Thursday, May 03, 2007

More Miles and Hot Air

The latest chapter of the fray in the Anglican Communion has come to a head, with Archbishop Akinola coming to the United States this Saturday to install Martyn Minns, rector of the schismatic Truro Church in Virginia and longtime friend of the Primate of All Nigeria, as the bishop in charge of CANA. Once a missionary wing of the Church of Nigeria for Nigerian Anglicans in this country, CANA quickly morphed into the "y'all come" unofficial Anglican alternative for disenchanted Episcopalians. Now there are reports that the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network plans to attend the installation.

Katharine Jefferts Schori sent, as any sensible Primate would in the same situation, a brief public request that Archbishop Akinola refrain from this action, as the divisive consequences are already plain for the world to see. Archbishop Akinola's reply to her letter contains no real surprises, although I must confess mulling at length the condescension of his opening salvo and the defensive-sounding repetitive use of "you" and "your," as though he has yet to make it clear enough that he believes the current mess is entirely the fault of The Episcopal Church. It was the usual less-than-charitable tirade: simply a re-run of the same refrains that have been shouted over the Atlantic for several years. Like "Alternative Primatial Oversight," the phrase, "unbiblical agenda" has now become so reified it apparently needs nor deserves further explanation.

Personally, I am starting to find it tiring.

Tell us something new. . .Please.

I am grateful to Mark Harris, who continues to have the fortitude to take on parsing such words. And kudos to Fr. Jake, who calls it straight, pulls no punches, and then deals with the trolls.

Archbishop Akinola, as usual, is getting another moment in the rather dubious limelight as parts of the media and the Anglican blogosphere go ballistic over his behavior and bellicose words directed at our leadership. The schism's our fault. Nicea gets a swift kick in the teeth as no longer applicable. Denominationalism triumphs. Akinola and those who follow him carry the "faith once delivered."

And we will be re-embraced by the Church of Nigeria if only we will repent. The problem with that argument is that Akinola is now making ecclesiastical decisions through CANA that will be profoundly difficult, if not impossible, to reverse, regardless of what course The Episcopal Church takes. The threat of schism is beginning to wear a bit thin, if for no other reason than it has become a de facto reality. More than that, he seems convinced that the House of Bishops in the Episcopal Church have already said all they will say about having a Primatial Vicar for those unhappy with our Presiding Bishop. The September 30th deadline imposed by the Communiqué Akinola helped draft no longer seems to matter.

I cannot help but wonder where we might see the fruits of the Spirit in all of this. It has become one big political show, and Akinola's ego -- whether his own or its projected image in the media or some mysterious combination of both -- parades around the Communion leaving division, threats, and rancor in its wake. Meanwhile, Nigeria enters a new period of turmoil, and the ethical implications of Akinola's apparent obsession with sexuality and The Episcopal Church get called on the carpet. . .in Falls Church, Virginia, no less. (Hat tip to Episcopal Café).

Politics notwithstanding, God probably plans to attend on Saturday, too. I doubt the work of the Holy Spirit will be entirely hindered by our spats. The bishop will be invested. Martyn Minns, Peter Akinola, Bob Duncan, CANA, the alphabet soup of networks, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion and everyone else will get on with being church in our usual messy, imperfect, and too often mean-spirited way.

But then, also getting on with it will be the courts and lawyers, pundits and bloggers and trolls.

The only unscathed beneficiary of all this is perhaps Archbishop Akinola's frequent flier miles.

And Global Warming.

Pray for all creatures and people of God whose Christ-given dignity is threatened by our shared pettiness.

Christ have mercy.

Update: Episcopal Café's Lead is reporting that the Archbishop of Canterbury has also asked Akinola to cancel this Saturday's installation.


June Butler said...

Tiresome, tiresome, tiresome. Methinks AB Akinola is doing himself in. A good number of folks who saw him as an ally and/or rescuer will begin to ease themselves away.

De facto schism does, indeed, exist. He will have his way, for I do not see him backing down now.

R said...


So good to hear from you.

I agree. I think Akinola is doing himself in. As I understand it, he is close to retirement and probably feels he has nothing to lose. The flip side is, of course, the damage he will do to his "cause" on the way out. If that's the case, and with all charity due to those who disagree with me, all the power to him!

Anonymous said...


Nice stuff. Especially your comment about God being in attendance at the CANA event! Of course! And God will make use of it, too...

When you have a minute, check this out ><

and especially read the comments – even the Alphabet Soup folk think this CANA thing is beginning to unravel the dissidents among themselves. Maybe that's the way the Holy Spirit is going to confound them....

Ann said...

Jared Cramer has some thoughts on Installation, Schism, and a Blessing.

R said...


Thanks for the link. Jared's remarks were refreshing and hopeful.

Our own bishop reminded us yesterday at Grace Cathedral how small all of human history is. After representing the history of the cosmos by walking around the assembled congregation, he said that all that we call history can be summed up in a step no greater than his toe.

God really is greater than all of this.