Showing posts with label Anglican Covenant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anglican Covenant. Show all posts

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Cartoon by Jonathan Hagger (aka MadPriest)

A memory supplied by Facebook from four years ago. The cartoon is, for the most part, an insider for Episcopalians and Anglicans about the odious Anglican Covenant that former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and certain other Primates in the Anglican Communion attempted, unsuccessfully, to foist on the rest of the churches in the Communion. The rest of us were, in the main, not having any of it. The coup de grâce was delivered by diocesan vote in the Church of England, Rowan Williams very own church, a sweet victory.

Archbishop Justin Welby summoned the Primates of the Anglican Communion to a meeting at Canterbury in January 2016, and, according to The Living Church, there are those who will try to resuscitate the covenant as a primatial option at the meeting. Of course, the primatial option will be meaningless in the Episcopal Church in the US and in many other churches in the Communion.
Something very much like the Covenant remains, in Oliver O’Donovan’s memorable phrase, “the only game in town” (originally said of The Windsor Report), for the simple reason that it delivers a synthesis of Anglican thinking about the Church wrought as a vision for the future. The alternatives to the Covenant school are amnesia at best, innovation at worst — of an invisibilist or otherwise weakened sort that perceives the Church as simply affective gathering in mission across difference. In ecumenical terms, the pressure to opt for mere “Life and Work” would have us surrender the upward call to a common “Faith and Order,” as if the two are separable.
I'll just say the covenant is not for everyone and refer to Mark Harris at Preludium for further commentary in his post titled Flogging the dead horse "Anglican Covenant".
So the Anglican Covenant is being touted again as a way forward in deepening communion. Who knows if the Primates meeting will take up again the somewhat tattered and torn text of the Anglican Covenant.  Who knows if that meeting will pay attention to TLC's editorial opinion concerning their work. We shall see. 
In the vein of my earlier statement above:
The notion of a "Preferential option" by the Primates for the Anglican Covenant makes it appear that somehow the Primates could decide on their own to declare for the Anglican Covenant.  I suppose they could. But they cannot declare for their churches.  Oh, in some Provinces where the Primate exercises extraordinary executive authority, I suppose they could. But most Churches are guided in polity questions by some sort of synodical processes. So a "Primatial Option" would be the opinion of the primates. Unless it were a unanimous vote for support it would simply affirm that the Anglican Communion is no where near a place of agreement on the Anglican Covenant. Most disturbing is the idea that this title puts forth: namely that a "Primatial option" even exists. There is no common agreement that statements by the Primates on any matter stand separate from the ACC and the decisions by the member churches. "Primatial option" is a really bad idea. It smacks of a primatial preemption.
Exactly.  The piece in TLC mentions "The Virginia Report" and "The Windsor Report", which are history that I assume the writer wishes were not, and the two are reports, just that, and non-binding on any of the churches in the Communion.  I had to search for "The Virginia Report", from 2007, because I did not know what it was.  No, I did not read it all.
In sum, whatever else happens to the Anglican Covenant, I hope the Primates will spend as little time in trying to revive the horse as possible and more time in such difficult tasks as looking to common core concerns.
Indeed.  Let it be so.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


As a member of the No Anglican Covenent Coalition, I support Resolution D022 which has been submitted to General Convention 2015.
Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church affirm our common identity and membership in the Anglican Communion, neither the present nor any desired future nature of which is properly described by the Anglican Communion Covenant; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct The Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council to express our appreciation to the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC16, Lusaka 2016) for the gift of inter-Anglican conversation and mutuality in God’s mission engendered by the Anglican Communion Covenant process.
The previous GC declined to vote a firm "No" to the covenant, and now it's past time to lay the Anglican Covenant to its final rest and give it the decent burial it so richly deserves. The courageous dioceses in the Church of England and other churches in the communion voted the covenant down, so, for all intents and purposes, it is dead, and I hope General Convention will add its signature to the death certificate.

Many thanks to Lionel Deimel for his major effort to formulate the resolution and gather the support of a sufficient number of deputies to submit the resolution to GC.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Legislation passed at General Convention which causes me to rejoice.

• Authorized blessings for same-sex unions in dioceses with the agreement of bishop of the diocese.

• Explicitly included transgender people in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church and as candidates to the ordained ministry.

• The Rev. Canon Gay Jennings elected President of the House of Deputies.

•  Byron Rushing elected Vice President of the House of Deputies.

About the legislation on restructuring, we'll see who is appointed to the task force and how that goes.  What I do not want to see is more power yielded to the bishops.  The hierarchical structure of TEC is entirely a good thing, but our shared governance by laity, clergy, and bishops is, I believe, our great gift to Anglicanism.

The budget?  That's not my area of expertise or even understanding, so I'll leave the commentary to others more knowledgeable.

Legislation passed at General Convention which saddens me.
The resolution on the Anglican Covenant at its core says, "as a pastoral response to The Episcopal Church, the General Convention decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant.”
Both Elizabeth Kaeton, who was present at GC, and SCG, who, like me, observed from afar, write with excellence about the failure of the Episcopal Church to take a position on adoption of the Covenant.

I understand the politics. Honestly, I do. But, I think the statement is inherently dishonest.

We could have easily said "no" to the Anglican Covenant in the House of Deputies.

I think we could have even released ourselves from being held hostage from a very few purple shirts in the House of Bishops and let our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no'.

The folks on the legislative committee, however, chose to be careful. I keep hearing a line from the Sondheim play,
Into the Woods, "....and I was so careful, I forgot how to care...."

I don't know when "pastoral response" became synonymous with "weak" and borderline duplicity.  We kicked the can down the road on this one, sacrificing a great chunk of our integrity on the altar of expediency. 

I can't imagine that our friends around the Communion can't see right through this one.

Given the other acts of courage in which this convention has engaged, this one is an embarrassment.

Le sigh.
It's as if we are on a game show of "Who Wants the Anglican Covenant?" and the Episcopal Church is sitting on the hot seat, saying, "Gee, Meredith.... ummm... we think it's "No," but, well, gosh, "Yes" means we get to go meet with important people.  Ah, gee, ummmm...maybe, well, maybe we could ask the audience, but ummmmm...."

Meanwhile, those of us sitting at home are screaming at our computer screens: "No!!!  The answer is No!!!!"

Perhaps they needed the "Phone-A-Friend" option.  Call Scotland.  Call the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia.  Heck, call the 26 diocese in the Church of England who had the guts to say "No"!
Please read both posts in their entirety.

From everything I've heard from those who were there and from what I've read here at home, the representatives of No Anglican Covenant Coalition, moderator, Malcolm French, and US convener, Lionel Diemel, both did a terrific job of advocacy at GC for a polite but firm "no" to adoption of the Anglican Covenant, and I thank them from my heart for their hard work.  The results were not what we hoped, but that is no fault of theirs. Well done!

Those of us in NACC who walked with our English friends (virtually speaking) through their courageous vote to defeat the Covenant in the dioceses in the Church of England and with the Scots through their clear vote against adoption at General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church, so wanted TEC to support their brave stands against the odious Covenant with a polite but firm vote against adoption.  That TEC was unable to demonstrate support of our friends causes me shame and disappointment.  The legislation  that was passed smacks of hypocrisy, since there is no money in the budget for the "task force of Executive Council to continue to monitor the ongoing developments with respect to the Anglican Covenant" (whatever that means). Does it mean we'll sit and watch while other churches have the courage to make a decision one way or another?

Meanwhile, General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia passed legislation stating that the church is "unable to adopt" the Covenant. Congratulations!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


                                              No Anglican Covenant Coalition
Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity

JULY 11, 2012


INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – Two days ago, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia rejected the Anglican Covenant.  Yesterday, the Episcopal Church voted to “decline to take a position on the Anglican Covenant,” and to continue to monitor the progress of the Covenant until the next General Convention in 2015.  No Anglican Covenant Moderator, the Rev. Malcolm French, has issued the following statement:

The wind has clearly gone out of the sails of the Anglican Covenant.  There was not even a single dissenting vote when the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia declared itself unable to adopt the Covenant.  While our Coalition would have preferred a clearer “no” from the Episcopal Church, the resolution passed in Indianapolis is scarcely more than an abstention – and the commitment to “monitor the ongoing developments” rings hollow when we consider that the same General Convention phased out funding for the Episcopal Church staff position for Anglican Communion affairs.  Perhaps they will monitor the situation by following #noanglicancovenant on Twitter.

The next major step in the Covenant process will be at the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, this fall.  We understand that there will be an attempt to introduce a ratification threshold and a sunset date to the Covenant process.  Depending on the details, our Coalition is likely to be broadly supportive of both initiatives.


The No Anglican Covenant Coalition is an international group of Anglicans concerned about how the proposed Anglican Covenant would radically change the nature of the Anglican Communion.

The Rev. Malcolm French (Canada)                        +1-306-550-2277
The Rev. Jean Mayland (England)                            +44 07966 921247
The Ven. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand)        +64 3 981 7384
The Rev. Canon Hugh Magee (Scotland)                +44 1334 470446
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA)                                            +1-412-512-9087

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Bishop David Chillingworth: "You may have seen the article which I provided for the Church Times following the decision of our General Synod not to adopt the Anglican Covenant. Just in case you missed it, here it is."
At our recent General Synod, the Scottish Episcopal Church, decided by a clear majority not to adopt the Anglican Covenant. In 2011, Synod had discussed the Covenant in Indaba session. It was clear then that a decision to adopt was unlikely.

We tried hard to keep the issue open.  I believe that the Anglican Covenant is an honourable attempt to heal our brokenness. But some time ago, as I set out to address yet another meeting in my diocese, I confided to my blog that I was going to listen to the most committed Anglicans on the planet telling me why they didn’t like the Anglican Covenant. Put simply, they believed that the Covenant is un-Anglican.

The Scottish Episcopal Church holds tenaciously to its commitment to the Anglican Communion. I see three reasons for that.

First, it's our size - to a small church, it matters that we belong to something bigger. Then there is a reason which is proprietorial and slightly presumptuous - we invoke the memory of Samuel Seabury, consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish bishops as the first bishop of the church in the United States of America. We like to believe that we were in at the beginning. We want to be part of the bringing to birth of a new phase of Communion life. Finally and more subtly, our particular attitude to authority - rooted in the collegiality of a College of Bishops - finds an echo in the Anglican Communion' aspiration to dispersed rather than centralised authority.

We approached this decision with great care and with some apprehension. We too are a diverse church. We have congregations who see the Anglican Covenant as important and necessary for their security within our church.  This decision has called on our reserves of internal trust. Those congregations needed to know that, whether or not we adopted the Covenant, we intend to take a measured and respectful approach to our diversity. But therein lies the first of the problems. The Covenant addresses what it sees primarily as inter-provincial disagreement. But its effect may actually be to heighten intra-provincial tensions.

Provinces will continue to consider the Covenant and come to their own decisions. The Anglican Communion will continue to seek unity in an astonishing diversity of culture and context across the world. It already has structures and processes through which we build communion life. There are the four Instruments of Communion. There are networks - family, environment and others. There is the Anglican Alliance.  There is Continuing Indaba - for which I serve as Chair of the Reference Group. There are Diocesan Companionship Links.

But we need a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges. We also need to recognise that no single measure can address them all.

The genesis of the Anglican Covenant lay in the Windsor Report - which arose from the development of conflict around issues of human sexuality. In my experience, conflict is almost never 'single issue'. It is a complex of issues which sometimes don't quite match in a directly adversarial way. And the passion with which those conflicts are experienced tells us that other issues are in play. It's about more than the 'presenting question'. Let me suggest two other issues which are part of this.

The first is one to which we are tangentially linked through the Seabury story - it is the legacy of history. The sharp word is colonialism. People assert independence of thought and action more strongly - challenge authority more resolutely - when relationships are shaped and conditioned by the legacy of history. In the Anglican Communion, that history affects interactions between the New World and the old world and between the developed and the developing world. The challenge is to build an Anglican Communion which transcends its history - a post-colonial Communion.

At the Primates Meeting in Dublin last year, I learnt that another of the great diversities of Communion life is in our understanding of authority. A bishop in the Church of England does not exercise authority as we do in Scotland - different again in America and in Nigeria and in Hong Kong. That diversity enriches but it has led to misunderstanding and disappointment in one another.

I believe that a new understanding of the problems we face is needed. By challenging the legacy of history, new axes of relationship will be encouraged. We shall be better able to address the deeply adversarial divisions which gather around the human sexuality issues. Communion grows when we share together in mission, grow together as disciples and act with a self-discipline which is the foundation of unity in diversity.

Our Communion is a gift to the world - a global institution which aspires to exist largely without centralised authority and to celebrate its rich diversity. Such a Communion models things which are important for the world community. Such a Communion is attractive in mission because it has learned to transcend conflict. I believe that we now have a historic opportunity to reshape the Anglican Communion so that it may become an instrument of God's mission to the world in the next generation.
As General Convention of the Episcopal Church begins, and the Anglican Covenant is on the agenda, I thought Bishop David's article was worth posting in its entirety. My hope is that we join the Scottish Episcopal Church, the dioceses in the Church of England, and the House of Bishops in the Anglican Church in the Philippines to vote a firm "no" to adoption of the Anglican Covenant.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


Scottish Episcopal Church says No to ‘gay marriage’ agreement 

THE Scottish Episcopal Church has rejected an agreement backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury that could have seen sanctions imposed on them if they diverged from the Anglican Communion’s rulings on issues such as the ordination of gay bishops and same-sex unions.

David Bain, a member of Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod, characterised the covenant as a “blancmange with shards of glass in it” that was “completely unexceptional until you come to that awful crunch”
The Scotsman tells us in a few words whence sprang the odious Anglican Covenant.  What can I say about Mr Bain's characterization?  "Ouch!"  

The article includes a picture of Rowan Williams with the caption, "Archbishop of Canterbury: Backed the agreement".

Friday, June 8, 2012


Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost at St Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow, says on Facebook:
Scotland says firm and clear No to Anglican Covenant.  Yes to Communion.  No to the Covenant.
The news warms my heart.  In a sense, the Scottish Episcopal Church is our mother church, because she gave us our first bishops.

The SEC joins House of Bishops in The Episcopal Church in the Philippines and the dioceses in the Church of England in rejecting the Anglican Covenant.  I wonder if the  Anglican Communion Office will report the rejection of the Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church.  Thus far, we don't hear negative news on the Covenant from the ACO.

The rejection by the Scottish church will help the campaign at next month's General Convention of The Episcopal Church by those of us who favor a vote to reject the Covenant by TEC.

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church today voted against the adoption of the Anglican Covenant.  Following a variety of views expressed by members of General Synod, the Motion that Synod agree in principle to adopt the Anglican Covenant was put to vote - 112 votes against; 6 votes in favour; 13 abstentions.  The Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, The Most Rev David Chillingworth, Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane then presented a resolution on the Anglican Communionin support of Motion 27, saying “The Anglican Communion matters deeply to us in the Scottish Episcopal Church.  We invoke the history of Samuel Seabury, consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish bishops as the first bishop of the church in the United States of America. We want to be part of the re-founding - the bringing to birth of a new phase of Communion life.” 
Yes!  I love the mention of Bishop Samuel Seabury.

UPDATE 2: From the ACO:
The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church today voted against the adoption of the Anglican Covenant.
Primus David Chillingworth's address to Synod is here.

Friday, June 1, 2012


Anglican Communion News Service

2012 Standing Committee Bulletin - Day 1

DAY 1 - 30 June, 2012

• Anglican Communion needs to consider “a mixed economy”

• Consideration of the Covenant should continue until after ACC-15
• Global ecumenical talks are “moving forward”

The Standing Committee—comprising elected members of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates’ Standing Committee and the Archbishop of Canterbury—met for its three-day annual meeting in London, England, yesterday (Wednesday). Only the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Reverend Daniel Deng Bul was unable to attend after not getting a travel visa. Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi (who is also the new Chairman of the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa) is attending as his alternate.

As the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) is meeting later this year, the Standing Committee agenda is lighter than previous years. Nevertheless, members still met from 9am until 6pm during considering agenda items including finance, membership of the ACC, and the lease of St Andrew’s House.

Other topics included a short review by the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Canon Kenneth Kearon, of the process of election of a Primate to the Crown Nomination Committee. Canon Kearon also presented his annual report to the committee which highlighted, among other things, the positive progress of the global ecumenical talks (Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues, Anglican-Methodist dialogues, etc.) He told the committee that such conversations were moving forward, on from solely doctrinal issues towards greater co-operation.

The Standing Committee received an update on the progress of the Anglican Communion Covenant. It was noted that eight Provinces had endorsed the Covenant to date, in some cases with a degree of qualification. They were the only responses received so far by the Secretary General. The committee also noted that the President, Chair, and Vice-Chair all hold their offices other than as representatives of their Provinces.

There was general agreement that no timeframe should yet be introduced for the process of adoption of the Covenant by Provinces. The Standing Committee will return to this question following ACC-15.

The first day of the meeting also saw members of the Finance Committee and Director for Finance, Tim Trimble, present the Report and Financial Statements for 2011 to the Standing Committee.

While the report indicated that an increased number of Provinces had paid their inter-Anglican contribution in 2011, a graph revealed that, since 2005, the amount given by Provinces to the work of the Anglican Communion has largely remained at the same level. It is the increase in restricted/grant funding, sourced by Anglican Communion Staff and others, that has allowed the work of that office, and of the Anglican Network members, plus other official commissions, committees and working groups to grow.

It was suggested, though not resolved, that there should be some more thought about “a mixed economy” in which Anglican Communion work is funded through a range of ways.
At the No Anglican Covenant website, I count only seven churches in the Communion that approved the Anglican Covenant in one wording or another.  Are we missing a church that has approved the covenant in our list?

1. The Church of the Province of Myanmar adopted the covenant.

2. The Church of Ireland subscribed to the covenant.

3. The Anglican Church of Mexico adopted the covenant.

4. The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea approved the covenant.

5. The Church of the Province of  South East Asia acceded to the covenant.

6. The Province of the Southern Cone approved the covenant.

7. The Church in the Province of the West Indies accepted the covenant.

There is no mention in the news release that The Episcopal Church in the Philippines rejected the covenant nor that a majority of the dioceses in the Church of England rejected the covenant.

UPDATE: Links to the press releases from Day 2 and Day 3 of the meeting of the Standing Committee of the ACC.

UPDATE 2: Members of the Standing Committee.

Abp Rowan Williams (President)
Bp James Tengatenga (Chair)
Canon Elizabeth Paver (Vice-Chair)
Bp David Chillingworth
Abp Paul Kwong
Bp Samuel Azariah
Abp Daniel Deng Bul Yak (Could not attend due to visa issues)
Bp Katharine Jefferts Schori
Mrs Philippa Amable
Bp Ian Douglas
Dr Anthony Fitchett
Dato Stanley Isaacs
Canon Janet Trisk
The Revd Maria Cristina Borges Alvarez

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi attended as alternate to Archbishop Deng Bul Yak.

Thanks to Andrew Gerns at The Lead for the list of members.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The Anglican Church of Canada needs more clarity around what the “relational consequences” would be for not adopting the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant.

This is one of the key messages that Council of General Synod (CoGS) members said the church must convey when the 15th Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meets in New Zealand Oct. 27-Nov. 7.

All member provinces of the Communion have been asked to report on progress made in response to the covenant, which has been recommended as a way of healing divisions triggered by debates over the issue of sexuality.

Emerging from small group discussions, some CoGs members said there’s a lot of uncertainty around what happens when a province decides to adopt or not adopt the covenant. Critics of the covenant have long warned that adopting it could result in a two-tier Communion.

Although a comprehensive study guide on the covenant was prepared and recommended for Canadian Anglicans, “there’s not much interest in discussing it,” reported members of one CoGS discussion group. “We’re not sure why,” they added.

By now, most people know what I think of the Anglican Covenant, and I hope, in the end, that the ACofC will vote to reject, as I hope that my church, The Episcopal Church, will vote to reject at General Convention in July.

H/T to Kurt Wiesner at The Lead.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Response to the Anglican Covenant

Russell, The Rev. Cn. Susan


Hopkins, The Very Rev. Michael; Lee, Ms. Lelanda


Buchanan, The Rev. Susan; Engstrom, The Very Rev. Marilyn; Gracey, Mr. R. Stephen; Hart, Mr. Christopher; Kandt, Mrs. Pamela; Leigh , Ms. Robyn; Moore, The Rev. Stephen; Russell, The Rev.Michael; Shaw, The Rev. Lee; Williams, Ms.Sandra; Bronson Sweigert, The Rev. Cynthia


Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Conventiongive thanks to all who have worked to increase understanding and strengthen relationships among the churches of the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention reaffirm the commitment of this church to the fellowship of autonomous national and regional churches that is the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention recognizes that sister churches of the Anglican Communion are properly drawn together by bonds of affection,  in the common mission of the gospel, and by consultation withoutcoercion or intimidation; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention, having prayerfully considered the merits of the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant and believing said agreement to be contrary to Anglican ecclesiology and tradition and to the best interests of the Anglican Communion, respectfully decline to adopt the same; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention call upon the leaders of The Episcopal Church at every level to seek opportunities to reach out to strengthen and restore relationships between this church and sister churches of the Communion.


Churches of the Anglican Communion have been asked to adopt the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. The suggestion for such an agreement was made in the 2004 Windsor Report, which recommended "theadoption by the churches of the Communion of a common Anglican Covenant which would make explicit andforceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between churches of the Communion."
The Windsor Report was produced at the request of Primates upset with the impending consecration of GeneRobinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and the promulgation of a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions bythe Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada.
Archbishop Drexel Gomez, of the Anglican Province of the West Indies, was entrusted with leading thedevelopment of the first draft of a covenant. This same Archbishop Gomez was one of the editors of "To Mendthe Net", a collection of essays dating from 2001 and advocating enhancing the power of the Anglican Primates to deter, inter alia, the ordination of women and "active homosexuals," as well as the blessing of same-sexunions. Archbishop Gomez's punitive agenda remains evident in the final draft of the proposed Covenant.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant attempts to create acentralized authority that would constrain the self-governance of The Episcopal Church and other churches of the Communion. This unacceptable inhibits Communion churches from pursuing the gospel mission as they discern it.
The Church of England has already declined to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines has indicated that they will not support the Covenant, andthe rejection of the Covenant by the Tikanga Maori of the Anglican Church in Aoteroa, New Zealand andPolynesia renders it virtually certain that those churches will also decline to adopt.

The deficiencies of the proposed Covenant would lead to an Anglican Communion further divided rather thanmore unified. Declining to adopt the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant not only avoids permanent,institutionalized division, it opens the way for new opportunites to build relationships across differencesthrough bonds of affection, by participation in the common mission of the gospel, and by consultation without coercion or intimidation.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Here I am banging on again about the pernicious Anglican Covenant. I'd heard murmurings, which are now more than murmurings, because the talk is now very public, of a move to introduce a resolution at General Convention to ignore the covenant.  Yes, indeed, it's true.  Lionel Diemel says:
One proposed strategy for General Convention is for the church only to affirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion, saying nothing at all about the Anglican Covenant.
Our courageous sisters and brothers in the Church of England, the 'mother' church, faced down the opposition of two archbishops, Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, and 79.79% of the bishops in the church to defeat the covenant in the Church of England.  And yet it is suggested that we in The Episcopal Church ignore the covenant.  I don't understand.

Not only do I see such a resolution as cowardly, but, seconding Lionel Diemel, as arrogant.  The Episcopal Church is often criticized for its individualism, for 'going its own way' without regard for other churches in the Anglican Communion, and such a resolution from GC would only reinforce the opinion that TEC is insufficiently community minded.  As I see it, to ignore the covenant, to pretend that it's not there, would be an insult to all the churches who have taken a stand, whether the vote was to adopt, accede to, subscribe to, give an 'amber light' to, or reject the covenant.  Further, to ignore the covenant would be an affront to all the churches which will declare a position on the covenant in the future.  The proponents of the covenant might very well view ignoring the covenant as worse than rejecting the covenant.

I've heard justifications for the stance of pretending the covenant is not there run the gamut from a desire to stay at the table to a fervent wish to continue in relationship with other churches in the communion.  I want those things, too, and I contend that the concerns are unjustified, especially now that the covenant has been rejected in the Church of England. Is the Church of England still at the table?  Will the Church of England continue in relationships with churches in the communion?  The vote by the English church to reject the covenant is a major game changer.  Shall we also pretend that the rejection didn't happen?

Read our English friend Lay Anglicana, and watch the video posted by Laura, who strove mightily to defeat the Anglican Covenant in England, and see if you still think ignoring the covenant is a viable option.  I could name many other English friends who worked tirelessly to bring down the same odious document that some in TEC will ask the convention to ignore.
From Lay Anglicana:
But word reaches me that these good manners may stand in the way of common sense at the TEC General Convention to be held from July 5-12 in Indianapolis: agreeing with me that the current ‘sorry state of things entire’ of the Anglican Covenant is such that it definitely counts as unpleasant, and being unwilling to intrude on private grief,  some say it might be best not to discuss it all, and simply sweep it under the carpet.

Siren voices! Please, fellow Anglicans, do not listen to them! We have managed in the Church of England, diocesan synod by painful diocesan synod, to reject it. But the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion regards this as merely a little local difficulty. Is he burying his head in the sand like the man in the YouTube video which illustrates this post? That is a matter of opinion.
Hear, hear!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Below is the model resolution from NACC on the Anglican Covenant for General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the US, which meets in July 2012  The resolution is also available here as a Microsoft Word file and here as a PDF file.  An introduction and explanation may be found at Comprehensive Unity.

Title: Relation to the Anglican Communion

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention give thanks to all who have worked to increase understanding and strengthen relationships among the churches of the Anglican Communion, and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention reaffirm the commitment of this church to the fellowship of autonomous national and regional churches that is the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention believe that sister churches of the Anglican Communion are properly drawn together by bonds of affection, by participation in the common mission of the gospel, and by consultation without coercion or intimidation; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention, having prayerfully considered the merits of the Anglican Communion Covenant and believing said agreement to be contrary to Anglican ecclesiology and tradition and to the best interests of the Anglican Communion, respectfully decline to adopt the same; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention call upon the leaders of The Episcopal Church at every level to seek opportunities to reach out to strengthen and restore relationships between this church and sister churches of the Communion.


Today sees the last two dioceses to vote on the Covenant. As the proposal has already been defeated the issue cannot return to General Synod until the summer of 2015 at the earliest.

Newcastle Against
Bishops  For: 2,  Against: 0,  Abstained: 0
Clergy     For:  8,  Against:  18,  Abstained: -
Laity        For: 14,  Against: 15,  Abstained: 0
York  For 

Bishops  For: 4,  Against: 0,  Abstained: 0
Clergy     For: 26,  Against: 5,  Abstained: 0
Laity        For: 38,  Against: 5,  Abstained: 1


Dioceses for the Covenant to date: 16
Dioceses against the Covenant to date: 26

Thanks to Paul Bagshaw at Not the Same Stream.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Chichester  For 
Bishops  For: 2,  Against: 0,  Abstained: -
Clergy     For: 29,  Against: 9,  Abstained: -
Laity        For: 39,  Against: 25,  Abstained: -
Southwell and Nottingham  For 
Bishops  For: 2,  Against: 0,  Abstained: 0
Clergy     For: 15,  Against: 5,  Abstained: 0
Laity        For: 31,  Against: 6,  Abstained: 1


Dioceses for the Covenant to date: 18
Dioceses against the Covenant to date: 25

There are 2 dioceses yet to vote: Newcastle and York next Saturday, 28 April.
From Paul Bagshaw at Not the Same Stream.


From a correspondent in Christchurch, New Zealand:
Hi Mimi,

Have come home from Christchurch Synod meeting.  We had a vote on the Covenant.  Passed by laity, DEFEATED by clergy... therefore DEFEATED by Christchurch New Zealand.

Thought I'd share the good news!
This is good news, indeed.

Friday, April 20, 2012


A plan to protect the unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion was given an amber light, rather than a green light, by the Church in Wales today (April 18).

Members of its Governing Body voted to affirm their commitment to the Communion and the Covenant process, but asked questions of the Anglican Consultative Council which meets in October. They feared the recent rejection of the Covenant by the Church of England jeopardised its future and clarifications about that were now needed before a decision could be made.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Dr Gregory Cameron, who proposed a motion which was amended in the light of the Church of England decision, said, “We have given the Covenant an amber light rather than a green light but in doing so we are being honest about where the Church is today. However, I think we need to reaffirm our strong commitment to each other through the saving power of Christ revealed in the Gospels. That is what I believe the Covenant ultimately calls us to do and I hope one day the Church in Wales will be able to vote for it.”

Living in Glasgow says AMBER means STOP.  I'm not sure what AMBER means in Wales.

Despite advice from Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office Kenneth Kearon to carry on with consideration of the Anglican Covenant, the member churches of the Anglican Communion are concerned and confused about the status of the document now that the 'mother' church, the Church of England, has voted it down.  I doubt proponents of the covenant envisioned defeat of the covenant in England, so there is no Plan B.

Kearon lists the churches that have adopted, acceded to, or subscribed to the covenant, but he neglects to mention that The Episcopal Church in the Philippines voted it down, along with the Church of England.

H/T to Peter Owen  at Thinking Anglicans.

Thanks to Simon Sarmiento in the comments for the link to Living in Glasgow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Lisa Fox at My Manner of Life posted a splendid letter from the Diocese of Rupert's Land in the Anglican Church of Canada on the Anglican Covenant.  We all know that the roots of the covenant are in the Windsor Report.  The letter spells out plainly and clearly what many of us well know to be true but continue to tiptoe gingerly around.
Finally, of course we are aware of the reason that this document has been born, but on which the document is entirely silent, namely, the matter of gay and lesbian persons’ rights in regard to marriage, ordination and consecration.
Yes.  Further, Lisa says:
I appreciate the observation that the people who forced the Anglican Covenant are silent on the bigotry that spawned it -- namely, their hatred of gay/lesbian people and our relationships. Thank you, Rupert's Land, for pointing to that. Many of us point to the ugly heritage of racism in our history. Someday, I hope the proponents of the Anglican Covenant will be named as the bigots they are. Their supposedly Biblical hatred of gay men and lesbians is the veneer behind which they hide. One day, they will be remembered alongside the bigots who repressed the Africans in South Africa and the African-Americans in the U.S. South. 
The two statements point out that the original intent of the covenant was to 'get the gays',  and 'get' TEC for ordaining a gay bishop, and 'get' the Anglican Church of Canada for allowing same-sex blessings, though you won't ever hear the proponents of the covenant say such a thing in public.

Read the whole of Lisa's post, which includes the entire text of the letter from the diocese. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


From Ann at Comprehensive Unity:

Dear Rowan:

A piece of advice from someone who has lost battles in church. Stop being a whiner or that will be your legacy -- grumpy old has-been. Accept the fact that it was neither the "radical liberals" nor the "hard line conservatives" who sank your dream. It was doomed from the beginning - not punitive enough for those who read the Bible selectively and not enough space for the Spirit to lead us into things we could not bear before (John 16:12).

Those who voted against the Covenant were not rejecting you, it was not all about you. Regular faithful church members voted against it once they read it and began to think about the ramifications of the entire document. The ACO and your arguments boiled down to "trust us" we know what we are doing and you don't, or we need it to save the communion, or it won't really change things. These are not facts but coercion.

It was not based in Anglican theology - a balance of scripture, tradition and reason. The last section had no mechanism for enforcement except a very fuzzy set of ideas centered around a small group of people. Anyone could grind any other province to a halt just by raising a complaint. The complaints were not limited in scope. They could come from any place on the spectrum of Anglican practice.

Think about it - detach your ego from Covenant. Read what people are saying now that it is no longer on the table. Perhaps you will understand why we worked to get the facts out in public - not just have people vote because someone tells them to vote a certain way with "trust me."

Yours truly,

The Rev. Ann Fontaine
Yes.  Amen.  Kudos to you, Ann.

Shorter version: Get over it.  Get over yourself.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Canon Alan Perry of the Anglican Church of Canada ponders the next step for the churches of the Anglican Communion after the rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Church of England.  As the Episcopal Church in the US will meet in General Convention in July of this year and and will be addressing proposed resolutions concerning the covenant, Alan's post seems to me a helpful addition to preparatory material.
I don't know how much time, effort or money has been expended on the Anglican Covenant proposal, but I think it is safe to say “a lot”. And this proposal has distracted Anglicans to a significant degree from pursuing, both other avenues of building relationships, and our primary mission of living out the Gospel in our various contexts. Now that the project is stalled, perhaps irretrievably, in the Church of England, how much more time, energy and money should the rest of us be expending on this proposed Covenant?

What should those outside England do?

It's really up to each Church to decide how it's going to deal with the proposed Covenant, but I see four options at this point:
  1. Continue with the process of considering and adopting the proposed Covenant;
  2. Continue to consider the Covenant, but adopt it conditionally such that an Act of Synod adopting the Covenant does not come into effect until the Church of England adopts it;
  3. Suspend the process of considering the Covenant until it is clear what the Church of England is going to do next;
  4. Adopt a resolution rejecting the Covenant.
Please don't stop with my short quote from Alan's post.  Read it all.

Whatever resolutions the Episcopal Church passes or does not pass, I fervently hope we will not spend "a lot" of time, effort, and money on such an inferior piece of work, especially now that the "mother" church has disposed of it. 


From Paul at Not the Same Stream:

Manchester Against
Bishops  For: 1,  Against: 2,  Abstained: 0
Clergy     For: 15,  Against:  25,  Abstained: - 0
Laity        For: 12,  Against: 23,  Abstained: - 7


Dioceses for the Covenant to date: 15
Dioceses against the Covenant to date: 25

There are 4 dioceses yet to vote 

Southwell and Nottingham 12 April (Thursday), Chichester on 21 April,  Newcastle and York 28 April.

UPDATE: Percentages from Alan Perry:
With Manchester's figures, we now have:

Bishops: 77.4% for, 16.7% against, 6.0% abstentions
Clergy: 45.0% for, 50.9% against, 4.1% abstentions
Laity: 48.1% for, 47.0% against, 4.9% abstentions

Overall: 47.5% for, 48.0% against, 4.5% abstentions
Overall (clergy and laity only): 46.7% for, 48.8% against, 4.5%