The Anglican Covenant "following motion"

While the Church of England dioceses are voting on the question of the Anglican Covenant, there's a second resolution being in considered in just less than a quarter of the 44 dioceses. It's related to the Covenant question, but it doesn't reference the Covenant directly. It thanks the Archbishop of Canterbury for his leadership and calls on the English House of Bishops to take much more seriously their responsibility for promoting the community of the Communion.

Thinking Anglicans has published the text of the "following motion".

"A following motion to the Article 8 reference of the Anglican Covenant

Version five:

‘This Diocesan Synod, following the reference from the General Synod of the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant, requests the General Synod to debate the following motion:

“That this Synod:

(a) rejoice in the fellowship of the world-wide Anglican Communion, which is rooted in our shared worship and held together by bonds of affection and our common appeal to Scripture, tradition and reason;

(b) thank the Archbishop of Canterbury for his tireless efforts throughout the Communion to sustain and strengthen unity in difficult times; and

(c) call on the House of Bishops:

(i)to find ways to maintain and reinforce strong links across the world-wide Anglican Communion and to deepen the Church of England’s involvement with the existing Communion ministries and networks (especially the continuing Indaba process);

(ii) to publicise and promote this work within the dioceses of the Church of England in order to broaden understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the Anglican Communion; and

(iii) to encourage a wide understanding of, and support for, the next Lambeth Conference.” ’"

Four dioceses so far: Chelmsford, Bath & Wells, Worcester and Southward, have adopted the resolution. No diocese that has considered it has defeated it.

Apparently this following motion is giving people in the Synods a way to support the Archbishop and his ministry in the Communion and separate that question out from the main issue of the Covenant. Or at least that how this appears to this American reading the thing.

Any other readings occur to you?

Comments (21)

Nicholas, I think that is the proper reading. Those who are against the Covenant are anxious to affirm that voting against it is not a repudiation of the Communion or the Archbishop -- as the vote is being portrayed from the pro-Cov side. The reference to the Continuing Indaba, which is actually working to bridge differences and create connections -- quite a different modality than the Covenant which gives lipservice to relationship but only provides for consequences against it! -- is another positive way to say that the Covenant is not the only way forward.

It's my understanding that thoughts similar to the ones in this motion have been expressed in General Convention resolutions in the past decade, i.e. a commitment to the Anglican Communion even as there is a similar commitment to, say, full inclusion of GLBT people in the life of the church.

I wonder, however, what message the American church is sending with its current proposed budget that cuts (yet again) funding for the Anglican Communion Office, the body that is responsible for projects like Continuing Indaba.

Resolutions are great but money matters too. We may end up starving of resources the very projects we claim to be so invested in.


Jesse, I think the Continuing Indaba process has its own source of outside funding. Also, I believe that we are proposing to give some of the money we now give to the Communion to partner provinces. This seems to me a use of our money more in keeping with our actual views of what matters most in the communion.

Jim, let me just say that the Continuing Indaba can make good use of funding from other sources, including TEC via the ACO, particularly as it moves out of the pilot phase into broader implementation. It has been so effective, it would be sad to see it unable to expand its work just at the point the wheels have left the ground, so to speak.

Although the participating churches and provinces support their own participants, core funding is still needed for the base operations that coordinate the program. I've seen up close and personal how much hard work is involved in coordinating group international meetings for Indaba. I think this is money well spent, and actually bearing a very good harvest of understanding and cooperation.

Tobias, I wonder if there is a way to support continuing indaba without supporting the creation and distribution of videos attempting to persuade the communion that it needs the covenant? There is an instance of the staff taking it on itself to spend the money of member provinces on a campaign for a document that many of the provinces have rejected.

Jim, the ACO, like "815" has many departments and subsections, and I share your consternation that some of their work I favor is at odds with some of their work I don't. I suppose it might be possible to designate a contribution towards a particular project, but I don't know if that is the best to handle such a situation. (I know when you visit the ACO, practically every room has a plaque indicating it was result of a gift from some Episcopal diocese or other... so we are not totally innocent of making designated gifts!)

I think the Continuing Indaba being a part of the ACO is important in preserving its mission not to take a "side" but to provide a way for dialogue across difference, to some extend just as our SA meetings could happen precisely because they were academic and not ecclesiastical. (I leave to one side the question of whether doing support pieces for the Covenant is "taking a side" -- as I think the "Instruments" are on record as supporting its adoption at least lukewarmly at worst; and the ACO is to some extent answerable to those Instruments, so the ACO is only putting forward the party line.)

Outside of the question of the funding for individual projects like Continuing Indaba (or Bible in the Life of the Church or the Anglican Relief and Development Alliance or any of the fascinating work engaged in by the Communion's networks), I think the larger question is whether we believe a Communion like ours needs some sort of coordinating body and whether we are committed to funding it. We can say all we want that we are committed to the Anglican Communion but it also requires spending some money on that ostensible commitment.

It should be obvious that I think we do need a coordinating body (along with province-to-province links, diocese-to-diocese links, and parish-to-parish links), just as I think we need a churchwide organization to coordinate activities in The Episcopal Church or a diocesan-wide organization to coordinate the work of parishes in a region. The ACO dates to the 1956 Anglican Congress when clergy and lay people said, "Hey, we've got this thing here we call the Communion but we need some help in structuring it." Bishops at Lambeth in 1958 approved the idea and in 1960 Stephen Bayne, then bishop of Olympia, became the first executive officer of the Anglican Communion.

But I digress. It's just I can't pass up an opportunity to mention Bishop Bayne.

One of the results of creating such organizations, however, is that they might do things we disagree with. This is what the Republican Party is forever discovering about the United Nations. "They're doing what with our money!" they say, and then attempt to de-fund some specific activity, or, barring that, the whole thing.

In any event, I'm not clear what videos are being referred to so perhaps I'm missing the whole point here. Wouldn't be the first time.


The Episcopal Church has sustained the ACO to the tune of about 30 percent of its budget for at least the last 12 years if not longer. That doesn't count what Americans contribute through the Compass Rose Society, which receives most of its support from U. S. citizens. The draft budget before the Program, Budget and Finance Committee reduces Christian Formation to almost nothing. Other areas are reduced as well. It seems only fair to me that the ACO take a hit too.

Jim, frankly, I think there is no reason for a national "Christian Formation" budget line. Christian Formation is not a national or international "thing."
The ACO is. That's where I think the difference lies. I'm with Jesse on this one: national money for international purposes.

If there are cuts across the budget--and there are many cuts--I don't have a problem with their being cuts to the ACO. They have worked hard to marginalize us within the Communion, and I don't think we need to be generous in our support for what will no doubt be continuing efforts in that direction.

I think the cuts to the Anglican Communion Office are reasonable. Remember that we fund far more than our share of the ACO expenses as it is. The proposed budget shows a cut of $1.07 million to inter-Anglican ministries, of which $310,000 is allocable to the ACO and the rest is allocable to direct grants to other provinces for particular projects. If anything, I would like to see the ACO funding cut more and the direct grants cut less. The cuts to the ACO are part and parcel of across-the-board spending cuts in many areas, including the World Council of Churches and other ecumenical work. I don't think that these cuts are attributable to hard feelings toward the Communion, though hard feelings would be understandable. I think they reflect the reality that revenues are decreasing, and many areas of funding will decrease as a result.

Tobias, in contrast to your belief that Christian formation is not a "national thing." I think a distinction needs to be made between delivery and support. While Christian formation is largely delivered at the local level, excepting national events such as the triennial Episcopal Youth Event, the delivery needs to be supported at the Church-wide level. The vast majority of diocese do not have Christian formation staff to guide and support congregations with Christian formation that is largely delivered by volunteers with limited time to seek and choose curriculum that align with Episcopal theology and to train for effective delivery.

With regard to the ACO might the church-wide center have a place that encourages and provides material that would inform children, youth, and young adults of the value the ACO? If they don't, these children won't support it as adults in the future.

Christian educators can choose among a huge number of programs developed by other denominations that are much more up-to-date and therefore appealing. Why not become Lutheran as an adult if you've been formed by Lutheran curriculum? Or other denominations further from Episcopal theology that offer more up-to-date curriculum? Indeed, if one value of the church is to be outward looking it will have to form individuals with such an orientation.

As for programs delivered church-wide. The EYE was where I learned first hand through relationship that I was part of a much larger and vibrant church than my own church of 150 people (on a Sunday morning). I was certainly re-oriented out into the world! I can speak only to EYE. There are other such programs supported by the church-wide budget.

I failed to mention that I am a volunteer educator at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, PA. All our educators are volunteers. My ministry has largely been formed by church-wide events.

Jenifer, the question has to be, to what extent does that national coordination require a person behind a desk in an office in Manhattan. EYE and other gatherings are wonderful events -- do they need a full-time staff person in NY, or is this better done by coordinated volunteers, or by independent network organizations? It is a question of resource deployment -- and the direction seems to be more social rather than institutional, networked rather than hierarchical. And the budget reflects that.

As another professional Christian educator, I am distressed by the current budget proposal to GC. I have worked at all levels of the Church and stand by the fact that the most profound influences for youth happen on the national level... particularly EYE... and also on the Provincial level. This proposal seems to me to be very short sited and ill advised. It is like a congregation spending all of its resources on the building and nothing on it's people. I am willing to guess than most congregations spend more money per year on trash removal than on children's or youth ministry. What does that say about our priorities? I am also wondering why our Bishops (whom I love and respect very much) have to meet twice a year rather than once? If the move is to put all program back on the congregation and diocese... then that is where the Bishops should be also, rather than expensive meetings. Ask them to use digital communication more.

While the Anglican Communion is important because they are a part of us, I do not want us to dismiss Christian Formation which IS a national and international "thing." Many people have mentioned EYE, which is a fantastic formation event, and we all know that formation is bigger than any event.

Formation on the denominational level has many facets that I don't think most people understand or even know about. The denominational office (what some call national church, but we are more than a national church) reaches out to people in Diocese and parishes. It helps connect people who reach out to them for help, guidance, or training. The denominational Formation and Vocation office works hard to create relationships, resources, and training that will assist in forming disciples on the Diocesan and local levels of the church. The denominational formation office works with those who lead "Safeguarding God's Children" trainings, they are working to build a bridge between high school and college, they work with the Ethnic Ministries officers to see how we can best serve one another as we raise young people in the church.

In the past few years, many Diocesan formation positions have been eliminated. These positions are either done away with, assuming that the parishes can do it on their own, or they are now staffed by volunteers who have other full-time work. Because of these cuts, more and more people are reaching out to their provinces and denominational officers asking for help in a wide variety of ways.

A side note about EYE: I think EYE is known by so many because it is the second largest gathering of Episcopalians. Many people have been changed by EYE, including me, and thousands of other Episcopal youth and adults. It may be time to change how we do EYE (and EYE last summer was done differently), and it may be time to say that we need to rethink how we do formation at a denominational level. However, to simply say that we don't need formation and vocation resources and staff at the denominational level is really short-sided.

This is the time for us to rethink our entire structure and what this church is really called to do in this world. Are we about creating disciples? Are we about bringing people to know God? Are we about teaching our young people and our churches to be mission minded and generous and to live as Christ taught us to live? Are we about truly living into our Baptismal Covenant? I think we are, and I think we need to be.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:34

Well, it seems to me this comment thread has wandered far from the original post, which has nothing to do with the GC budget process. It only goes to show how hard it is to craft a national budget, since everyone (and I include myself) seems to think that their program or interest should be a priority. This is, in part, what makes me so very distrustful of central governments, and the hub and spoke model with which the church has engaged since the late 50s. Our PB is trying to lead us into thinking more along networked lines, but it is going to be hard to change old habits and suppositions.

Meanwhile, to get back to the actual topic -- I see a number of the dioceses that voted against the Covenant have supported this following motion. I do not think there is anything ulterior in it, but a way to say Yes to the Communion while saying No to the proposed Covenant.


I think you strayed the original conversation when you stated, "Jim, frankly, I think there is no reason for a national "Christian Formation" budget line. Christian Formation is not a national or international "thing."

Christian educators (clergy & lay, volunteer & paid) who minister with children, youth, young adult and adults are very concerned at how the proposed budget has decimated support for Christian formation. There are a number of resources and network connections that the church-level provides that helps those on the local level. By removing funding from this area of the church's mission, we are saying we do not value Christian formation. It's not just about EYE - it's about supporting the future generations of our church. If we don't support ministry to our children and youth, there won't be any adults to be of part The Episcopal Church to even understand what the Anglican Communion is.

Sharon Ely Pearson
Diocese of Connecticut
Standing Commission on Christian Formation and Education

Any organization that has both a domestic and an international reach must fund both domestic and international activities proportionally. That is why in the executive branch of the US govt we have, for instance, a secretary of education AND a secretary of defense AND a secretary of state. For TEC to heavily fund work in the larger Communion in lieu of work in its own province, formation or otherwise, is short-sighted. If it does not invest in itself then eventually TEC will not be around to do the Communion work nor the provincial.

Sharon, if you check back I think you will see it was Jim who raised the issue of Christian Formation; and it was to that I was responding.

You put your finger on the issue, though. It is ultimately about "what we are saying about" any particular item when it comes to funding at a national level. Everyone thinks that their own area needs a "desk" at 815, and support for their own network via that mechanism. With only so much in the way of resources to go around, decisions have to be made about priorities. A national office for Christian Formation is not one of those priorities in the eyes of those who crafted the budget. I do not think they intended this as a reflection on Christian Formation, but in the extent to which that work requires national coordination.

Indeed, a tangled (but fascinating) comment thread.

I initially raised the ACO in the context of the post on the so-called "following motion." My point is simply that words are well and good but they need to be backed up with dollars and commitment. The proposed budget further cuts our commitment to one significant part of the Anglican Communion.

Parishes grumble about paying assessments to the diocese. Dioceses grumble about paying assessments to the churchwide office. It is no surprise that there would also be grumbling about paying assessments to the ACO. And the ACO has done - and will do - things we disagree with, just as I believe my diocese and my churchwide office have done - and will continue to do so. But that doesn't mean I don't think those organizations should exist or I can pick and choose what my money supports. On some level, we need all these organizations - just as we need to be actively involved in their oversight and management.

And, of course, in a time of financial scarcity, everything needs to be weighed and measured. We've cut our funding for the ACO quite a bit in recent years. Maybe we need to cut it more. But if we're going to keep making positive noises like these "following motions," (and I know this resolution is from the C of E, but we've passed similar motions in the past), I'd like for us to keep finding the money for them as well.


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