Diocese of Central New York joins Anglican Covenant conversation

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A note left on the Facebook page for the Diocese of Central New York offers thoughts from the Deputation to the 77th General Convention:

Central New York Offers Response to Final Draft of Anglican Communion Covenant

As part of the ongoing process of prayer, study, conversation and reflection, the Central New York Deputation to the 77th General Convention offered the following response to the final draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant.

Easter Sunday 2011

To Mrs. Bonnie Anderson President of the House of Deputies, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop, and our Brothers and Sisters of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church:

The Deputation to the 77th General Convention from the Diocese of Central New York has prayerfully and thoughtfully considered the Final Draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant. Informed by study and prayer as well as comments received from individuals and parishes from our diocese we find ourselves of one mind on this matter.

Like many across our Church we treasure our identity as Anglicans, respect and hold in esteem the See of Canterbury, and find ourselves strengthened by the relationships and ministries of our brothers and sisters throughout the Anglican Communion. We rejoice that many of the relationships have continued to deepen over the past eight years even as we have lamented the many areas of conflict that exist within our Communion. While we support in principle any efforts to strengthen the bonds of affection that we share and the mission and ministry that we offer in Christ’s name, we are clear that any such actions must allow us to move together mitigating future conflict to the extent possible.

Sections One, Two and Three of the Final Draft of the Anglican Communion Covenant beautifully articulates some of our most cherished values for living faithfully as a Communion. Regrettably we find that Section Four: Our Covenanted Life Together, is not in keeping with our understanding of a life-giving covenant. This is gravely unfortunate because it is our life together that most concerns us. We are troubled by the punitive nature of this section and find that instead of providing for an opportunity to strengthen our common life, it presumes failure in covenant keeping. We believe that grace can abound in covenanted relationships but with Section Four we are unable to joyfully bind ourselves to these agreements. Its inclusion in this Final Draft presses us to reject the document entirely.

We have not arrived at this decision lightly. We hold out hope that the conversations that have developed during these years of heightened conflict will continue as we seek God’s will for us as a Communion. As one parish reflected at the conclusion of their study process, we want to remain “vigilant for the opportunities that will surely present themselves for accommodation and assimilation of the current sources of conflict into an evolving and strengthened [C]ommunion.”

As people of resurrection hope and promise we believe that God has not brought us thus far to abandon us. To the contrary, it is our fervent prayer that God still has use for the Anglican Communion with a future that includes The Episcopal Church. This future, however must be one that honors the varying histories, polities, cultures, and customs found within our beloved Communion. Though we cannot accept this Anglican Communion Covenant in its current form, we offer our continued prayers, presence, and open and discerning hearts as we move forward into the future God intends for us.

Faithfully,

The Deputation to the 77th General Convention from the Diocese of Central New York

The Revd’s. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows and Kathryn Holly Eden, Co-Chairs

The Rev. Barbara Groves

Ms. Felicity Hallanan

The Rev. Georgina Hegney

Mr. David Hodge

The Very Rev. G. Thomas Luck (1 Alt)

Mrs. Susan Messenger

Dr. Sandra Michael (1 Alt)

Ms. Karen Anderson

Perhaps it’s just as well to leave it be, but it’s been interesting lately to notice the trend of saying that Sections 1-3 are harmless and lovely. Lionel Deimel, writing in a two-part series (part 1, part 2), has spent some time deconstructing those sections lately, and his findings do not concur with such a rosy and popular analysis.

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