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Christmastide 2010: Martyn Minns

Martyn Minns is a bishop in the Anglican Church of North America. He was recently interviewed by the BBC after the GAFCON primates rejected the Anglican Covenant. This is a transcription of some of that interview.

Q: 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 role 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: 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-tiered. I think the structure is shifting and I think moving frankly from a fairly colonial structure into 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. It’s grown so much globally that the sheer weight of it and the vision ... 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.

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