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An alternative “NO” on the Anglican Covenant

An alternative “NO” on the Anglican Covenant

Once a hot-button issue, the Anglican Covenant doesn’t seem to getting much love these days.  Originally crafted in response to the open acceptance of LGBTQ persons to the episcopate, the Covenant sought to essentially create an international church out of the Anglican Communion in order to enforce a conservative view.   For an overview of the process see this from the Anglican Communuion Office.  The Covenant was sent to all the member churches of the Anglican Communion to be approved or rejected.  The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, in 2012, took action on the Covenant by, essentially, kicking the can down the road.

Several Churches did approve it, but many (most) failed to approve it in full; choosing instead to affirm their dedication to the Communion and ongoing conversation.  An Executive Council task force has offered a resolution to close out the Episcopal Church’s engagement with the process, A040

A040: Affirm Response to the Anglican Covenant Process

Resolved, the House of _____ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church affirm our common identity and membership in the Anglican Communion as expressed in the preamble and first three sections of the Anglican Communion Covenant; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct The Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council to express our appreciation to the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC16, Lusaka 2016) for the gift of inter-Anglican conversation and mutuality in God’s mission engendered by the Anglican Communion Covenant process.

Explanation
Pursuant to the charge given the B005 Task Force, we monitored Anglican and ACC activities regarding the Anglican Covenant process and believe this resolution to respond appropriately to the current status of this process in Anglicanism generally and the ACC specifically. This resolution has no budgetary implications.

But now, a new resolution has been submitted with the support of the No Anglican Covenant coalition, “an international group of Anglicans, both lay and ordained, who are active in our respective churches and concerned about the future of Anglicanism.”  Offered by Ms. Lisa Fox of the Diocese of Missouri and Ms. Mary Roehrich and the Rev. Canon Scott Quinn, both of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, the proposed resolution (D022) offers a more resolute rejection of the Covenant, which they seemingly believe is a more appropriate answer than the waffling of A040’s “affirmation of the process.”

 

Do22

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church affirm our common identity and membership in the Anglican Communion, neither the present nor any desired future nature of which is properly described by the Anglican Communion Covenant; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct The Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council to express our appreciation to the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC16, Lusaka 2016) for the gift of inter-Anglican conversation and mutuality in God’s mission engendered by the Anglican Communion Covenant process.

EXPLANATION The Communion-wide discussion of a proposed Anglican Communion Covenant has been helpful in elucidating the diversity within the Anglican Communion. The Covenant, however, does not properly describe our Anglican identity or the relationship we have or might want to have with our sister Anglican churches. The first three sections of the Covenant contain assertions, particularly about our own church, that are not strictly true, as well as commitments we likely do not want to make. Section Four seeks to establish a centralized mechanism for resolving matters of belief and behavior for the Anglican Communion. Taken as a whole, the Covenant goes a long way toward changing our beloved fellowship of churches into a worldwide confessional church that imposes uniformity of belief throughout its provinces. For this reason, the General Convention has been unwilling to adopt the Covenant, yet has been consistently coy about our church’s relationship to the Windsor/Covenant process and reluctant to reject the Covenant outright. It is high time for us to let our “yes” be “yes” or our “no” be “no.” Moreover, it is disingenuous to commend parts of a pact that is deeply flawed throughout. We should unambiguously decline either to adopt or to partially accept the Covenant. Other initiatives, such as Indaba conversations, are more likely to enhance communion among Anglican Churches than adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant.

 

Lionel Demiel, noted Episcopal blogger and No Anglican Covenant supporter, offers background and analysis on his blog where he offers his support of this proposed resolution, saying;

This new resolution essentially says that the Covenant is not fit for purpose. It is a subtle rejection, but a rejection that cannot be mistaken for anything else. It will encourage the Anglican Church of Canada also to reject the Covenant when its General Synod meets next year.

Passing Resolution D022 or something very much like it will drive a stake through the heart of the Covenant, since its real purpose is to control innovation in the Western churches. Passage would bring an end to this unfortunate period of Anglican Communion life.

Yes, let our No be No and let’s put this behind us once and for all.

 

 

posted by Jon White

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Jeremy Bates

“Yet I do applaud the conversation we have been through. Indeed, the Consecration of Gene Robinson was done without conversation, in a very American way that simply ignored the rest of the world.”

The so-called “conversation” we have been through (a/k/a “Windsor Process”) was a top-down effort at control. From the start, a Lambeth-led disaster.

Bishop Gene, by contrast, was elected bishop at a convention of Laity and Clergy of the Diocese of New Hampshire. His election was consented to according to the canons of The Episcopal Church.

Where in those canons is there any requirement that the rest of the world has to be consulted? Nowhere.

And what voice does The Episcopal Church have in the consecration of bishops in other provinces? None, of course.

Like it or not, that’s the way the Anglican Communion works. The Anglican Communion is a family of independent churches, nothing more.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes members of my family do things I wouldn’t want them to do. Unsurprisingly, they don’t check with me first!

Lionel Deimel

Jeremy,

Your description of how the Communion works is correct. We need to reject the Covenant to keep it working that way.

Jeremy Bates

Lionel, I agree.

The Episcopal Church should join England, Scotland, New Zealand, and the Philippines in rejecting this Covenant.

Let’s reject it clearly.

Why thank the ACC for acceding to Global South demands that The Episcopal Church be disciplined? The so-called Windsor process was never healthy, and was never Anglican. It merits no thanks whatsoever.

Again: Let our No be No.

June Butler

“I don’t know about you, but sometimes members of my family do things I wouldn’t want them to do. Unsurprisingly, they don’t check with me first!”

Brilliant, and it made me laugh, which is no small gift.

Stephen Holton

Kudos to the new resolution. The Anglican Covenant indeed turned us into a Confessional church or – with the importance of Primates – a ‘curial’ church. No role for laity. No equality for laity. An end to conversation, in the interests of authority and fear of ambiguity. Yet I do applaud the conversation we have been through. Indeed, the Consecration of Gene Robinson was done without conversation, in a very American way that simply ignored the rest of the world, in a way in which conservatives have generally treated the rest of the world. Hence the predictable global response.

Jeremy Bates

If this is meant to be a forthright rejection of the Covenant, then it’s still a bit unclear. I am searching in vain for the words “decline,” “reject,” or “oppose.”

If our “no” is to be “no” then let it be “no.”

“neither the present nor any desired future nature of which is properly described by” is extremely clunky and roundabout.

How about something like this:

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church affirm our common identity and membership in the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention decline to adopt the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant, because it is inconsistent with this Convention’s understandings of both Anglicanism and communion.

John Chilton

Regarding ACC-16, Lusaka 2016:
http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2014/04/central-africa-begins-preparations-for-acc-16.aspx

Anglican Consultative Council existed before talk of the covenant and God-willing it will continue to function as it has from inception.

I support the ACC and I support D022

Mary Anne Chesarek

Why must we express our appreciation to the ACC for the gift of inter-Anglican conversation? We were able to converse before and will be in the future without a body that asks us to surrender our autonomy.

Jeremy Bates

I would put it more bluntly.

Why thank the ACC for creating a stick with which some had hoped to beat The Episcopal Church?

This is akin to thanking an abuser for the abuse.

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