Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The BBC Interviews Bishop Minns and Bishop Kings

Transcript of Interview with Bishop Minns and excerpt from interview with Bishop Kings, from here:


Q: Bishop Martyn Minns is from the Anglican Church in North America and sits on the Secretariat of the GAFCON Primate’s Council. I asked him what did GAFCON leaders regard as the fatal flaw in the Anglican Covenant.

+Minns: The fundamental thing I think is that trust is gone. Decisions and documents that have been worked on in the past have not been honored. I think there’s simply a lack of trust in the process. I think also the introduction of this whole roll of the standing committee in terms of how the covenant is actually exercised has also caused great consternation. But I think, in fact I have a direct quote from one of the Primates who said, “ look, why do we keep going?. All the decisions have been made. The documents we signed have never been honored. There’s no point.”

Q: Is it your sense that this is not punitive enough?

+Minns: I don’t think it’s an issue of punitive. It’s simply that it’s been watered down. The content and the process has shifted from the Primates themselves to this Standing Committee which it’s still not clear cut what it is. So it’s not a matter of punitive. It’s simply I think that there’s a breakdown in the trust from the earlier conversations.

Q: Why did the Primates of GAFCON decide to release their statement rejecting this covenant just as the General Synod was debating it?

+Minns: The decision was frankly simply providential. There was no attempt to time it. What we’ve tried to work hard is to make sure that the documents of this sort that everyone whose name is listed has had time to reflect, take advice, and to agree to the wording. And every time that’s happened its complicated and long. It just so happened that it was done on the day. There was no planning or coordinating that at all.

Q: There are critics who will say that this was a tactical possibly even manipulative approach by GAFCON, what’s your response to that allegation?

+Minns: Well that’s simply not true. The attempt to get everyone on board at a precise moment is simply not possible. Finally, after everyone had read through it, thought through it, prayed through we were ready to release it. I think most of them had no clue the Synod was even meeting.

Q: Archbishop Williams has clearly worked very hard to get this covenant through the Synod, isn’t this a slap in the face for him?

+Minns: I don’t think there’s anything personal in this at all. I think there’s a lot of affection for Archbishop Rowan. Frankly the process had been going for many many years. And it’s the lack of trust and a lack of willingness to listen to those in the Global South is really what’s behind this.

Q: Well what would it take to persuade you to tarry longer with this process and to engage further with it?

+Minns: I think it would be to honor the decisions and documents that have taken place in the past. I think that trust has to be rebuilt.

Q: The Anglican Communion is now faced with what looks like a two tiered communion, would you accept that?

+Minns: I wouldn’t say its two tier. I think the structure is shifting and I think moving frankly from a fairly colonial structure in to a much more of a global structure. And I think it will be far more of a network than a hierarchical structure.

Q: Some liberals of course have their own reasons for not welcoming this covenant. Liberals, conservatives, traditionalists struggling with the covenant does this now signal the end-game for the Anglican Communion?

+Minns: By no means. I think the Anglican Communion has got a huge contribution to give to the world. I think in many parts of the world it’s thriving and growing and doing some remarkable things. I think it’s simply the way in which we operate together that has to change. I think it’s a testament to its effectiveness. Its grown so much globally that the sheer weight of it and the vision and …(unintelligible)… of the Communion is no longer in England. I believe that the Anglican Communion is incredibly healthy and doing some remarkable things. Structurally, it’s the institutional structure that’s simply not kept up with its life. And I think that that’s what needs to change. And as you know institutional change has always been very hard. Those in power are always reluctant to give it up.

Q: Was it GAFCON’S intention all along to reject this covenant?

+Minns: Not at all. GAFCON folk actually were instrumental in the very beginning and actually the first draft. Archbishop Drexel Gomez and a number of the Global South folk were actually involved in producing the very first draft.

Q: At what point did GAFCON leaders and primates know this covenant was unacceptable?

+Minns: I don’t believe there was a single point. I think it’s been an unfolding realization.

Q: What are those Primates who are part of GAFCON, is it now the case that they will en masse refuse to attend the next Primates meeting of the Anglican Communion?

+Minns: I believe that that’s what the statement says. And I believe that it’s not just those primates but also a number of other primates in the Global South that have communicated that.


Q: Are you at all sympathetic to the GAFCON Primates who plainly believe that other member churches of the communion cannot be trusted to honor any covenant?

+Kings: No I’m not. I’m sympathetic to the leadership of the Global South Anglican movement which is different from GAFCON. GAFCON is a subset of that. And the chair of the Global South Anglican movement is John Chew, the Bishop of Singapore, Archbishop of Southeast Asia. John emailed me and said the Singapore diocese had passed the covenant. He was involved in the commission that brought it together. And similarly Mouneer Anis, Bishop in Egypt and Presiding Bishop in the Middle East is still in favor of the Covenant there’s still some questions. And Ian Earnest who is the chair of CAPA…these three moderate Global South Anglican leaders are still in favor of the covenant and so its just not the case that the whole of the Global South – GAFCON is not the whole of the Global South Anglican movement.

Q: What did you make of Martyn Minns’ comment “this is not the end game” for the communion but a revolution in how the communion organizes itself and its conversations?

+Kings: First of all, Martyn’s not…although he’s part of the Anglican Church in North America that is not The Episcopal Church in America. There is a long standing church there, The Episcopal Church…The Anglican Church in North America is a split off. Martyn and Robert Duncan they’ve formed their own church. They just invented their own church. Now I’m sympathetic to their views. I’m conservative on sexuality myself but not the way they see the church. And I don’t want the church and the communion to be split. They’ve split off in the states and I don’t want that to become a model. I was worried when Martyn spoke about reducing the Communion to a network…Networks are very different from an organic communion.

Read it all here.  The point is that the GAFCON document itself was written in a voice and tone that is not at all helpful to sensitively and compassionately address the very serious issues facing us, nor is it a teaching document for the larger Anglican community (it fails the "Pub Test"), and sadly it did not even appear to attempt to build social network bridges, but burn them down.  The release of this document the day that the CoE General Synod voted to affirm the Anglican Covenant may have been providential, but perhaps in the divine hope that we may be confronted with our own lack of humility (who would have thought that the one person to strike the most appropriate tone and Christian message would be the Queen of England?).  The GAFCON statement in fact contributes to the broken trust and that is a major disappointment.  At the same time, Graham Kings may want to reconsider waking up and smelling the proverbial winter roses - we have left the Industrial Age on which the original Anglican Communion's structures were built.  Bishop Minns is absolutely correct in his support of creating and sustaining networks that transcend old industrial borders - the Information Age, in which the Communion now must learn to adapt to or perish, flourishes in the building of vibrant and dynamic social networks.  

In fact, the greatest Social Network of them all is the Trinity.

1 comment:

Always hobbits said...

Where angels fear to tread.... so I will try to be careful.

These are heartfelt and complex issues for all. What we believe about God, human nature and history-- incarnate in the Church --seems at stake.

I do read Graham Kings sometimes, though I don't know him or his work extensively. Hearing him here makes me think he is having a very difficult time with Brittania losing its place in the world. Martyn Minns'-- another Brit as he is --argues instead that we are moving beyond the colonial paradigm of the Anglican communion as has been to one that is more theologically, historically, sociologically, and ecclesiastically honest. The sun no longer sets on the British Empire.

That the Anglican communion is what it is in the year 2010 is in large measure due to Rowan Williams' equivocations, time and again. He speaks and signs, and convenes and calls, but year after year refuses to stand firm on the merest of mere Christianity, allowing bishops and archbishops and presiding bishops to be as heterodox as they can imagine-- and still be within the tent of what he calls the C of E.

Most of the Anglicans of the world are tired of that, after years of hoping, and are prayerfully, slowly making decisions to be genuinely and truly Anglican, and Christian, even if the C of E cares not to be, now and into the future.

There is no triumphalism in that, as it is a cause for tears. But "established" as it may be in England-- and the unfolding demographics of a secularizing and pluralizing England are increasingly against that history --the C of E is becoming de facto disestablished as the center of the Anglican communion.

I think Minns is riding the crest of this wave, not Kings. May God be merciful to us all, keeping us from the worst in ourselves-- and may we have eyes to see.