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Wales puts the Covenant on hold.

Wales puts the Covenant on hold.

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales has put the Anglican Covenant on hold, asking for clarity from the Anglican Consultative Council about the documents future in light of rejection by the Church of England.

Thinking Anglicans:

Members of its Governing Body voted to affirm their commitment to the Communion and the Covenant process, but asked questions of the Anglican Consultative Council which meets in October. They feared the recent rejection of the Covenant by the Church of England jeopardised its future and clarifications about that were now needed before a decision could be made.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Dr Gregory Cameron, who proposed a motion which was amended in the light of the Church of England decision, said, “We have given the Covenant an amber light rather than a green light but in doing so we are being honest about where the Church is today. However, I think we need to reaffirm our strong commitment to each other through the saving power of Christ revealed in the Gospels. That is what I believe the Covenant ultimately calls us to do and I hope one day the Church in Wales will be able to vote for it.”

The amended motion, which was carried overwhelmingly, was that the GB:

i. Affirm the commitment of the Church in Wales to the life of the Anglican Communion;

ii. Affirm its readiness to engage with any ongoing process of consideration of the Anglican Communion Covenant;

iii. Request clarification from the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council as to the status and direction of the Covenant process in the light of the position of the Church of England;

iv. Urge upon the Instruments of Communion a course of action which continues to see reconciliation and the preservation of the Communion as a family of interdependent but autonomous Churches.

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John B. Chilton

Given the position of the Archbishop of Wales on marriage equality (he's for it), it's likely that the Covenant would not have received a warm reception by the Governing Board (the equivalent of the CoE General Synod or our General Convention) in any event. But it is not a conjecture that the fact that the Church of England moved first and had already rejected the Covenant did remove the threat built into the Covenant that provinces that did not accept the covenant would be on a lower tier than the Church of England. The Church of England placed itself on the humblest tier thanks to the efforts of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition and other members of the Church of England who in their diocesan synods rejected the covenant.

Gregory Cameron headed this meeting of the Governing Board of the Church of Wales. It was Cameron who said that the meaning of the covenant was plain and those who opposed the covenant were Nazis proffering distorted interpretations.

Now that the Church of England rejected the covenant and surely wasn't going to pass in Wales, Cameron authored the resolution above passed by the Governing Board. The board generously passed Cameron's resolution that allows him to save face. Or does it? The resolution, afterall, says that the covenant does not mean what Cameron thought it meant.

And the resolution plainly disregards the message from Canon Kearon of the Anglican Communion Office who had already issued a statement that the action of the Church of England had no effect on the process of acceptance of the covenant.

The Governing Board's resolution is, however, is correct in its doubt of Kearon's interpretation. What does the covenant mean if the Church of England is second tier and cannot participate on the committees of the Communion?

Whoever wrote the press release included Cameron saying "We have given the Covenant an amber light rather than a green light...." Let's be honest, Cameron. Wales did not give the Covenant an amber light. If we're choosing light colors, red is the appropriate analogy. If we're being generous, Wales hit the pause button on the process. Will they hit play again? A necessary condition: the Church of England accepts the covenant. Not likely.

The covenant is dead. Long live the communion.

Cameron, Kearon and Williams come away looking very silly. All because they prefer the glow of the size of the world wide communion to standing up to homophobes who threaten to divide the communion if it does not conform to their insecurities.

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