Diocese of CA weighs in on Covenant

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Received by email:

The Deputation of the Diocese of California reports on the diocesan-wide conversation on the proposed Anglican Covenant, concluding:

We note our deep value of the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church’s constituent part in it, and our ongoing desire to participate in its common life. We cherish our developing diocesan companion relationships and the inter-provincial relationships in shared mission a number of our congregations enjoy. Many of these relationships already transcend cultural and theological differences, witness to our unity in Christ, and reflect the diversity that has been part of our Christian heritage all the way back to the first apostolic Council of Jerusalem.

We also find great hope in the ongoing Indaba process, noting the Lambeth 2008 Conference set a way forward by departing from legislative process at the level of Communion and instead cultivating conversations that lead to mutual understanding and strengthen our bonds of affection. A wide majority of our members believe that these Communion processes and direct relationships are far more life-giving in the Gospel and Spirit-filled than pursuing the formal structures offered by the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Read the entire report on the conversations below:

The General Convention Deputation of the Episcopal Diocese of California

1055 Taylor Street

San Francisco, CA 94108

Dr. Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate

The D020 Task Force

c/o Office of The General Convention of The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church Center

815 2nd Ave

New York City, NY 10017

Holy Week, 2011

Dear Bonnie, Katharine, and Members of the D020 Task Force:

In response to General Convention Resolution D020 (2009) and at the request of the offices of The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies and D020 Task Force, the Deputation in the Diocese of California facilitated a diocesan-wide conversation on the final draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant early this spring.

We were impressed by the level of participation of members of this diocese. Open conversations were held by all six deaneries, involving leaders from almost all of our congregations; and a number of individual congregations also held separate discussions and sent us their comments. Many of the over two hundred laity and clergy attending these conversations were well prepared, demonstrating not only familiarity with the D020 Task Force Study Guide and additional historical background we provided, but deep affection for the Anglican Communion and our common heritage, a willingness to engage with the substance of the proposed Anglican Covenant, and a desire for continued conversation on the issues that confront the Body of Christ at this time. These conversations also included our Bishop and professors from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific and the School for Deacons.

With gratitude for the contributions of our sisters and brothers in Christ in this diocese, we offer the following summary of what we received in both word and writing from these deliberations:

?

Most participating in these conversations perceived an unsettling disconnect between the first three sections of the draft covenant and section four, noting inherent discord between the articulation of our Anglican heritage as a fellowship of self-governing churches and the creation by section four of an official governance structure (the Standing Committee) acting as an effective disciplinary body at the Communion level.

? Moving towards a more disciplinary approach to our common life in the Communion posed for many a significant threat to the diversity amongst the churches of the Communion. That diversity includes not only differing perspectives on human sexuality and gender, but differences in our provincial polity, the cultural contexts in which we proclaim the Gospel, and the ways we interpret scripture. Introducing juridical process at the Communion level risks fostering and formalizing suspicion over our existing and future diversity, and empowers those who might wish to impose their judgments over differences, whether real or perceived, on other provinces.

? Participants noted the uncertain ways the covenant could introduce and enforce different levels of participation and influence in the Communion. Over the long term, the covenant could subsequently have a chilling effect on dialogue, particularly by introducing a punitive process into our common relationships. If a significant majority of the churches of the Communion adopt the covenant, our next controversy could lead to a rush to judgment by the Standing Committee outlined in section 4, rather than be cause for the deeper engagement and understanding explicitly named in section 3.2.3.

? One table group in a deanery-level discussion articulated our common concern that the proposed covenant, if adopted, would potentially formalize our disagreements so that cultural differences become increasingly enshrined as central theological issues dividing the Communion. The humility of the Communion’s current non-juridical processes around disagreement mitigates this danger. We note that cultural differences — many not yet publicly articulated — and our shared post-colonial heritage reside at the root of the present controversies, not differences over the core doctrines of our common, creedal faith.

? Many questioned why our historically broad statements of Communion and ecumenical relationships, such as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and five marks of mission, are implicitly deemed by this process no longer sufficient points of commonality where we may continue to find fellowship. This concern reflects our doubts around the articulated need for a covenant, and whether it really would resolve rather than exacerbate ongoing and future tensions in the Communion.

? The notion of having a covenant sounded to many very similar to generating a confessional statement for the Communion, a significant departure from our shared heritage; a departure that introduces to Anglicanism a form of enforced ecclesiology that would, based on the historical experience of other covenanted and confessional churches, inevitably lead to exclusion.

? Both our Deputation and many in our wider conversations expressed misgivings about the way in which the proposed covenant was introduced to the Communion via the Windsor process, and how the ongoing conversation over its content has implied its legitimacy while neglecting to address a foundational question: Does having a covenant fundamentally change our nature as a creedal communion of churches? The vast majority engaged in these conversations in the Diocese of California agreed that the covenant would alter Anglicanism at this basic level, and not for the better.

We note our deep value of the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church’s constituent part in it, and our ongoing desire to participate in its common life. We cherish our developing diocesan companion relationships and the inter-provincial relationships in shared mission a number of our congregations enjoy. Many of these relationships already transcend cultural and theological differences, witness to our unity in Christ, and reflect the diversity that has been part of our Christian heritage all the way back to the first apostolic Council of Jerusalem.

We also find great hope in the ongoing Indaba process, noting the Lambeth 2008 Conference set a way forward by departing from legislative process at the level of Communion and instead cultivating conversations that lead to mutual understanding and strengthen our bonds of affection. A wide majority of our members believe that these Communion processes and direct relationships are far more life-giving in the Gospel and Spirit-filled than pursuing the formal structures offered by the proposed Anglican Covenant.

With thanksgiving for your ministry and leadership in Christ, and wishing you a blessed Eastertide,

The 2012 General Convention Deputation of the Diocese of California

The Rev. Vanessa Glass, Co-Chair Warren J. Wong, Co-Chair

The Rev. David Y. Ota Sarah E. Lawton

The Rev. Stacey Grossman Carolyn W. Gaines

The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe Dr. Roderick B. Dugliss

The Rev. Richard E. Helmer p/BSG, Secretary Kay Bishop

The Rev. Paul Fromberg Scott Pomerenk, Co-Secretary

The Rev. M. Sylvia O. Vásquez Alan Aw

The Rev. Vicki Gray Patricia Smith

Cc: The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California

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Susan Hedges
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Susan Hedges

"A wide majority of our members believe that these Communion processes and direct relationships are far more life-giving in the Gospel and Spirit-filled than pursuing the formal structures offered by the proposed Anglican Covenant."

I believe that this is what in some circles is called 'the money quote.'

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E Sinkula
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E Sinkula

The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is more than sufficient for communion with other church bodies and provinces.

Eric Sinkula

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