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Security breach brings conversion in Dar es Salaam

Security breach brings conversion in Dar es Salaam

by Martyn Minns
February 28, 2007

During the Primates' Meeting in Dar es Salaam, we heard a lot about the tight security. Now CANA bishop Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church in the US, has thrown a little more light onto what was going on behind the scenes. In a sermon preached at Truro the other day, on a 'question of identity', he ended by describing how the head of security, a South African, responded when one of the Primates broke a bone in his foot.

'D***** was the head of security for the Primates,' explained Martyn, who along with his wife Angela is English by birth even though now working in the US under the ecclesiastical leadership of Nigeria. 'A South African former rugby player and ex-policeman, he looks exactly like you might imagine, rough and tough.' It was clear that nobody could get by him to the Primates' inner sanctum. 'He ran his operation of young cadets like a paramilitary operation.' Armed with military-style truncheons, he put them through regular dawn drills which had the required deterrent effect on the journalists and interested clergy they had been deployed to keep out of the 'ring of steel'.

'All of us were thoroughly intimidated,' said Martyn. 'But we had to deal with them because we had a pastoral problem.'

He explained this as follows.

One of the Global South Primates had slipped and hurt his foot at the pre-conference gathering in Dar es Salaam. Martyn and his wife took him to the local hospital, where he was x-rayed and diagnosed with a hairline fracture. He had to have bandages fitted and changed twice daily. The doctor in the hospital looked at Angela and, assuming she was the Archbishop's wife, instructed her in how to do it. She explained she was not his wife. 'Do it anyway,' the doctor commanded.

The problem was, the injured Primate's room was inside the ring of steel and there seemed no way for Angela to get past security in order to change the bandages as instructed. So Martyn explained the problem to D*****, who he found 'more reasonable talking to than looking at.' Angela was given a visitor's pass, with instructions that she lend it to no-one.

Immediately, the suspicions of the conference organisers were aroused. [I wonder why?] Their suspicions got worse when the meeting began to go against the liberals and in favour of the orthodox. 'They even told D***** she was the enemy,' said Martyn. 'D***** stood his ground. But then Angela committed the unforgivable sin. She borrowed a wheelchair and wheeled the Archbishop into the breakfast room. Now they knew she was a spy. They demanded she be banned immediately and D***** be disciplined. Security had been breached. His contract should be terminated.'

D***** went to tell Martyn and Angela the news. 'To my amazement, he began to weep,' said Martyn. D***** explained that as a child he had been taken to church but had let it drop years hence. Now he had once more seen the light. 'He told us that through his daily encounters with Angela he had recommitted his life to Christ. Now he felt he had failed us. Later that day Angela talked to the general manager and explained what had happened. His job was secure. But D***** was a changed man. We had witnessed a miracle. A broken man was made whole. A man who had intimidated everybody had now been made alive in a new way.'

I guess that thanks to Angela, the Primate's broken foot was also made whole again.

But a special thank you Martyn. This has given me great ideas for strategies on how to get past security at the 2008 Lambeth Conference. The question is, which Archbishop can I get to break a leg for me?

(update: have removed the security guard's name in a belated recognition of pastoral respect.)

--The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns is a bishop of the Province of Nigeria. he is based in Virginia

http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/02/post.html#more

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