Abp. Akinola in Virginia
Is the installation of Bishop Minns really of any significance? Why all the furor when, after all, he has already been ordained in Nigeria? The installation's predominant meaning probably shifts with the audience. To conservative Episcopalians in the US who have not yet come under CANA, it may feel like something of a challenge. While Bp. Minns & co. are moving forward with the Gospel, actually doing something--in their view creating the safe havens within which conservatives may worship and proclaim--what is the ACN doing? Or the AAC? What are the Windsor/Camp Allen/Whatever bishops doing? Who knows: equivocating, or talking and talking and writing and writing, or waiting around for some version of the PV-scheme to materialize, or..... It may seem like the Exodus is actually starting, the Israelites are actually leaving for the promised land, and those conservatives still outside CANA are missing out, sitting around in the sand insisting on bondage.
Minns' installation in effect subverts the claims of other conservative leaders--I have Duncan and Iker in mind especially--to loyalty, or even to relevance. Do they have anything other than submission to CANA on tap? If not, why on earth are they still waiting to kiss Akinbola's ring? And if they do have something else in mind, will they in the end just be producing more Anglican fragmentation in sheer hubris, adding their own pathetic two cents to CANA, and AMiA, and all the other riff-raff and bobtail?
From the center, however, Minn's installation looks rather different. After all, Akinola, Minns & co. seem to have twisted arms in Tanzania to get a rather harshly worded Communique sent out in the Primates' name, a document brazenly threatening the Episcopal Church's place in the AC if TEC's bishops didn't surrender their province's traditional autonomy and polity. Akinola, Minns & co. even managed to get a deadline for submission--9/30--thrown in and the ABC as a spokesman. But with Minns' installation, they in effect walk away from the Communique, subverting what had been the process they worked to put in place. For before TEC's deadline, and before TEC issued a final, authoritative response to the Communique, before the PV-scheme was finally decided upon, and before ABC Williams had a chance to chat up the American bishops, Akinola carried out an audacious border-crossing, just the kind of thing the Communique promised would not happen if TEC submitted to its demands. It looks as if Akinola is not a party in good faith to the Communique--it would be as if PB Schori were to ordain an actively gay bishop or bless a SSU in September.
Were Akinola, Minns & co. ever serious about the Communique? And if they were, why couldn't the installation wait until after 9/30 at the every least? Why did it have to be in open defiance of PB Schori and even ABC Williams? Their actions open the door to a serious and credible charge of cynicism. One might infer Akinola and Minns are not to be trusted in future negotiations. They seem to have used the other primates and especially Schori and Williams, both of whom may have actually believed in Akinola's probity.
Minns' premature installation is just what TEC's bishops need to yield interesting conversation with Williams during his brief visit. Is there any point to talking about the PV-scheme when we all know that whatvever TEC does, Akinola will continue to cross borders? The Communique is dead; what to talk about then? Supposing one of Williams' chief concerns is the unity of the CoE, and that his past capitulation to Akinola had the premise of Akinola's reliability in delivering that unity, can anyone really believe that premise now? In light of Minns' installation is Akinola a reliable party for anything so important? Or does he belong with Duncan and MacPherson as mere might-have-beens? Amazingly, Akinola and Minns may have managed what seemed impossible just a few weeks ago: simultaneously undermining their own claim to Williams' serious consideration and other conservative TEC leaders' claims to serious attention; the conservative cause just took a crushing body blow. Just maybe it is time for Williams to rethink his broader strategy, and our bishops can help him out a little.