautiful church with a love for history and a global vision is now seen as the church that has lost its way and forgotten its message. A church that was full of life and missionary zeal is now shrinking rapidly and struggling to survive.”

Minns noted that in the midst of the tragedy God is at work doing amazing things.

“One of the most rewarding developments this past year has been the formation of two new dioceses in the Great Lakes Region and around Atlanta. CANA has been at the forefront in both of these initiatives and I was delighted that both these new structures were recognized as full-fledged dioceses at the ACNA Provincial Council. They are made up of congregations and clergy that come from CANA and other partner organizations that make up the Anglican Church in North America. It not only strengthens our effectiveness for local mission and ministry but also makes clear that despite our differences we are growing in unity around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I expect to see other regional structures and relational networks forming in the coming months and years.”

Minns said CANA, the five-year old American branch of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion, now has over 90 congregations and 230 clergy scattered across 34 states plus the District of Columbia and Canada. CANA is one of the founding partners of the Anglican Church in North America.

Minns said CANA has a ministry of “incubation” – developing new churches and regional structures until they are mature and ready to be recognized by the ACNA Provincial Council. “We have also pioneered what we call a ministry of dual-citizenship whereby clergy and congregations can become fully part of the emerging Province in North America while maintaining their canonical ties with the Church of Nigeria. This is not an altogether new idea since we have several other examples around the Communion including the Diocese of Liberia, which is both a part of the Province of West Africa and also of The Episcopal Church in the USA. Dual citizenship is not intended to be a requirement or a burden but simply offered as a gift to those who wish to take advantage of this generous provision.”

CANA has been at the forefront of innovative ministries such as establishing a Chaplains Deanery with some 49 chaplains, a cause of some anguish to liberal Episcopalians. Minns described the ministry of CANA as one of radical inclusion, profound transformation and inspired service.

The Anglican Communion

Minns said the worldwide communion is going through “an unprecedented season and rather chaotic period in its life,” and that the church has lurched from one crisis to another. “The various Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Primates Meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops have proven to be incapable of restoring the Unity of which we were once so proud.”

Minns blasted The Episcopal Church saying the decision to consecrate Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and more recently Mary Glasspool as Assistant Bishop in Los Angeles have been the most provocative actions and confirms that TEC does not “share the faith and order of the vast majority of the Anglican Communion.” He said this analysis was offered by Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, at the June 18 meeting of the TEC Executive Council. “That this verdict was received with disbelief and dismay says a great deal about the level of denial among TEC leadership. It is one thing, however, to acknowledge this division it is quite another to deal with it.”

Minns also criticized the Archbishop of Canterbury saying he made no appeal to the revealed truth of Scripture, the historic teaching of the Church or the recognized views of the vast majority of Christians throughout the world and throughout all the ages in dealing with the church’s problems. Instead he writes, “We have not fully received the Pentecostal gift of mutual understanding for common mission.” and proposes more and more meetings for mutual exploration. This prescription seems doomed to failure.”

He opined that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pentecost Letter, sanctioned only a handful of people.

Minns criticized the Archbishop’s letter for its “curious omission” of the emergence of the Anglican Church in North America. “While I admit that this is a development about which he is not exactly thrilled surely the emergence of a new Anglican Community in North America that embraces approximately 100,000 believers is worthy of at least a small mention? After all it is larger than a third of the current thirty-eight provinces, including Scotland and Wales.”

The Episcopal Church

The reaction of TEC leadership, however, has been one of outrage, disbelief and much hand wringing on the Internet. More insidiously, they have redoubled their efforts to look for support and to spread their revisionist views around the Communion. They are using a variety of means including their considerable financial clout to seduce and divide the orthodox Provinces. Some African bishops have been offered hundreds of thousands of dollars for much needed projects if they will deny their convictions and embrace the TEC viewpoint. Most stand firm but some give way. It is an agonizing time for so many of our sisters and brothers and yet the leadership of the Communion seems unable or unwilling to act in any substantive way according to Minns.

Reformed Episcopal Church

The missionary bishop praised the leaders, of the Reformed Episcopal Church that even though they have been a separate church with their own seminaries and structures for more than 130 years have been in the forefront of finding ways to collaborate with CANA. He said they given almost $400,000 in support to a number of Nigerian clergy and congregations.

Minns praised the Roman Catholic Church in New England that has worked creatively to allow the newly formed Anglican Diocese in New England and its diocesan bishop, Bill Murdoch, to buy All Saints Cathedral – a large church and school complex in Amesbury, Mass. This is in marked contrast to similar dealings with the Episcopal Church that has steadfastly refused to sell any of its properties to Anglican groups.

Church of Nigeria

Minns said the Church of Nigeria plants entire dioceses faster than most denominations plant churches. “It does this in the face of considerable opposition from militant Islam and the growing tide of materialistic secularism.” Minns praised the legacy of former Archbishop Peter Akinola.

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