Showing posts with label Modern Church. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Modern Church. Show all posts

Saturday, May 28, 2011


The letter below is from Jonathan Clatworthy, General Secretary to Modern Church in England. The missive was sent to the Church Times but was not published in the newspaper. I thought the letter deserved wider readership, and, when I asked, Jonathan gave me permission to publish the letter here at Wounded Bird. My wee blog is not the Church Times, but the letter follows, unedited:
So neither Ireland nor South-East Asia decided to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant – but neither felt able to just say no. Ireland voted to ‘subscribe’ to it, South-East Asia to ‘accede’ to it. As both provinces know, these are meaningless expressions; the Covenant will only come into force if the provinces sign on the dotted line to adopt it. Why are they pussyfooting about?

There is a good reason. Provincial leaders are under immense pressure to sign the Covenant, but few of them like it. It was originally conceived as a way of threatening the USA with expulsion over gay bishops. The present text makes two changes to that aim. Firstly, instead of directly threatening to expel, it sets up an international system which could respond to complaints by expelling but could decide not to; we wouldn’t know the result until after it had been set up. So GAFCON have decided this is not discipline enough and have gone their own way, leaving the rest of us wondering who still wants it.

The second change is that the Covenant makes no mention of same-sex partnerships. It would be possible for one province to object to any initiative by another and demand a judgement from the newly empowered central authorities. Anglicanism would become a confessional sect where we were told what to believe.

So what do provinces do? If they refuse to sign, they may find themselves effectively expelled. If they do sign, they will no longer be able to run their own affairs without constantly checking whether someone in another part of the world objects. So they opt for a third alternative. There isn’t one, but they act as though there is. Whether ‘subscribe’ and ‘accede’ end up counting as ‘adopt’ will no doubt depend on which side has the cleverer political manipulators.

Jonathan Clatworthy
General Secretary
Modern Church
Liverpool, UK

Provinces who adopt the covenant could still be expelled, so whether to adopt or not puts a province in somewhat of a double bind situation. Jonathan makes an important point about any province being able to report any initiative by another province. What a tangle of tasks the new bureaucracy could be faced with in having to judge the complaints. I can't help but imagine the future operations of the standing committee, or whatever group will judge whether the complaints are worthy of consideration or action, as similar to a teacher having to deal with a stream of tattling children and finally saying, "Enough!"

My guess is that the Anglican Communion Office, or whichever body has decision-making power, will conclude that if the term used by a province remotely suggests adoption, the province will be considered to have adopted the Anglican Covenant.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


From Ekklesia:

Two major Church of England groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, have joined together to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant.

In November 2010 the Church of England’s General Synod will be asked to approve the Covenant, which has emerged from attempts by the Archbishop of Canterbury and others to resolve the wrangling in the Anglican Communion over sexuality, authority and related issues - and from the lobbying of conservative hardliners, say critics.

The Covenant was first proposed by the Windsor Report in 2004 to put pressure on the North American churches, after a diocese in the USA had elected an openly gay bishop and a diocese in Canada had approved a same-sex blessing service.

"Many Synod members do not realise it, but it could be the biggest change to the Church since the Reformation," say Inclusive Church and Modern Church (formerly the Modern Churchpersons Union).

The groups charge that the Church of England, if it signs, will become subordinate to a bureaucratic structure and will thereby become more centralised, dogmatic, backward-facing, inward looking and clerically dominated.

Here's the pdf link to text of the ad in the ChurchTimes.

How anyone expects that the Anglican Draft Covenant, or as someone in the comments at Thinking Anglicans called it, the Daft Covenant, will serve to bring the members of the Anglican Communion together is beyond me. The ratification of the Covenant will enable any province to accuse another of breaking the terms of the Covenant. The accusations will need to be addressed by whatever powers are assigned to the task, and it seems to me that the result will be endless wrangling about whether a province is assigned a place in first tier membership, second tier membership, or banished from the Communion altogether.

Modern Church provides excellent background information on the proposed Covenant here.

UPDATE: Credit where credit due. It seems that Tobias Haller coined the phrase "Daft Anglican Covenant" in the comments to this post at Thinking Anglicans from 2007:

Perhaps what is really needed is a Daft Anglican Covenant. ;-)

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 30 November 2007 at 8:55pm GMT

I should have known Tobias was the clever (or guilty?) author. How has so apt a phrase remained hidden for years? No matter. I shall do my best to make it famous.

UPDATE 2 CORRECTION: Tobias Haller is not the clever (guilty?) party.

At Ship of Fools:

Maleveque said: Posted 18 June, 2007 17:48
I really, really don't want a covenant. Covenant churches prescribe particular belief in a way that I find oppressive. If it happens, I don't know that I'll stay - and I am such a die-hard Episcopalian that I don't know where I'd go.
Anne L.
ps - am I the only one whose aged eyes read "Daft Anglican Covenant"?

Thanks to John Chilton and Ann Fontaine for the correction.

I may have the attribution right now, unless I receive a reference to an earlier use of the phrase.

UPDATE 3: As of this moment, Tobias Haller gets credit for the first publication of The Daft Anglican Covenant.

Further updates may follow.