Faith at Altitude

Religion and spirituality in the shadow of Pikes Peak

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Minns-ing Words

Way back in 2003, the Episcopal Church ordained an openly and actively gay priest as a bishop, infuriating its conservative members and throwing the denomination into crisis.

So I suppose there's a certain amount of irony that the Episcopal Church is now trying to block the installation of a bishop -- this one a conservative who broke with the Episcopal Church in part because of that 2003 event.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schiori, head of the U.S. Episcopal Church, has asked Nigerian Primate Peter J. Akinola not to install the Rev. Martyn Minns as bishop of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America May 5. CANA -- described as a "mission" of the Nigerian province and not tied to the Episcopal Church -- is the same organization that the vestry of Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish voted to join in March.

In an April 30 letter to Akinola, Schiori asked the Nigerian primate to reconsider Minns' installation, saying the installation would "display to the world division and disunity that are not part of the mind of Christ, which we must strive to display to all."

Of course, the world is already familiar with the division in the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part. Most of the world's 77 million Anglicans live in Africa and the Global South: The province of Nigeria alone has about 18 million Anglicans -- about nine times the number of Episcopalians in the United States. Many of these provinces are far more conservative than their U.S. counterpart, and were aghast when the Episcopal Church ordained the Rev. Gene Robinson, a man involved in a long-term gay relationship, as its New Hampshire bishop in 2003. CANA was started as a direct response to the Robinson ordination and other moves by the Episcopal Church, and groups like CANA have become options for conservative U.S. Episcopalians.

All this theological strife is an important issue at play within Grace. The parish, led by the Rev. Donald Armstrong, has been a standard-bearer for traditional Anglicanism for years. While some people speculate that the timing of Grace's split from the Episcopal Church was tied to accusations that Armstrong had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Grace, many believe that the church was destined to split from Episcopal Church eventually over philosophical differences.

CANA spokesman Jim Robb had no comment on Schiori's letter.

"This was something that wasn't addressed to us," he said.

But folks over at Grace think Minns' impending installation will go as planned.

"The proverbial train has left the station," said Grace spokesman Alan Crippen via e-mail. "The installation will be a significant historical event for the re-establishment of Anglicanism in America."

Crippen will be there to see the installation in person, by the way, as will Armstrong and Father Eric Zolner, another pastor at Grace. Armstrong and Minns are said to be pretty good friends, and Minns was in Colorado Springs a few weeks ago to talk with the parish about what membership in CANA might mean.

The guidebook Grace is using to determine whether to finalize the move, called "40 Days of Discernment," was partly a product of Truro Church in Virginia, Minns' home parish.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because the Episcopal church approved ordaining the wrong bishop once is no reason for them to keep on approving wrong ordinations. Maybe it is time to stop now. This is the same Bishop who allowed Don Armstrong sanctuary rather than face his accusors here.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous Bishop Michael Ramsey's Ghost said...

"Dr" Crippen said:

"The installation will be a significant historical event for the re-establishment of Anglicanism in America."

How many times have I heard this in the last 30 years?

Its another excuse for small mean spirited people to create another sect that itself will fragment.

1:29 PM  

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