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Girding for battle, hoping for change

Published June 10, 2007


In May, Bishop Martyn Minns became head of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a conservative group with ties to Nigeria. Minns, 64, led 11 Virginia congregations to break ties with the Episcopal Church last year. For 16 years, he has been rector of the historic Truro Church, where George Washington's father once served on the vestry. Now, Minns prepares for a battle with the denomination he left behind.


Why did you decide to leave the Episcopal Church?

I really do believe that the Episcopal Church kind of left me. They have moved to adopt positions and attitudes that are at odds with where the rest of the Anglican Communion is and where I am. And so in that sense, I've not really changed that much. But they have.


Why not stay put and practice your beliefs in your own church?

That's obviously something I tried to do. But the problem I had is that most of the congregation here felt they could no longer continue in that mode, and in fact, we lost over 100 families. They voted with their feet.


What are the consequences of your decision?

We're actually now facing potentially the largest lawsuit the Episcopal Church has ever initiated against congregations. They are trying to evict us and indeed to take all of our property and all of our resources away from us. ... Our replacement cost is estimated at about $30-million, and we're just one of the churches.


The Episcopal Church claims it holds this property in trust. Why do you think you have a right to the property?

I would have to question why would anybody else feel they have the right. If you'd lived in your home for generations and you'd paid for it and picked it up and maintained it for generations you wouldn't ask the questions why somebody else has a right to it.


Do you have any regrets?

There's always a regret in the sense that I don't like to see some friendships stretched and all those kinds of things. But ...I believe we did the right thing. And I think we're seeing God working in some wonderful ways, and we've got some new churches joining us.


What do you think will happen with the Episcopal Church USA?

I keep praying. I'm a Christian, therefore, I'm hopeful that they will see that where they're heading is not the right place and will turn back.


If they do, would you go back?

I hope we can all come back together. That would be my hope. But it would take quite a lot of change.

[Last modified June 10, 2007, 01:39:08]

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