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New Zealand rejects Anglican Covenant — U.S. likely to follow: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2012 July 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in 77th General Convention, Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.

The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has declined to endorse the Anglican Covenant.  Delegates to the synod meeting in Fiji on 9 July voiced objections to the disciplinary provisions in the proposed pan-Anglican agreement and disquiet with the centralization of authority in London, but resolved to remain a part of the wider Anglican Communion.

The 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church meeting in Indianapolis from 5-12 July is also expected to reject the Anglican Covenant.  Testimony at committee hearings as well as sentiment amongst the deputies has been in favor of rejecting the covenant.

On 9 July the ANZP synod voted to amend a motion that stated the church “Declines to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant” with a broader statement explaining its rejection.

In language supported by Archbishop David Moxon, the church said it was “unable to adopt the proposed Anglican Covenant due to concerns about aspects of Section 4, but subscribes to Sections 1, 2, and 3 as currently drafted as a useful starting point for consideration of our Anglican understanding of the church.

A second clause was amended to state the church “affirms the commitment of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia to the life of the Anglican Communion, including the roles and responsibilities of the four Instruments of Communion as they currently operate.

The Anglican Taonga described the amendments as “subtle” and characterized the debate over the meaning of the phrase as nuanced.  The proposer of the original amendment, former ACC representative Antony Fitchett told the synod the “stated purpose of the Covenant is to enable ‘fuller ecclesial communion’.”

It was an “interesting concept that one achieves communion by ex-communication” of those who do not share the views of the majority he argued.

Dr. Fitchett’s views were akin to those voiced by those opposed to the adoption of the Anglican Covenant.  At hearings held on 6 July 2012 at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, a majority of speakers urged rejection of the Covenant.

The Rev. Malcolm French of the Anglican Church of Canada, and moderator of the No-Anglican Covenant coalition stated “Anglicanism was born out of the rejection of foreign prelates.”  He urged the Episcopal Church to preserve its autonomy and not surrender it to an unaccountable overseas body.

Mrs. Lelanda Lee, Deputy from Colorado, urged the committee to follow the course taken by the Church of England and “just say no,” while Mrs. Mary Roehrich, Deputy from Pittsburgh stated she believed that the current draft of the covenant “would serve to divide the church, not unite it.”

Prof. Ben King of the University of the South urged the committee not to reject the covenant out right, but to find a way to continue the discussion without acceding to the agreement.

The Episcopal Church “needs to support the covenant” so as to support “our liberal friends in Africa,” he said. Archbishops Thabo Makgoba of Southern Africa and Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean would be left in an “awkward position” of endorsing the covenant in the face of its rejection by the “conservative African churches.”

We must “stand with them” in this fight, he said.

The committee is expected to release its recommendations on the Covenant to the Convention for vote this week.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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