Something that you might have missed on Monday was a very interesting programme in the This World strand on BBC2 called Battle of the Bishops.
The programme primarily focuses on Archbishop Akinola and some of the other GAFCON during the run up to the conference. There are also contributions from Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral and Bishop Tom Wright, and a visit to the Falls Church in Virginia, one of the most high profile split congregations (it counts several high ranking government officials amongst it’s membership, and can count George Washington as one of it’s former Churchwardens) where the bulk of the congregation have split from a small group that remain loyal to the Episcopal Church.
Aside from seeing some of what went on at GAFCON, the programme also shows something of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, and in particular a hint of the almost explosive level of growth that the Anglican Church in Nigeria is enjoying. I certainly don’t expect that as a programme it will make anyone change their minds, but it certainly underlines the fundamental differences in what those in Africa understand it is to be Anglican, and how we in the West understand it.
The programme will be available on iPlayer until next Monday, and I highly recommend taking a look if you get the opportunity.
If you’re a lawyer in Virginia, you must be rubbing your hands with glee at the prospect of the millions of dollars worth of fees that you’re going to clock up now that the parishes of Truro and Falls Church have voted to join the Nigerian Church mission in the US. The key point being that in addition to voting to leave, they also voted to try and take all the property of the parish with them, worth an estimated $25,000,000. Needless to say the Diocese are insisting that the property belongs to the Episcopal Church as a whole, not to the particular congregations – hence if necessary, and it looks like it will be, they will be calling in the lawyers to evict the group from their former Church.
Ekklesia carries a report on the vote, including the figures in favour of the split, which also highlights the difficulty the new missionary Bishop Martyn Minns (and rector of Truro) is having already with some of the things that Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria has said, and continues to say. Indeed, listening to the interview with Minns this morning on the Today programme, he is questioned on, and disassociates himself with the language of some of Akinola’s statements. Interestingly he also declares the looming argument over property as silly, and says that he only wants to get on with the business of being a Church. Sadly I suspect that what with the impending messy property battle, and the probably open season on the Churches the next time Akinola makes a statement, that may well be what he has little time to do.
Ruth Gledhill discusses the story on her blog and Stephen Bates reports on the story for the Guardian, Ruth also highlighting the cost of the impending property battle, and Stephen giving some more detail on why these particular parishes are important. Interestingly, Stephen also refers to the proposed ‘covenant’ which I mentioned last week, particularly the Bishop of Durham’s reply. On the same subject Dave over at Cartoon Church has come up with a particularly cutting cartoon, which I found particularly funny, but I suspect a number of people involved in the ‘covenant’ probably won’t… Having said that, with the numbers of significant people in the various organisations the ‘covenant’ claimed to represent publicly distancing themselves from the whole episode I’m quite sure that they’ve managed to do their position a good deal of damage by the whole episode.