Bishop of Liverpool sees problems with Covenant

The Diocese of Liverpool voted strongly across all "houses" of their diocesan synod to reject the Anglican Covenant today. That degree of rejection must have been influenced by the Presidential Address of the diocesan bishop, James Jones. He sees the Covenant as a distraction to the real work of the Church.

From the Diocese of Liverpool's website:

"Bishop James set out six key concerns over the Covenant.
  • That in a litigious world where the religious dimension makes this more fraught the Covenant with “its explicit threats of ‘relational consequences’ will be making our Communion more vulnerable to those forces that propel people forward in litigation.”

  • That the Communion will become increasingly absorbed by internal order which will take time money and energy – he will state “my heartache here is that those precious gifts of time, money and energy should be directed to the mission of God”.

  • That the church “has been born for mission” and the Covenant can introduce a dynamic the makes the communion resistant to change. As he says “instead of setting us free to engage with a changing world it freezes us at a given point in our formation, holding us back and making us nervous about going beyond the boundaries and reaching out into God’s world.” The Bishop argues that the “church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ”.

  • Pointing to the Diocese of Liverpool’s relationship with the Diocese of Akure and the Diocese of Viriginia he will say “the beauty of the Communion is that it allows for such ad hoc partnerships to spring up all over the world” and that “we learn most about the Gospel form those who differ from us”. The quasi legal nature of the Covenant will threaten that dynamic.

  • That through the Bible, the Creeds, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the 39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer we have sufficient credentials for our common life.

  • Bishop James also talked about the act of grace that it is to be in Christ stating “when we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not- or them or not”

The bishop ended his address with a call to retain the "generous orthodoxy" of the Anglican Church so that "[t]here is space for the seeker to breathe, to enquire, to ask questions, to doubt and to grope towards faith and to find God.”

Comments (9)

I think I may have finally been convinced against the Covenant.

And this:

"That through the Bible, the Creeds, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the 39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer we have sufficient credentials for our common life."

(And I'd add Baptism and Eucharist)

should have lots more emphasis in the conversation in terms of what makes us Anglican.

I love it when a good argument for or against something is so reasonable and non-snarky. Perhaps this man would be a good ABC... I guess we'll have to wait and see.

“when we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not- or them or not”

Yes.

Bishop James' address is excellent and well worth reading in its entirety in the pdf format.

June Butler

Already inspired a post over at inch-at-a-time: Words of Wisdom from the Bishop of Liverpool:

". . . Far from being the salvation of the Communion the Anglican Covenant would undermine it . . . . Instead of setting us free to engage with a changing world it freezes us at a given point in our formation, holding us back and making us nervous about going beyond the boundaries and reaching out into God´s world . . . . When we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not, or like them or not."

http://inchatatime.blogspot.com/2012/03/words-of-wisdom-from-bishop-of.html

Susan Russell

Bishop James Jones has my vote for Archbishop of Canterbury.

I very much hope that those in England nominating a new Archbishop of Canterbury will look to reintegrating the church with the English people. They need not consider the Anglican Communion -- it's an informal association of national churches that will take care of itself. The recent attempt to formalize its structure has been killing it. To shore up the strongest group remaining, the Evangelicals, would only widen the gap between church and people. The Bishop of Liverpool points the way:

“The church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ” --Bishop of Liverpool.
It's a truism nowadays that people are leaving religion and seeking spirituality. Those terms are too vague to be much help, but they indicate the only direction open for continued engagement of church and people. Medieval speculations have died with Empire (US and British alike). The church must stop offering answers to questions noone is asking. It needs to engage, and discover a calling anew.

[Too bad that, under the circumstances, the Bishop of Liverpool's diocesan address sounds like an audition for the ABC job. It's the approach that's needed.]

Bishop James has thrown his hat into the ring. I am not saying this as criticism.

There is a useful 2008 Riazat Butt, Guardian profile of Jones, here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/feb/08/gayrights.religion

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