Confusion reigns as ACC delays Covenant release

Updated with the story from the Episcopal News Service, and other links at the bottom of the story.

Confusion is widespread at the meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) where the leaders of the Council have ruled that a resolution sending the proposed Anglican Covenant on to the provinces for possible ratification had passed, even though all of the clauses were not voted upon.

The controversy centers on two clauses that refer Section 4 of the Covenant to a small working group appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury for further study. The working group is expected to take six to nine months to do its work. The proposed covenant will not be sent to the provinces until after Section 4 has been reconsidered.

Section 4 contains the mechanisms by which a province of the Anglican Communion could be excluded from the Communion. A number of provinces that support the blessing of same sex relationships fear that these mechanisms will be used against them.

The working group is charged with discussing Section 4 with the provinces of the Communion, and then reporting to the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates' Meeting which, increasingly, has begun to act as the Communon's unofficial board of directors. The JSC is to produce a new version of Section 4, and then send the covenant to the provinces for action.

The ACC had approved a motion to include the working group proposal in the Covenant resolution by a 33-30 vote. However, the resolution was being voted on clause by clause, and neither of the clauses concerning the working group had been voted on when the meeting was adjourned for a mid-evening break. It was assumed that the clauses would be voted on when the Council reconvened, but they were not.

(Canon Kenneth Kearon spoke with members of the media and conservative activists afterwords.)

Colin Coward has provided us the text of the resolution that was under consideration when the session suddenly adjourned.

The ACC:

a) thanks the Covenant Design Group for their faithfulness and responsiveness in producing the drafts for an Anglican Communion Covenant and, in particular for the Ridley Cambridge Draft submitted to this meeting;
b) recognises that an Anglican Communion Covenant may provide an effective means to strengthen and promote our common life as a Communion;
c) asks the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Secretary General, to appoint a small working group to consider and consult with the Provinces on Section 4 and its possible revision, and to report to the next meeting of the Joint Standing Committee;
d) asks the JSC, at that meeting, to approve a final form of Section 4;

e) asks the Secretary General to send the revised Ridley Cambridge draft, at that time, only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and decision on acceptance or adoption by them;
f) asks those member Churches to report to ACC-15 on the progress made in the processes of response to, and acceptance or adoption of, the Covenant.

An attempt led by The Episcopal Church to strip Section 4 from the covenant was defeated by a wide margin after Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and numerous others spoke against it.

The text of the proposed Covenant is available online.

Colin Coward provided the texts of the resolution to remove Section 4, as well as the original, unamended resolution to approve the Covenant. Click Read more to see them.

Video interviews with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Episcopal Church's representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council are online. Video of the media conference with Canon Kenneth Kearon is online at the same address, and is the first item in the right hand column.

The Canadian lay delegate Suzanne Lawson checks in here. The Anglican Journal report is also available.


Defeated Resolution A: Status of Section 4

The ACC:

a) resolves that section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge Draft be detached from the Ridley Cambridge Draft for further consideration and work;
b) asks the Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with the Secretary General, to appoint a small working group to consider and consult with the Provinces on Section 4 and its possible revision, and to report to the next meeting of the Joint Standing Committee;
c) resolves that the reconsidered Section 4 may, at the request of the JSC, be offered for adoption as an addendum to the Covenant text.

Resolution B, pre-amendment:

Resolution B: Draft Resolution on the Covenant

The ACC:

a) thanks the Covenant Design Group for their faithfulness and responsiveness in producing the drafts for an Anglican Communion Covenant and, in particular for the Ridley Cambridge Draft submitted to this meeting;
b) recognises that an Anglican Communion Covenant may provide an effective means to strengthen and promote our common life as a Communion;
c) asks the Secretary General to send the Ridley Cambridge draft, at this time, only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and decision on acceptance or adoption by them;
d) asks those member Churches to report to ACC-15 on the progress made in the processes of response to, and acceptance or adoption of, the Covenant

Note that Resolution B: "asks the Secretary General to send the Ridley Cambridge draft, at this time, only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council," thus closing the ACNA loophole.

Comments (5)

Loverly shades of comfortable, muddle-through Anglican confusion. If the conservatives furiously rage, it can't be all bad.

Considering the close votes on the litigation moratorium and on the Section 4 study group, I wonder if Archbishop Orombi now regrets not attending the ACC meeting, and pulling a publicity stunt that cost him the right to seat a clerical deputy.

Probably not.

As Orombi presumably received expenses plus honorarium for the meeting that he did attend, could be that you're right, Jim.

As a large province (the 2nd largest in the communion) Uganda is allocated 3 seats on the ACC. And then there is Orombi who was voted into a seat on the JSC. Orombi did not attend, and failed to inform the ACO in time for his designated replacement to make arrangements to attend. Two of Uganda's three delegates did not attend. (The attempt to seat Ashey at best was a last minute scramble to have someone fill the clergy seat, and at worst a stunt; even many conservatives openly wonder about that move and say the JSC was right in not seating a priest from Atlanta as a rep for Uganda.)

The votes were close. Uganda's absence was pivotal to the result. Orombi and his allies have and will try to make hay of it, but Uganda screwed up. They want the instruments to be stronger and yet they don't show up to the ACC.

Well, the conservatives (in the voices of Charles Raven and Stephen Noll) believe the Covenant is not worth the paper it's printed on. It might give them cold comfort to know that many of us on the other side will still be anxious at least until this revised Section 4 comes from the Joint Standing Committee.

At least it makes some things about General Convention this summer a bit easier. We can't fight over whether to sign on to a covenant that doesn't yet exist.

Marshall Scott

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