Diocese of California statement on Anglican Covenant

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It’s not our intention to cover every diocesan treatment of the proposed Anglican Covenant between now and the next General Convention, except possibly when a new or different angle is exposed in the logic around it, pro or con.

So it is that this resolution, passed yesterday, has a slightly different feel about it. In particular, the last three or so paragraphs are succinct phrasings of what we sometimes hear others struggling to say.

Resolved, That the 162nd Convention of the Diocese of California disapproves the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Explanation: Our opposition to the proposed Anglican Covenant grows out of a lengthy listening process that involved all six of our deaneries. More than 200 lay and clergy members from across this diocese participated in this process. Those participating in this conversation were well prepared, demonstrating both familiarity with issues and a deep affection for the Anglican Communion. They placed a deep value on the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church’s constituent part in it, and the common heritage shared by all Anglicans. They voiced a deep desire to continue in the Communion’s common life. They spoke of the importance of our developing diocesan companion relationships as well as the inter-provincial relationships a number of our congregations enjoy. A summary of these discussions as compiled by the General Convention Deputation of the Diocese of California is online here.

Working from these discussions, we affirm our tradition holds Holy Scripture as containing all things necessary for salvation. We hold fast to our responsibility to interpret scripture to meet the needs and challenges of living in our time and place. We affirm the value and importance of the Anglican Communion in our life and work. We affirm our Communion is founded on The Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. We believe the current instruments of communion are adequate to heal today’s wounds if all parties are willing to accept and live within a communion that has room for divergent views and differing understandings of how Holy Scripture speaks to us today.

We must also disapprove a proposed Anglican Covenant that creates a means for creating second class Anglicans instead of building bridges between Anglican Churches with different traditions for understanding scripture. God does not make second class people, how could our church now endorse making some people second class Anglicans?

We cannot accept an Anglican Covenant that seeks to replace our democratic decision making process with a process that allows foreign bishops to extend their jurisdiction into the Episcopal Church as well as other provinces around the world.

We must not support a proposed Anglican Covenant that risks converting our Communion into a confessing denomination enforced by a disciplinary process detailed in Section 4 of the proposed covenant.

We oppose a proposed Anglican Covenant that seeks to build a church on division rather than inclusion, legalism rather than prophecy, inequity rather than justice.

SUBMITTED BY: The Rev. Katherine Lehman, Rector, St. Bede’s, Menlo Park, The Rev. John Kirkley, Rector, St. James, San Francisco, The Rev. Br. Richard Edward Helmer, Rector, Church of Our Savior, Mill Valley and The Rev. Thomas C. Jackson, President, Oasis California.

h/t Susan Russell

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This article makes an interesting contrast to the subsequent post on Mission in Your Own Words. Much of the discussion around the so-called "Anglican" so-called "Covenant" has used expansive rhetoric that seems to aim less at clarifying thought than it does at defending an entrenched position with unassailable hot-button terms. The California statement, on the other hand, is admirably concise and clear; it should be a welcome contribution to discussion whether or not you agree with its position.

Neel Smith

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