Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Akinola's power play

By Kerry Eleveld
From The Advocate
July 17, 2007

The pews of Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, Va., were alive with the spirit of an authentic revival on May 5. Alternately dancing, raising hands to the heavens, and bowing in prayer, roughly 1,500 worshippers witnessed the marriage between the Church of Nigeria and the recently formed Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a group of about 30 Anglican congregations scattered about the United States that have formally broken away from the Anglican Communion’s American branch, the Episcopal Church USA.

Peter Akinola, the archbishop of Nigeria, had come to Virginia to preside over the installation of the convocation’s leader, Bishop Martyn Minns. Decked out in a regal gold robe and miter, Archbishop Akinola exited the sanctuary at the end of the ceremony smiling, jubilant—singing the words of the recessional with his entourage of 10 or so trailing behind. For a gay reporter covering the event, it was a rare glimpse—a chance encounter—and I found myself fixated, studying him in not so subtle a way. He spotted me within moments. I clearly wasn’t there to celebrate. His smile dropped, his song fell away, and he walked on by.

The union between Peter Akinola and Martyn Minns was inaugurated in the summer of 2003 when a majority of 107 Episcopal bishops voted to approve the consecration of

V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire. Leading up to the vote, a growing number of evangelically inspired Episcopal conservatives had been voicing their displeasure with the direction of the Episcopal Church, but few as loudly as the congregation of Truro Church in Fairfax, Va., headed by then–Rev. Minns. Seven leading bishops from Asia, Africa, and Australia met with Minns and about 50 conservative Episcopal bishops in Fairfax and issued a statement saying Robinson’s confirmation could “precipitate a dramatic realignment of the church.” After Robinson’s installation, Akinola officially cut ties with the Episcopal Church, stopped accepting its donations, and, in a 2006 ceremony held in Nigeria, elevated Minns to the rank of missionary bishop.

Click here to read the rest. Includes quotes from Davis Mac-Iyalla.

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