Church Times – Minn’s not Akinola primary author of Akinola’s most recent essay

General Convention / Religion

The Church Times, and English newspaper has the following this week:

“A BISHOP in the United States has been revealed as the principal author of a seminal letter to the Church of Nigeria from its Archbishop, the Most Revd Peter Akinola, which was published on Sunday.
The letter includes a suggestion that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s status as a focus of unity is ‘highly questionable’. It also refers to a ‘moment of decision’ for the Anglican Communion, which is on the ‘brink of destruction’.

The document, ‘A Most Agonising Journey towards Lambeth 2008’, appears to express to Nigerian synods the personal anguish of Archbishop Akinola over his attendance at the Lambeth Conference.

But computer tracking software suggests that the letter was extensively edited and revised over a four-day period by the Rt Revd Martyn Minns, who was consecrated last year by Archbishop Akinola to lead the secessionist Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) (News, 11 August 2006). Bishop Minns, along with the Rt Revd Gene Robinson, has not been invited to Lambeth (News, 25 May).

Close examination of the document, tracing the authorship, editing history, and timing of changes, reveals about 600 insertions made by Bishop Minns, including whole new sections amounting to two-thirds of the final text. There is also a sprinkling of minor amendments made by Canon Chris Sugden of the conservative group Anglican Mainstream.

The first three paragraphs, which seem to be from the hand of Bishop Minns, describe a ‘costly and debilitating’ ten-year journey, ‘as most recently demonstrated by the tepid response to the invitations to the proposed Lambeth Conference 2008’. There is ‘little enthusiasm even to meet’, the writer suggests.”

I think the article is describing using “track changes” in a Microsoft Word document version of the essay. This isn’t the first time this has happened – I’ve read of similar gaffes uncovered by turning on the track changes in technical papers and in government documents, but this is the first time I remember hearing of such a situation in the Anglican Communion.

Read the rest here, along with further analysis of the changes made: Church Times – Software suggests Minns rewrote Akinola’s letter

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  1. Are those methods of examining documents at all reliable? And where did they get the document they analyzed? The copy on the Church of Nigeria’s website doesn’t have any thing like that much connection Minns visible in the code.

  2. I’m sure this is just the regular MS Word “tracking” feature; nothing mysterious about it. They probably released the document as it was, and tracking is part of the document itself – easily read by anybody. (Any Executive Assistant would know this. Bishops, of course, do not.)
    But I don’t think it’s that strange, anyway, that Minns and Akinola would collaborate on a document commenting on TEC. Minns works for Akinola, after all; this sort of thing happens happens all the time in the business world, etc.
    But it is very funny! Kind of a Keystone Klerics episode; IMO, nothing is quite as amusing as an outraged Anglican Bishop. 😉

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