A troubling interpretation

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In a comment on the blog Titus 1:9, Ephraim Radner, a member of the Covenant Design Group, has suggested that the word “Church” was used in the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Covenant rather than the word “province” to provide for the possibility that schismatic churches and individual dioceses could “request recognition and participation” in the covenant. He writes:

Dr. Noll asks one of the question very much in some peoples minds. The answer is that the word church is not carefully defined because it would have been overly limiting of a number of potential situations we did not feel it was wise to constrain in advance, including churches now in a relationship of ecumenical partnership, as well as future uniting churches, currently extra-jurisdictional dioceses, or future ones, etc.. The specific issue of ACNA or an individual diocese in a non-covenanting province was placed on the table, discussed at length, and we agreed that no limitation on this possibility would be defined. I.e., of course ACNA or siuch a diocese can sign and formally request recognition and participation.”

This gives rise to three questions:

If the purpose of the covenant is to bring greater unity to the Communion–rather than to break provinces into ideological camps–why allow a piecemeal approach to membership that is likely to encourage provincial fragmentation Communion-wide?

Is the purpose of the covenant is to bring greater unity to the Communion, or is it an attempt to encourage conservative dioceses in liberal provinces to form “church within a church” arrangements that are legitimized by communion with the See of Canterbury? This certainly wasn’t my view yesterday when I was willing to read the document on its merits, but Radner’s enlightening comments now have me wondering if I was being naive.

And finally, to put this quite simply, if Radner is reflecting the design group’s deliberations accurately, can we trust them? When I read the word “Church” –note the capital C–in the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the covenant, I assumed it meant province. A number of people have informed the Anglican Communion office that they are tired of having their Churches referred to as provinces, because, to their mind, it suggests that the Communion is the ecclesial version of the British Empire, and that member “Churches” have legitimacy only in so far as they are “provinces” of the Communion. I was assuming the Covenant Design Group was responding to this sensitivity, and thought this assumption was buttressed by the explicit recognition of provincial autonomy at various places in the text. Now, assuming Radner’s accuracy, I learn that “Church” was “not carefully defined” on purpose, and that the CDG envisioned scenarios in which schismatic churches and individual dioceses could “formally request recognition and participation” in the covenant, but felt no need to say so explicitly. To learn that important fact, it was necessary to follow the comments of a former director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy on a conservative Anglican blog.

I am wondering what other words in the Ridley Cambridge Draft have hidden definitions and when a member of the Covenant Design Group will disclose them to us. This covenant should not be approved by the Anglican Consultative Council unless the word “Church” is defined–openly–to everyone’s satisfaction.

(I should make clear that I know and trust a few members of the Covenant Design Group, so I find what the Rev. Radner is saying particularly puzzling.)

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52 Responses to "A troubling interpretation"
  1. In regard to the potential for salimi slicing of provinces, when I read what Radner's comment this morning it brought to mind Rowan's disturbing October 2007 letter to Howe:

    http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/dojustice/abc_to_cfl.html

    "The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such. Those who are rushing into separatist solutions are, I think, weakening that basic conviction of Catholic theology and in a sense treating the provincial structure of The Episcopal Church as if it were the most important thing - which is why I continue to hope and pray for the strengthening of the bonds of mutual support among those Episcopal Church Bishops who want to be clearly loyal to Windsor. ... I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the 'national church'."

    Rowan does not seem to understand why the rules of the Anglican Communion for the creation of provinces place emphasis on coherence and viability. His letter is an invitation to fragmentation, and what is most troubling is that he does not seem to understand that.

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  2. I understand the concern expressed here, but I think the anxieties over subterfuge are rather hyperbolic.

    The CDG is not trying to encourage provinces to split up (and Naughton himself knows that I have stood against such splitting consistently, as has every "conservative" on the CDG). The splits have already happened.

    As I stated, the purpose of leaving "church" undefined is because, in the present reality of Christian life, including the Anglican Communion, it IS undefined, for better or ill. This Covenant really does seek to be open to a dynamic of regathering, not simply among Anglicans, but within the wider Oikumene of the dispersed Christian Church. It must also be open to non-provincial Anglican jurisdictions that already exist and may well exist in the future due to non-conflictive situations.

    As for ACNA, or a diocese at odds its province over Communion relations, we were indeed agreed -- though with differing degrees of concern -- that charity demanded that the door be left open in this fashion, though without guarantees.

    This last point, made quite explicit, is what will keep the dynamics of fragmentation in rein. There is no blank check for schism here. "Recognition" and "participation" follow discernment and agreement within the integrating structures of the Communion. The Covenant is generous to the larger Christian world; but it is not itself without definition.

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  3. The Preamble's opening words: "We, as Churches of the Anglican Communion..."

    The word church is not again until section 1.

    Section 1 opens: "1.1 Each Church affirms"

    Section 2 opens: "2.1 Each Church affirms"

    Section 3 opens: "3.1 Each Church affirms"

    Section 4 opens: "Each Church affirms the following procedures, and, reliant on the Holy Spirit, commits itself to their implementation."

    As Marshall Scott comments at Thinking Anglicans, there, however, is this: "(4.1.5) It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant. Adoption of this Covenant does not bring any right of recognition by, or membership of, the Instruments of Communion. Such recognition and membership are dependent on the satisfaction of those conditions set out by each of the Instruments. However, adoption of the Covenant by a Church may be accompanied by a formal request to the Instruments for recognition and membership to be acted upon according to each Instrument's procedures."

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  4. So just so I am understanding this correctly:

    a) the word Church does have a special meaning in the Ridley Cambridge draft that is not explained in the text, and is therefore potentially unknown to most of those who have received it;

    b) you (and so far, only you) have been authorized to tell us this special meaning;

    c) you thought the best place to do that was in a conversation with schismatic leader Stephen Noll and on the blog Titus 1:9.

    and

    d) those of us familiar with your long campaign to create a church within a church for the so-called Windsor Bishops (which almost succeeded at Dar es Salaam) are not supposed to have any concerns that given a, b and c, you aren't up to the same thing here?

    I think that is a lot to ask. Doesn't it concern you at all that those of us who might be persuaded to support this thing are alienated by this kind of maneuvering?

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  5. I am sorry, but Dr. Radner's extended comments on TitusOneNine indicate the inclusion of a back door into the communion that will be controlled by any of the Instruments acting unilaterally. This will just add more chaos to the already anarchic mix of behaviors.

    More troubling, however is is remark that the Covenant takes effect once two "churches" sign on. This is silly and will create yet more chaos. Suppose the ACN and the Common Cause Partners sign on tomorrow, do they then have access to provisions of section 4?

    Dr. Radner we have no reason to impart any trust in the good intentions of Bishop Gomez or the committee as a whole when it leaves such vagaraties as your comments on TitusOneNine suggest are there. That two "Churches" can initiate the covenant is absurd. There needs to be a process of review and adoption by the provinces that assures that some large majority wish this draft to exist. Otherwise it has no authority.

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  6. Given that one of the things apparently covenanted to is respect for the governance of existing Churches that are already part of the Anglican Communion, and a commitment to remain in communion with them, how could ACNA or any other dissident diocese or province (or Church, e.g., Nigeria) sign on?

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  7. John noted my reaction to section 4.1.5. Let me add another section, with my reaction.

    (4.3.1) Any covenanting Church may decide to withdraw from the Covenant. Although such withdrawal does not imply an automatic withdrawal from the Instruments or a repudiation of its Anglican character, it raises a question relating to the meaning of the Covenant, and of compatibility with the principles incorporated within it, and it triggers the provisions set out in section 4.2.2 above.

    Once again, there is this interesting distinction made between participating in the Covenant and participating in the Instruments of Communion. Looking back at the question implied in the Preamble, one can wonder what the relationships are among “participating in the Covenant;” “recognition by the Instruments of Communion;” and “membership in the Anglican Communion.”

    I think this vagueness may or may not be intended to allow challenges from "non-province" ecclesial entities; but surely it creates the possibility.

    Marshall Scott

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  8. Marshall, your last sentence reminds me of something the Rowan Williams said in a letter to Bishop Howe (if I remember rightly) about the possibility of individual dioceses covenanting with the larger communion should the Provinces elect not to.

    I wonder if the interpretation you see would allow for that possibility.

    And if so, would that be a bad thing? I'm not sure I can see that it would be, at least not automatically.

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  9. One more thing about Ephraim Radner's posting. He asserts that he conservatives on the CDG have stood against splitting. Drexel Gomez, the chair of the group preached at the consecrations of Atwood and Murdoch, the two former Episcopal priests who are now bishops of the Church of Kenya's US operation. To say that he has stood against splitting is simply false.

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  10. Church is still a better word than province, but not for the reasons Radner gives. The Communion is a communion of churches, each with its own integrity and its own constitution and canons.

    The churches can discipline members. A communion cannot, except by breaking the bonds of affection. The covenant proposals continue to try to substitute juridicial structures for fraternal relations, and this is troubling. If your brother or sister tells you to do something stupid, you can tell them to go to hell without ceasing to be family. And it doesn't mean you don't value their advice on other matters. This is the genius of Anglicanism. We have adult siblings with no (earthly) father.

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  11. I was going to suggest "National Churches", to get around the ambiguity...

    ...and then I remembered trans-national TEC.

    I coming around the POV of "to get out of the HOLE which is the Anglican Covenant, stop digging".

    By all means, let's agree to study it for 3 years---but I can't imagine this thing being any more workable than any of the previous drafts ("workable" in the sense of "true to the Gospel, and our baptismal integrity")

    JC Fisher

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  12. No, Mr. Naughton, you are not understanding this correctly:

    a. the word "church" does not have a "special meaning" in the text. In the section you are concerned about, it followed section 4.1.4, where "church" is described in terms of "Every Church of the Anglican Communion, as recognised in accordance with the Constitution of the ACC". Here, in section 4.1.5., it says "It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant". "Other Churches", then, stands in contrast to "Every Church of the Anglican Communion", acc. to the ACC. And it means what it says. Southern Baptists could adopt the Covenant; Moravians could; a dioceses could; a parish could. All of these are "other Churches" by general (not special) definition. Adoption, however, does not automatically mean membership in the Anglican Communion, first because such adoption may be incompatible with the actual ordering of ecclesial life that the adopting "church" possesses; second, because the character of such an adopting Church may be viewed by the Instruments as incoherent with, not ready for, in conflict with, etc. realities of the Communion's life.

    b. since the meaning of the word is not "special" at all, but quite general and straight-forward, I have not been "authorized" to tell it to you. Rather, some people seem perplexed that the word means what it says, and I am simply affirming its obvious meaning.

    c. Since I am simply affirming what is a straightforward reading of the word, I suppose I could have done it anywhere. In fact, I have already done so on the street, in a church, in a restaurant, and to students, priests, and bishops, in emails, and, yes, on a "conservative" blog. If responding to Stephen Noll's question strikes you as inappropriate, to others it simply seems like good manners. Just as I am responding to your own questions.

    d. Given that a, b, and c, are non-starters, d. really has no pertinence.

    I am well aware that many readers and commenters of this site mistrust me. Perhaps I have earned it, but in any case, so be it. However, I do very much want to encourage a sympathetic reading of the Covenant by those who visit this site, because in fact the Covenant is designed to engage and serve as broad a gathering of committed Anglicans in communion as possible. It was not designed to find a way to kick TEC out of the Communion; but nor was it designed as a way of permanently shutting down the alternative voices of those who have left TEC over the past few years, but may wish to engage the life of the Communion on the basis of teachings and witness that cohere with other parts of that Communion. Designing something that would provide a means of -- though certainly not the necessity for -- reordering the commitments of both these groups in terms of relations, consultation, and decision-making in a Christian fashion is obviously not easy. For some, from varying viewpoints, it might indeed seem an incoherent purpose at best. But we believe that the diversely ordered decision-making of the INstruments as it has been set out provides not only checks and balances, but more importantly for a Christian communion, the organic interlocking movement of consultation, decision, and accountability that will sustain common life over time in a faithful way.

    Part of that movement means that not every step will be in complete conformance with another at any given time; that is, recommendations or directions may not be uniform among the Instruments initially. But the process, if followed through in the form of the Covenant's commitments, is expected, and will eventually reach a level of consistency. And if not, clearly will represent a decision, on a Communion-wide level, literally, to defer.

    In some ways, Americans of all people, should be familiar with this approach to matters, at least politically. What is different in the Communion from, e.g. our own republican order, is that the Communion lacks separate executives and judiciaries. But even with them, the process of common life is ordered in a spiralling way. Within a Christian frame, the internal ballasts for such a way are given first in the common openness to God's directing grace through God's vehicles of revelation, and second in the disciplines of mutual relation that are outlined, e.g. in the Covenant itself.

    The Communion has been groping its way forward over the past few years, leaving broken pieces along way, to be sure. But groping has not been without order and rationale (many of believe). What it has lacked is agreed-upon and therefore expected and accountable order and rationale, a reality that, if in place, promises greater peace and moral authority at work in the process.

    If the bottom line is that TEC or GAFCON does not wish to have its relationships in the Communion shaped by the burden of its own decisions and those of others, as the flip side of the gift of their sustenance, then the Covenant is not for them. Furthermore, if one enters into a covenant, this one as much as any, with the same mistrust towards other parties that one has held outside the covenant, it is hardly likely that relations will be either sustained or shaped in any positive way.

    I do think that we are both called to a deeper place, and one where if we enter, we will find a wider grace. It is a place of a common praise of God by the nations and peoples, but also one sanctified by suffering a common witness in the midst of diverse struggles.

    A small informational addendum, regarding Abp. Gomez: I will allow the Abp. to explain his presence at the consecrations of Atwood et al. if he chooses. He has explained these privately, but not publicly to my knowledge. However, those who konw him and have seen him work -- in larger groups of the Global South, in his own province and diocese, in Communion affairs, at Lambeth, among the Primates -- and are aware of his private AND public statements regarding the Communion's life and the paths he supports for its healing, will know that that Mr. Naughton's claim that "it is simply false" that the Archbishop has stood against splitting is untenable. Mr. Naughton, I'm afraid, is regrettably ignorant on this score.

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  13. For me two things jump out.

    1. Emphasizing the private comments of the ABC to +Howe, and +Howe making them very public has set us up for the recent actions of the vestry of Christ Church, San Antonio, Dio. West Texas;

    AFFIRMING THE INTEGRITY OF DIOCESAN GOVERNANCE IN THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH

    WHEREAS, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church and the Office of the Presiding Bishop are constitutionally and historically instruments of the various dioceses, and serve at the pleasure and for the benefit of the dioceses; and

    WHEREAS, in a letter dated October 14, 2007 to Bishop John W. Howe of the Diocese of Central Florida, the Archbishop of Canterbury affirms that, “The organ of ?union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such;” and

    WHEREAS, the Communion Partners Bishops, of which our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, is a participant, has stated that the office of “bishop” is the focus of unity for The Episcopal Church, and that “Traditionally, this has been understood in terms of bishop-to-bishop relationships;” and

    WHEREAS, the General Convention Budget has historically been funded by dioceses based on their financial capability and voluntary choice;

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that, in action by its Vestry at a regular meeting on March 17, 2009, Christ Church, San Antonio affirms that it is in union with the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ directly through the Anglican Communion, its Instruments of Unity, and our Diocesan Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that our rector, clergy and vestry accepts no actions that would reverse the authority roles between Dioceses and the General Convention, or would grant the Office of the Presiding Bishop executive powers over Dioceses and their Bishops; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we accept no specific actions by General Convention that would mandate financial assessments from Dioceses to the General Convention budget; unilaterally impose trust interests on diocesan and congregational assets; place laypersons who hold leadership roles under disciplinary canons.

    So they perpetuate the myth that dioceses are their own entity, and can come and go among provinces as their diocesan assemblies so choose. It is also an attempt to make an end run around such things as the TEC Dennis Canon and TEC's future revisions to the disciplinary canons.

    But if in reality dioceses are the "basic conviction of Catholic theology," how long before the strengthened Instruments of Communion declare null and void our individual provincial synodical assemblies, and merely de facto recognize our houses, colleges or benches of bishops as national or regional episcopal conferences and the Anglican Communion and Canterbury more directly mirror +Cantaur's beloved Rome?

    2. This Covenant really does seek to be open to a dynamic of regathering, not simply among Anglicans, but within the wider Oikumene of the dispersed Christian Church.

    When did this become part of the mandate to the CDG? Where is this represented in the two previous drafts? Why did we not recognize it as such in those drafts or why was it not then pointed out to us?

    Could it be because in the time of the two previous drafts, little ACNA was still but a gleam in his daddy's eye?

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  14. Rev. Radner, thank you for this explaination. I will give it some thought. It certainly changes my sense of what the covenant is for, since as you explain it, it no longer seems to be concerned exclusively, or even primarily, with uniting the Anglican Communion.

    The only bone I have to pick at the moment is that I am not ignorant of Drexel Gomez's attempts to explain away his participation in the consecrations in Kenya. We published an article that touched on this at the Cafe some months ago. It is here:

    https://www.episcopalcafe.com/daily/anglican_communion/gomez_argues_for_the_covenant.php

    and the relevant section reads as follows:

    "In perhaps the most pointed comment of the evening, Leonel Abaroa Boloña, a student at Trinity College, Toronto, stated that Archbishop Gomez had preached at the consecration of two bishops whose consecration was expressly for the purpose of pastoral care to Anglicans in America disaffected by the Episcopal Church’s stand toward homosexuality. Boloña argued that Gomez’s presence at the consecration, which took place in Kenya, seemed to be inconsistent with the stance of the Windsor Report and the Anglican Covenant, both of which Gomez played a part in producing and is expressly supportive of.

    “'I need consistency', said Boloña, 'and as the Primate of the West Indies and as a person who says he supports the Windsor Report, you are saying one thing and doing another.'

    "Gomez responded that his presence at the consecration was not as Primate, but as close friend of the two men being consecrated. He denied that his actions were in any way inconsistent with his words."

    I find this unpersuasive.

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  15. Gomez responded that his presence at the consecration was not as Primate, but as close friend of the two men being consecrated. He denied that his actions were in any way inconsistent with his words."

    Jim - I think I must say a word for Absp Drexel here. Like many of us, Drexel was put in an almost impossible position by conflicting loyalties. At the Kenyan consecrations there was a clash of personal friendships, and ecclesial realities. Drexel tried to balance the equation by attending in a personal capacity, preaching, but not participating in the consecration by the laying on of hands. Maybe not the best solution, but an honest attempt to balance a difficult situation.

    (editor's note: Gregory, we need your full name next time.)

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  16. Gergory, I think it was obvious to one and all that Gomez was sending a message and that he intended to do so. Then he tried to deny that he had sent it so that it wouldn't cost him his position of power.

    If he had any interest in having a relationship with the other Anglican Churches in the Americas, his would not have been the only province not to send a single representative to the gathering of the Anglican Churches of the Americas in Costa Rica in February.

    I think it is possible to argue that the head of the CDG had to be anti-TEC for political reasons, but I don't think it is tenable to argue that Gomez isn't anti-TEC.

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  17. Rev. Radner,

    I am still working thorugh your last reponse and I ask this question in all sincerity, and not in a gotcha sort of way:

    why is it a good idea to have a covenant that Southern Baptists and Morvaians can sign on to, and that church organizations as small as parishes can sign on to, and at what point did that begin one of the goals of this endeavor?

    It strikes me as coming rather out of the blue, but perhaps I have been missing something.

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  18. "Drexel was put in an almost impossible position by conflicting loyalties." No he wasn't, Gregory. He had the options of not attending and not preaching at the consecrations (my memory of photographs of the event is that he was in the rear row at the consecrations, apparently participating in the ceremony, though hanging on to a fig-leaf of deniability), or of honorably resigning his position as chair of the Covenant Design Group. He did neither. No "impossibility" here - the man wanted - and got - to have his cake and eat it.

    Roger Mortimer

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  19. "a) the word Church does have a special meaning in the Ridley Cambridge draft that is not explained in the text, and is therefore potentially unknown to most of those who have received it;"

    So what? Much of what is being said in the Covenant will need to be clarified, discussed, questioned, etc. The Covenant simply left the term undefined so as not to preclude potential future memberships. In response to someone's earlier post and Mr. Naughton, your latest post, this is in fact quite consistent with the concern for ecumenical relationships that were laid out in earlier drafts and more particularly in responses to the various Covenant drafts. The Covenant is not written specifically with the intent that our ecumenical partner Churches sign on (but why not if they're willing to order themselves accordingly?); rather it is written for the purpose of drawing those who freely choose to live in Covenant with one another into a set of relationships, grounded in evangelical commitments, that allow for accountability to the Gospel as it is lived ecclesially. But why should this only be limited to 'Anglican Churches?'

    "b) you (and so far, only you) have been authorized to tell us this special meaning;"

    This has nothing to do with 'authorization'; someone is simply clarifying (as will happen over time) the meaning of the Covenant as it is read and as questions are raised. That others who participated in the Covenant design process have not commented is simply a matter of their own choice.

    "c) you thought the best place to do that was in a conversation with schismatic leader Stephen Noll and on the blog Titus 1:9."

    I think this this is an unfair accusation. Stephen Noll asked Dr. Radner to confirm a statement that I had made in Post 4 (optimus prime) which was my take on reading the Covenant Draft. Dr Radner did not bring the issue up out of the blue or as some sort of 'conservative conspiracy':

    I quote from Kendall Harmon:

    Post 4. optimus prime wrote: If you take a close look at the Covenant, you’ll see that when it refers to ‘Church’, it does not specify ‘Province.’ ‘Church’ refers to any ‘church’ on the ACC schedule; it can therefore include dioceses, regional churches, extra-provincial churches and ecumenical partners. So any Church on the ACC schedule is free to sign onto the Covenant, which indicates that Church’s request to participate in the Instruments i.e. Lambeth, Primates’ Meeting.

    Post 27. Stephen Noll wrote: I wonder if Dr. Radner would kindly comment on #4 above, i.e., whether there is an explicit or implicit understanding that “We, as Churches of the Anglican Communion...” can include entities other than the 38 Provinces.).

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  20. Ms. Silcox, what I am pointing to is a political problem. Surely you can see that having the news that ACNA and individual dioceses can sign on to the covenant emerge in a conversation between Rev. Radner and Stephen Noll on T19 decreases the liklihood that the covenant will be viewed favorably by the Episcopal Church and others who are suspecious of the Anglican right. You may wish it were otherwise and believe it should not be so, but I think that as a matter of simple politics, this is indisputable.

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  21. Mr. Naughton,

    as stated, this issue arose as a result of the Covenant having been posted to the Kendall Harmon site and of subsequent questions arising.

    Dr. Radner, along with every other member of the design group, is free to answer questions that are posed as he has done on the Covenant site and on this site as well. Is your expectation that he remain silent in clarifying questions posed to him? This seems an odd expectation. Would you also expect that he remain silent in responding to your posts on this blog given how the 'right' might perceive his interaction? Should he only be free to share this information with certain persons? If so, how would you propose that one discern with whom he should discuss things?

    The 'hard right' and the 'hard left' already view the Covenant unfavorably - that is not at issue - nor can it be a mitigating factor in clarifying the meaning and implications of the Covenant.

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  22. My professional advice, had I been asked for it, would have been for the chair of the design group or the secretary general of the communion to break this vey important and potentially controversial news and answer questions. Then Rev. Radner would have been free to offer further details where he wanted when he wanted without the added burden of being the first to break the news. Believe me, as someone who does this for a living, this is not how you reach a mass audience with sensitive news.

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  23. But it was released in the Covenant ... and it seemed pretty clear, if one read objectively and with care, that the Covenant was open to more than just Provinces since 1. there are several jurisdictions that are included in the ACC that are not Provinces; and 2. the use of the term 'other'; 3. there is some question given our different polities within the Communion, what a 'Church' actually is:

    (4.1.4) Every Church of the Anglican Communion, as recognised in accordance with the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, is invited to adopt this Covenant in its life according to its own constitutional procedures.

    (4.1.5) It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant.

    This is exactly why I made the statement I did in number 4 posted above. I'm not sure this required explicit statement.

    An explicit statement could in fact have ended up being unintentionally exclusionary.

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  24. This is my last comment for several days -- please do not take my silence as rebuff. We all have other business!

    The ecumenical openness that the Covenant provides, to which I alluded above, one that frames the statement regarding "other Churches" adopting the Covenant, is something that has been informative of the Covenant even before the first draft. Not only was the pressing need for Anglicans to present some greater coherence of witness to the ider Church something expressed by ecumenical friends and partners, but it was noted by those who first promoted the idea of a Covenant.

    With the first draft, of course, came the initial theological Introduction's discussion of "communion" as something far wider than Anglicanism's individual calling and also something served by Anglicanism's particular gifts and purpose. More than a few responses to the drafts since then have urged a greater articulation of and commitment to these fundamental claims (the Church of England was particularly concerned with this, but not alone by any means), left somewhat latent in the text of the Covenant itself. We have happily taken these comments seriously, as each draft has evolved, because we do indeed believe that this movement towards and on behalf of the wider Church is indeed something that Anglicanism's communion evolution has been oriented towards and drawn into. Mr. Allen wonders where the CDG got this "mandate"; but the answer is that it has nothing to do primarily with the CDG but with the mandate to all Christians from our Lord. Anglicans are Anglicans not for their own sake, but for the sake of the world and the larger Church; we would bind ourselves more strongly one with another, not for the sake of our own needs, but as a witness and help to others with respect to the gift of communion into which God calls and draws us in Christ Jesus. Although the occasion of the Covenant's articulation and potential implementation is a "problem" within our Anglican common life, the Covenant is not about problem-solving. The problem has disclosed to us a vocation; but the vocation is wide-armed.

    As to the best place to have conversations about our work: no doubt, the CDG is not particularly savvy, nor am I in an individual sense. Oh well... At the same time, I think we are well past, in the Communion at present, the usefullness of protocols of reserve when it comes to decision-making, as well as the calculations of persuasive rhetorical postures. Time for "yes be yes and no be no".

    Finally, I do not wish to prolong the discussion of Abp. Gomez. But if it is true that he wanted to have his cake and eat it too, he certainly has ended up with neither: he has been savaged by Right and the Left in the Communion, on the one hand for sticking with the Communion's common life and order (and that includes TEC as a part of it thus far) and refusing to sponsor breakaway groups or to join e.g. GAFCON; and on the other, for making explicit his opposition to the views and actions of many leaders in TEC (though by no means all). I sympathize! It is true enough, though: these kinds of positions are rarely "persuasive".

    Blessings on these holy days for all.

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  25. Rev. Radner, given some of the testy exchanges you and I have had in the past, I wanted to express my appreciation for your willingness to drop in. I hope you will return.

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  26. This conversation has certainly been enlightening for me. I had no idea that the Anglican Covenant was evolving into a tool to covenantally reunite the divergent churches of Christendom and I have read a great deal of what has been shared with the public.

    I would hope that we in the pews are given a chance to hear more detailed explanations and have long discussions about this mighty document for a good long while; the fact that it elicits such lengthy and complex explanations and defense suggests that it deserves very close and careful scrutiny.

    Priscilla Cardinale

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  27. Our ecumenical partners are not looking to sign on to an Anglican Covenant. They may be looking to the covenant as a means by which the family of churches -- read provinces and other similar bodies in communion with the See of Canterbury -- IN the Anglican Communion show greater uniformity. The call within the communion was for a covenant that the members of this family of churches could express greater communion with each other.

    Neither of these drivers says anything about "other churches" whether they be other denominations, umbrella groups such as Gafcon, schismatics (e.g., CANA, AMiA...) or individual dioceses. That other denominations might want to sign on is a red herring. Opening the covenant to the other "other churches" is to allow the covenant to be hijacked as to sow division -- exactly the opposite of the alleged purpose of a covenant.

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  28. I wouldn't normally bother posting so far down in a thread, but the absurdity of the idea of using the "covenant" to unite all of Christendom is too great to resist, and the only proper response I can think of is ROTFL.

    We've gone from the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral to this? Please. I agree with someone who said in an earlier thread that the New Covenant was quite enough for her, as far as covenants go.

    Jason Cox

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  29. ¨I wouldn't normally bother posting so far down in a thread, but the absurdity of the idea of using the "covenant" to unite all of Christendom is too great to resist, and the only proper response I can think of is ROTFL¨ Jason

    Exactly, until, the fear/hatedriven madness within the Church/Communion becomes a sane and TRUST based foundation of genuine LOVE and understanding and appreciation for The Ten Commandments (and acting on them) nobody is going to rush-in to sign up as we stampede off the upcoming cliff of pridefilled self-destruction...do you really think spiritually healthy religious folks (or anyone emotionally sound) are/is going to go along with a deceptive and selfrighteous ¨Anglican¨ Covenant con job?

    No sale.

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  30. This endorsement should allay all fears:

    On behalf of the Episcopal Desk of the American Anglican Council, we extend thanks to the Communion Partners group and the Anglican Communion Institute for their efforts to develop an Anglican Covenant that will establish doctrinal and disciplinary boundaries for those who wish to remain in the Anglican Communion—especially for those in TEC who continue to affirm the uniqueness and universality of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of all, the authority of His word and the faith once delivered to the apostles. ... Under God’s mercy and faithfulness, The Right Rev. David C. Anderson, President and CEO. American Anglican Council, The Rev. J. Philip Ashey, J.D., Chief Operating Officer and Chaplain, American Anglican Council

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  31. We are all busy indeed Dr. Radner, and I do hope you drop back by. None the less, your protestations are flaccid at best in the face of your comments on TitusOneNine.

    You are or have been part of groups that has generated great mischief with the use of carefully crafted language and even greater mischief with sloppy word ussage. The ACN, for example took an offhand remark from the ++ABC on "networking" and turned it into an organization seeking recognition as a shadow Province. Likewise another remark in a letter to Bishop Howe on the centrality of Dioceses with respect to the See of Canterbury has led, practically, to a whole new ecclesiology on the part of some of the disaffected.

    So the last thing we need is a document with the sort of sloppy language that serves as swiss cheese for interpretation by those looking to fulfill their own agendas. That people representing those agendas crafted the language is sufficient cause for suspicion and rejection of the document.

    You well know the sort of lengths that the ACN and others will go to to get their way. So the language of any new document needs to be bulletproof against mischief. By your own admission on TitusOneNine this document does not meet that standard.

    Finally you do not address the issue of when, where and how the "Instruments" became real and by what process of consent that happened. You also failed to address the huge flaw of declaring the Covenant in effect once two churches agree to it.

    I am sorry this is poor work in a troubled time.

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  32. "So the last thing we need is a document with the sort of sloppy language that serves as swiss cheese for interpretation by those looking to fulfill their own agendas."

    How interesting, the extreme right and left actually agree on something! Of course the hard left in TEC believe it's the hard right agenda being served here and the hard right believe it is the TEC agenda being served.

    "That people representing those agendas crafted the language is sufficient cause for suspicion and rejection of the document."

    Are there actually people out there who have been under the impression that enough of TEC would accept entry into relationships that limit their 'naked autonomy?' I've not yet run across anyone who stands anywhere along the line of the liberal-conservative spectrum who has expected this.

    Of course TEC is free to reject it; in practice parts of TEC have already rejected interdependent relationship (that to which the Covenant is calling people), where decisions made by the gathered Church are rejected in favor of local decisions without the consent of the rest of the Church. Part of TEC has already determined that it prefers to act as a Church with federal polity; rejecting the Covenant would just make that choice explicit.

    Of course there are members and former members of TEC that wish to order their lives according to interdependent relationship with the rest of the members of the communion (i.e. common decision-making and adherence to the decisions made) and both the wider Communion's and TEC's own polity allows these entities to declare their choice by signing onto the Covenant.

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  33. The St. Andrews Draft received responses from around the communion including one from the Wycliffe Student Body (Radner is on the faculty of theology). The cover letter with that response is signed by Michael Caines, President, Wycliffe Student Body

    and Katie Silcox, Vice President Theology, Wycliffe Student Body. Their response is here:

    http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/docs/Wycliffe%20Student%20Body%20Response.pdf

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  34. I am willing to call the evidence on Archbishop Gomez ambivalent. If I recall correctly, he was asked explicitly by separating congregations in the Diocese of Florida to provide "oversight," and he refused.

    Dr. Radner wrote, "Although the occasion of the Covenant's articulation and potential implementation is a "problem" within our Anglican common life, the Covenant is not about problem-solving. The problem has disclosed to us a vocation; but the vocation is wide-armed."

    Perhaps the Design Group came to that position. My own reflection is that it has been entirely about problem-solving. If that's not what it's about, there is no demonstrable need for the fourth section, or at least for much of its content. If it's not about problem-solving, a commitment to remain in communication and do our best to maintain eucharistic fellowship despite differences would suffice.

    Marshall Scott

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  35. Cool. Thanks for posting that - it might actually get read by someone now!

    I'm not really sure what the point of posting this information is though. Do you think there's yet another conspiracy theory going on here? Sorry to disappoint. I simply happen to be theologically inclined toward conciliar theology as a fruitful way of engaging in relationship in the historical context of our divided Church.

    I do not support autonomous decision-making (by TEC or by various conservative groups) as I believe it to be detrimental to the mission of the Church. However, if a Church so chooses to act in such a fashion, then it is important to point out the implications of such actions.

    So yes indeed I am a supporter of the Covenant, I have taken much time in reading all of its drafts and in coordinating responses to them.

    Have I been influenced by Dr. Radner - certainly I have. I find his work rather hopeful given the rather challenging circumstances of the Church at present.

    Do I participate on the same blogs that he does? Well yes; so do his colleagues and other students. Welcome to the world of the Church and of public forums.

    So what exactly was the point in posting this John?

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  36. Well, you're half right in your guess. That is my name; however, that is not me at the link.

    I've only been to Oakland once in my life and it definitely didn't involve yoga! Though that is rather amusing for a number of reasons!

    Unfortunately I will have to bow out of the discussion at least for a few days as other duties call. Blessings to all this weekend.

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  37. Apropos of my comment above about the position of Abp Gomez during the consecration of Bill Atwater & William Murdoch, the photograph of the consecration reproduced on the front page of the 7 September 2007 issue of the Church Times, shows him just where I remembered his being - dead center in the photograph, on the outer edge of the ring of consecrating bishops.

    http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp?id=44090

    Roger Mortimer

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  38. John,

    I do wonder why you didn't simply ask where I was coming from? The manner in which you went about determining who you thought I was (although it didn't quite work) seems a bit convoluted.

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  39. It seems very strange to me that the Covenant Process -- which claims to the contrary notwithstanding was exactly about "problem solving" (re-read the Windsor Report, which rather narrowly gets down to brass tacks with the specific "problems") -- the goal of framing an expanded version of the Lambeth Quadrilateral (also intended as a means to gather the scattered fragments of Christendom into one household), while admirable, seems out of keeping with the title and Preamble of the present document.

    The notion of individual non-Anglican churches, or individual dioceses, or parishes, signing on to this Covenant makes it seem rather more Confessional -- like the Baltimore Declaration of bygone years.

    It seems to me that bringing order to the Anglican Household and chewing gum at the same time is not an exercise of which the Communion (as it stands) will show itself capable. One thing at a time seems advisable. Let's get the Anglicans to agree to something before opening the door to wider fellowship. Foundations first, then buildings.

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  40. Tobias, the question to my mind--and I think this is true for a lot of people--is: don't we agree to enough already to be getting on with being a communion? Why do we need anything more than the Quadrilateral?

    I've never heard a convincing reason, from either side, about why a covenant is necessary--what positive things it will enable that we can't do already. So I assume--however much this is denied by those on the right--that the prime motivation for the covenant's creation is to slow down or halt certain churchs/provinces/whatever's march in the direction of sacramental equality for GLBT folk.

    But this is honestly a question: what positive things do you hope to see in a covenant, that we don't already have? (I'm sure you've probably written this elsewhere--just give me a link if you have.)

    Jason Cox

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  41. Jason, I quite agree. I could well support a covenant based on mission -- such as the one proposed by the Inter-Anglican Commission on that subject -- for surely the only good that I see coming from the Anglican Communion under whatever form is enhancement and advancement of mission, which is the task of the church. The proposals of the Covenant Design Group, from the beginning on, seem rather more inward-looking towards the ecclesiastical structures themselves, rather than the work they do. It's true that division and dissension in the church can hinder mission; but I think it is also true that the best remedy is to focus on the common work instead of trying to argue away the differences. Why not accept the differences and continue to work together? I'm part of a clergy coalition in the Bronx that includes all sorts of religious leaders, including Imams and Rabbis -- yet we are able to work together on issues of community concern. Dealing with the real-world issues of hunger and poverty might draw us closer in the Spirit's tether, and we might find our disagreements were adiaphora after all.

    Meanwhile, for all of Dr Radner's assertion that ecumenism was at the heart of the Covenant from its outset, the real genesis is, as you say, the desire to limit the movement of certain of the churches towards liberalization of attitudes towards LGBT people and their lives and loves and ministries. This was the spark that ignited the tinder gathered over the decades before: the somewhat dry efforts towards building a more "unified" and less "federal" communion. Sadly, by igniting the tinder the present team have also done more to damage the prospects for unity than to encourage it.

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  42. Dr. Radner and AB Gomez each appear to play fancy free with truth/reality at times.

    It is disingenuous for +Gomez to say he did not participate as Primate. He certainly participated as a bishop, as he stood in the group of bishops surrounding the laying on of hands (which appear to be but the three black bishops), giving his episcopal assent to the schismatic and irregular actions

    It would be interesting for the Revd. Dr. A. Katherine Grieb to wade in on Dr. Radner's assertions regarding the Ecumenical nature of the Covenant, as well as its original purpose for being drafted.

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  43. Ephraim Radner and I have certainly had our disagreements, but I don't think it is fair to say he is playing fast and loose with the truth. I think it is fair to ask whether this ecumenical aspect of the covenant is new to this draft, whether it is helpful, whether the text is clear about the CDG's intent toward ACNA, dioceses, parishes, etc. But I hope we can do that in a way that allows Dr. Radner and those who agree with him to participate in the conversation if they wish.

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  44. Although I can hold nothing less than respect for your gracious position Jim, I have different experiences throughout the blogosphere with Dr. Radners reality distortion field, which I confess, colors my own suspicions.

    Regarding whether "this ecumenical aspect of the covenant is new to this draft", he unequivocally says "The ecumenical openness that the Covenant provides, to which I alluded above, one that frames the statement regarding "other Churches" adopting the Covenant, is something that has been informative of the Covenant even before the first draft. But also says, "More than a few responses to the drafts since then have urged a greater articulation of and commitment to these fundamental claims ... left somewhat latent in the text of the Covenant itself."

    So, from his view, this has always implicitly been there, but is made more explicit in this draft.

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  45. I think there is an important point concerning both the issue of ecumenical partners joining and groups such as ACNA joining that is potentially being over looked. The Covenant was not shaped for the purpose of any one group in particular, but rather to address a deficiency in ecclesial order that is leading to incredible fracture.

    Dr. Radner stated the following in an earlier post on this thread:

    "Adoption, [by ecumenical partners, ACNA, etc], does not automatically mean membership in the Anglican Communion, first because such adoption may be incompatible with the actual ordering of ecclesial life that the adopting "church" possesses [for example Baptists (should they want to adopt) do not have bishops ... this might be a limiting factor unless they were willing to take on this order]; second, because the character of such an adopting Church may be viewed by the Instruments as incoherent with, not ready for, in conflict with, etc. realities of the Communion's life."

    This second point is critical for many of the concerns that are being expressed here. What is being stated is that while all are free to sign up ... what signing up implies is that the Church that signs up is willing to live according to the interdependent relationships (that still protect local autonomy - but not naked autonomy) that are called for in the Covenant.

    This is not a tool to be wielded to exclude; rather it is one that is calling us into transformative relationships which require a balance between local diversity and consent to the decisions of the wider Church as the Church discerns Scripture across time (Women's ordination stands as an example of how this conciliar process actually played out - see the Lambeth Resolutions from 1948-78 - and it stands in contrast to the autonomy with which the issue of SSB and ordination of those living in SS relationships took place).

    Transformation cannot take place if this balance doesn't exist; with no limits on local diversity everyone goes off in whichever direction they wish which eventually leads people to be indifferent to the importance of participating in the Church - of being transformed by the Spirit who works through the structures of our churches and our Church? Or the Church ends up with rigid structures for controlling a particular confessional understanding of Scripture and of faith.

    This is the conciliar ecclesiology - an ecclesiology of transformation - which has been set out in the Covenant and it will take time to discern. But in the long run, this is pretty much the only and quite a hopeful way forward for the Communion if we wish to live into the gift of communion polity God has allowed us to inhabit.

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  46. In 1978 the Lambeth Conference had this to say:

    "The 1978 Lambeth Conference recognised “the need for deep and dispassionate study of the question of homosexuality, which would take seriously both the teaching of Scripture and the results of scientific and medical research.” It also said that “While we reaffirm heterosexuality as the scriptural norm, we recognise The Church, recognising the need for pastoral concern for those who are homosexual, encourages dialogue with them.”

    So we have had 30 years of "The Listening Process" much of which has been bishops listening to each other or LGBT people listening to the bishops.

    The calls for mutual listening have been in operation in the provinces that see the Spirit leading to a new way of walking with LGBT Christians. It has not worked well or been used at all in those provinces that see no need, in fact danger, in walking with LGBT Christians in any way but as celibate eternal repentants or "cured" heterosexuals.

    Those that reject any compromise stated so very clearly, namely Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, and scattered parishes and dioceses here and there. In fact, those African provinces are actively working with their governments to criminalize homosexual behavior, the support of homosexuals, and the imprisonment or diaspora of all homosexual persons within their countries.

    That doesn't seem conducive to "conciliatory ecclesiology" to me. It actually negates any possibility of it.

    Yet TEC and ACofC are continually chastised for their innovative actions that scandalized the AC with no acknowledgement that TEC, ACofC, and other provinces, as well as the UN and a good number of other countries are scandalized by the lack of pastoral Christianity and the outright dangerous hositility shown in most African countries toward their LGBT citizens.

    I'm not sure how the Anglican Covenant can be seen as or used for a "conciliatory ecclesiology" when those opposed to same sex marriage and same sex ordination have clearly stated, for 30 years, that it is not negotiable and they absolutely will not compromise in any fashion.

    In TEC we tried allowing those opposed to women's ordination to walk separately and equally to those who accepted it. The result was that the dioceses who were allowed to deny women ordination and work as priests were the first to leave TEC and join the Southern Cone and Nigeria.

    The transformation seems to be that those who see LGBT having full inclusion in all sacraments as baptized Christians as a gospel imperative repent of that belief or leave.

    LGBT Christians are called to destroy their families and relationships, live in sackcloth and ashes for another few decades, and take vows of celibacy or leave the church.

    The traditionalists stop threatening to leave, I guess, if all these come to pass, but I see little else that they are willing to transform or are offering to concede on any level. Since most have made it clear (at least the most vocal bishops from GAFCON and ACNA) that a communion where all agree to disagree is untenable

    I'm not sure that what we are about now is preventing the fracture of the Anglican Communion or preventing further fractures of the already broken pieces.

    Same sex ordination and blessings was a catalyst but the theological and governing issues, including women's ordination and low vs. high church, have already put a formidable barrier down the center of the Via Media in many ways.

    May the Risen Christ lead us all to greater light this Eastertide.

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  47. While I would agree that in this battle, the Church has often failed in its calling to provide pastoral care to gay and lesbian individuals, that does not mean that the proper response is simply to allow for 'local option' on the issue. The American Church's claim to be 'led by the Spirit' over and against the rest of the Church is not only arrogant, it is biblically and historically false (and it hints at a rather hegemonic view of the American Church's role in a Communion polity).

    Conciliarity (as opposed to conciliatory) is not about negotiation. Conciliar ecclesiology essentially provides time and space for the discernment of Scripture among members of the whole Church (in the context of the divided Church I refer here to the Anglican Communion) and requires that the decision of the whole Church be adhered to. The conciliar theology of the Covenant agreement is being drawn from early Church and late medieval conciliar ecclesiology such as that put forward by individuals such as Nicholas of Cusa, (and then of course adjusted for our present historical context). The manner of practice enabled by conciliar ecclesiology, Scriptural discernment over time, has its basis in an understanding that the Spirit works through the structures of the Church as the Church discerns Scripture over time, in order to form our responses in accordance with God's will.

    The whole Church in this case (the majority), has, since the 70s, been unable to find a Scriptural argument to support the case that human sexual relationship and raising of children (two key components of marriage) between same gendered individuals, is consistent with God's will.

    I do not argue this 'from a distance.' My best friend through four years of undergrad was gay and my parent's best friends have a daughter who is lesbian and they fight tooth and nail for the Church to allow SSB. I love these people deeply and I want them to experience happiness and joy in their lives. But the cost of following Christ is not always easy, or joyful. We are in fact called to give up our own will in order to be shaped by God's will for our lives. This is true not just for gay and lesbian individuals, but for all who seek to live according to His purpose.

    A blessed Easter to all; I am off to church.

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  48. Thanks to Mr. Naughton for his measured and generous remarks.

    There seems to be a misunderstanding afoot here regarding the Covenant’s adoption, as if it is all laid out to allow any and everybody to join the Anglican Communion. Not so. The Covenant’s unilateral adoption is open to all churches; but recognition by and participation in the decision-making bodies of the Communion are not. The latter will depend on the procedural conditions of these bodies themselves. Adoption may be accompanied by a request to be considered, and that request will be acted upon in some way. But that is all that is being promised by the Covenant. And all of this is clearly laid out.

    There is nothing “mischievous” about this. One may not like it, but it is not underhanded nor is it some nefarious plot to unseat TEC as a province. (It needs to be said, of course, that not all currently recognized participating members of the Communion are provinces. That is precisely one reason this article is in the Covenant: the Communion is not now, nor is it necessarily assumed to become, something that only “provinces” are a part of, although that remains the normal, if not exclusive, ecclesial grouping.)

    As for the ecumenical element of the Covenant: perhaps I have misled readers, or perhaps some have simply projected this aspect further than was demanded. In any case, I did not mean to claim that the Covenant is “primarily” an ecumenical document. Rather, it is ecumenically “open”; that is not only something that was originally raised as a possibility, it was also encouraged by numerous responses to early drafts. And, given the Communion’s own historic ecumenical openness, from Lambeth 1888 to the grand Appeal of 1920 to the present, this seems right and proper. It would be an embarrassingly miserly and pusillanimous Covenant, from a Christian perspective, that was not thus open.

    Further, I would strongly resist the sudden shift to a demand that the Covenant be organized mainly as a problem-solving document. That this might be the case was one of the major worries some held from the beginning of the drafting process, expressed in numerous criticisms upfront: born of conflict, responsive to conflict… therefore conflict-ridden. To be sure, the idea and prosecution of the Covenant arises amid conflict. But it was quickly understood by both the Design Group, but more importantly by those who have promoted the Covenant idea more publicly that this situation of conflict was offering the opportunity for a going deeper into the life of communion, not just sorting out arguments. To that degree, its promise lay in its initiating, not reactive, character, much though the last cannot be ignored.

    One reason that the Covenant does not speak explicitly about particular present matters of contention, such as the teaching and discipline surrounding sexual behavior or, secondarily, provincial and diocesan boundary-crossing, is because the Covenant is not being composed on the basis of a single issue, but as a framework for ongoing faithful life in communion. To be sure, if the Covenant is to be measured only on the basis of this or that group’s commitments around a single issue, like sexual behavior, then such a group will indeed have a basis upon which to express likes and dislikes. After all, the Covenant as proposed does have clear implications about how these kinds of matters should be, and presumably will be, discerned and ordered in communion. Would that both TEC and Nigeria, for instance, adopted the Covenant… and lived by its commitments! And would that the covenanting churches of the Communion held all accountable in such a regard. It is certainly possible; it is, I believe, even desirable.

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  49. Trying to create account and log in for the first time, in order to join this conversation. This is a test. Please be patient as I figure this out! (Another member of the Covenant Design Group)

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