Saturday, 1 July 2006

Northern Virginia

Updated Saturday
A new report has now appeared at the Washington Times Virginia Episcopal bishop slams Nigerian appointment. This includes the following:

“This is not a welcome development,” said Jonathan Jennings, spokesman for Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, about Wednesday’s election of Canon Martyn Minns of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax as bishop for the Anglican province of Nigeria.

“It’s neither timely nor constructive,” he said. “It further complicates an already complex situation.”

And the Episcopal News Service published Virginia bishop calls Nigerian election an ‘affront’.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Episcopal official objects to rector also serving as bishop

The first Washington Times story about this was Anglicans select Fairfax rector as bishop on 28 June.

Forward in Faith North America has welcomed the development nevertheless, see FiF NA welcomes the election as bishop of Canon Martyn Minns.
Friday’s article:
There seems to be confusion and misinformation about what is happening there. Yesterday, I linked to a story in the Washington Times (which for a while was removed from that website but has now been republished with a correction notice) and there was nothing at all in the Washington Post.

Some interesting discussion about this confusion is here. And continues here.

According to this letter on the Diocese of Virginia website, Bishop Peter Lee writes to the Diocese of Virginia, several things in that story are not true:

In a story in today’s Washington Times newspaper (June 29, 2006), reporting on the election by the Nigerian Episcopal Synod of the Rev. Canon Martyn Minns as a bishop of the Church of Nigeria, it is asserted that Truro Church, Fairfax and The Falls Church, Falls Church have informed me that they plan to leave the Diocese.

I have had no such conversation with either church. In fact, I received a call today from the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, to apologize for the assertion in the story and to assure me that there is no such plan on the part of The Falls Church. I also received today an e-mail from the Rev. Martyn Minns assuring me that no such decision had been made at Truro.

The election of the Rev. Martyn Minns as a Bishop of the Church of Nigeria with oversight of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America is an affront to the traditional, orthodox understanding of Anglican Provincial Autonomy. Archbishop Akinola acknowledges as much in his letter to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. How that situation resolves itself remains to be seen. However, the request by Archbishop Akinola that Martyn be allowed to continue as rector of an Episcopal congregation while also serving as a Nigerian Bishop seems to me, at this point, to be impossible. I raised this issue with Martyn when he and I spoke yesterday.

Here are links to the websites of the two churches:

The Falls Church:

The Washington Times has reported that our church has informed our Bishop that we are leaving the Diocese of Virginia and leaving the Episcopal Church. This certainly is not true and misrepresents where we are as a congregation. It is true that we think an extended period of study, prayer, and deliberation about how we are to respond to the serious rift in our denomination is wise and we are hoping to engage in such a time this fall. The thoughtful booklet (“Can Two Walk Together, Except They Be Agreed?”) that our vestry recently prepared and sent to the congregation analyzing our current situation is the most up to date information we have produced. It gives a clear sense of the issues we are facing. There are extra copies available in the church.

Truro Church:

On Wednesday, the Church of Nigeria’s House of Bishops selected me as their missionary bishop for the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA). I am truly humbled by this honor.

CANA was created by the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) as a mission to meet the needs of Anglican Nigerians in the wake of the divisive actions of the Episcopal Church USA at its last triennial General Convention in 2003. In this role of missionary bishop I have been called upon to provide oversight to the pastors of CANA congregations.

What does this mean for Truro? It most certainly does NOT mean that Truro will be left without a rector. I’m not going anywhere. The vestry has endorsed my continuing as Truro’s rector until the rector search committee completes its job and a new rector has been selected.

By the way, don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers. Thursday’s headline in the Washington Times was terribly wrong. The Truro congregation has not gone through its discernment process and so no decision has been made about our future plans. We are struggling to find a way to remain faithful Anglicans during these turbulent times in the Episcopal Church.

I look forward to seeing you in worship this weekend and at one of our previously scheduled parish meetings on Sunday: Rector’s Forum (9:30 a.m. in the Chapel) or the Parish Meeting (12:00 p.m. noon in the Main Sanctuary).
As always, your brother in Christ,

More about the position of The Falls Church here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 11:32am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: ECUSA

Since when was selection as a bishop an "honour"? Particularly in the current climate, where being (or having) a bishop seems to be an invitation to rebellion in certain quarters. Maybe a burden, or an invitation to an ongoing bit of public suffering, but given the congregationalist tendency in the making of bishops lately (think back the the Chislet affair, for example), but perhaps not an "honour". Lord have mercy on us all when episcopacy is belittled to such a worldly thing as an "honour".

Posted by: k1eranc on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 12:13pm BST

Very good. +Bishop Lee recognizes exactly what is going on and will not permit a rector in his diocese to be a "bishop" of a hostile foreign province. So either the rector removes himself or is deposed.

Posted by: RMF on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 12:57pm BST

Martyn's statement that he will remain at Truro as rector until the search committee chooses a new rector is puzzeling. I had heard something of this a while back, and thought it odd at the time. Here's the normal sequence:

The rector announces she/he is leaving for another position or retiring by a date certain.

The vestry selects a search committee that will have one vestry person on it. The vestry also arranges for an interim rector to be in charge of the church while the search process goes on - usually at least a year. The former rector is either gone to a new job or moved to a retirement location. In any case, the former rector is supposed to be gone and out of touch at least through the first year of the new rector's time.

That committee works with a consultant who is liason with the diocesan deployment office. The interim rector stays uninvolved with this process. There are folks who are professional trained interims - their job is to help in the transition, deal with unfinished business, help the parish deal with issues left behind.

Meanwhile, the serach committee prepares a profile of the parish - where it is, where it wants to be.

The opening is advertised through the diocesan deployment office and the national office. The search committee narrows down the applictaions, gets in touch with potential rectors [after vetting them with the bishop, who may ask them to look at a candidate of her/his choice], visits them, eventually proposes a short list to the vestry.

The [usually] 3 finalists come and vsiit, interview, etc.

Searc committee recoomends to vestry, and if vestry agrees and Bishop is OK, vestry makes offer.

By this time, the church is ready for a new rector, and the old rector is happily working away or lazing away somewhere else, having not laid one FINGER on the hiring process.

So what's with Martyn?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 1:09pm BST

Under ECUSA canons becoming a bishop in another part of the Anglican Communion ends ones canonical residence in an ECUSA diocese. I realise that in other provinces canonical residence is not a concept and as such would not come into play. I know of one circumstance in which negotiation produced a compromise but is was not needed as that person did not become a bishop in another province. In that situation the issue was participation in the pension plan rather than being a rector in ECUSA.

Bishops are often nervous of having another bishop in residence in their diocese.

Posted by: Ian Montgomery on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 1:46pm BST

Question about Truro Church. Doesn't Clarence Thomas, a judge on the US Supreme Court, attend this parish? Isn't his spouse and Episcopal priest? Or am I confusing him with Poindexter?
Sorry for this sort of o/t post.

Posted by: Jay_in_Vermont on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 2:55pm BST

I hope we are watching & praying for Bishop Lee & the Diocese of Virginia while these two high profile mega-churches enter & complete their 40 days of fasting in the wilderness of their own anguish about power.

Difficult to see is the future, always in motion. - Yoda.

A cynical take on both churches, Truro plus Falls Church, is that they need time to get ready to leave, while keeping the slight exit option open that something dramatic could happen to kick ECUSA in the pants so that they did not have to leave. Maybe via Canterbury or somebody/somewhere else, a ruling or prounouncement or report from the angry Primates could seem to so completely bludgeon ECUSA that it would immediately be fast tracked in all our minds and hearts, already into that second tier of communion with which Canterbury is so intrigued.

Even more cynical, 40 days sounds about right in connection with getting the legal documents together needed to file suite in court to say that you own your historic properties, not the diocese. Plus of course 40 days in the wilderness has a most obvious biblical ring to it, and sounding alarms that toll deeply and endlessly for the demise of all things decent and good is something of a specialty in the Anglican realignment campaign these days. Surely realignment continues to gather speed, at least in its own mind and heart and media coverage.

If Canterbury had an ounce of gumption and common sense clarity about it, Canterbury would quickly and firmly respond to these DEPO requests by referring folks back to their own provinces for the time being to resolve DEPO issues; while gathering consultative and other troop resource folks from all around the worldwide communion to realign this silly realignment. I think there are plenty of communion folks at all levels - lay, priest, bishop - who would gladly join in if Canterbury only showed some gumption/clear thinking, and led firmly in the direction of calming the mistakenly troubled waters while repeating (like a stuck LP if need be - remember LPs?): Our diversity is not a sign of our brokenness. If we are two churches, we are twenty or a hundred. Our Anglican ways forward are the traditional ways of common prayer, bonds of affection, and those two legacies, inquiry and discussion. If you have grown weary of affectionate tolerance for people different from yourself, Canterbury recommends common prayer. If you have grown weary of inquiry and discussion, Canterbury recommends common service.

If some progressive believers wish to welcome their own queer/transgender kids to family gatherings, so what? You evangelical or catholic families can still make traditional plans to kick your own queer/transgender kids in the pants at every possible biblical opportunity.

If some progressive believers wish to attend their daughter's ordination to priest, or elevation/election to bishop, so what? Evangelical or catholic families can still solemnly intone to their daughters that God will not like it at all, if those girls delude themselves into imagining sacramental vocations. These contrasts are way too simple to be really real among us. Some evangelical or catholic believers will still welcome their queer/transgender kids to dinner, and having done that, see no further reason to preach or pray or moralise them out away from the Lord's Table. Some evangelical or catholic families will acknowledge the ban against women priests or bishops, and encourage their daughters to discern that the church is in quite a pickle about its women faithful, both needing them dearly, and yet having a rather hard time of keeping them in the kitchens, bedrooms, and slave labor volunteerisms where they so historically were assigned to serve. Then those more traditional families may tell that daughter, pray with us, discern, and do what you think best under these vexed and changing circumstances. Some of those daughters may no doubt end up in the hard life of Opus Dei as a vigorous alternative to the even harder life of trying to become a priest in a catholic church which bans your gender. These facile contrasts are way too simplistic to reflect who we are, for really real.

Differences have to be worked out, locally, face to face, in relationships - even when some of us are already denying that we really are in relationship. Sorry to say, dear realigners, you are and will be fore every foreseeable global future - already in tremendous relationship to queer/trans folks, and to the women whom God is calling, blessing, and equipping for the immense sea change that is happening among us.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 3:53pm BST

Episcopal News Service]

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold issued a statement June 28 in response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s release of a reflection entitled, “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today, A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.” (

The full text of Griswold’s statement follows.

I am greatly encouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s timely call to the provinces of the Anglican Communion to join together in exploring our Anglican identity. I am one with him in his desire to develop a covenant capable of expressing that identity amidst the complexities of the world in which we live. I believe it is possible for us hold up a renewed vision of what it means to be Anglican Christians.

The Archbishop’s has helpfully raised up in his text the constituent elements of classical Anglicanism, namely the priority of the Bible in matters of doctrine, the Catholic sacramental tradition and a “habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly.” This both reminds us of the tradition that has formed us and points us to the future.

The conclusion of this lengthy process is now unknown. Therefore is it misleading that some, in responding to the Archbishop’s lengthy theological reflection, have focused their attention on speculations about a yet-to-be determined outcome. And, as we enter into that process of discernment, we must never forget that God can always surprise us, and that the church is not our possession but is an instrument of God’s reconciling love in the world.

The Most Rev. Frank T. Griswold
Presiding Bishop and Primate
June 28, 2006

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 5:26pm BST


Yes, that is the normal manner of transition in congregations, but there are plenty of people who argue against this -- and even say it's one of the leading problems in TEC. This leads to at least a year without an in-place clergy leader.

Trinity, Wall Street, did not follow this method when they called their current rector. The previous one announced his departure a year or so in advance. A search committee met. The previous rector finished on April 30, and the current rector started May 1.

Makes sense in a large parish, especially. Truro certainly counts as large.

Now, I'm not defending the idea of someone being a rector and also the bishop in another out-of-communion province. That's another story, and I think +Lee has it right: Minns can't do both jobs. (Just not because of some silly TEC process of transition.)

Posted by: cogito on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 7:22pm BST

"Here's the normal sequence:"

Cynthia, it varies a lot from diocese to diocese. Whereas you have the bishop only showing up at the stage of "if vestry agrees and Bishop is OK, vestry makes offer", in some dioceses, the bishop will be involved MUCH EARLIER (including having all the *applications* be first reviewed by him/herself, personally---and then culled. Only a few "acceptable" apps then make it through to the search committee).

Personally, I think that's "too much bishop" . . . but that's the way it is, w/ some bishops (including, I might add, those who want to screen out *female* candidates!).

I agree w/ you, however, about the complete *non*-Episcopal Church-ness, of the Minns/Truro process (I suppose that's their point).

It's not going to fly: +Lee is no fool...

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 30 June 2006 at 11:50pm BST

I'm wondering if the dioceses requesting ALPO are expecting Canterbury's committee to eventually decline their request. Then they can ask Akinola, via a newly-consecrated Mimms.

They may even be using the threat of joining Akinola (who would then, in effect, have in place a large component of his own alternative AC) to convince Canterbury to provide "oversight" and to fast-track them somehow to "constituent" status, thereby defining its membership before discussion begins.

Posted by: sheila on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 7:57am BST

Jay_in_Vermont --

I would contact you off thread if I could, but IIRC, Clarence Thomas USED to attend Truro (Ollie North still does) but has returned to the RC Church (in which he was raised). Admiral Poindexter's wife WAS a priest in TEC but has converted to the RC Church (which, of course, doesn't recognize her orders).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 1:00pm BST

Thanks Prior Aelred, I saw a post on PEP Chat and made that correction.

My question is Truro or Falls Church truly Anglican. I was a 38 yr member of one of these churches. If you don't think like them you don't have a voice. You can sing in the choir, lecture/reader, be a crucifer or other but you can't teach any of the education classes or be allowed to make it to the vestry. The cards are stacked against you. I have a masters in music but was not asked to participate in the music program. I also have teaching certificates in music, elem ed and reading and was not allowed to teach in any education classes because I'm tainted with liberalism.
My rector even prayed for my discernment back into the light.

Truro and Falls Church are much the same. It's very charismatic, the theology is based on man's rebellion against God, our brokeness and our inability to save ourselves from our sinfulness. The focus is grace, repentence, self floggings if you like, and the Bible as the inerrant word of God.

They use projectors and power points in their worship and discourage thinking outside the box.

Posted by: Robert Christian on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 5:41pm BST

With Sheila, I am curious about ++Rowan's response to requests for ALPO. It is hard to imagine that he could accede to them, given the way they were made.

The procedure and even the concept of ALPO did not exist until several American Network dioceses made their requests. The similar procedures known as DEPO and TEA both underwent fairly complex and lengthy development processes. The natural time to have begun discussions on something like ALPO would have been at GC 2006, but nothing was said there about it. If ALPO were to come into existence, it would affect the whole Communion, and so probably should be developed as part of the Anglican Communion Covenant process, which has barely begun.

In the past, however, I have heard and read many statements by the Network that ascribed powers he does not have to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and assumed the existence of structures the Communion does not possess. It is possible that the Network simply doesn't do its homework.

I am curious about something else was well. I haven't been able to find anything, except for the quotation in the first version of the Washington Times article, about ++Rowan's response to the irregular consecration of Martyn Minns+. It's missing from the second version.

In the dialect of English spoken at Canterbury, "not a welcome development,” "neither timely nor constructive,” and "further complicates an already complex situation” are about as strong a condemnation as possible. I can certainly understand why Minn's+ supporters are unwilling to see these statements by +Rowan's spokesperson disseminated further. But have they been made public elsewhere?

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 8:57pm BST

I have not seen this quote from Jonathan Jennings anywhere else except in the Washington Times. But that might be because nobody else except Julia Duin has yet asked him for a comment on this.
As not even the Washington Post seems to have any interest in the story, it's quite possible that papers further afield haven't got excited either.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 1 July 2006 at 11:54pm BST

I think its a deliberate attempt to force the pace of change whereas Rowan wants to do the opposite and work towards some sort of consensus, albeit a two tier one.

Seems to me that this won't happen and instead there is likely to be greater polarisation

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 1:04am BST

I agree with Charlotte as to the unwarranted assumptions made by those who ask for ALPO. They act as if Canterbury had jurisdiction to act with respect to TEC, something we took care of back in 1789, as I remember.

If Dr Williams were to accept their requests and try to do anything in response, he would, in my opinion, have no more justification for his actions than Akinola & Orombi do.

Somewhere in this whole mess we have to begin to insist that people play by the rules as they exist rather than making the rules up as they go along.

Posted by: Nick Finke on Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 2:29am BST

Nick Finke, I agree completely with the last sentence of your comment.

You might be interested to learn that the principle you cite goes back even further than 1789 -- to 1533, and the Statute in Restraint of Appeals, 24 Henry VIII c.12, which made the Crown sovereign in all legal matters, including spiritual matters falling under the jurisdiction of the English Church. The stated purpose of the statute was "to keep it [the English Church] from the annoyance ... of the see of Rome, as from the authority of other foreign potentates." It is considered to be the keystone of the English Reformation.

Likewise, the thirty-seventh of the Thirty-Nine Articles states that: "The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England."

To be accepted, any proposed Anglican Covenant will have to hedge itself against the charge that foreign primates and potentates are again being given jurisdiction over the internal workings of national churches, contrary to Anglican tradition and English law.

Posted by: Charlotte on Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 7:54pm BST

Robert C:

Just chiming back into say that, whatever the problems of Truro/Falls Church (and what kind of names are those anyway? Here in TEC, our parishes are named ala "Saint Swithin's", "Christ {or other attribution thereto, e.g. "Our Merciful Savior"}, a Church Season/Feast {e.g. "Advent" or "Transfiguration"}, or theological concept {e.g. "Grace", "Incarnation"}), I DON'T think they arise from this:

"the theology is based on man's rebellion against God, our brokeness and our inability to save ourselves from our sinfulness. The focus is grace, repentence"

[If anything, it arises from these congregations' REBELLION against the Body of Christ, as expressed in their breaking (?) of vows to their bishops and the GC! >:-/]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 8:22pm BST

A couple of notes:
What I described as normal process for new rector was for my own diocese. Bishops' roles vary.

The use of professionally trained interims does not leave the parish without leadership. On the contrary, it gives the parish - ideally - leadership from the last rector to the next one. This is a real need both when the previous rector was a saint [Oh! We must have a clone of him/her!] and when not [OH! We must get someone new right now to make the nastiness go away!"]

Giggle giggle. ALPO: Alpo used to be a brand of canned dog food, much favored by a family pooch many years ago. It smalled awful.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Sunday, 2 July 2006 at 9:13pm BST


I can't agree more. They certainly have broken their vows. This is about the franchise (as David Anderson reminds us).

Theologically though there is a lot of saving people from their sinfulness, their brokeness. Most of the Network parishes focus on saving souls for the next life. That's not to say they don't have programs like Habitat for Humanity, soup kitchens etc... but that their focus on is the individual and being of the right mind.

In my church the focus is on community building, social ministries and is non-judgemental.
That is the biggest difference I see (just a Pittsburgh perspective mind you).

Peace, Bob

Posted by: Robert Christian on Monday, 3 July 2006 at 1:23am BST
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