Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Martyn Minns and Peter Lee

Following rumours over the weekend, the Diocese of Virginia has now confirmed that the Bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, has offered a licence to the Cana Missionary Bishop of the Church of Nigeria, Martyn Minns, to serve until the end of 2006 as priest-in-charge of Truro Church. However the letter from Peter Lee says he has not yet received Martyn Minns’ signature on the licence.

Here is the official press release:A letter to the Diocese of Virginia from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop:

October 2, 2006

Dear Friends:

On August 20, 2006, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. That act established his canonical residence in Nigeria and ended his canonical residence in the Diocese of Virginia. Consequently, as a Bishop from another province of the Anglican Communion, Martyn’s ability to function in any jurisdiction other than Nigeria, where he is canonically resident, requires that he be licensed by the Bishop with oversight.

As you well know, the vestry of Truro Church, where Martyn had served as rector since 1991, desired that he be allowed to serve in an ordained leadership capacity while they continue their search for a new rector, and I have been in conversation with the vestry as well as the diocesan Standing Committee, the diocesan Chancellor and others seeking their counsel on this question. Those conversations have concluded in such a way that I believe responds pastorally to the needs of Truro Church and maintains the integrity of the Canons of the Diocese and of The Episcopal Church with respect to ordained service, diocesan and provincial boundaries and episcopal authority.

Accordingly, I have licensed Martyn to serve as priest-in-charge of Truro church through January 1, 2007. The details of the license also establish that Martyn will perform no episcopal acts in the Diocese of Virginia through January 1, 2007 and that Martyn will exercise his ministry in compliance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia. The license I issued requires Martyn’s signature. While I have not yet received the executed license, and had not intended to write to you until I had received it, I write to you now in light of the wide publicity being given to Martyn’s letter to the Truro congregation issued late last Friday.

I believe our response to this peculiar situation achieves the goal of discerning a resolution that expresses our concern for the pastoral needs of this congregation, honors the Church and glorifies God.

While I believe this resolution brings this matter to a close, I have no illusion that it satisfies those who continue in conflict over the actions of the 75th General Convention. As you read this, some in the Diocese are in the midst of an organized program of discernment to examine the future of their relationship with The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia.

While there can be no predetermined outcome for the results of engaging the Holy Spirit, as I write this, I am mindful of the centuries of the faithful who built up the Diocese of Virginia following periods of great division and destruction. I pray that, whatever may be the result of this period of discernment for the members of these congregations, in the end each member will choose to remain a faithful part of the Body of Christ as constituted in our Diocese and in our Church.


Peter James Lee

Bishop of Virginia

The rumours were reported here, and here, and here. The original report here has still not returned.

Other blogs also commented: see Fr Jake here, and Mark Harris here and later here.

You can see a TV interview with Martyn Minns recorded on 29 September here. Richard Kew comments here.

Episcopal News Service has reported this: VIRGINIA: Bishops Lee, Minns reach agreement on Truro Church

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 2:45am BST | TrackBack
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I am highly disappointed with Bishop Lee, who behaved very differently towards Mr. Minns than he did towards the two church planters whose collars he yanked swiftly. Minns of course could not wait to crow about his status. Cynic that I am, I owuld not be sure of him until I did have that signed document. Lest anyone think I am dissing Mr. Minns by using that title, it is an old custom in the parts of this diocese that are lower than a snake's belly to refer to all male clergy as "Mr." When this was last widespread, of course, all clergy were male.

Many of us are very distressed indeed about Mr. Minns continuing at Truro while they search for a new rector - that is not the usual practive here. Instead, a trained professional interim priest serves during the search process - usually a year - and the former rector does not hang around, but leaves the area.

Many of us in Virginia wish Mr. Minns would take up his Nigerian mitre and use it in Nigeria.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 4:29am BST

Simon, even though Baby Blue did not repost her original blog entry, she has posted a follow-up about why she took down that post:


Posted by: Karen B. on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 11:22am BST

A cunning plan, I think. Truro cannot complain, but the reverend gentleman in question is placed within a cordon sanitaire and will have to sign up to obeying canon law. So will he sign? He finds himself between the legendary rock and hard place - if he does not sign it will play badly and appear as bad faith, if he does, he submits himself to the authority of the diocese, accepting its legitimacy.

In comparison with the diocesan, Machiavelli could not have run the proverbial whelk stall.

Posted by: mynsterpreost on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 12:23pm BST

Cynthia: so it's "Bishop" Lee but "Mr" Minns? ALL male clergy, did you say? How low can you go?

Posted by: Steve Watson. on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 2:00pm BST

This statement from the diocese is subtlely different from that which the Truro vestrymember crowed about last week before pulling the post. This statement says that, in addition to not performing episcopal acts within the diocese of VA (for some period of time), he must conform to the C&C of TEC. That means he can't perform episcopal acts *anywhere* in TEC without permission of the diocesan bishop.

I can see Minns' reluctance to sign such a document. The fine print giveth and the fine print taketh away.

Posted by: ruidh on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 2:51pm BST

Is it common in the Diocese of Virginia for any rector to be allowed to stay while the search for a successor is undertaken? It is not in any diocese I've served in.
Columba Gilliss

Posted by: Columba Gilliss on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 4:17pm BST

I truly believe +Lee is trying to show as much concern for the people of Truro as he can by allowing Minns to continue. +Peter Lee is showing us that his ego isn't important people are even though Truro seems bent of leaving the diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church).

I won't be surprised if Falls Church or Truro split after their 40 day's of discernment.

Posted by: Bob S on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 6:58pm BST

For Columba: Even in Virginia, it’s almost unprecedented to make a transition without a minimum of a year under a trained interim. I gather +Minns and his vestry are terrified what might happen if the parish undertook to decide its own future without his day-to-day guidance.
The pool in our Bible study group says (1) their new rector won’t last more than five years and (2) by then, the whole “orthodox” wing will have split into at least four mutually antagonistic factions: a liberal wing that welcomes gays as visitors but won’t ordain them, a center-left group that shuns gays altogether, a center-right group that stones any gays they can catch, and a conservative wing that objects to stoning because it’s not shechitah.

Posted by: Steve Lusk on Tuesday, 3 October 2006 at 11:42pm BST

There are already traces on this thread of how this will be turned into some kind of "oppression" of "orthodox" Anglicans. These people have bought into the Fundamentalist desire to be persecuted. They yearn for an Emperor on whose altar they can refuse to burn incense. Granting him a licence is a most generous act, I would think, considering Minns' behaviour, and that of his, for want of a better term, co-religionists. At least he isn't being asked to make a clear partisan statement in response to a question which requires a highly nuanced answer, which is a favourite "reasserter" ploy when they want to stir up rebellion against their bishop. I can't wait to watch this unfold.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 5 October 2006 at 3:59pm BST
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