Thinking Anglicans

Journey to Lambeth via Virginia?

Updated Friday afternoon

The Church Times has a report by Pat Ashworth headed Software suggests Minns rewrote Akinola’s letter.

A BISHOP in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, which was published on Sunday.

The letter includes a suggestion that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s status as a focus of unity is “highly questionable”. It also refers to a “moment of decision” for the Anglican Communion, which is on the “brink of destruction”.

The document, “A Most Agonising Journey towards Lambeth 2008”, appears to express to Nigerian synods the personal anguish of Archbishop Akinola over his attendance at the Lambeth Conference.

But computer tracking software suggests that the letter was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, who was consecrated last year by Archbishop Akinola to lead the secessionist Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) (News, 11 August 2006). Bishop Minns, along with the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, has not been invited to Lambeth (News, 25 May).

Close examination of the document, tracing the authorship, editing history, and timing of changes, reveals about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream…

Read it all here.

This picture and its caption seems an appropriate summary.

Tunde Popoola has published a press release on the official Church of Nigeria website: PRESS RELEASE– Re: Church Times on Abp. Akinola’s letter (and the same material also appears in the comments below).

It is very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to. Is this in continuation of the ‘jamming’ of people opposing the agenda?

I would have believed the ‘computer software’ story were it not for the allegation of ‘minor amendments’ by the Canon Chris Sugden who had nothing to do with the document.

Abp. Akinola informed his senior staff and the Episcopal Secretary the need to highlight efforts at maintaining unity and the intransigence of the revisionists so that the Nigerian community is left in no doubt about who is ‘walking apart’

Along with his PA in Abuja, work started on the gathering of materials and relevant documents on 6th August, 2007. We used in addition to existing statements and my internet searches, Nigerian Episcopal meeting documents and TECUSA resolutions supplied respectively by our Episcopal Secretary, the Rt. Rev. Friday Imaekhia and a CANA priest, the Rev. Canon David Anderson. The draft of the statement was ready for correction by the primate on 9th August, 2007 who was however unable to correct it as he was about to travel.

Abp. Akinola was in the US and Bahamas between 10th and 22nd August 2007. I sent the draft to him through the Rt. Rev Minns with a request for assistance in getting some online references which I could not easily locate.

I fail to see any issue if amendments are then made on Bp. Minns’ computer. Apart from the fact that they were together during the period of the amendment, the Archbishop like many effective leaders who spend little time glued to a desk often phones me and other staffs to write certain things. Such remain his idea and anyone who knows Abp. Peter Akinola knows you can not make him say what he does not mean.

The publication doubting authenticity is another attempt to divert attention away from the carefully researched document which shows that the revisionists are directly responsible for problems confronting the Communion. Instead of chasing shadows, concerned Anglicans should consider the indisputable scenario highlighted in the document and pray for ways to save our beleaguered Communion.

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Davis d'Ambly
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Davis d'Ambly

Oh dear… lovely picture too.

Merseymike
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Merseymike

No surprise. makes a change from Sydney!

We really shouldn’t be fooled. For these people, its their way or nothing.

deaconmark
Guest
deaconmark

I hope this is not a surprise to anyone. This entire conflict has not been about religious values; it has been about power. It is not about homosexuality; it is about property and money. +Akinola is not a monster; he is a fool. The white man has promised him he gets to be the new head of the Anglican Communion and lots of money from America if only Peter will obey. Minns wrote this letter and he wrote the Tanzanian Primate documents. When will you folks stop quoting bible verses at each other, stop praying for patient listening, stop name… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
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Lapinbizarre

Interesting to have water-tight confirmation, though hardly a surprise. Akinola’s status as cat’s-paw for Minns and Sugden has been a pretty obvious for some time now, particularly since the unconcealed goings-on at Dar es Salaam. Many thanks to Pat Ashworth for this piece.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

This would seem to make “follow the money” the operative phrase once again. Why is +Akinola willing to let himself be used in this way? Why is he willing to lend his name to things he didn’t write? What is he getting out of this?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Reminds me of the infamous White paper on the claimed WMD, redacted by Mr Alistair Campbell of impious memory.

As a Swedish speaker (like Hebrew a language in the indicative) I was intrigued by the lack or Anglicism’s in the subjunctive: sadly, may, it would seem & c.

Did strike me as strange (inauthentic).

This is the same, but the other way around ;=)

John N Wall
Guest
John N Wall

Why am I not surprised to have it proved that Peter Akinola is a puppet and Martyn Minns is pulling the strings?

This is all so sad, so much manipulation, so much hypocrisy, so much crisis-mongering, so much lying.

Our Lord Jesus is, tonight, lamenting the violence that is being done to His Church.

ruidh
Guest
ruidh

Pay no attention to the man behind the keyboard!

Pluralist
Guest

Tnis answers my earlier question. It is quite a revelation and incredibly damaging. Now perhaps let them do what they want, and be rid of them, taking as few as possible in addition.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest
Leonardo Ricardo

Is there a not-so-underlying and deadly spiritual illness spreading throughout Southern Globalsville and Northern Networkington?

Are we seeing the symptoms/evidence of a new plague that makes one have amnesia, twist fact, manipulate, plot, tell outright lies, attempt to steal property, demonize others/cast blame, generate blind-fear and then would have the victims/groupies think everything is “normal” and “as it ought be” as the followers/everyone are carted off to the ALL NEW Akinolan Anglican Communion?

Colin Coward
Guest

On Sunday 19 August when Archbishop Akinola’s letter was first posted on TA, I wrote a comment which began: “Analysis of the text and comparison with Archbishop Akinola’s interview with the interview in The Guardian, Lagos, published 30 July 2007 suggests that, like most of the publications from Abuja, this was written for the Archbishop by his conservative American secessionist friends. It is dishonest. It misrepresents church history and the recent history of the Anglican Communion.” I am glad to have my analysis confirmed by this revelation to the Church Times, thanks to computer tracking software. It confirms the suspicions… Read more »

David
Guest
David

We need to question the source and reliability of this evidence. If it is a matter of textual analysis the results are a matter of conjecture. If it is an analysis of a log in the published document, it is an invasion of privacy. If it is the result of some kind of internet foresnic investigation, the legality and morality of obtaining this information is open to question. In the end it is irrelevant, ++Akinola signed the letter, he accepted it even if it is not his unaided work, it is his reponsibility. If we tried to analyse who had… Read more »

Prior Aelred
Guest

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Archbishop Tutu told me that the money for all this was coming from wealthy Americans — more than money, it now appears.

Laurence J. Roberts
Guest
Laurence J. Roberts

These are grounds for *suspension, investigation, including responses from those accused; and a decision on whether those involved can be allowed to stay in post if found to be in the wrong.
The Anglican Communion is not the one at a brink!

*imagine a social worker, doctor, MD, employee in a private firm etc., or a leader in civic life not being suspeded if they were undermining their organisation, and attacking sister bodies etc ….

Cheryl Clough
Guest

President Bush doesn’t write his own speeches. It’s called teamwork. Tanzania was not just about written documents, it was about who was in what rooms with whom when and what was done both privately and publicly. It can be confusing sometimes as to whom is the head and whom is the tail, but I think it is probably like a many headed hydra and even if you eliminated one the others would continue their aggression. Go for the heart, it pumps blood to all the heads. Soften hearts, seek peace and compassion. Surely most of the planet has suffered so… Read more »

Raspberry Rabbit
Guest

I’d be interested to know what the ‘computer tracking software’ is and how this whole process works. ‘Invasion of privacy’? Life is an invasion of privacy – relationships are an invasion of privacy. The number of lies and damned lies that have been uttered over the years is staggering. A deftly performed invasion of privacy is probably not the worst thing that cuold have happened – I’ve got something about things whispered in alleyways being shouted from rooftops running through my head. Nobody needed this sort of hi-tech confirmation of the fact. The same conclusion could have been reached months… Read more »

John Richardson
Guest
John Richardson

Why did I know, as soon as I saw this story, that it would be causing so much comment on Thinking Anglicans? Surely we are aware that this sort of thing happens all the time? I often get asked to ‘look over’ things which are going out under someone else’s name, and at times I have made wholesale revisions. I’ve even been asked to look at things and revise them for Chris Sugden – named in the Church Times article. And it works the other way – I’ve asked other people to go over things and have accepted their revisions… Read more »

MJ
Guest
MJ

It’s worth reading again Lewis C. Daly’s prescient analysis of the recent (IRD-backed) rise of the American Anglican Right, written for the Institute for Democracy Studies in 2001 – http://www.idsonline.org/art/Insights_Vol02Iss02.pdf The phrase “The American Anglican right is essentially perverting the church’s global communion in order to reformulate the ecclesial status of ECUSA” is particularly apt given the IRD-linked Minns’ outing as ‘puppet-master’. “A church that has seen its General Convention resist the Right more thoroughly than any other denomination has also seen the Right undertake a remarkable change in course in response to this very resilience. The international mechanisms of… Read more »

MJ
Guest
MJ

Minns’ 2005 post-Dromantine report to his Parish Meeting – http://trurochurch.org/files/2005.02.27%20parishmtg-MM%20on%20Ireland.pdf – also contains the following telling passage. As well as the somewhat patronising tone, one must also ask, who is the ‘we’ who felt it very important that the African nations needed to be better prepared?! “One of the ways in which so often the Global South folks have suffered is that they have approached these meetings and have found themselves outmaneuvered in a system and a way of doing business with which they are not familiar. Again, much of the way in which these meetings are held reflects the… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

“Invasion of privacy”? Best you can do, David? The “legality and morality of obtaining this information” is in no way open to question – we’re talking the “Church Times” here, not “The Sun”. The CT hacked no computers to access the material – Minns, Sugden and Akinola freely threw it into the public arena for scrutiny. Wonder what past “collaborative efforts” (Dar es Salaam, anyone?) might be lurking in the shadows.

I imagine that I am far from alone in my anticipation of NP’s spin on this one.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Who now is the colonial power, who the colonized?

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“If it is an analysis of a log in the published document, it is an invasion of privacy. If it is the result of some kind of internet foresnic investigation, the legality and morality of obtaining this information is open to question. In the end it is irrelevant, ++Akinola signed the letter, he accepted it even if it is not his unaided work, it is his reponsibility.” It’s a published document…and if it’s publication includes the electronic history (I’m not computer savvy enough to know how that works), then examination of that history is neither illegal nor immoral and certainly… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“If it is a matter of textual analysis the results are a matter of conjecture. If it is an analysis of a log in the published document, it is an invasion of privacy. If it is the result of some kind of internet foresnic investigation, the legality and morality of obtaining this information is open to question.” The rule of thumb for sending anything electronically is to not write anything you don’t want to see as a headline – and that includes edits that remain in the document but are not represented in the texx you see. And of course… Read more »

NP
Guest
NP

OK…..so, please tell me you think that every letter from the ABC or TEC’s PB is written by them alone……with no input from anyone else??

All leaders have advisors and even speech-writers.

WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL??

There would be more of an issue if ++Akinola knocked out the letter himself without consulting his advisors…..

Stephen Roberts
Guest
Stephen Roberts

http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=43487

I can’t help thinking he’s right – invite everyone, irregularly consecrated or not, gay or straight and let’s sort this unholy mess out. “I’m not coming because Y is invited”, “I’m not coming because X isn’t invited” – it’s schoolyard stuff!

Come on Rowan, get everyone’s cards on the table and stop messing around!

Peter O
Guest

This is such a non-story. Everybody knows that Akinola is close to Minns. Though I’m not sure about the comment above, that Minns is pulling Akinola’s strings. Far from it I believe.

David is right – the person who signs the letter takes responsibility for it – whoever helps him or her write it is irrelevant.

The Anglican Scotist
Guest

Be forewarned–some programs, like Microsoft Word, have a built in feature enabling the tracking of changes and authors. It’s quite easy: pointand click. Even if turned off, it’s possible for someone with the right knowledge of the code to get in and figure it out anyhow.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

It beats me why people can’t be open about authorship questions like this. Of course, there is ample precedent in:
New Testament letters, like 1 Peter;
Papal encyclicals
Politicians’ speeches.
In each of these cases, the person who is purported to have written it, will surely check it to make sure it represents their own mind.

In the modern commercial age, the name of the author or foreword-writer who sells books appears in big lettering; the ghost-writer may be scarcely acknowledged. This is scarcely an honest practice; and in the present instance where money is not an issue it is doubly unnecessary.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“When will you folks stop…..get real about what this struggle is about.” Wrong tense. Most people with eyes to see got this several years ago. The question is why you seem to think prayer is not an adequate part of the response to this. “Why am I not surprised to have it proved that Peter Akinola is a puppet” And why am I so surprised? It has been clear to me that one of the things that drives him is a postcolonial anti-western (?anti-white?) bigotry. Thus, it’s odd that he would be a puppet of white Western conservatives. He’s a… Read more »

Davis Mac-Iyalla
Guest
Davis Mac-Iyalla

The news that Bishop Martyn Minns and Canon Chris Sugden between them rewrote substantial parts of Archbishop Akinola’s letter to the Nigerian Synods raises further questions for Changing Attitude Nigeria (CAN). Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria, said today, 24 August: We believe that large sums of money have been received by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) from sources outside the country. When will Archbishop Akinola openly tell the world the sources the money is coming from to sponsor his frequent travels and the alternative Lambeth conference that he is planning in 2008? Not all Nigerian Bishops have… Read more »

Miranda
Guest
Miranda

I’m intrigued by David’s comment. Fair enough, to an extent – but I think the analogy is imperfect. Nobody expects for a moment that Gordon Brown or George W. Bush will write their own speeches – and, in fact, there’s no pretense that presidents and prime ministers don’t have speech-writers. One difference in the Minns/Akinola situation is who’s writing the letters – not a hired speech-writer directed by the leader in question, but Northern allies of arguably much greater power to set agendas and shape statements. Another difference is the way authenticity is at stake in these inter-Anglican conflicts. Conservative… Read more »

James Crocker
Guest
James Crocker

Ever heard of an ad hominem attack? Finding that Minns had an input into Akinola’s letter, and on that basis dismissing what the letter says is perhaps the most perfect example possible of this logical fallacy. In face, deaconmark has invited us to completely ignore whatever biblical or hermeneutical arguments are being put forward, and instead focus on the ironclad fact that Minns is such a nasty man (I say this with irony, for those who will not get it). The fact is, in terms of the discussion over the place of homosexuality in the life of the Church (I… Read more »

Curtis
Guest
Curtis

You’re wrong David. American money and opinion that represents American right wing interests is entirely relevant. To bolster those opinions and interests with an appeal to international primatial authority would be a tactic of sleaze and hubris.

matthewhunt
Guest
matthewhunt

Does this mean Akinola *himself* has been colonised by the ‘white’ ‘west’ (north??) ?

Who can save him?

Maybe Tunde can lead a revolution?

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… it is an invasion of privacy.” David said.

“Deny what can be denied, if not; change the subject.”

;=)

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

The whole Anglican realignment campaign is too much of USA Christian Reconstructionism redux. New pieces keep falling into place as the realignment campaign kaleidoscope turns, and we keep saying how surprised we all are to see another new pattern which is a variation on the old pattern. Prophet Rushdoony is having a great belly laugh at our inabilities to spin prog-lib believer gold from con-evo realignment straw using either listening processes or an unhindered call to the Lord’s Table. If con-evo realignment is not solely in charge of listening and the Lord’s Table, then exclusive legacy straight privileges are not… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

The Anglican Mainstream angle on this includes some material on tracking changes: http://chelmsfordanglicanmainstream.blogspot.com/2007/08/microsoft-word-may-show-you-with-your.html It is very simple how to get rid of tracking changes: copy the text into a different rich text editor, or into a pure text editor, and then produce that (back into Word fresh, if you like). What I do is consider that there are two processes: one is text processing and one is word processing – the latter for formatting at the end. Best to publish web pages from pure text, keeping control of all code. Yes, I take it that Akinola has put his name… Read more »

Tunde
Guest
Tunde

It is very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to. Is this in continuation of the ‘jamming’ of people opposing the agenda? I would have believed the ‘computer software’ story were it not for the allegation of ‘minor amendments’ by the Canon Chris Sugden who had nothing to do with the document. Abp. Akinola informed his senior staff and the Episcopal Secretary the need to highlight efforts at maintaining unity and the intransigence of the revisionists so that the Nigerian community is left in no doubt about who is ‘walking apart’ Along… Read more »

Kennedy Fraser
Guest
Kennedy Fraser

David wrote: ‘If it is an analysis of a log in the published document, it is an invasion of privacy’ In what way is the viewing of the information retained *in the document* an invasion of privacy. The way in which MS Word retains information on the author and editing of a document is well known, as are the tools which enable you to remove this data. This is (or should be) standard practice where MS Word docs are made public. This is not the first situation where people have been embarrassed by the comments and editing information in a… Read more »

matthewhunt
Guest
matthewhunt

Oh my, imagine signing yourself as the ‘venerable’ so and so.

You would have to be pretty venerable to have the confidence to do that.

Me, I’m just rubbish.

All hail the venerable.

Bring on the revolution Tunde. Purveyor of truth.

matthewhunt
Guest
matthewhunt

And, I have to say with all sincerity, playing the racist card in this instance is not just weak, but filthy. Absolutely astonishing.

Enough to put anyone of organised church, isn’t it? Well, it’s done it for me good and proper.

liddon
Guest
liddon

Of course, people consult over documents, and of course, people often have documents and speeches written for them, but this was parading itself as a personal and heartfelt account of the feelings of the Nigerian Church. It also specifically refers to the election and consecration of Martin Minns, as though he was not a joint author. It is disingenuous (by that I mean a lie) to say that the alterations happened just because people want to get something right. At the very least, in the interests of honesty, it should have been jointly signed by Akinola and Minns.

jnwall
Guest
jnwall

We now know that what has been presented to us as the voice of millions of faithful African Anglicans crying out against the Episcopal Church is in fact the voice of a very western, very American master manipulator. One who in the process has gotten for himself a purple shirt, an incredible amount of (undeserved) public attention, and who still whines that he is being excluded from the seat of power. Astounding, and amusing, to see how many responses to this revealing of conspiracy, manipulation, and fraud have taken precisely the form of an earlier borrowing from the Wizard of… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Note the bleats of ‘racism’ from the Nigerians, as soon as someone points out one of their many fallibilities.

Personally, I think Akinola’s tactics, views and approach is unacceptable, no matter what his race. And the sooner it is confined to Nigeria and his mates in the so-calles ‘Global South’, the better for the rest of us.

J. Michael Povey
Guest
J. Michael Povey

Re Matthew Hunt. The title “Venerable” is not one that Akin Popoola invented. I hold no brief for such titles, but it is an ancient appellation in the Church, and is used by many ECUSA clerics. Re John Richardson. “It allows for a bit more excitement” eh? Oh John, it’s far more than that. So long as gay Christians are marginalised, pilloried and persecuted in our Communion we must pray and think about this as more than a bit of excitement. And I know about this. I am a Christian. I am a Priest. I am gay. I have not… Read more »

deaconmark
Guest
deaconmark

“It is very insulting and racist to infer that the Primate of All Nigeria is being dictated to.”
Ah, yes, play the race card when all else fails. Popoola’s statement pretty much confirms the worst that has been said about ++Akinola. Why else both.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“the money, the location, the name, the appearance, none of this matters in terms of how we evaluate the argument being put forward.” No, but it certainly dictates HOW the argument is made, how it gets out into the press, what resources one has to organize the troops, and so on. I too would prefer that outside political and monetary influences be ignored and we debate the issue at hand rationally, in a good Christian fashion. Instead, it is true that wealthy American conservatives have contributed large amounts of money to this, based more on their political agendas than any… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Thanks for the Lewis C. Daly link, MJ. Revealing and useful. Glad to see the broad consciousness in today’s posts that this whole business really is about Power, with religious belief a distant also-ran.

Tunde
Guest
Tunde

Seems Matthew never heard of ‘Chicken dinners’ or read Colin’s allusion above that an interview conducted in Nigeria by a Nigerian journalist was scripted in the US.

Apart from racism, why will people be looking for who is tele-guiding Africans and never bother about the authorship of non African works?

Anyway let us forget the issue and concentrate on saving the Communion

Colin Coward
Guest

The problem for the Venerable AkinTunde Popoola is that he has been dishonest in the past. On 28th December, 2005 he published two consecutive Disclaimers on the Church of Nigeria web site. The second said: “The general public is hereby warned of the activities of a person who goes by the name of Davis (David) Mac Iyalla. He claims to be a homosexual member of the Anglican Church but extensive searches revealed that he is NOT registered in any of our over 10,000 local parishes as of the past two years. None of our over 6000 priests recognise him as… Read more »