Friday, November 26, 2010

Church of England endorses the Anglican Covenant

From here:

In 1867 the Archbishop of York turned down the invitation to the first Lambeth Conference because it wasn’t a manifestation of Anglicanism that he recognised. In London today the General Synod of the Church of England debated whether or not the proposed Anglican Covenant is recognizably Anglican and an appropriate development for our times.

At the end of a three-hour debate it voted overwhelmingly, by a majority greater than two thirds in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity), to move to the next stage in the adoption of the Covenant.

Even if the vote was decisive, questions remain regarding the degree of consensus that the Covenant will sit comfortably within the Church of England. In the weeks leading up to this Synod the blogosphere has been the scene of a massive debate.

It began with two influential liberal networks, Inclusive Church and Modern Church (formerly the Modern Churchpeople’s Union), buying advertising space in the Church Times to warn that the Covenant is punitive, against the spirit of Anglicanism and a threat to the autonomy of the Church of England. Later came a declaration from the Anglican Mainstream network that the Covenant was not strong enough to provide the assurances needed by conservative evangelicals. Neither prevailed today.

A day ahead of the debate the Archbishop of Canterbury used his presidential address to make what was undoubtedly the decisive intervention in the Covenant debate. He cited a famous sermon by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, on “The Catholic Spirit,” which “is neither a climate of imposed universal agreement nor a free for all.”

He continued: “Wesley wants us to be settled in the basics of the faith, ‘fixed as the sun’ in our allegiance to the creed and the doctrine of a free and God-given atonement for sin.” This however is “consistent with readiness to hear arguments against what we believe without panic... [and] consistent with the knowledge that opinions vary even when doctrines are shared.”

Coming directly to the proposed Covenant he said: “It is an illusion to think that without some changes the Communion can carry on as usual, and a great illusion to think that the Church of England can somehow derail the entire process. The uncomfortable fact is that certain decisions in any province affect all.”

The Covenant, he said, “offers us the possibility of a voluntary promise to consult. And it also recognizes that even after consultation there may still be disagreement.... To say yes to the Covenant is not to tie our hands. But it is to recognize that we have the option of tying our hands if we judge, after consultation, that the divisive effects of some step are too costly.”

Opening the Covenant debate the Bishop of Bristol, Mike Hill, said it was an invitation for “member churches to commit themselves to greater mutual accountability, consultation and the pursuit of consensus on issues which are new or controversial and may have serious relational consequences for the Communion.”

Speaking in support the Rev. Simon Cawdell of Hereford said the Covenant offers “the best definition of Anglicanism that there is.”

Dr. Paul Fiddes, a Baptist observer, said the Independent tradition in the British Isles had lots of experience with covenant making but as yet has not sought to apply this in the international sphere. “I would like to thank the Anglican Communion for taking the Covenant further than we have done.”

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt. Rev. Peter Price, insisted that the Covenant process was underway well before the election of Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. He referred to an Anglican Consultative Council document, Belonging Together (1992), which had a direct influence on The Virginia Report, much of which formed the basis of Covenant drafts.

Traditional Catholics, in the persons of the Bishop of Blackburn and the Rev. Simon Killwick (leader of the Catholic Group), signalled support for the Covenant as a means to provide greater coherence and integrity in Anglicanism.

A succession of speakers aired doubts. Would the Covenant undermine the autonomy of the Church of England or its prophetic spirit? Some thought that Covenant language like “relational consequences” spells a legalistic threat. Foremost among the doubters was the soon-to-retire Bishop of Lincoln, John Saxbee, who thought a Covenant is unnecessary since “Anglicanism is a covenant.”

Canon Elizabeth Paver, a member of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee, introduced a note of realism: in practice the Covenant will advise, never dictate; and it is vital that the Church of England “give some leadership” on the matter.

Now the Covenant will be considered by diocesan synods. Under the Constitution of the Church of England they cannot amend it, only attach following motions. The last word on the subject has therefore not been said. The position of the Church of England should be clear by the time the ACC meets in 2012.

Read it all here. Meanwhile, a group of GAFCON primates has shot the Anglican Covenant down, releasing their statement on the same day that the Covenant was endorsed by the CoE Synod.  To say that BB smashed a few glasses and plates in the cafe kitchen after reading the GAFCON primates press release is an understatement.

20 comments:

Lapinbizarre said...

"Canon Elizabeth Paver, a member of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee, introduced a note of realism: in practice the Covenant will advise, never dictate."

"In practice the Covenant will advise, never dictate."

Let's see

Responding to observations and questions from bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Covenant Design Group observed that it wished

"to re-conceive this issue in terms of `relational consequences`, namely those consequences which might affect elements of ecclesial relationships within the Communion. Such relational consequences will depend on a number of factors, for example, the gravity of the issue and the response of the Church(es) involved. These relational consequences might include:

• a determination that no action may be necessary

• a request to enter a process of informal dispute resolution (such as mediation, arbitration and reconciliation)

• a request for self-restraint or remedial action or renunciation of the action

• an offer to register a conscientious objection

• warnings about the effects of a covenant breach

• a request to examine conscience about participation in roles formally representing the Anglican Communion

• a request to resign from roles formally representing the Anglican Communion

• non-invitation to the Lambeth Conference

• a request not to attend a particular meeting of an Instrument of Communion

• suspension (or termination) of voting rights in the Instruments of Communion *

• suspension (or termination) of participation at meetings of the Instruments of Communion *

• removal from the ACC Schedule of Membership *

• removal of signatory Church from covenant list *

• declaration that the actions of the Church(es) involved are/would be incompatible with the faith, unity and/or mission of the Communion *

• a recommendation to other Provinces of the Communion about their relationships with the Church to which the consequence applies

• a request to the Provinces to respond individually to the situation of the non-complying Church(es)

• breaking of ecclesial communion and a walking apart."


Seems Elizabeth Paver has an extraordinarily loose definition of "never dictating".

[The "relational consequences" listed above can be found on page 25 of this document].

Lapinbizarre said...

[Two-part post because of the length of the Lambeth document quoted]

"Canon Elizabeth Paver, a member of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee, introduced a note of realism: in practice the Covenant will advise, never dictate."

"In practice the Covenant will advise, never dictate."

Let's see

Responding to observations and questions from bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the Covenant Design Group observed that it wished

"to re-conceive this issue in terms of `relational consequences`, namely those consequences which might affect elements of ecclesial relationships within the Communion. Such relational consequences will depend on a number of factors, for example, the gravity of the issue and the response of the Church(es) involved. These relational consequences might include:

• a determination that no action may be necessary

• a request to enter a process of informal dispute resolution (such as mediation, arbitration and reconciliation)

• a request for self-restraint or remedial action or renunciation of the action

• an offer to register a conscientious objection

• warnings about the effects of a covenant breach

• a request to examine conscience about participation in roles formally representing the Anglican Communion

• a request to resign from roles formally representing the Anglican Communion

• non-invitation to the Lambeth Conference


[continued in following post]

Lapinbizarre said...

[Second half of post]

• a request not to attend a particular meeting of an Instrument of Communion

• suspension (or termination) of voting rights in the Instruments of Communion *

• suspension (or termination) of participation at meetings of the Instruments of Communion *

• removal from the ACC Schedule of Membership *

• removal of signatory Church from covenant list *

• declaration that the actions of the Church(es) involved are/would be incompatible with the faith, unity and/or mission of the Communion *

• a recommendation to other Provinces of the Communion about their relationships with the Church to which the consequence applies

• a request to the Provinces to respond individually to the situation of the non-complying Church(es)

• breaking of ecclesial communion and a walking apart."


Seems Elizabeth Paver has an extraordinarily loose definition of "never dictating".

[The "relational consequences" listed above can be found on page 25 of this document].

Daniel Weir said...

It should be noted that the Synod has taken only the first step in a process that could lead to the adopting of the covenant in 2012. It is anyone's guess whether or not a majority of dioceses will recommend adoption.

jschwarz42 said...

So, since the whole purpose of the Covenant (which no one I know wants anything to do with) was supposedly to keep the Global South Primates happy and in relationship (even though it was clear from the start they had no real interest in being a part of any communion with us corrupt westerners), and since the most conservative Global South Primates (in GAFCON) have themselves now rejected it and said essentially that they are simply going to take their marbles home and play by themselves, WHAT is the point anymore of the Covenant? It obviously is a total failure, before even getting started.

As many of us have said from the start, it has never had any hope of being an instrument of reconciliation. It was always going to be just a one-sided tool to allow conservative church to beat up on moderate and liberal churches that were not "pure" or "biblical" enough. And now those whom it was one-sided in favor of have themselves rejected it! Maybe it is time to take it off the table for GC 2012. Is it even worth considering anymore? The C of E only voted for it to please Rowan.

John

BabyBlue said...

Actually the ACNA leadership and churches have voiced public support for the Anglican Covenant, as well as the Episcopal Communion Partners - and of course the CoE Synod has now endorsed it as well. Not exactly a "total failure."

bb

Lapinbizarre said...

General Synod, as Fr Weir noted, has only referred the covenant to the dioceses for consideration. A vote on adoption is at least two years down the road. Re ACNA's "voicing of support", Robert Duncan is a signer of the "Oxford Statement", which strongly repudiates the Covenant text which Synod has referred to the dioceses. Note also that only five of the Statement's nine signers are Communion primates.

BabyBlue said...

The ACNA Provincial Council endorses the Anglican Covenant in solidarity with the Communion Partners.

Resolution on the Anglican Communion Covenant

Resolved, under provisions of Canon I.1.1 of the Constitution and Canons, the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America expresses its readiness to adopt the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant (Ridley Cambridge Draft) at an appropriate future meeting of the Provincial Council.

Further Resolved, that the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America expresses its solidarity with the Communion Partner Bishops in North America in the hope that individual dioceses and other churches [Covenant 4.1.5] might be encouraged to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant whether or not the Provinces of which they are a part have chosen to do so.

Unanimously adopted by the Provincial Council of the Anglican Church in North America at its meeting on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, 21 June A.D. 2009.


bb

Dale Matson said...

Lapinbizarre,
Why are you referring to the 2008 edition of the Covenant? The Amended Ridley-Cambridge Draft is what is up for adoption. What is being rejected by the Global South is the current version.
"Seems Elizabeth Paver has an extraordinarily loose definition of 'never dictating'." I think this statement accurately reflects the current Covenant.

Lapinbizarre said...

The 2008 document that I linked is not a draft of the Covenant, Dale. It is, as its preamble makes plain, a post-Lambeth study document with appended commentary, including the wish-list of graded penalties from which I quoted, from the Design Group.

If the Ridley Cambridge draft was what is currently up for consideration by the Anglican Church, it would leave Robert Duncan in the uncomfortable (one assumes) position of condemning a document that his church has already approved. This is not the case, in fact, since the Ridley Cambridge draft is not the version that Synod discussed earlier this week. The final text just voted upon by General Synod, to which the Global South group objects as being insufficiently punitive, can be found here.

Dale Matson said...

"It is, as its preamble makes plain, a post-Lambeth study document with appended commentary, including the wish-list of graded penalties from which I quoted, from the Design Group." The reality is that is was a wish list from the design group only, not incorporated in the latest version of Covenant. Multiple versions of the Covenant are another example to the terrible confusion hindering any kind of discipline or unity.

Lapinbizarre said...

And when unity comes at the price of the Inquisition, Dale?

TJ McMahon said...

bb- The ACNA Council endorsed the Ridley draft, which draft was rejected by the ACC in Jamaica at the behest of Canterbury. The current draft was re-written, primarily by Gregory Cameron, specifically ignoring all the GS commentary on the Ridley draft, and including only the demands of various Western provinces that saw the Ridley draft as too restrictive. Since the Ridley draft had already turned over the adjudication of the Covenant to the gerrymandered Standing Committee, which voted 8-2 at its last meeting against any form of discipline for TEC after the Glasspool consecration, that draft was already of questionable use. Both of the TEC members on the Standing Committee have endorsed the very TEC practices that are tearing the Communion apart, and are committed to using the Covenant to "discipline" the GS for "boarder crossing." Why in heaven or earth would the GS sign on to become Covenanted to an English non-for-profit corporation's Board of Directors, committed to gay marriage and injecting revisionist theology into every Province of the Communion?

BabyBlue said...

I think GAFCAON is kicking Canterbury with one foot while shooting itself in the other. Who ever wrote that GAFCON "Oxford Statement" should imagine standing in a pub and reading that thing aloud to the people in the room and see how far that gets. Maybe that will get through to them what is wrong with it.

At the same time, Canterbury and/or TEC's messing around with structures is NOT going to solve this problem. It never has. It never has. It never has.

Structures follow relationships, otherwise they are simply vying for positions of political power.

And it doesn't build trust - writing pontificating statements and manipulating structures smashes trust. Period.

In fact, relationships are being built on the ground right now and in unexpected places, in unexpected ways and perhaps we should be looking at where that is happening and emulate it instead of pontificating from high towers. The problem with spending too much time in the tower is that we end up only talking to ourselves, finally, and have no idea how to communicate to the very people we are trying to reach.

Our goal is not to keep the church safe for orthodoxy, anymore than TEC's goal should be turning the church into a Progressive Political Action Committee - it is about doing what Andrew did - bringing people to Jesus. Are we doing that? Is that where our energy is? That's our task and putting out unhelpful statements and manipulating structures is a failure for both sides.

The Covenant is a Tower Idea - it's based on the assumption that people want to remain in relationship with each other. The actions of Canterbury and the actions of GAFCON illustrate that this is not the case - that is what the people in the pub see. The enemy is not with those with whom we disagree. The enemy is the Adversary. And we all - all of us - share that in common.

He is wily, the Adversary. He works from within. If we are not emulating the very person's who's name we carry, then we can be completely right in all our orthodoxy, we can be completely justified in all our political actions - and still completely miss, which anyone in a pub could tell us.

What did Jesus say? How will the world know we are His disciples???????????

Daniel Weir said...

Having decided not to worry about the Anglican Communion any longer, I am still sad that the bonds of affection between my diocese and a diocese in Africa were apparently not strong enough for us to remain in communion.

Dale Matson said...

bb,
"Our goal is not to keep the church safe for orthodoxy" Are we no longer supposed to chase away false doctrine?

BabyBlue said...

One of the best ways to chase away false doctrine is how we live our lives. If we write pontificating documents and yet not express and experience brotherly love with those with whom we disagree - we are, what, that clanging gong. And our witness goes down the drain. No, our primary call is to love God and to love our neighbor and the Great Commission - sharing the Good News that Jesus is Risen - expresses that love better than anything I know.

bb

jschwarz42 said...

TJ McMahon said: "Since the Ridley draft had already turned over the adjudication of the Covenant to the gerrymandered Standing Committee, which voted 8-2 at its last meeting against any form of discipline for TEC after the Glasspool consecration, that draft was already of questionable use..." This attitude is exactly what is wrong with the perspective of many on the conservative and GS side. IOW the ONLY value the Covenant was seen as having was, not as a tool for reconciliation and re-building relationships, but as a stick with which to beat TEC and other progressive-to-moderate churches. It is "of questionable use" if it could not be used to "discipline" (i.e., kick in the shins) any church which dares follow in good faith a course which the GS, in its arrogance, disapproves of. Why does ANYONE think that it is such a cool thing for churches or faith communities to be able to "discipline" other communities, in other nations, with which they disagree? There is nothing more destructive of relationship.

And: as for "....committed to gay marriage and injecting revisionist theology into every Province of the Communion?" Again I say, show me a single way in which ANYONE is trying to "inject revisionist theology" into ANY Province that is conservative - or impose ANYTHING on the GS. It is rather the GS which is trying to impose its own narrow conservative view of Christianity, "orthodoxy" and "being true to the Bible" on others in different cultures who have been prayerfully developing a different, broader and more welcoming faith perspective.

John

Anonymous said...

BB - the GAFCON Primates are not shooting themselves in any collective foot..... because the ABC still seeks to keep false teaching in the councils of the Communion, i.e. the 'Standing Committee', and still tries to marginalise the Primates, they are quite correct in not wasting further time. Now, as with Lambeth invitations, Williams can be stubborn and cause more division.... or he can listen tot he Primates of the largest provinces..... but he has always been working to keep all talking and for no exclusion of false teachers.... because he agrees with them on presenting issues. GAFCON Primates are not fooled.

Dale Matson said...

bb
I would agree with you that how we live our lives is important but to some extent it is guided by sound doctrine. there is a reciprocity there. Would you call this "Pontificating"?
"I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!" Gal. 5:10-12