Covenant, shmovenant?


The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon, bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe writes on the charge that the Episcopal Church has or will reject the Covenant.

People continue to go back and forth about the proposed Anglican covenant, perhaps more so (if possible) since Archbishop Williams’ July 27 essay, Communion, Covenant, and Our Anglican Future, ….[and] More recently, a group of Episcopal scholars, along with the Bishop of Durham, has opined that the 2009 General Convention has already rejected the Covenant, particularly in Resolution D025—brushing aside the last (and in rhetoric, the most important) paragraph that acknowledges continuing disagreement among Episcopalians on how to fully include gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. This piece seems to deploy a “hermeneutic of deep suspicion”—that is, if they say one thing, they really mean the contrary. Up means down, right means left…you get the picture.

From Lambeth, Whalon remembers other comments from around the Communion:

I remember distinctly Bishop Zerubbabel Katsuichi Hirota of Kita Kanto diocese of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai saying to the Lambeth Indaba group I was in that the Japanese bishops had caucused, and would not sign a covenant, because that word can only mean “contract” in their language and culture. The Bishop of Hong Kong immediately rose to say his province has the same issue. Going back to Lambeth Indaba, the “minutes” of the Lambeth Conference 2008, Section J has a set of pros and cons that continues to be relevant. [*] An Anglican Covenant by Norman Doe, recording all comments made up to June 2008, is still worth reading in this regard, and is instructive in finding out what people elsewhere are saying. (See here for a review of that book, among other things.)

He also notes that of all the provinces The Episcopal Church has fully engaged in the process:

So other provinces may or may not accept a Covenant, for reasons other than the perceived orneriness of Episcopalians. Nevertheless, The Episcopal Church is the province that has participated the most fully in the Covenant process so far, and I think we are already the better for it.

And from a footnote:

[* Reading the Indaba text yet again, I saw this remark by my friend, the late Ian Cundy, sometime Bishop of Peterborough, and heard his wise voice again: “Our modality is historically the “bishop-in-synod” rather than ‘episcopally led and synodically governed’”. He liked to make that point often, and I am glad that the Indaba editors retained it.]

Read it all here.

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2 Responses to "Covenant, shmovenant?"
  1. The folks at the Anglican Communion Institute are in quite a hurry to stampede people into signing early a document that has not yet been released. They particularly hope, it seems, to stampede the Communion Partner Bishops and Rectors who stand ready to secure their place in the Communion by signing on to a document that others may well reject for a variety of reasons. Should Asian Provinces refuse to sign for reasons suggested in this article, or other Provinces refuse to sign for other reasons will the Communion Partner Bishops and Rectors be ready to second tier them?

    If they are not careful, this group of well intentioned (I hope) folks will find themselves in an awkward position foisted on them by the ACI's hysteria machinations.

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  2. Thank you, Bishop, for bringing the voices of others who disagree with the Covenant to light. Disaffection with even the idea of a covenant is not limited to the American Church. Many around the world see it as a violation of their Anglicanism. We need to see more opinions, more reflection, more discussion of the hermeneutic of each province so that we can have a clearer understanding of what it means to be an Anglican in the 21st century.


    The Rev. Lauren R. Stanley

    TEC Appointed MIssionary in Haiti

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