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Anglican Covenant and the Jerusalem Declaration offered for study to the Anglican Church of Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 8, 2010 p 6. October 8, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglicans have been asked to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Anglican Covenant and the Jerusalem Declaration by the 15th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia.

The votes by General Synod meeting from Sept 18-23 at Melbourne Grammar School came as a surprise to observers as the degree of support for the Covenant was weaker than expected, while support for the Jerusalem Declaration produced by the 2008 Gafcon conference was stronger than anticipated The Church of England Newspaper has learned.

On Sept 20, the General Synod adopted a resolution asking Australia’s 23 dioceses to offer its views on whether the church should adopt the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Covenant.  Synod asked the dioceses to give their decisions to the church’s Standing Committee by December 2012, for debate at the next meeting of General Synod in 2013.

The proposer of the covenant resolution, Archbishop Jeffrey Driver of Adelaide, told Synod this vote was not about accepting or rejecting the covenant, but initiating a three year listening process.

Bishop Andrew Curnow of Bendigo explained the Covenant was not “envisaged as an instrument of control” over the member churches of the Anglican Communion, but as a “tool for mission” and a mechanism for resolving the disputes of doctrine and discipline that had weakened the church.

However, Bishop Garry Weatherill of Willochra stated he believed the covenant was not up to the job of dealing with the communion’s divisions, while Bishop Brian Farran of Newcastle stated he was concerned that disciplinary provisions of section 4 of the document were “particularly dangerous” to the good order of the communion.

After an amendment was adopted that said General Synod “receives” instead of “welcomes” the covenant, the resolution was adopted.

The following day a motion proposed by the Rev. Mark Thompson of Moore College, Sydney on the Jerusalem Declaration was placed before Synod.  Dr. Thompson outlined the background of the orthodox nature of it’s the declaration’s 14 points and spoke to its genesis within the Global South coalition within the Anglican Communion.

Liberal critics objected to the declaration’s claim to represent ‘orthodoxy’, and argued the genius of Anglicanism in the modern era was that it did not stand for any particular truth or require adherence to religious tests such as the Articles of Religion.  Others argued the declaration was “radical” and not “worthy of being called Anglican.”

However, Archbishop Roger Herft of Perth, who had moved an amendment at the start of the debate, rose at the end of debate and told Synod that while he did not agree with all that the declaration said, the document was worthy of study as it represented the considered views of a large portion of Anglican thought in the developing world.

The motion as amended was carried, and stated: “That General Synod notes the publication of the Jerusalem Declaration and acknowledges the particular context in which it has arisen. The General Synod encourages its study by dioceses and parishes in this Church to assist our understanding of some of the current issues facing the Anglican Communion.”

The Archbishop of Sydney Dr. Peter Jensen stated he was pleased with the vote, stating the Jerusalem Declaration was “one of the most important church statements to come out in the last ten years.”

It was “not a question of do you agree with it,” Dr. Jensen said, but a request for “studying it.”

The Jerusalem Declaration “expresses the heart and mind for millions of Anglicans” across the globe, he said.  “It is important that we study it and come to our own mind about it,” the archbishop observed.

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