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ACSA adopts Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, October 18, 2013 October 27, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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With little fanfare, and no debate, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has adopted the Anglican Covenant.

Meeting in Benoni, a town outside Johannesburg, the synod adopted a second reading of the covenant, which it had affirmed in 2010.

The motion was introduced by the Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba of South Africa and seconded by the Dean of the Province, the Rt. Rev. Rubin Philip, Bishop of Natal.

Bishop Philip told the synod the covenant would not change the existing synodical structures of the communion, but quoting from the document said “we recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified. We do this in order to reflect, in our relations with one another, God’s own faithfulness and promises towards us in Christ.”

The proposed motion asked the synod to note its adoption of the covenant in 2010 and to “confirm” it. It recommitted the ACSA “to playing the fullest possible role at the heart of the Anglican Communion, working to promote its unity in diversity and strengthening of bonds of affection, in a life of mutuality and interdependence, shared between autonomous churches, acting each as we are called in our own particular contexts and according to our own ordering, in response to this common gift and calling we have received in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And reaffirmed the synod’s “belief that this ordering of shared Communion life may be furthered as set out in the Preamble to the Covenant” which called upon the communion “to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God revealed in the gospel, to offer God’s love in responding to the needs of the world, to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and together with all God’s people to attain the full stature of Christ.”

The motion was adopted without dissent.

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Canada postpones vote on Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, March 31 2013, p 6. April 3, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Anglican Church of Canada’s Council of General Synod (CoGS) has voted to delay action upon the Anglican covenant until 2016 meeting of General Synod.

In a statement released last week CoGS, the church’s governing body between meetings of the General Synod every three years, said the July 2013 meeting of General Synod will not be asked to make an up or down vote on the covenant. Delegates will be asked instead to support a resolution that calls for three more years of dialogue and conversation.

CoGS agreed to recommend that General Synod ask the Anglican Communion Working Group (ACWG) to “monitor continued developments” around the proposed Covenant. It requests that the ACWG render a report to the spring 2016 meeting of CoGS, and directs CoGS  “to bring a recommendation regarding the adoption of the Covenant” to the next General Synod in 2016.

Canterbury concedes Anglican Communion has become “corrupted”: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2012 December 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Communion, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury.
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Archbishop Rowan Williams

The Archbishop of Canterbury has conceded defeat in the battle over the Anglican Covenant. In a 2 Dec 2012 Advent letter to the primates, Dr. Rowan Williams said the Anglican Communion had become “corrupted” and could no longer be considered a communion of churches but a “community of communities.”

Dr. Williams’ somber appreciation of the state of the communion today, contrasts with his past letters to the leaders of the Communions 38 provinces.  Nothing now bound the church together apart from good will.

In 2009 Dr. Williams rejected calls from the Episcopal Church to reorder the Anglican Communion as a federation of churches.As Anglicans, our membership of the communion is an important part of our identity. However, some see this as best expressed in a more federalist and pluralist way. They would see this as the only appropriate language for a modern or indeed postmodern global fellowship of believers in which levels of diversity are bound to be high and the risks of centralisation and authoritarianism are the most worrying.”

“There is nothing foolish or incoherent about this approach,” Dr. Williams wrote in a letter published on 27 July 2009, “but it is not the approach that has generally shaped the self-understanding of our communion.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 54, October 26, 2012 October 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of Nigeria, Church of North India, Church of South India, Fort Worth, Persecution, Zimbabwe.
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In this weeks episode Kevin and George bring an update on the Diocese of South Carlina and their separation from the Episcopal Church. Also this week they talk about Women’s Ordination and the new task force created by the Anglican Church in North America. And what episode would be complete without news from one of the broken Anglican “Instruments of Unity”. Peter talks about the reality of Women Bishops in England and Allen Haley guildes the viewer thru the Kangaroos courts found in Title IV. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com #AU54

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.
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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.

Scotland says ‘no’ to the Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2012 p 6. June 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has rejected a motion to endorse the Anglican Covenant.

On the second day of the 7-9 June 2012 meeting of the General Synod at Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh, delegates took up a motion for the church to endorse the pan-Anglican agreement, continuing a discussion began at the 2001 session of synod.

Questions over section 4 of the Covenant on the discipline of errant provinces were raised, as were concerns over the creation of an Anglican curia and the centralization of power in London — issues raised by the former Primus  Bishop Richard Holloway at the 1999 ACC meeting when proposals to enshrine the instruments of unity were rejected.

When put to a vote, the motion that synod agree in principle to adopt the Anglican Covenant was rejected, 6 in favor, 112 against, 13 abstentions.

The Primus, Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane then presented a resolution stating that while the SEC rejected the covenant, it desired to remain part of the Anglican Communion.

“The Anglican Communion matters deeply to us in the Scottish Episcopal Church.  We invoke the history of Samuel Seabury, consecrated in 1784 by the Scottish bishops as the first bishop of the church in the United States of America. We want to be part of the re-founding – the bringing to birth of a new phase of Communion life,” the primus said.

By rejecting the covenant, the SEC’s representative to the ACC will not be permitted to participate in its discussions of discipline — unless the ACC further revises its rules as it did to permit the Church of England’s representative to participate after it rejected the covenant.

Scotland’s decision to reject the Covenant, following the Church of England’s rejection, will likely remove pressure on the Episcopal Church to act on the covenant at its July meeting of General Convention.  While eight provinces have given some form of endorsement to the Covenant, and four now have opposed it, momentum for its passage has all but died.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

England allowed to discuss Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2012 p 2. June 21, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Canon Elizabeth Paver with Canon Kenneth Kearon of the ACC

The standing committee of the Anglican Consultative Council has held that the rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Church of England will not affect the Archbishop of Canterbury’s role as president or Canon Elizabeth Paver’s role as vice-chairman of the ACC.

In a statement released on 1 June 2012 summarizing the ACC Standing Committee’s 30 May to 1 June meeting in London, the Anglican Communion News Service reported that “The Standing Committee received an update on the progress of the Anglican Communion Covenant. It was noted that eight Provinces had endorsed the Covenant to date, in some cases with a degree of qualification. They were the only responses received so far by the Secretary General. The committee also noted that the President, Chair, and Vice-Chair all hold their offices other than as representatives of their Provinces.”

The ACNS also reported “there was general agreement that no timeframe should yet be introduced for the process of adoption of the Covenant by Provinces. The Standing Committee will return to this question following ACC-15.”

Under the terms of the Anglican Covenant, provinces that do not ratify the agreement would not be able to participate in decision-making about the covenant.  While the Church of England cannot reconsider the covenant until 2015, the Standing Committee carved out an exception to this rule to allow the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mrs. Paver, the Church of England’s lay representative to the ACC to remain part of the process – though not as a representatives of the Church of England.

The desire to continue talking about the covenant past ACC-15 in New Zealand is unlikely to change the political calculus within the Anglican Communion.  Scotland’s rejection of the Covenant last week makes passage of the agreement unlikely.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 43, June 18, 2012 June 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Canon Law, Church of England, Church of Ireland, Property Litigation, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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After a one week hiatus George and Kevin return. Allan Haley brings breaking news from the Supreme Court concerning TEC churches and the Dennis Canon. Your hosts talk about their adventures at the Anglican Church in North America’s Assembly, including the topic everyone was ‘not’ talking about. David Ould brings news from Australia and England while his twin brother Peter is enjoying a vacation with is family at Eurodisney.

Scotland rejects the Anglican Covenant: Anglican Ink, June 8, 2012 June 8, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Anglican Ink, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has rejected a motion to endorse the Anglican Covenant.

On the second day of the 7-9 June 2012 meeting of the General Synod at Palmerston Place Church in Edinburgh, delegates took up a motion for the church to endorse the pan-Anglican agreement, continuing a discussion began at the 2001 session of synod.

Questions over section 4 of the Covenant on the discipline of errant provinces were raised, as were concerns over the creation of an Anglican curia and the centralization of power in London — issues raised by the former Primus  Bishop Richard Holloway at the 1999 ACC meeting when proposals to enshrine the instruments of unity were rejected.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican TV Episode 42, June 2, 2012 June 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, Virginia, Women Priests.
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So much news so little time. In this week’s Anglican Unscripted Kevin, George, Peter, and Alan bring you the latest Anglican News. Peter brings news of a Diamond Jubilee and Women Bishops in England. Alan delivers the latest supreme court news from The Falls Church. Kevin and George talk about a cancer in the Anglican Communion and updated betting on the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

Wales votes “not yet” on the Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2012 p 6. May 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Church in Wales has declined to endorse the Anglican Covenant.  The Governing Body – the Welsh church’s general synod – on 18 April 2012 passed a motion calling for further study of the covenant in light of its failure to be affirmed by a majority of dioceses of the Church of England.

The original motion proposed by the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt. Rev. Gregoy Cameron and Mrs. Helen Biggin of the Diocese of Llandaff asked the church to subscribe to the covenant.  In support of the motion, Bishop Cameron stated the “Covenant is Anglican, setting out the wells from which we draw out faith.”

“It is an affirmation of the Lambeth Quadrilateral, of Bible, Sacraments, Creeds and Apostolic Succession.  To these are added the tradition of Common Prayer and the Anglican way of teaching from scripture, reason and tradition.”

He added the covenant was “about communion, sustaining one another, working with one another, taking one another seriously.”

Bishop Cameron noted the covenant “not a law, about relationships not legalities—a commitment to work with one another. It gives us a modest framework to hold the churches of the Communion together in mutual respect and cooperation.  It gives us the pathways rather than to shout at each other. It sets out the foundation of our common life, rather than the drama of boycotts. It gives something for the whole of the Communion and not just a part, a flexible commitment and not a partisan declaration.”

Mrs. Biggen asked the Governing Body not to be swayed by the Church of England’s apparent rejection of the covenant, saying ““this is not game over”.

The bishop of Swansea and Brecon, the Rt. Rev. John Davies moved an amendment to the motion, saying he believed a pause was in order.  The bishop believed the covenant was too “legalistic” and would stifle the communion, not strengthen it.

The amended text proposed by Bishop Davies read:

That the Governing Body: (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 seek reconciliation and the preservation of the Communion as a family of interdependent but autonomous Churches.”

Rising in support of the amended motion, Philip Price QC, chairman of the Standing Committee, stated the covenant did not address the problems besetting the communion.  ““We have to consider still how to consult together, how to manage disagreement—and that remains a priority. We must continue to go down that road, exploring what it means to be Anglican. The Covenant has been hugely useful as a focus for asking the question and answering it in discussion with each other—what it means to be Anglican in the rough and tumble of the raw, everyday world in which we have to engage?”

The amended motion was put to a vote and passed by a strong margin.

Bishop Cameron sought to put a good face on the vote noting the Governing Body had given an “amber light” instead of the “green light.”

“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,” Bishop Cameron said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Congo not backing the AMiA: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2012 p 6. February 10, 2012

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Church of the Congo, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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Archbishop Henri Isingoma of the Congo

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Claims the Anglican Mission in America has been given a home in the Anglican Church of the Congo are false, the Primate of the Congolese church, Archbishop Henri Isingoma of Kinshasa tells The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church of the Congo plans to endorse the Anglican Covenant at its forthcoming general assembly, the archbishop said, and would not violate the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group and initiate a cross border intervention in the jurisdiction of another Anglican province.

At its Winter Conference in Houston, Texas on 12 January 2012 retired Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini of Rwanda, acting under the authority of the Province of the Congo, ordained four deacons and a priest to serve for the AMiA, participants at the conference were told.

Mid-level sources within the AMiA have also told CEN that they had been briefed by their leaders that the former Rwandan mission in the U.S. would be taken under the wing of the Congo.  In December, the chairman of the AMiA, Bishop Chuck Murphy and all but two of his assistant bishops resigned from the Rwandan House of Bishops in a dispute over financial transparency and tightened oversight.

However, when queried by CEN, Archbishop Isingoma stated he was unaware of any Congolese move to take over the AMiA from Rwanda.  The archbishop and the Congolese House of Bishops “have never received or approved a special partnership with AMiA. I am very surprised to hear that we are sponsoring AMIA actions.”

The archbishop speculated that this “could be a plan of the former Archbishop of Rwanda who has a natural and historical liaison with Congo, but he has never expressed that in any way to me or to other bishops of the Anglican Congo.”

“The Anglican Church of Congo is still in the Anglican Communion; it stands on the biblical foundation teachings and until now, it has never think operating against the Anglican Communion tradition,” the archbishop said.

“We are planning to meet together” soon as a “provincial assembly” in the Congo, the archbishop said, “and at the same time the bishops’ house meeting will be held. So, among many other issues we hope to get a common conclusion about the Anglican Covenant.”

The AMiA declined to respond to our queries as of our going to press with this story.

Cape Town covenant plea: The Church of England Newspaper, January 13, 2012 p 7. January 18, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Archbishop of Cape Town has published an open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury that urges the provinces of the Anglican Communion to adopt the Anglican Covenant.

On 10 January 2012, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba released a letter offering a theological rationale in support of the Covenant saying it was “necessary” ingredient for Anglicans “in recalling us to ourselves.”

Whether Dr Makgoba’s plea will find a receptive audience is uncertain, however, as strong objections to the Covenant have been voiced by liberals and conservatives. Although a number of smaller provinces have endorsed the Covenant, primarily out of local considerations, within the larger Churches the momentum appears to be moving towards rejecting the document.

Within the Church of England four dioceses have endorsed the document, and four have rejected it. The Church of Ireland has given a qualified endorsement, as has the Province of South East Asia. Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Mexico and the West Indies have signalled their approval.

However, sentiment in the Episcopal Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and Australia is running against the Covenant, while the Global South primates group has called for its rejection as has the House of Bishops of the Philippine Episcopal Church.

In his letter, Dr Makgoba argues salvation comes not through the working of institutions, but through the actions of Christ. The Covenant supports this end as it is an instrument that “places God’s vision for God’s Church and God’s world centre-stage; and then invites us to live into this as our ultimate and overriding context and calling.”

He rejects claims the Covenant will impose an institutional straightjacket on the Church, arguing the document does not have that authority. Dr Makgoba also notes that the concerns raised about autonomy are a due to a failure of trust and theological imagination.

The identity of the Communion’s member Churches “should not principally be conveyed through legal prisms, whether of some form of centralising authority, or of Provinces’ constitutions and canon law which must be ‘safeguarded’ from external ‘interference’.”

“The provisions of the Covenant – which neither create new structures nor interfere in Provinces’ life – should be understood,” Dr Makgoba concludes in terms of “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”Adopting the Covenant means “constraining ourselves through the same sort of mutuality of love St Paul had in mind when he wrote ‘all things are lawful but not all things are beneficial – all things are lawful but not all things build up’,” Dr Makgoba said.

He acknowledged the work would be difficult, but commended the agreement to the Communion as a way forward through its present divisions.a

Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea backs Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, December 23, 2011 p 7. December 30, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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Bishop Peter Ramsden of Port Moresby

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The provincial council of the Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea (ACPNG) has endorsed the Anglican Covenant.

Last week’s announcement by the ACPNG marks the fourth province to endorse or subscribe to the Covenant.  The West Indies, Mexico, and Myanmar have already backed the covenant, while the bishops of the Philippine Episcopal Church have rejected it, and Australia, New Zealand and the United States are likely to oppose the agreement in its current form.

The press office of the Anglican Consultative Council last week reported that the Bishop of Port Moresby, the Rt. Rev. Peter Ramsden, had written to Canon Kenneth Kearon informing him the premise of the covenant was in line with the ACPNG’s self-understanding of its mission and its Anglican heritage.

“Anglican” was one of the styles of Christianity brought to this land and people near the end of the nineteenth century”, Bishop Ramsden said.

Anglicanism has “never pretended to be the only form of Christianity, but it did reflect how one part of the Christian family had developed, built on the importance of scripture, creeds, sacraments and episcopal order,” the bishop said.

In Papua New Guinea the church sought to combine its “Anglo-Catholic theological heritage and personal discipleship to the Lord Jesus in the way we witness to the five marks of mission with our ecumenical partners in PNG and our Anglican partners overseas.”

The bishop stated that the ACPNG’s understanding of “communion” was that it described a close relationship that “ensures autonomy and requires responsibility.”

It was an “expression of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” and also required “mutual respect, open communication and patience in dealing with issues that threaten it.”

He added that the innovations in doctrine and discipline concerning the ordination of women clergy and issues in human sexuality had strained the church’s communion.

In recent decades we have been saddened by the apparent lack of these things in the controversies concerning the ordination of women and issues of human sexuality. Anglicans were nonetheless “called to live a particular style of Christian witness which, because it is less juridical and confessional than that of some others, clearly requires a high level of mutual concern and respect.”

The ACPNG was “proud to belong to the Anglican Communion,” Bishop Ramsden said.

“As bishops we attended the 2008 Lambeth Conference, supported the three moratoria, endorsed the covenant process and value the efforts of the Archbishop of Canterbury to promote our unity. The Covenant might not have been proposed if some Anglican Provinces had not acted in the way they did, but recent history has produced it and we believe it deserves our support as a contribution to shaping and strengthening a future Anglican Communion, faithful to our calling to be ‘eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’.”

Southern Cone backs Anglican Covenant: Anglican Ink, December 20, 2011 December 21, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Anglican Ink, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America.
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Bishop Frank Lyons

La Provincia Anglicana del Cono Sur – the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone – has endorsed the Anglican Covenant.

Meeting in Asunción, Paraguay from 3-11 November 2011, the provincial executive committee and the province’s House of Bishops endorsed the inter-Anglican agreement that sets the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.

In a statement released on 20 Dec 2011, Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia stated the province believed the covenant was a “way forward” in the midst of a difficult time when “certain provinces” were proposing “novel ways of Christian living” that rejected “Biblical norms.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Maori synod rejects Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2011 p 6. November 15, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa – the Maori strand of the Anglican Church in Aoteaora, New Zealand and Polynesia (ANZP) – has rejected the Anglican Covenant.

The 5 November 2011 vote by the biennial runanganui (synod) meeting in Ohinemutu, New Zeland of the five Maori hui amorangi (episcopal units) passed a motion asking the 2012 ANZP General Synod: “To reject the Anglican Covenant.”

But it also asked the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) to “affirm that full membership of the Anglican Communion is not conditional on adoption of the proposed Covenant.”

Last week’s vote by the Maori churches likely sounds the political death knell for the Covenant in the ANZP. The dioceses of Christchurch, Wellington, Nelson and Waikato-Taranaki have expressed qualified support, while Auckland, Waiapu and Dunedin have rejected it. The Diocese of Polynesia has not expressed an opinion on the Covenant – an agreement sponsored by the Archbishop of Canterbury that would set the parameters of Anglican doctrine and discipline.

Delegates to the May 2010 meeting of the ANZP General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui endorsed the first three sections of the Covenant, but adopted a resolution asking for an opinion from the Standing Committee of the ACC on the “appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8 of the proposed Covenant,” which excludes all provinces that have not adopted the Covenant from decision-making about exclusion of provinces. No response has been forthcoming from London, however.

The Maori church took issue with the disciplinary provisions of the Covenant, with the resolution noting that “Clause 4.2 of the proposed Covenant contains provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our understanding of the way of Christ, and to justice, and is unacceptable to this Runanganui.”

Speakers in support of the motion to reject argued the Covenant was un-Anglican. According to an account of the debate prepared by Anglican Taonga, the mover of the resolution, Archdeacon Turi Hollis said “the proposed Covenant is trying to impose on us something that should be based on relationship.”

The Rev Don Tamihere urged rejection also. “We are being asked to sign over our sovereignty, our rangatiratanga to an overseas group … to a standing committee over whom we have no choice or control. And they have the power to recommend punishment.”

If the 2012 General Synod adopts the Covenant, it must come before the synod a second time in 2014 as a change to the Church’s constitution for adoption. However, under the current organisational structure, each Tikanga or section of the Church: Maori, Polynesia, Church of New Zealand, has the ability to veto legislation for the whole – making it highly unlikely the Covenant will pass in light of last week’s vote.

US Executive Council rejects Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 28, 2011 p 6. October 28, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Executive Council, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council has rejected the Anglican Covenant.

On 24 Oct 2011 the council unanimously endorsed a resolution recommending the General Convention – the governing body of the Episcopal Church – not endorse the covenant as it now stands.  The Anglican Covenant was a political and theological threat that would alter the American church’s power base and undo the advances made by the church’s liberal wing in recent years.

The US recommendation to reject the covenant likely spells the death blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan to forge an agreement that sets limits on the acceptable parameters of doctrine and disciple within the Anglican Communion, and follows upon last week’s vote by the Sydney synod to reject the agreement.  With liberals and conservatives united in opposition to the proposed agreement – though for different reasons – the political future of the covenant is grim.

While Sydney rejected the covenant out of concern for its theology, the executive council rejected it for not been sufficient welcoming of diversity.  A report submitted by an executive committee task force stated the Episcopal Church must heed “the work of the Spirit in new understandings of how we are called to be in community and relationships. We believe our unity is best expressed in our efforts to be a church that fully welcomes those who have not always been welcomed. This understanding of who we are as a church does not allow the Executive Council to support any covenant that might jeopardize this vocation.”

The covenant was too clerical, the task force said and “consistently ignores the importance of the role of the laity and their full expression of ministry in all spheres of the life of the church.”

According to the task force report, 29 of the church’s 110 dioceses responded to requests for comments about the covenant.  A press release noted that some dioceses had endorsed the covenant, but their views were not included in the report as they had not been transmitted to the executive council.

Suggestions the Episcopal Church adopt those portions with which it agreed were rejected by the task force in the belief that “this would not honor the intention of the covenant’s creators that the document stand as a whole. We also do not believe that using language such as ‘receive’ the covenant without approving it honors the intention of the document.”

The report further noted that “to adopt the current version would mean changes to both the Constitution and Canons which would significantly alter our current understanding of what it means to be an autonomous province.”

While the executive council remained committed to “continuing engagement in thoughtful dialogue within the Anglican Communion around issues that may be divisive,” it could not “recommend adoption of the covenant in its present form.”

The resolution adopted by the executive council calls for the Episcopal Church to “recommit itself to dialogue with the several provinces when adopting innovations which may be seen as threatening the unity of the communion.”  It also pledges “continued participation in the wider councils of the Anglican Communion” and dialogue “with our brothers and sisters in other provinces to deepen understanding and to insure the continued integrity of the Anglican Communion.”

Sydney rejects Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21 2011 p 7. October 25, 2011

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First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Sydney has rejected the Anglican Covenant. The 11 October vote by the 49th meeting of the Diocese of Sydney Synod likely spells the death knell for Dr Rowan Williams’ plan for a global agreement to set the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.

Support for the Covenant peaked in the run-up to the 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, however, Dr Williams’ untimely intervention into the Covenant debate and changes made to the document have alienated both left and right.

Liberal dioceses in New Zealand, Australia and the US have rejected the plan as un-Anglican, while the Global South Primates last year stated that “while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

The Sydney motion was moved by Dr Mark Thompson of Moore College, and assistant chancellor Robert Tong, and followed a September recommendation by the diocesan standing committee to reject the Covenant.

In his report to Synod, Dr Thompson said the Covenant was “the wrong approach to the crisis in the Communion; the proposed Covenant has serious theological flaws; and it just won’t work: it won’t solve the crisis.”

The difficulties in the Anglican Communion “ought to have been addressed in terms of the New Testament patterns of fellowship rather than with a fresh appeal to law or regulation,” Dr Thompson said.

He added that “fellowship is nourished by our common commitment to truth and so faithfulness to the teaching of Scripture; it is undone by a refusal to submit to the teaching of God’s word.”

Creating a Covenant that establishes a “new legal structure that is incapable of distinguishing between the betrayal of biblical principle on the one hand, and unpopular but faithful adherence to biblical principles on the other” will not work, he argued.

Dr Thompson cited five theological flaws in the proposed agreement. “It fails to give sufficient attention to historic Anglican formularies; It embodies a confused ecclesiology; It expresses an inflated view of the Anglican bishop; It gives formal expression to an accrual of inordinate power and authority by the Archbishop of Canterbury; and the Covenant fails to give due weight to the teaching of Scripture.”

The Anglican Communion Covenant as it has been drafted is “fundamentally concerned with maintaining structural and institutional unity rather than with biblical faithfulness,” Dr Thompson argued.

“Those who have created the problem won’t sign it; and if they did without repenting of the departures from the teaching of Scripture it would only demonstrate the uselessness of the Covenant itself. What is more, a number of orthodox Anglican provinces throughout the world have already indicated they won’t sign it for various other reasons,” he noted.

“It’s the wrong way of dealing with the problem; the draft given to us has serious theological flaws; and in the end it just won’t work,” Dr Thompson said.

Synod adopted the motion by an overwhelming majority.

3 NZ no’s for the Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 9, 2011 p 7. September 11, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Three New Zealand dioceses have voted in favour of autonomy over communion and rejected the Anglican Covenant as being un-Anglican.

The Sept 2 votes by Auckland and Waiapu and the June 11 vote by the Maori Amorangi, or episcopal unit, the Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti urged the church’s General Synod to reject the proposed agreement to define the limits of Anglican faith and order.

However, all three affirmed their desire to remain full members of the Communion even if they did not sign off on the document—a stance at odds with Archbishop Rowan Williams 2009 statement that a two-tiered communion, one for those who had adopted the covenant and one for those who had not, might well emerge.

Acting in response to a request the General Synod to review the covenant, the Te Hui Amorangi o Te Tairawhiti stated on June 11 the document was un-Anglican.

It offered “us nothing new or more compelling than the Spiritual Covenant that we already have with each other through faith in Jesus Christ;” while the disciplinary provisions of the covenant’s Section 4 “go against our Gospel imperative to ‘love one another’.”

The motion, which received unanimous support, endorsed the decision taken by “our sister Amorangi, Te Hui Amorangi o Te Manawa o Te Wheke,” to rejected the covenant as it “does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these Islands.”

New Zealand Archbishop David Moxon’s diocese of Waiapu diocese rejected the proposed covenant at their Sept 2 synod.  The motion adopted by the synod stated: “The Diocese of Waiapu affirms its desire to remain a member of the Anglican Communion, valuing highly our common faith, mission, tradition and liturgy. We do not believe that the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will enhance the life of the Communion and request that the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui declines to sign the Covenant.”

On Sept 2, the Auckland synod passed a motion noting that the General Synod had “approved in principle Sections 1-3 of the proposed Anglican Covenant, and asked Episcopal Units to respond to its 2012 Session” resolved that Sections 1 and 2 “may be considered to be a useful starting point for consideration of our Anglican understanding of the Church.”

It further stated that Section 3 contained an “acceptable description of the basis for relationships between the churches of the Anglican Communion,” but held that Section 4 contained “provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our understanding of the way of Christ, and to justice, and is unacceptable to this Synod.”

Auckland further asked the General Synod to direct its representatives to the Anglican Consultative Council to bring a motion affirming that “full membership of the Anglican Communion is not conditional on adoption of the proposed Covenant.”

In a letter sent to US Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori during the Episcopal Church’s July 2009 General Convention, Dr. Rowan Williams stated there might be a “two-tier” or “two-track” model for the church with one track for those who affirmed the communion’s “covenantal structure,” and another with “fewer formal expectations” for those who valued autonomy.

“It helps to be clear about these possible futures, however much we think them less than ideal, and to speak about them not in apocalyptic terms of schism and excommunication but plainly as what they are — two styles of being Anglican, whose mutual relation will certainly need working out,” Dr Williams wrote.

Philippine ‘no’ to the Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 5, 2011 p 4. August 4, 2011

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Prime Bishop Edward Malecdan of the Philippines (ACNS photo)

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines have rejected the proposed Anglican Covenant, saying the proposal to centralise authority in London was an “un-Anglican” attempt to “lord it over” the Communion’s national provinces.

Speaking to the 8th Philippine General Synod on 2 May, the Church’s Prime Bishop, the Most Rev Edward Malecdan, argued the best way forward through the crisis of faith and order dividing Anglicans was to keep talking while taking no action that would cause irreparable harm to the fabric of the Communion.

“I think most of us know that there are problems besetting the Communion,” he observed, noting that “one of this is the practice of The Episcopal Church USA, or TEC, in consecrating practicing homosexuals and lesbians to the episcopate. The other is the acceptance of same-sex marriages in both TEC and in the Anglican Church of Canada or ACoC.”

The responses to these breaches of Communion by the US and Canada had led some provinces to call for the isolation of “these two North American Churches. They express in no uncertain terms that the Church in Canada and TEC should be out of the Communion.”

These Churches that have sought to punish TEC and Canada have looked to the “Instruments of Communion,” specifically the Primates’ Meeting “to make that decision, presumably for the whole Communion,” he said.

Bishop Malecdan added there was also a plan to “create a parallel Anglican Communion which would exclude in its membership TEC, ACoC and the Archbishop of Canterbury as an instrument of Communion, such that those who planned this boycotted the Lambeth Conference in 2009 and the Primates’ Meeting I attended in Dublin.

“Associated with this problem is the Anglican Covenant which is supposedly a proposed document to help defuse the tension in the Communion. The document is intended to be the final arbiter in the resolution of conflicts in the Communion and that all member Churches will have to adhere to its provisions.”

Bishop Malecdan stated the Philippine Council of Bishops “noted that the document provides for the creation of a Standing Committee that will be the ‘Supreme Court’ as it were, for the Anglican Communion to lord it over all Anglican Provinces. This, to the Council is very un-Anglican because of the autonomous nature of each Anglican Province. Hence, we are not in favour of the document.”

The Bishop said his impression of the Dublin Primates’ Meeting was one of a Church where “unity and diversity” was “clearly and strongly affirmed.”

“We recognised that Anglicans have many disagreements as a Communion but we still can be agreeable to one another. We can still move towards reconciliation as sisters and brothers as a gift of God to us by persistently talking about our differences. This is the beauty of Anglicanism.

“Unity in diversity which is a recognized uniqueness of the Communion is preserved,” the prime bishop said.

Ireland backs Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, May 20, 2011 p 7. May 22, 2011

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Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel and Ossory and Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore before the introduction of Motion 6 (Anglican Covenant) on May 13 at the Church of Ireland General Synod in Armagh (Church of Ireland photo)

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The General Synod of the Church of Ireland has adopted a motion subscribing to the Anglican Covenant.

Following the 13 May vote by delegates to the annual meeting of Synod held in Armagh, Ireland joins Mexico, the West Indies, and South East Asia in giving their assent to the pan-Anglican agreement to set the limits of doctrine and discipline for the Communion.

Styled as Motion 6, the Covenant resolution was proposed by the Bishop of Cashel and Ossory and seconded by the Bishop of Down and Dromore and stated that “Seeing that the Anglican Covenant is consonant with the doctrines and formularies of the Church of Ireland, the General Synod hereby subscribes the Covenant.”

A paper submitted to Synod by the Church’s Standing Committee urged adoption of the Covenant, noting that the “glue” which once had held the Communion together had dissolved. The Covenant would not impinge on the autonomy of national Churches, but would set the parameters of church order, they said.

“Undoubtedly there have been contentious events within Anglicanism that have raised questions about the extent to which individual provinces in their own cultural settings may act unilaterally in great matters when their actions impinge on their relationships with others, and hence deserve reflection and evaluation in a wider context. Autonomy of its nature is textured in any communion by mutual commitment and to some extent discipline.

“No province can be deprived of its freedom of action, but all provinces have to agree upon a means of recognising and addressing the relational consequences of their actions,” the standing committee said.

The Covenant was a “noble attempt to walk a tightrope” that made it “absolutely clear that each Province must be governed by its own independent canonical procedures and that there is no hidden agenda to centralise Anglicanism.”

It also “demonstrates that in communion, as in any family, the actions of one member have consequences for others and that – following due process – individual provinces may have to acknowledge, at least for a time, that actions which they have decided to take could lead to a situation in which their full participation in the instruments that bind Anglicanism together may become compromised,” the Synod report said.

Bishop Michael Burrows of Cashel and Ossory explained the Covenant should be understood as a “useful tool to order its external relationships” or a “midwife of unity”, rather than an instrument of change to the essence of the Church of Ireland.

Bishop Burrows noted that Synod was being asked to ‘subscribe’ rather than ‘adopt’ the Covenant in order to show the Church of Ireland had given the agreement its approval, but had not subordinated the Church’s constitution and canons to the agreement.

Bishop Harold Miller of Down and Dromore said he hoped the Covenant would become a “meaningful instrument of unity,” but also acknowledged that some provinces might balk at adopting the agreement.

During the debate, concerns that the disciplinary provisions in section 4 of the Covenant might unintentionally deepen divisions within the church were raised, as was disquiet with the role of the proposed Anglican standing committee. Supporters argued that by setting agreed standards of conduct, the fellowship or ‘koinonia’ of the Church would be strengthened.

Following a short period of reflection and prayer, a vote was taken and the motion to subscribe to the Covenant was passed by a wide margin.

South East Asia endorses the Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, May 13, 2011 p 7. May 12, 2011

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Bishop Albert Vun of Sabah, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore, Bishop Bolly Lapok of Kuching, and Bishop Ng Moon Hing of West Malaysia

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of the Province of South East Asia has endorsed the Anglican Covenant, stating the pan-Anglican agreement was necessary for the church to express our communion with the Triune God and with one another,” to guard the boundaries of the faith, and to be “faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

South East Asia now joins Mexico and the West Indies in formally endorsing the Anglican Covenant—reports that the Province of Myanmar (Burma) has endorsed the covenant have appeared, but could not be independently confirmed.

On May 7, the Diocese of Singapore’s website reported the province had released a 3000 word statement detailing the historical background and theological and ecclesiological rationale for its endorsement.

The province noted that “our accession” to the covenant was based on the understanding “that those who accede” to the agreement “will unequivocally abide by Lambeth 1998 Resolution 1.10 in its spirit and intent,” and would honour the moratorium on gay bishops and blessings.

Churches that accede to the covenant should also “bear authentic witness to the orthodox faith by an unequivocal commitment to the standards of moral and ethical holiness as set by Biblical norms in all aspects of their communal life.”

And South East Asia stated that it saw the primates as the body to oversee the implementation of the covenant, as it was the group “responsible for Faith and Order” in the Anglican Communion.

The language of the covenant that called for “common commitments and mutual accountability” among Anglicans to “hold each Church in the relationship of communion one with another,” echoed the “closing appeal” of the Kuala Lumpur statement.  The 1997 statement called call for new structure to “guard the internal unity of our Communion,” and “strengthen the bonds of affection between our provinces, and especially, make for effective mutual accountability in all matters of doctrine and polity throughout the Communion.”

The province said the “similarities” between the documents were “not accidental” as the covenant was “the culmination of a decade of intense disputes over ethical teaching and church order in the Communion. The Kuala Lumpur Statement, in fact, marked the beginning of a united stand, spearheaded by churches in the southern continents, for the faith that was once delivered to the saints across the Communion.”

The covenant “offers a concrete platform in ordering” Anglicans as a communion “with a clear ecclesial identity,” the said, and begins the process of “overcoming” the “ecclesial deficit” within the structures of the church.

The Anglican Communion should adopt more uniform processes in the election and appointment of bishops, to ensure that such processes are not held hostage to local politics and to parochial understandings of the episcopal office.

“Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant need to subject their common life to the reforming and transforming work of the Holy Spirit,” the Church of the Province of South East Asia said, “so that the Communion may be built up until all ‘reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ’ (Eph 4: 13).”

Legality of Anglican Covenant in doubt: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2011 p 6. May 6, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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Bishop Ngarahu Katene

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The viability of proposed Anglican Covenant remains unclear, as a request by the Anglican Church of Aotaroa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ANZP) for a legal opinion as to its enforceability remains unanswered, a year after it was requested.

Delegates to the May 2010 meeting of the ANZP General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui endorsed the first three sections of the covenant, but adopted a resolution asking for an opinion from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council on the “appropriateness of the provisions of Clause 4.2.8 of the proposed Covenant,” which excludes all provinces which have not adopted the covenant from decision-making about exclusion of provinces.

On April 27, the Rev. Michael Hughes, General Secretary of the ANZP told The Church of England Newspaper that “no answer yet” had been given.  The ACC Standing Committee has now met three times since the ANZP Synod, and Mr. Hughes said he would follow up”on the province’s request.

The continuing cloud over the legality of the covenant comes as the ANZP dioceses begin debating the agreement, which seeks to set the parameters of Anglican life and thought.  At the 2010 synod, delegates asked the church’s ‘episcopal units’, (the seven dioceses of the Church of New Zealand, the five hiu amorangi or Maori dioceses, and the Diocese of Polynesia) to consider the full covenant and report back to the June 2012 meeting of synod.

On April 15 delegates to the hui amorangi of Te Manawa o Te Wheke synod voted to reject the Anglican Covenant.  The vote was reported as having been unanimous, with Bishop Ngarahu Katene speaking in support of the motion to reject the Anglican Covenant.

Meeting in Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, the synod adopted a resolution that stated after “much consideration” the diocese “feels that The Anglican Covenant will threaten the Rangatiratanga of the Tangata Whenua.” (Sovereignty of the people of the land.)

The diocese believes “the Anglican Covenant does not reflect our understanding of being Anglican in these islands,” and they added they would prefer the church to focus on internal land disputes and the rights of Maoris in New Zealand rather than on the wider church.

If the 2012 General Synod adopts the Covenant, it must come before the Synod a second time in 2014 as a change to the church’s constitution for adoption.  However, under the current organizational structure, each Tikanga or section of the church: Maori, Polynesia, Church of New Zealand, has the ability to veto legislation for the whole.

Anglican Covenant ‘un-American’, Colorado says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 29, 2011 p 8. May 3, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Colorado has urged rejection of the Anglican Covenant, stating the present draft of the document presents a vision of the church that is foreign to its understanding.  The document also engages in a double standard of disciplining the Episcopal Church but takes no action against conservative churches that violate the Windsor moratorium against gay bishops, blessings and cross border violations.

The covenant was incoherent, as it acknowledges that signatories adopt the covenant “in order to proclaim more effectively in our different contexts the grace of God,” while in Section 4 it “directly contravenes” this goal by “promulgating disciplinary procedures that do not respect” localized revelations of the divine.  It also begins with the assumption the American Church is in the wrong, and its polity defective.

The Colorado deputation objected to the language of the proposed covenant which “arose out of the Windsor Report in response to the actions of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada regarding consecration of a partnered gay bishop and same gender blessings. However, the proposed covenant provides no means of reconciling the relationships broken by responses to those actions.”

The “punitive” Section 4 of the Covenant “proposes relational consequences that formalize separation and suspension from participation in the life of the Communion,” the deputation said, noting such an approach would not resolve the divisions within the church.

The polity of the provinces in the Anglican Communion varies widely, and Section 4.1.3 affirms the “autonomy of governance” of each province.

The letter released last week has no legal standing, however, as it was prepared by the diocese’s deputies to General Convention in response to a query from the national church.  Under the Episcopal Church’s constitution and canons, deputies have no authority outside the triennial meetings of General Convention, and cannot bind nor speak for the diocese.  The letter does, however, give a fair assessment of the sentiment among the controlling faction in the diocese.

Colorado has been hit hard by the Episcopal Church’s internal disputes over doctrine and discipline, losing a number of congregations to breakaway groups gathered under the ACNA.  In 2009 the diocese reported that the cost of lawsuits and the downturn in the stock market had consumed almost 85 per cent of its endowment.

The value of diocese’s portfolio shrank from $4.9 million in 2006 to $750,000 in Aug 2009, with over $2.9 million consumed by the costs of litigation with those leaving Grace & St Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs, diocesan treasurer Robert Poley reported in a covering letter accompanying the diocese’s proposed 2010 budget.  However, the recent market upturn has recouped some of its losses.

Covenant anti-democratic and un-Anglican, Los Angeles says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 21, 2011 p 8. April 22, 2011

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Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno with his suffragans, Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool following their election to the episcopate in 2009

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Los Angeles has written to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, urging rejection of the Anglican Covenant.

In a letter released on April 14 endorsed by Bishop J. Jon Bruno and diocesan representatives, Los Angeles voiced theological and ecclesiological objections to what it saw as the anti-democratic centralisation of authority in the current draft of the Anglican Covenant.

“We cannot endorse a covenant that, for the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion, will pave the way toward emphasizing perceived negative differences instead of our continuing positive and abundant commonality,” the letter stated.

Los Angeles stated it had written the letter in response to a request by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the national church’s Executive Council of views on the proposed covenant, which is expected to come before the 2012 meeting of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

While recommending the “conversation” continue with the wider Anglican Communion over the recent innovations of doctrine and discipline, including Los Angeles’ consecration of the Episcopal Church’s second ‘gay’ bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, the diocese asked the Episcopal Church “not endorse the final draft of the Anglican Covenant.”

Difficulties with sections 3 and 4 of the Covenant drove this decision, it said.   “We are concerned about the omission of the laity from Section 3,” it noted, stating the diocese believed there were “four orders of ministry in the Church – bishops, priests, deacons and lay people.”

For Los Angeles to accept an Anglican Covenant, this understanding of the place of the laity as equal partners in the councils of the church must be included.  “A Covenant to which we could subscribe would need to re-imagine the Instruments of Communion to provide a stronger representation from all the orders of ministry,” it said.

The penal articles of Section 4 of the covenant were “of greatest concern.  It creates a punitive, bureaucratic, juridical process within the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, elevating its authority over the member churches despite previous affirmations of member church autonomy.”

As currently written, the Section 4 “contains no clear process for dispute resolution, no checks and balances, no right of appeal,” while the “concept of mediation,” mentioned in Section 3, is absent in Section 4.

The present document’s “focus on ‘maintenance, dispute and withdrawal’ bodes of an immobilized church mission instead of one that is flexible and prophetic. For these reasons, we cannot agree to Section 4,” Los Angeles wrote.

The Episcopal Church was “founded in democracy and has enjoyed a polity which is free and democratic since 1789.  This long-standing course cannot be reversed,” the diocese said, urging rejection of the Anglican Covenant.

West Indies adopts Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 11, 2011 p 7. February 15, 2011

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Archbishop John Holder of Barbados

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop John Holder of Barbados, reports his province has formally adopted the Anglican Covenant.

In a statement released via the Anglican Communion News Service during the Dublin primates meeting on Jan 30, Archbishop Holder stated his province saw the Covenant as a “workable document that can help the Anglican Communion to move forward while still addressing issues that face its member Churches.”

“For some, the document is only being seen in the light of sexuality issues. That’s a restrictive view. It is a document that can help us to function in relation to the many issues that will arise in the Communion. Today it’s human sexuality, tomorrow it will be something else.”

“Our understanding is that it is not an exclusive document; it does not exclude, but rather it helps to lead people to reflect on their role as Anglicans, and identify their responsibilities as members of the Communion,” the archbishop said.

The 2009 West Indian General Synod, under the presidency of former West Indian Archbishop Drexel Gomez endorsed the covenant.  The Church of England Newspaper reported last year that the Nov 16-20, 2010 joint meeting of the West Indian House of Bishops in Trinidad and provincial standing committee was expected to ratify the covenant on behalf of the province.

The province gave its formal notice of acceptance of the covenant to the ACC last month.

The Anglican Covenant was not “punitive,” he said.  “It invites the members of the Communion to follow a different way, to remember their responsibilities to other members of the wider community, to respect where others are in their journey.”

While some churches saw the covenant as a “threat to their independence”, the West Indian Church saw it as a mark of the communion’s interdependence, “as an enabler on the journey for communion,” Archbishop Holder said.

Japan urged to go forward with the Covenant, ‘warts and all’: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 10, 2010 p 7. December 11, 2010

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The Most Rev. Nathaniel Uematsu, Primate of Japan and Bishop of Hokkaido

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Concerns that section IV of the Anglican Covenant is ‘un-Anglican’ should be set aside in view of the parlous state of the Anglican Communion, the Primate of Japan told the 58th General Synod of the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) meeting at St. Barnabas Church, Ushigome in the Diocese of Tokyo.

In his presidential address to the May 25-27th general synod, published last month in the NSKK’s English-language newsletter, Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu reported the NSKK House of Bishops’ Theological and Doctrine Committee “have expressed their opinion that such a Covenant should not be necessary, as it provides restrictions and exclusions.”

In 2008 the NSKK’s 57th General Synod received the covenant for study.  The bishops’ theological committee was not convinced that all Anglicans could or should be “ruled by this one agreement,” and balked at section IV.  “One of the major characteristics of the Anglican Communion has been that in its long history the richness of diversity has been widely appreciated,” the Japanese primate explained.

“However given the present situation of confusion and disagreement among the Anglican Communion, the expectation of the Anglican Covenant is increasing and NSKK needs to consider its suitability,” Archbishop Uematsu said.

In summarizing the state of the Communion, the Japanese church leader used uncharacteristically strong language, laying the blame for the dissension upon the Episcopal Church (TEC) and Anglican Church of Canada (ACC).  However, the solutions proposed by leaders of the Global South coalition were troublesome, he stated.

“It is strongly felt that the disorder in the Anglican Communion has increased. The dangerous possibility of a split in the Anglican Communion continues to deepen,” Archbishop Uematsu said.

In the interval between the 57th and 58th Japanese general synods, the Primates Meeting, the Lambeth Conference, and the Anglican Consultative Council made “requests and recommendations” that the US and Canada forebear from pursuing gay bishops and blessings, while the “Archbishop of Canterbury has repeatedly given appeals and requests to address the problems.”

Yet, “in spite of the recommendations and appeals [TEC] and the [ACC] have proceeded with the ordination of a homosexual Bishop and recognizing the ‘marriage’ (union) of same sex couples, further complicating the situation and resulting in some provinces threatening to sever relations” with the two North American provinces, while other “provinces have expressed their intention of establishing a separate ‘Province’.”

“These unfavorable movements have created the situation where a number of provinces, dioceses and churches are unsure of where they stand dangerously affecting their identity within the Anglican Communion,” Archbishop Uematsu warned.

“Furthermore, certain movement has occurred that may create a new Anglican Communion which excludes the TEC and the ACC even going as far to say they may even exclude the Archbishop of Canterbury!” the Japanese primate said.

Church of Ireland to address the Covenant at its May General Synod: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 3, 2010 p 6. December 4, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The proposed Anglican Covenant does not conflict with the formularies of the Church of Ireland, that church’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue has concluded.  The decision opens the way for the Church of Ireland to adopt the Covenant at its General Synod in May.

At a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Irish General Synod on Nov 16, the Bishop of Cashel & Ossory, the Rt. Rev. Michael Burrows reported the commission was “satisfied” the Anglican Covenant would not change the doctrines, formularies, and rituals of the Church of Ireland.

It would be “possible for the General Synod to be asked to adopt it by simple resolution,” Bishop Burrows said, rather than via an amendment of its constitution or articles.  The standing committee accepted the commission’s report and “agreed to move forward on that basis,” the church’s press office reported.

The standing committee also urged a church wide discussion of the covenant during the run up to the May general synod, to allow delegates an opportunity to review the document.

Gafcon primates vote of no confidence in the Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, Dec 3, 2010 p 1 December 2, 2010

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Covenant is too little and too late, to hold the Anglican Communion together, the leaders of the Gafcon movement said last week.

Revisions to the document adopted last December by the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee were unacceptable, the Gafcon primates’ council said on Nov 24, and urged the communion to adopt “new initiatives to more effectively respond to the crises that confront us all.”

Seven primates along with Archbishops Robert Duncan of the ACNA and Peter Jensen of Sydney acknowledged as “well intentioned” the “efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant,” but concluded the “current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

The primates further rejected the Dr Rowan Williams’ plea for business as usual. “We can no longer maintain the illusion of normalcy,” they said, and “join with other Primates from the Global South in declaring that we will not be present at the next Primates’ meeting.”

Questioned about the statement, a spokesman for Lambeth Palace told The Church of England Newspaper ACC Secretary General Kenneth Kearon “has said the following: ‘The decision whether to come remains a matter for the Primates. The meeting is being organised and will be going ahead in Ireland next January. We are still receiving acceptances and hope as many Primates as possible we be able to attend’.”

Crafted at a meeting in Oxford held Oct 4-7, the statement crystallizes months of discussions among the reform minded leaders of the communion.

Frustrated with the course adopted by Dr. Williams in addressing the crisis of doctrine and discipline in the communion, and openly scornful of the integrity of the ‘Anglican Communion Office’, the Gafcon primates reiterated their call to ditch a church whose primary principle was the paramount importance of its London organs for one that espoused common doctrines

The communion needed to reform or it would die.  “New ways of living out our common life” were “emerging as old structures are proven to be ineffective in confronting the challenges of living in a pluralistic global community,” they said.

They offered the 2008 Jerusalem Declaration as a way forward, saying the “unique character” of the communion’s reform movement “with its diversity of cultures and its embrace of the Jerusalem Declaration as a common theological confession is a vital contribution to the future” of the communion.

While the statement was released on the same day as General Synod debated the covenant, the timing of the release was not intended to sway discussion in England, a spokesman told CEN.

The “Oxford Statement” required weeks of refining and was passed from archbishop to archbishop before it was ready for release, a Gafcon secretariat spokesman said.

Sources within the Gafcon movement tell CEN, the Oxford Statement should not be read as an outright rejection of the covenant, but as a vote of no confidence in the current draft that vests authority in the Anglican Communion “Standing Committee”.

On Nov 1, Bishop Michael Nazir Ali encapsulated the thinking of many of the Gafcon leaders, telling CEN the new section IV of the covenant was “quite different” from what had been prepared by the covenant design team, and “produces a new kind of ecclesial animal” in the Standing Committee.

“We have had a spate of resignations” from the Standing Committee “that calls into question its on-going credibility,” he noted.  Yet the Standing Committee will “make recommendations” about discipline.”

The Ridley draft of the covenant “was much better and stronger,” Dr. Nazir Ali said. It provided “due safeguards and allowed the primates to make the final decision,” he observed.

West Indian bishops to take up the Covenant this week: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 19, 2010 p 8 November 21, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of the West Indies.
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Archbishop John Holder of Barbados during the 2008 Lambeth Conference

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The House of Bishops and Standing Committee of the Church of the Province of the West Indies are set to meet this week in Trinidad.  The provincial leaders are scheduled to confirm the election of Canon Claude Berkley as Bishop-Coadjutor of Trinidad, and are expected to discuss local and pan-Anglican questions, including the Anglican Covenant.

The Nov 16 to 20 meeting at St Agnes’ Church in St James, Trinidad, will be the first joint meeting joint meeting of the standing committee and house of bishops for the new West Indian primate, Archbishop John Holder of Barbados.  Seventeen of the provinces 24 active and retired bishops are expected to attend the meeting.

Dr. Holder has pushed for a conciliatory tone in the province’s relations with the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada, and has taken a softer line with the North American churches than his predecessor, Archbishop Drexel Gomez of Nassau and the Bahamas.

Under Archbishop Gomez’ leadership, the province declared a state of impaired fellowship with the Episcopal Church, forbad American bishops from participating in consecrations in the province, and required missionaries to endorse a theological code that foreswore the innovations of doctrine and discipline practiced by the US and Canadian churches.

Speaking in New York in May, Dr. Holder said “one of the valuable contributions we can make in the Caribbean, in our Province is to be bridge-builder.”

The West Indies did not agree with the Episcopal Church’s support of gay bishops and blessings, and Dr. Holder said he was not “at the stage where I can say that I support that (gay) lifestyle to the extent that I will bless or encourage or whatever persons involved in that as prominent leaders” of the church.

However, he parted company with the leaders of the Anglican Churches of Africa in believing that the two sides should continue talking.  “I think part of the problem in this world and the church especially, is that we are running out of time to do certain things,” he told members of St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn.

“We all want things to be done within our lifetime or within our time of being in charge. I don’t think that way. I think if there is a problem, if there is a challenge we have to work on it. And it will take longer than my lifetime,” Dr. Holder said.

The West Indian bishops are expected to endorse the Anglican Covenant at their Trinidad meeting.  In his May presentation, Dr. Holder said he supported the covenant “100 per cent because I think it is the type of bridge we need to hold the factions together that they can begin to speak to each other in a creative and positive way.”

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.

Rwandan revamp of Anglican ecclesiology: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 8, 2010 p 8. October 8, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Rwanda, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Global South.
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The Rev. Dr. Kevin Donlon of the Global South Anglican Theological Formation and Education Task Force at the 2008 Gafcon conference in Jerusalem

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The new Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Rev. Onesphore Rwaje, has vowed to carry on the policies of his predecessor, Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, and push for the reform of the Anglican Communion.

In an interview with the New Times of Kigali published last week, the new archbishop, who will take office in January said he would hold fast to the church’s traditional teachings on human sexuality.

“Anything that is contrary to God’s family set-up is not acceptable; there is nowhere in the Bible where same-sex marriage is encouraged. God created a man and woman to be the basis of a family,” the archbishop said.

The Anglican Church of Rwanda has also been at the forefront of the reform movement within the Anglican Communion.  While it supports in principle the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Anglican Covenant process, it has been less than enthusiastic about how such a structure might work, given the anarchy now prevalent across the Communion.

At the All African Bishops Meeting in Entebbe in August, discussion of the Anglican Covenant among the gathered bishops took a decided second place to the conciliar programme for a renewed Anglican ecclesiology propounded by Rwanda and the Global South group of churches.

An August 2008 paper prepared by Dr. Kevin Donlon, an American priest of the AMiA, and a member of the Global South Anglican Theological Formation and Education Task Force, argued the Covenant was yesterday’s solution to today’s problems.

The paper, entitled The Challenges of Covenant and Canons for the Future of a Ius Commune Anglicanae, concluded: “The Covenant as an instrument by itself fails to address the fullness of the conciliar tradition that needs to be regained by Anglicans.  A church rooted in the catholic heritage is called to be church rooted in the claims a deposit of faith that includes a canonical and conciliar tradition that is one of the marks of the church since the Apostolic Period.”

“Anglicanism abandoned a conciliar and canonical understanding of the church when Henry Tudor ascribed all legislative responsibility to the Parliament at the Reformation. A draft of a Covenant without a canonical and conciliar structure illustrates once again that Anglican leaders seem unable to grasp the conciliar nature of the Church.”

Frustration with the present model of “instruments of Communion” and objections to an international church that centered round the authority of an English bishop not accountable to the wider church, has fueled discussion within the Global South about new ways of ordering the church.

“A new model for a new day is required where conversations about Canons and Covenants are not simply the speculation of non-binding conferences that insure autonomy over and above authority. The blending of covenant and canon is a way to embrace the conciliar model where matters of faith and practice at all levels of the Church come into an expression of praxis that is framed in a theology of the church that is biblical, Christological, salvific historical and ecclesiological in character consistent for the ages,” Dr. Donlon concluded.

Correction: The CEN’s Sept 24 report of Archbishop Rwaje’s election as the new primate of Rwanda stated that at the time of the 1994 Genocide, Bishop Rwaje was spirited across the border by a Hutu officer.  This report was inaccurate, as it was a different bishop who was thus rescued.  Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini also writes that tribal identification is frowned upon within the Anglican Church of Rwanda.

Mexico backs Anglican Covenant: The Church of England Newspaper, July 9, 2010 p 5 July 17, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico.
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Archbishop Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Church of Mexico has become the first province to endorse the Anglican Covenant, adopting the pan-Anglican agreement on faith and order at its June 11-12 General Synod in Mexico City.

“We are delighted to hear that Mexico has agreed to adopt the Covenant,” ACC secretary general Canon Kenneth Kearon said, calling it a “significant step” for the communion.

“Provinces were asked to take their time to seriously consider this document, and we are glad to hear from recent synods that they are doing just that,” he said.

The adoption of the Covenant by Mexico comes as a surprise to many church watchers as the small province’s leadership has supported the Episcopal Church’s experiments with gay bishops and blessings.  The primate of Mexico, Archbishop Carlos Touche–Porter became a patron of Inclusive Church in 2007 and his diocese permits clergy in same-sex relationships to serve in the ministry.  “Mexican society is open and tolerant and our church reflects this,” he said.

The former Bishop of Mexico City, Sergio Carranza, who went on to serve as Assistant Bishop of Los Angeles, has also been an aggressive supporter of the gay agenda, and in 2008 said he would “refuse to accept the new religion crafted by some of the power greedy Third World hierarchs and the lunatic fringe of American conservatism” of those who oppose gay bishops and blessings.

Gay marriage has also sharply divided Mexican society.  In March, Mexico City’s leftwing Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) government allowed Latin America’s first gay marriage.  The city’s PRD-dominated Legislative Assembly has recognized civil unions and no-fault divorce, legalized abortion in the first trimester and given terminally ill patients the right to refuse treatment.  Gay marriages in Mexico City are recognized across the country but no other state permits them to be performed.

Gay marriage was enacted by the Mexico City against the strident objections of the country’s Catholic Church and the government of President Felipe Calderón and his conservative National Action Party (PAN).  When the mayor signed the bill into law last December, Cardinal Norberto Rivera responded the “family is under attack,” and predicted the “perverse” law would cause psychological harm to “innocent children.”

Mexico’s attorney general has filed a challenge with the Supreme Court, arguing that the law violates the constitution. “The constitution of the republic speaks explicitly of marriage between a man and a woman,” Mr. Calderón said in February.

According to the constitution, “men and women are equal under the law,” and “this protects the organization and development of the family,” the president said.

No decision on the Covenant from Australia: The Church of England Newspaper, March 26, 2010 p 8. April 7, 2010

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

The proposed Anglican Covenant requires careful study, the bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia concluded at their annual meeting last week in Safety Bay in Western Australia. However, the complexities of the issues involved and the unique polity of the Australian Church will prevent a quick decision.

Australia’s 40 bishops met for three days near Perth last week for the church’s annual House of Bishops meeting. Discussions ranged from the Covenant to plans for another national “Back to Church Sunday”. The Primate of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall of Brisbane stated the bishops were pleased with the results of last September’s “Back to Church Sunday”.

“Last year at our meeting on the Gold Coast bishops agreed to hold the event. It went ahead in September and the feedback was impressive. Australia-wide we welcomed thousands of new comers to services as well as many who decided to return after an absence.

“So strong was the support that bishops have agreed to hold the nation-wide event in September for the next three years,” Dr. Aspinall said.

The bishops believe it is a “good initiative which highlights the importance people put on being warmly welcomed to Church on a specific day. Our challenge is to ensure new and returning people feel that they can become a regular part of their local parish family and enjoy worship and fellowship on a more regular basis.”

Discussions of the needs of indigenous ministry, as well as programmes for experimenting with different ‘Models of Ministry’ were discussed, as was the Covenant. However, Australia’s federated national church structure that gives a high degree of independence to the dioceses, militates against a quick adoption of the document.

“There are implications for the Anglican Church of Australia if we sign up to the Covenant and that’s why the bishops thought that any decision should not be rushed,” Dr Aspinall said.

Covenant blow from Episcopalians: CEN 10.23.09 p 6. November 4, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has unanimously endorsed a report that rejects the proposed disciplinary provisions of section IV of the Anglican Covenant. The Council also offered an oblique criticism of dioceses that have endorsed the Covenant, saying such moves were unhelpful and premature.

On Oct 8, the Executive Council released its official response to the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Covenant, following a survey of the church’s General Convention deputies. The “majority of [diocesan] deputations and individual deputies” were “not convinced” that the “covenant in its current form will bring about deeper communion.”

The idea of a covenant was “un-Anglican” for some American Episcopalians while one unnamed deputy said the “document incorporates anxiety.”

A “majority of respondents do not support the fourth section of the draft covenant,” the report said, with one diocesan deputation arguing the disciplinary provisions of the covenant created a “system of governance contrary to our understanding of Anglicanism and establishes a punitive system executed by a select committee.”

The report criticized “some in the Episcopal Church and beyond who want to prejudge the General Convention’s decision on the Anglican Communion covenant. We find such predictions and pronouncements premature and unhelpful.”

Asked by The Church of England Newspaper who these unhelpful Episcopalians were and why their actions were unhelpful, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she did not know. “I did not write the response. It was written by the committee that gave the report,” she said.

“The reality is that the General Convention has not acted as yet to adopt a covenant because text is not final,” the presiding bishop noted.

Not all of the comments received were negative however as one diocesan deputation argued that “a governance section is needed to maintain a covenant.”

At its May meeting, the Anglican Consultative Council endorsed the first three sections of the Ridley Cambridge draft: I) “Our Inheritance in Faith”; II) The Life We Share with Others: Our Anglican Vocation”; III) “Our Unity and Common Life,”, but asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams to empower a committee to review criticisms of section IV) “Our Covenanted Life Together,” which creates a dispute resolution mechanism for the communion.

On May 28, Dr. Williams appointed Archbishop John Neill of Dublin, Archbishop John Chew of Singapore, Eileen Scully of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Bishop Gregory Cameron of St. Asaph in the Church in Wales to review section IV.

The working group will meet Nov 20-21 in London and give their recommendations to the Joint ACC-Primates Standing Committee meeting Dec 15-18.

Two US dioceses back Anglican Covenant: CEN 10.30.09 October 30, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, South Carolina, Western Louisiana.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Dioceses of Western Louisiana and South Carolina have endorsed the Ridley-Cambridge draft of the Anglican Covenant, joining Central Florida as the third American diocese to formally back the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan for creating a structure to manage the divisions over doctrine and discipline dividing the Anglican Communion.

On Oct 24, a special convention of the Diocese of South Carolina approved a resolution by a margin of 88 to 12 per cent that “endorses” the Anglican Covenant “as it presently stands, in all four sections, as an expression of our full commitment to mutual submission and accountability in communion, grounded in a common faith.”

Two US dioceses back Anglican Covenant

Delegates to the Oct 9-10 annual convention of the Diocese of Western Louisiana also affirmed their support for the Covenant and backed Bishop Bruce MacPherson’s endorsement of the Anaheim Statement, which reaffirmed his commitment to remain part of the Anglican Communion and the Anglican Covenant process.

By a show of hands the convention adopted a resolution which “fully affirms” Western Louisiana’s “commitment to the Windsor principles, including the formation of, and future adoption of an Anglican Covenant as a means of supporting the ongoing work of our bishop and the efforts of the broader Communion to preserve our unity.”

The convention further stated that it “supports the ongoing work on the Ridley Cambridge draft including section 4.”

The South Carolina convention restated its evangelical credentials, declaring it believed the “doctrine, discipline and worship” of the Episcopal Church was found in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, “the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

It also adopted a resolution authorizing the withdrawal “from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture” and the “doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ” as held historically by the church and Anglican Communion “until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions.”

The resolution does not pull South Carolina out of the Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Lawrence said, but states its rejection of the recent actions taken by the General Convention. South Carolina also declared the July 2009 General Convention resolutions authorizing gay clergy and creation of gay liturgies to be “null and void” in the diocese.

In his convention address Bishop Mark said the General Convention was “not the answer to the problems of the Episcopal Church,” but had “become the problem. It has replaced a balanced piety in this Church with the politics of one-dimensional activism. Every three years when the Episcopal Church train pulls into the station of General Convention more traditional, catholic and evangelical Episcopalians get off the train and do not return.”

Dioceses can adopt the Covenant: CEN 10.09.09 p 5. October 23, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper.
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Dioceses and other ecclesial bodies may endorse the Anglican Covenant, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams said this week, but noted the current process is geared toward adoption of an inter-Anglican agreement by the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

In a Sept 28 letter to the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Dr. Williams welcomed Central Florida’s endorsement of the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant.

On Sept 17 the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee affirmed the first three sections of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Covenant and asked Dr. Williams to “outline and implement a process by which individual Dioceses, and even parishes, could become members of the Anglican Covenant, even in cases where their Provincial or Diocesan authorities decline to do so.”

Dr. Williams responded that “as a matter of constitutional fact, the ACC can only offer the Covenant for ‘adoption’ to its own constituent bodies, (the provinces).”

“But I see no objection to a diocese resolving less formally on an ‘endorsement’ of the Covenant,” he said. Such an action would not have an “institutional effect” but “would be a clear declaration of intent to live within the agreed terms of the Communion’s life and so would undoubtedly positively affect a diocese’s pastoral and sacramental relations” with the wider communion, he wrote.

A spokesman for the Archbishop of Canterbury declined to comment, saying it was their policy not to discuss private correspondence. However, the Anglican Communion Institute—whose members include Bishop Howe and Dr. Ephraim Radner—a member of the Covenant Design Grooup—noted that Dr. Williams was not articulating any new policies in the letter.

The ACI stated it was “in complete agreement with the Archbishop of Canterbury that endorsement of the Covenant by dioceses is a way to begin to preserve and restore “pastoral and sacramental relations with the rest of the Communion.”

They noted formal endorsement and adoption of the Covenant was a matter “committed to the ‘constitutional procedures’ of the member churches” of the Anglican Communion. Given the Episcopal Church’s “unique polity, those procedures will inevitably require consideration and agreement or rejection by [its] dioceses.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury was aware that the “adoption of the Covenant works best at the provincial level,” the ACI said. However, Dr. Williams “does not prejudge whether dioceses can adopt if a province does not because that would be to prejudge the decision of provinces to commit to the accountability demanded by the Covenant as well as the character of the Covenant in its completed form,” they said.

Archbishop Says Central Florida Act a Positive Step: TLC 10.01.09 October 2, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Living Church.
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First published in the Living Church.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed an endorsement of the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant by the Diocese of Central Florida’s board and standing committee.

On Sept. 17, the diocesan board and standing committee adopted a resolution stating that they “affirm sections one, two and three of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Covenant, as we await the final draft of section four.”

Central Florida also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to “outline and implement a process by which individual dioceses, and even parishes, could become members of the Anglican Covenant, even in cases where their provincial or diocesan authorities decline to do so.”

In a Sept. 28 letter to the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, Archbishop Williams called endorsement from the diocesan bodies a step in the right direction. “As a matter of constitutional fact, the [Anglican Consultative Council] can only offer the covenant for ‘adoption’ to its own constituent bodies (the provinces),” the archbishop noted. But “I see no objection to a diocese resolving less formally on an ‘endorsement’ of the covenant.” Such an action may not have an immediate “institutional effect” but “would be a clear declaration of intent to live within the agreed terms of the Communion’s life and so would undoubtedly positively affect a diocese’s pastoral and sacramental relations” with the wider Communion, he said.

The resolution was offered to the board by the dean of Southeast Central Florida, the Very Rev. Eric Turner, rector of St. John’s Church, Melbourne, Fla.
Originally titled a “Resolution in Response to General Convention,” the first two clauses backed Bishop Howe’s endorsement of the Anaheim Statement issued at the close of General Convention, and reaffirmed the “teaching of the Anglican Communion” on “matters of human sexuality” [TLC, Aug. 9].

The second half of the resolution drew upon the Sept. 7 call by the bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana for “dioceses, congregations and individuals” to “pray and work for the adoption” of the covenant, and asked that they “endorse [its] first three sections” [TLC, Sept. 27].

Bishop Howe stated that he was aware that some believed that “only the General Convention can decide whether or not to ‘opt into’ the Covenant, but there is nothing in the Covenant itself, and nothing in our Constitution or Canons, that stipulate this. If a given person, parish or diocese agrees with the Covenant, what is there to prevent saying so?”

Bishop Howe added that “should it be that the General Convention were to ‘opt out’ of the Covenant while some of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church have endorsed or adopted it we will have a number of interesting questions to address.”

Dioceses ‘can adopt Covenant,’ says Archbishop of Canterbury: CEN 10.01.09 October 1, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Dioceses and other ecclesial bodies may endorse the Anglican Covenant, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams said this week, but noted the current process is geared toward adoption of an inter-Anglican agreement by the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

In a Sept 28 letter to the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev John W Howe, Dr Williams welcomed Central Florida’s endorsement of the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant.

Dioceses ‘can adopt Covenant,” says Archbishop of Canterbury
On Sept 17 the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee adopted a resolution stating, “We affirm Sections One, Two and Three of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Covenant, as we await the final draft of Section Four.”

The diocese also asked Dr Williams to “outline and implement a process by which individual Dioceses, and even parishes, could become members of the Anglican Covenant, even in cases where their Provincial or Diocesan authorities decline to do so.”

Dr Williams responded that “as a matter of constitutional fact, the ACC can only offer the Covenant for ‘adoption’ to its own constituent bodies, (the provinces).”

“But I see no objection to a diocese resolving less formally on an ‘endorsement’ of the Covenant,” he said. Such an action would not have an “institutional effect” but “would be a clear declaration of intent to live within the agreed terms of the Communion’s life and so would undoubtedly positively affect a diocese’s pastoral and sacramental relations” with the wider communion, he wrote.

The resolution was offered to the diocesan board by the Dean of Southeast Central Florida, the Rev. Eric Turner, rector of St John’s Episcopal Church in Melbourne, FL. Originally entitled a ‘Resolution in Response to General Convention’, the first two clauses backed Bishop Howe’s endorsement of the Anaheim Statement issued at the close of General Convention, and reaffirmed the “teaching of the Anglican Communion” on “matters of human sexuality.”

Dean Turner’s resolution was divided into two motions, and the second half drew upon the Sept 7 call by the Bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana for “dioceses, congregations and individuals” to “pray and work for the adoption” of the covenant, and asked they “endorse [its] first three sections.”

Objections to adopting the second resolution came over the question whether it was wise to endorse the Covenant absent completion of its final section. However, when put to a vote, there were only two objections among the diocesan board, while it was passed unanimously by the Standing Committee. Bishop Howe told The Church of England Newspaper that as “Chair of the meeting I did not vote, but I fully support those who did.”

He stated that he was aware that some believed that “only the General Convention can decide whether or not to ‘opt into’ the Covenant, but there is nothing in the Covenant itself, and nothing in our Constitution or Canons that stipulate this. If a given person, parish or diocese agrees with the Covenant, what is there to prevent saying so?”

Bishop Howe added that “should it be that the General Convention were to ‘opt out’ of the Covenant while some of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church have endorsed or adopted it we will have a number of interesting questions to address.”

“Will it be possible for individual dioceses and perhaps even parishes, to remain full ‘constituent” members of the Communion, in communion with the See of Canterbury, while other dioceses move into some kind of ‘associate’ membership, no longer in full communion with Canterbury? The Archbishop’s comments have seemed to suggest this,” he said.

The Central Florida committee resolutions will now go to its January convention for further action.

Archbishop—Covenant Adoption Limited to Provinces: TLC 9.30.09 September 30, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Central Florida, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church

(Author’s note: This article published by the Living Church was taken down from their website after I spoke to their editor.  What I submitted for publication was re-written in house by the Living Church  — changing the thrust and theme of the story.  The corrected version has been put on line and can be found at the link above.  GC)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed an endorsement of the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant by the Diocese of Central Florida’s board and standing committee, but said only provinces can officially adopt the covenant.

On Sept. 17, the diocesan board and standing committee adopted a resolution stating that they “affirm sections one, two and three of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Covenant, as we await the final draft of section four.”

Central Florida also asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to “outline and implement a process by which individual dioceses, and even parishes, could become members of the Anglican Covenant, even in cases where their provincial or diocesan authorities decline to do so.”

In a Sept. 28 letter to the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, Archbishop Williams called the diocesan bodies’ endorsement a step in the right direction. However, he stated, “as a matter of constitutional fact, the [Anglican Consultative Council] can only offer the covenant for ‘adoption’ to its own constituent bodies (the provinces).”

The archbishop added that “I see no objection to a diocese resolving less formally on an ‘endorsement’ of the covenant.” Such an action would not have an “institutional effect” but “would be a clear declaration of intent to live within the agreed terms of the Communion’s life and so would undoubtedly positively affect a diocese’s pastoral and sacramental relations” with the wider communion, he said.

The resolution was offered to the board by the dean of Southeast Central Florida, the Very Rev. Eric Turner, rector of St. John’s Church, Melbourne, Fla. Originally titled a “Resolution in Response to General Convention,” the first two clauses backed Bishop Howe’s endorsement of the Anaheim Statement issued at the close of General Convention, and reaffirmed the “teaching of the Anglican Communion” on “matters of human sexuality.”

The second half of the resolution drew upon the Sept. 7 call by the bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana for “dioceses, congregations and individuals” to “pray and work for the adoption” of the covenant, and asked that they “endorse [its] first three sections.”

Objections to adopting Dean Turner’s resolution came over the question whether it was wise to endorse the covenant absent completion of its final section. However, when put to a vote, there were only two objections among the diocesan board; the standing committee passed it unanimously.

Bishop Howe said that as “chair of the meeting I did not vote, but I fully support those who did.” The committee resolutions will now go to the diocese’s January convention for further action.

Presiding Bishop criticizes ‘two-track’ Communion plan: CEN 9.18.09 September 23, 2009

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘two-track’ Anglican Communion was neither inevitable nor desirable, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told an American newspaper last week, as Dr Rowan Williams did not have the authority to impose his views on an autonomous Episcopal Church.

The presiding bishop’s remarks have effectively called Dr Williams’ bluff, putting him on notice that the Episcopal Church will not kowtow to his call for an Anglican Covenant that goes against American interests.

In an interview published on Sept 8 in the York, Pennsylvania Daily Record, the presiding bishop stated Dr Williams’ call for a two-tier Anglican Communion was neither new nor persuasive. The idea of a two-tier Communion, with an inner circle of provinces that have endorsed an Anglican Covenant had “found some traction in some parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion but not a great deal of traction in other parts,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said.

Presiding Bishop criticizes ‘two-track’ Communion plan

In the aftermath of the 2006 General Convention, Dr Williams stated that the “best way forward” through the Communion’s difficulties was the adoption of a covenant.

“It is necessarily an ‘opt-in’ matter. Those Churches that were prepared to take this on as an expression of their responsibility to each other would limit their local freedoms for the sake of a wider witness; and some might not be willing to do this,” Dr Williams wrote in “The Challenge and Hope of Being an Anglican Today: A Reflection for the Bishops, Clergy and Faithful of the Anglican Communion.

“We could arrive at a situation where there were ‘constituent’ Churches in covenant in the Anglican Communion and other ‘churches in association’, which were still bound by historic and perhaps personal links, fed from many of the same sources, but not bound in a single and unrestricted sacramental communion, and not sharing the same constitutional structures. The relation would not be unlike that between the Church of England and the Methodist Church, for example,” he wrote in 2006.

On July 27 following the 2009 General Convention, Dr Williams said the widening divisions within the communion could lead to a “two-tier model, or, more disparagingly, a first- and second-class structure” of the communion, based on endorsement of a covenant.

“Perhaps we are faced with the possibility rather of a ‘two-track’ model, two ways of witnessing to the Anglican heritage, one of which had decided that local autonomy had to be the prevailing value and so had in good faith declined a covenantal structure. If those who elect this model do not take official roles in the ecumenical interchanges and processes in which the ‘covenanted’ body participates, this is simply because within these processes there has to be clarity about who has the authority to speak for whom,” Dr Williams stated in his “Reflections” upon the 2009 convention.

Asked to comment on the two-track model, Bishop Jefferts Schori noted each of the communion’s 38 provinces were “autonomous.”

A province “governs itself. It’s in relationship with other members of the Anglican Communion because of our shared heritage, because of our shared form of worship and to a large degree to our shared theology and understanding of Scripture and tradition,” and had remained united in the face of differing views on the ordination of women and other issues.

“We don’t all believe everything in the same way. We never have and never will. There are parts of the Anglican Communion that don’t ordain women and think it wrong to do so, yet we remain in communion and relationship and in mission partnerships together.”

A two-track communion was not inevitable, she said. “It’s an idea that he has promulgated. He doesn’t have the authority to impose it. No individual body in the Communion really has the authority to impose a structure like that. It simply is his theorising about what he thinks the future may hold.”

Archbishop announces Covenant working group: CEN 6.05.09 p 5 June 6, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury has announced the composition of a Working Group to review section 4 of the Ridley Draft of the Anglican Covenant. On May 28, Dr. Rowan Williams named the Archbishop of Dublin, the Archbishop of Singapore, the Bishop of St. Asaph and Dr. Eileen Scully of the Anglican Church of Canada to the team.

However, the selection of two liberals and two conservatives for the working group, and with only two days allotted for review of the material make it likely that few changes will be made to the disciplinary sections of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The mandate for the working group arose from the failed debate on the Anglican Covenant at ACC-14 in Kingston. Disquiet with the management of ACC-14 has also been voiced by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, who contrasted the transparent and thorough deliberative processes of her church’s General Convention, with the opaque and confused workings of the ACC.

Birthed in the confusion of the May 8 debate on the Anglican Covenant, ACC-14 asked that a “small working group” be appointed by Dr. Williams to “consider and consult with the provinces” on Section 4 of the Ridley draft “and its possible revision,” and report its findings to the members of the Primates and ACC joint standing committee for action.

Copies of the Ridley Draft have been circulated amongst the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion seeking comments on section 4. Dr. Williams has requested that these responses be submitted by Nov 13 for the working group to review on Nov 20-21 in London. Their recommendations will then be presented to the Dec 15-18 meeting of the joint standing committee.

In a pastoral letter released on May 26, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated the ACC’s deliberative structure was far from ideal or efficient.

Upon arrival in Kingston the ACC delegates were “inundated with long and complex papers on a great variety of subjects” and in contrast to the Episcopal Church’s custom of lengthy debate and legislative hearings, delegates to the ACC were then “expected to make decisions after brief opportunities for small-group discussion.”

The “details of decision-making would surprise most Episcopalians,” she said, as there was “relatively little opportunity for deliberation or alteration” of resolutions, even though the pace of work was “leisurely, with 40 hours of formal work spread over 11 working days.”

Commonly observed rules of parliamentary procedure were not observed, she noted, as the chairman of the meeting exercised “a great deal of discretion in referring or declining to entertain resolutions; elections are not straightforward ballots for a single individual; discussion of any proposed amendment requires the support of 10 members; the president (the Archbishop of Canterbury) steps in fairly frequently to ‘steer’” the sessions.

Speaking to the press at the close of the Kingston meeting, the ACC’s legal advisor Canon John Rees explained that the ACC was not bound by rules of parliamentary procedure. The ACC had moved away from a “western parliamentary way of doing our business,” and now relied upon its chairman to discern “the general assent emerging” from its meetings, Canon Rees said.

Defeat for Archbishop as Covenant draft is rejected: CEN 5.11.09 May 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in ACC 14, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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First published by The Church of England Newspaper.

The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) will not endorse the Anglican Covenant, and has voted to send it back to committee for further review.  The vote comes as a major defeat for the Archbishop of Canterbury who had championed the covenant as the one way to keep the Anglican Communion from splitting.  However the defeat was self-inflicted, as Dr. Rowan Williams’ ambiguous intervention in the closing moments of the debate led to the loss.

Delegates adopted a compromise resolution, whose provisions Dr. Williams had rejected at the start of the May 8 debate but backed by its end, to appoint a committee to review and revise section 4 of the covenant and report its recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the ACC for adoption.  A process, the ACC’s secretary general Canon Kenneth Kearon said would likely take up to year to bring to fruition.

Questions of treachery and incompetence were lodged against Dr. Williams by conservative members of the ACC in interviews with The Church of England Newspaper following the vote, but the next day softened to exasperation with the archbishop’s ambiguous way of speaking that critics said was unsuited to the political rough and tumble of a meeting where many delegates had limited English-language abilities.

Delegates from the Church of Nigeria stated they were perplexed by Dr. Williams’ actions.  “All of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s contributions were positive” up until the last moment of the meeting Bishop Ikechi Nwosu of Nigeria said.

Nigerian Archdeacon Abraham Okorie said there was a “satanic” spirit of confusion in the air.  He noted it was hypocritical of the ACC to make a great noise of using African ways of decision making in addressing the covenant, but then resorting to slippery parliamentary tricks to thwart the will of the meeting.

Dr. Williams was a “very weak leader,” Bishop Ikechi Nwosu of Nigeria observed.  “Of course we pray for him, but couldn’t he be courageous for once?”

Over three years in the making, the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group (CDG) was presented by its chairman Archbishop Drexel Gomez of the West Indies on May 4 to the representatives of the 38 provinces of the Communion gathered at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica for the 14th triennial meeting of the ACC.

Archbishop Gomez, who retired as Primate of the West Indies on Dec 31, outlined the history of the document commissioned by Dr. Williams and the circumstances that led to the creation of the final “Ridley” draft.  It was imperative the delegates endorse the covenant as the Anglican Communion “is close to the point of breaking up,” he said.

The covenant would provide a degree of order, discipline and mutual responsibility.  “Either we are a family, which means that each member of the family has care for and respect for the other members of the family, or we will have to learn to go our separate ways. The question is, do we wish to remain a Communion?” Archbishop Gomez asked.

Dr. Rowan Williams also added his endorsement to the covenant in remarks to the meeting, while a letter of greetings from the Roman Catholic Church urged delegates to adopt the covenant.

In a letter of greetings distributed to the delegates written by the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper gave an oblique but clear endorsement of the covenant.  He stated the “consideration” the delegates would give to the covenant would “play an essential part in discerning the way forward for the Anglican Communion in the light of current complex issues.”

The covenant debate would “encompass not mere external links which regulate the lives of respective provinces from outside, but rather the internal bonds that spring from deep within the heart of each individual church,” he said, adding that he prayed the debates would “contribute to the healing, articulating and strengthening of these bonds of love that unite” the Anglican Communion.

Following Archbishop Gomez’ presentation, a model resolution prepared by the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) of the primates and ACC endorsing the covenant was distributed to the delegates, who were divided into “discernment groups” operating on the “indaba” principle.  First tried out with the bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference, indaba is a faux African decision making process based upon a Zulu council meeting where tribal elders discuss an issue until a common mind is reached, however in the Anglican version debate is ended at a set time.

A discussion paper submitted to the JSC’s November meeting in London argued that while the indaba process used at the Lambeth Conference was “not designed to achieve final decisions”, the format of “respectful listening” could be adapted to the ACC’s needs for an up or down vote on the covenant.  The ACC paper proposed dividing the discussions into a presentation by Archbishop Gomez, an information plenary session, discernment groups, and a decision making plenary, with delegates seated at tables of 6 to 10 people before the speaker’s platform.

Comments arising from the discernment groups would be passed to the ACC’s resolution committee, chaired by Dr. Anthony Fitchett of New Zealand, for crafting into a resolution set down for debate at the decision plenary.

The decision plenary began at the midmorning session of May 8.  Dr. Fitchett noted the resolutions prepared by the committee sought “to be as inclusive as possible,” but noted there were “mixed views on section 4” from the discernment groups.

The committee decided to frame the debate on the covenant around concerns, The Church of England Newspaper learned, had arisen in one discernment group around the disciplinary provisions of section 4 of the covenant.

Resolution A sought to detach section 4 from the covenant for further study and possible revision, but was silent on sections 1-3 of the document.

The Archbishop of Cape Town was the first to rise, offering his support for the resolution, saying it would “allow more time” for debate.  The Rev. Ian Douglas of the Episcopal Church also endorsed A saying he was concerned section 4 had not undergone the scrutiny and “same review process” parts 1-3 had had.

There were “too many ambiguities” in section 4, he argued, saying it was “immature.”  He added that the current language of section 4 opened the door to churches not part of the ACC to endorse the document.  He speculated that if the breakaway Anglican churches in North America signed the covenant as now written, while the Episcopal Church’s legislative process made it unlikely a final decision could be made in less than six years, could lead to the “question at ACC-15 about who is the Anglican body” in America?

Delegates from Brazil, Ireland, and Scotland urged adoption of resolution A, but other delegates were not persuaded by the call for delay.

Bishop Ezekiel Kondo of the Sudan urged rejection of resolution A as section 4 of the covenant was its “most important” clause.  The President Bishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Bishop Mouneer Anis stated that without section 4 the “covenant was no covenant.”  The Ridley draft was “most perfect covenant we can get,” he argued.

Southeast Asia delegate Stanley Isaacs said the vote on the covenant was the “defining” moment for the communion, and it would be “disastrous” to remove section 4.  Delegates from Tanzania, Iran, Peru, Australia Nigeria, and Central Africa endorsed the “no” vote on resolution A, as did the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Dr. Williams told the delegates that he did not see how adopting A “gets us much further along.”  He also noted its language was ambiguous.  “What would be the remit for redrafting,” he asked, urging the defeat of the resolution.

In response to Dr. Williams, Josephine Hicks of the United States said that if the “covenant is sent to the provinces with section 4, some provinces may reject” it.

After further debate the delegates broke for lunch.  When business resumed, the Primate of Australia, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall offered a new resolution, labeled C, that sought to combine elements of A’s call for further study of section 4, and B’s call for adoption of the covenant.

Bishop Andrew Curnow of Australia objected to the introduction of C, saying it “moved the goal posts” and confused the issue while A had yet to be decided.  Janet Trisk of South Africa rose in support of C, but Bishop Anis and Mr. Isaacs also objected to the introduction of a third resolution, while other delegates from South Africa and the Church of England rose in support of the original A, and Bishop Gerald Mpango of Tanzania stated C was improperly before the meeting anyway, as it had not been passed through the resolutions committee.

Ugandan delegate Jolly Babirukamu said she was worried the meeting lacked the “spirit of discernment.”  It was the “devil’s plan” to divide the church, she said, and the introduction of C had led to “anger and confusion”.

Dr. Williams closed the debate, saying he believed the meeting should “move to A, then B” while the “extra material” introduced by Archbishop Aspinall could be added as an amendment to B.

Following a vote by secret ballot, Resolution A calling for section 4 of the Covenant be sent back for further study was defeated by a vote of 17 in favor, 47 opposed, 1 abstention.

Debate then began on Resolution B.  After an introduction to the resolution by Dr. Fitchett, the chairman of the meeting, Bishop John Paterson of New Zealand, stated each clause of the resolution would be put to a vote.

Clauses a and b of Resolution B, thanking the CDG for its work and affirming the need for a covenant passed with little comment or debate, by votes of 60-2-1 and 61-3.  Janet Trisk of South Africa then rose and offered an amendment, seeking to introduce two clauses from Archbishop Aspinall’s resolution C into B, as paragraphs c and d.

Paragraph c of the Trisk amendment was a verbatim repetition of clause b of the defeated resolution 2 which asked the resolution be sent back for “possible” revision, while clause d gave the JSC the authority to approve the final form of section 4 before it was sent on to the provinces.

Resolution A was voted down.  Janet Trisk of South Africa then offered an amendment to resolution b, inserting two sections from the Aspinall amendment into resolution B.  Bishop Paterson responded that he would not accept the amendment as “the difficulty I have is that the house has already decided not to proceed along the lines of resolution A.”

Dr Williams rose to offer a point of order stating “it did seem to me that the voting on A may very well have been properly influenced by the fact that an alternative form of A is known to be about to be tabled.  That I suggested the material of C should be moved as part B, I suspect that people may have voted with that in view.”

Bishop Paterson reversed himself and set the amendment before the meeting.  Prompting Dr. Anis to object saying “We have already voted against A, that is deciding to bring in A again, but in a different form.”

Bishop Paterson did not respond to the objection, an Australian lay delegate then rose in support of the Trisk amendment and the question was put to vote.

Bishop Paterson said, “The question is whether or not for the introduction … for the amendment or against the amendment, with the introduction of those two clauses, and the subsequent renumbering from 15 to 16″ of the vote.

Following a secret ballot, the vote was 34 to 31 for accepting the Trisk amendment.  The renumbered clauses e and f, asking to the covenant to be sent to the member churches of the ACC for consideration and adoption and for a report from each province to be given to ACC-15 in 2012 on its progress on adoption the covenant were passed by votes of 63-2.  While a vote to introduce the Trisk amendment was held and adopted by the meeting, no vote on the substance of the amendment was held.

A tea break was called, but as the delegates streamed out of the room, Bishop Paterson said there was some confusion as to the outcome and proceedings and the subject would be revisited at the 5:00 pm session.

While the delegates gathered in the tea room, a visibly angry Dr. Williams met with his advisers for over a half hour on the floor of the deserted conference room.  Dr. Anis subsequently approached Dr. Williams stating his objections to the breach of parliamentary procedure of resubmitting a defeated resolution for consideration.  Dr. Anis declined to comment on the substance of his conversation with Dr. Williams, but confirmed Dr. Williams was not pleased with the outcome.

Aides to the Archbishop explained to CEN that Archbishop Aspinall’s amendment had been preserved as it had been offered before a final vote on A, and thus could be discussed later.

Delegates questioned by the CEN appeared confused by the proceedings.  One francophone delegate stated he had voted against A, but as Dr. Williams had commended the Trisk amendment, he had switched his vote.  A second delegate from Africa told CEN he had understood Dr. Williams as not having commended the Trisk amendment but was offering housekeeping advice to the meeting to straighten out a confused situation, while a third delegate whose native tongue is English said he understood the Archbishop to have switched horses, and was now calling for section 4 to be stripped out of the Covenant.

Upon resumption of business at 5:00 pm, Bishop Paterson announced there would be no further vote on the Covenant, as the “legal advice” he had been given stated the matter had been settled.

Dr. Anis rose to object, saying “Resolution A was defeated, then brought back as a resolution.  It is illegal.  How can we bring back a defeated clause?”

Bishop Paterson responded that the vote on A was “in anticipation that other material will be taken” into consideration, closing debate.

Members of the Episcopal Church’s delegation told the Episcopal News Service they were pleased by the outcome.  “We came up with what was clearly a compromise,” Josephine Hicks said.  “Not everyone is entirely happy with what we came up with, I feel certain, but that’s what compromise is all about.”

Bishop Catherine Roskam said there had been “a lot of graciousness” in the midst of “a lot of pressure” to adopt the Ridley draft of the covenant.  Passage of the Trisk amendment would allow further work on section 4, “we were grateful for that and the tone of that vote.”

Dr. Anis told CEN he was “very disappointed” by the “manipulation” of the proceedings.  “It was not right.  It was absolutely wrong,” he said.

It was “unfair” for the resolution committee to have staged the debates by arranging the resolutions in that order, he charged. And it was “unfair to appoint three members [to the committee] from countries known to reject the covenant: New Zealand, America and Scotland,” he said.

“All that happened was to increase the distrust” and dysfunction of the communion, Dr. Anis said.

The registrar of the Church of Nigeria, Abraham Yisa, said he was amazed by the proceedings, which were “contrary to all known rules” of parliamentary procedure.

Bishop Nwosu asked why the ACC needed to spend £330,000 to meet in Jamaica, when “we could have just asked [Dr. Williams] what he wanted” and all stayed at home.  Bishop Paterson was “taking direction” from Dr. Williams and it “was not fair.  The whole thing was manipulated.”

However, Bishop William Godfrey of Peru stated that while Friday’s session had been “a difficult time, a painful time,” and it was sad that we “will have to wait longer” for a covenant, it “could have been worse” as section 4 could have been thrown out entirely rather than sent back for further review.

“Everything is in God’s hand,” Bishop Godfrey said.  “He is in control” and we just have to be patient.

Anglicans urged to embrace Covenant to avoid split: CEN 5.08.09 p 1. May 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in ACC 14, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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The Anglican Communion is in imminent danger of collapse unless it endorses an Anglican Covenant and agrees to hold fast to the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings and cross-border incursions by foreign bishops, delegates to ACC-14 were told this week.

Representatives of the 38 provinces of the Communion gathered at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, for the 14th triennial meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council were offered a sombre picture of the state of church. Archbishop Drexel Gomez, the recently retired Primate of the West Indies and chairman of the Covenant Design Group, told delegates in a May 4 speech presenting the third “Ridley” draft of the Covenant, that “the Communion is close to the point of breaking up” over the issue of the morality of homosexuality.

“If we are not able to commit ourselves to this sort of being a communion, the break-up of its life is staring us in the face,” he said. The choice was simple, he said. “Either we are a family, which means that each member of the family has care for and respect for the other members of the family, or we will have to learn to go our separate ways. The question is, do we wish to remain a Communion?” Archbishop Gomez asked.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglicans urged to embrace Covenant to avoid split

Gafcon leaders speak out against centralisation: CEN 4.23.09 April 23, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, GAFCON.
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Political and ecclesiastical authority should reside within the provinces of the Anglican Communion and not the “instruments of unity,” eight archbishops concluded last week at the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) Primates’ Council meeting in London.

In a statement released after three days of talks, the eight archbishops stated that the third province movement in North America should seek recognition first from the provinces of the Communion, bypassing the Anglican Consultative Council.

On April 16 the Primates of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, the Southern Cone, Tanzania, Uganda, and West Africa, along with the Archbishop of Sydney released a statement endorsing the formation of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA), saying it was “authentically Anglican.”

The primates affirmed the desire of their churches, representing over two-thirds of the active churchgoers in the Communion, to preserve the integrity of the Anglican Communion, but gave a muted vote of no confidence to the current draft of the Anglican Covenant and the communion’s administrative structures.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Gafcon leaders speak out against centralisation

Muted response to latest ‘Anglican Covenant’ draft: CEN 4.15.09 April 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper.
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Churches which violate the boundaries of Anglican faith and order would be subject to a disciplinary process overseen by the joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council, the third draft of the Anglican Covenant has proposed.

Scofflaws could be adjudged to be acting in a manner “incompatible with the Covenant” and subject to possible suspension from participation in international Anglican forums, the documents said. However, discipline would not be automatic, and would be exercised by the individual provinces and the communion; for “it shall be for each Church and each Instrument to determine its own response to such recommendations” for discipline, the proposed Covenant stated.

Meeting from March 29 to April 2 at Ridley Hall, the Covenant Design Group (CDG) revised the second “St Andrew’s” draft of the document. Originally envisioned as setting the parameters of Anglicanism, the third draft of the Covenant was reworked in light of comments received from over 20 provinces, the bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and other comments.

Initial reactions to the document have been poor. While applauding the diminution of the earlier draft’s disciplinary provisions, liberals have voiced concern over the centralization of authority in entities outside existing provincial structures. Conservatives have been disappointed with the third draft for weakening the disciplinary provisions, pardoning the current crop of ecclesiastical malefactors, and advocating a tepid Anglicanism divorced from Scripture, the Prayer Book and Church history.

The President of the US House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, stated the third draft “remains much too structurally focused. Why is there such emphasis on strengthening the ‘Instruments’ and ‘institutions’? ,” she asked. “God calls us together into a more relational and missional way of being the body of Christ. We do not need structures to determine relationships.”

One global south archbishop told ReligiousIntelligence.com he was disappointed by draft, saying it was a turgid document written in “late 20th century ecumenese.” Some of its theological suppositions were foreign to the evangelical tradition within Anglicanism, he said, and added that it offered no new way forward for dealing with the crisis in the Communion as it “grandfathered in” the Episcopal Church’s current practices on gay bishops and blessings.

Muted response to latest ‘Anglican Covenant’ draft

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

Latest Covenant Draft Vests Adoption and Discipline with Provinces: TLC 4.08.09 April 8, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Living Church.
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First published in The Living Church magazine

Provinces, not individual dioceses which violate the terms of a proposed Anglican Covenant, will be subject to a disciplinary process overseen by the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), according to the third draft of the document released on April 8. The document is to be discussed next month during the ACC meeting in Jamaica.

Meeting from March 29 to April 2 at Ridley Hall, a theological college in Cambridge, England, the Covenant Design Group revised the second “St Andrew’s” draft of the document. The group spent time reworking the document in light of reactions received from more than 20 Anglican provinces, the bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and other comments.

Those adopting the covenant should agree to “participate in mediated conversations” when disputes arise, and commit to “see such processes through.” If unwilling to abide by the covenant’s terms and judged to be acting in a manner “incompatible with the covenant,” a disciplinary process overseen by the joint standing committee of the primates and ACC may be introduced. Repercussions include the potential for suspension from participation in global church councils. However, “it shall be for each church and each instrument to determine its own response to such recommendations” for discipline, the proposed covenant stated.

Divided into four sections, the document restates traditional creedal beliefs from a high-church perspective, but seeks to mollify both the liberal and conservative wings of the Anglican Communion. Churches are to “teach and act in continuity and consonance with scripture and the catholic and apostolic faith, order and tradition, as received by the churches of the Anglican Communion.”

However, the churches are to “encourage and be open to prophetic and faithful leadership in ministry and mission” while studying the “scriptures in our different contexts,” with the aim of maintaining “the solemn obligation to nurture and sustain eucharistic communion.”

The document reaffirms the constitutional and canonical autonomy of individual provinces of the Anglican Communion and acknowledges that within the “life of communion” there is “an ongoing engagement with the diverse expressions of apostolic authority, from synods and episcopal councils to local witness, in a way which continually interprets and articulates the common faith of the church’s members.”

By giving provinces the ultimate authority in determining the meaning of the covenant, the document effectively concedes that the national churches, not dioceses, are the primary ecclesial units of the Anglican Communion.

Adoption of the covenant is also vested with provinces, not individual dioceses: “Every church of the Anglican Communion, as recognized in accordance with the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, is invited to adopt this covenant in its life according to its own constitutional procedures.”

Matters of doctrinal and moral innovation should be “tested by shared discernment,” by seeking the “shared mind with other churches, through the Communion’s councils, about matters of common concern, in a way consistent with the scriptures, the common standards of faith, and the canon laws of our churches.”

US Church–No Covenant before 2015: CEN 2.06.09 p 6. February 11, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, The Episcopal Church.
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The Executive Council of the US Episcopal Church has recommended a six year delay before voting on the Anglican Covenant.

At the close of its three day winter meeting on Jan 31 in Stockton, California, the Executive Council endorsed a report from a task force that recommended the delay on adopting the Covenant, and voiced strong criticism of the most recent draft of the document.

The Anglican Covenant will be presented the Communion at the May meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, Jamaica. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori last year urged the church not to take up the Covenant at the July meeting of General Convention saying more time was needed. However conservative critics said the delay was politically motivated, noting that when the issue of affirming the election of a partnered gay priest was brought before Convention in 2003, a similar timeframe was not found to be objectionable by the church’s liberal hierarchy.

Waiting until the 2015 General Convention “would provide a fruitful opportunity for [the Episcopal Church] to hear the voices of other members of the Anglican Communion as they discuss future drafts.”

The report also said dioceses would not be permitted to endorse the Covenant by themselves, as it could only “be embraced on the provincial level, that is, The Episcopal Church, and not on a diocesan level.”

Sanctions for bad behavior contained in the Covenant’s appendices were held objectionable, and violated The Episcopal Church’s autonomy. “Care needs to be taken that our conversations around an Anglican Covenant do not draw us necessarily toward a hierarchical model of a church union or even the perception of Anglicanism as a singular global church,” the reports said.

“Matters of moral authority and interdependence amongst the churches result from mutuality, not from regulation,” said the report, which was adopted unchanged by the council, save for the movement of a coma Bishop Jefferts Schori said.

Anglican Primates discuss Covenant solution to problems: CEN 2.03.09 February 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Primates Meeting 2009.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper

Moral suasion, not binding legislation will be the backbone for the proposed Anglican Covenant, Australian Archbishop Philip Aspinall told reporters on Feb 2.

In their second business session at the 2009 Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria, the primates were briefed by Archbishop John Chew of Singapore on the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group — the group tasked by Archbishop Rowan Williams with crafting a document that would set the permitted boundaries of Anglican diversity.

Dr Aspinall said that it was his impression the Covenant designers were “pulling back from the language of sanctions and teeth” in the draft document. The Covenant would be about “koinonia … fellowship .. of communion” between churches. Given the legal structures of the 38 autonomous member churches of the Anglican Communion, he said it was unrealistic that the final Covenant would be a legal mechanism whose ultimate sanction would be “not inviting you to a meeting.”

“Hitting people over the head with sticks” was not the best way forward, Dr Aspinall said.

In his briefing, Archbishop Chew told the primates the Covenant was a work in process. Its drafters had taken on board the criticisms and comments offered by bishops attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference, and were also waiting upon responses due by March 9 from the 38 provinces. Once these materials had been collated, a final draft would be presented to the May meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Jamaica for ratification.

Dr Aspinall told reporters there was an “increasing realism” within the Common on the practical limits of the Covenant’s legal reach. He believed the emphasis of the final draft would likely be on developing closer relations and “building trust.” The Covenant would request a “self-limiting” of authority on issues of doctrine and discipline from the provinces, but could not command obedience. Drawing upon the Anglican Church of Australia as an example, he said it could adopt a Covenant in three ways: amending its constitution, enacting a canon or passing a resolution at General Synod. He said it was highly unlikely the church would seek to incorporate the Covenant into its Constitution, and noted that if it were passed as a canon, it still would have to be ratified by each diocese for it to take effect in the diocese. He could think of one Australian diocese “that will not yield authority” to outside bodies, and imagined that there would be several others with misgivings over the project.

Passing the Covenant as a resolution by General Synod would give it a legal status, but under Australian canon law resolutions have no legal force and could be ignored with impunity.

He reiterated that he was offering his own impressions on the Covenant process, but added that it had been the opinion of many bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that a Covenant that was crafted as a “moral obligation” was more likely to be adopted by the Communion.

The push to pull the teeth from the Covenant did not come as a surprise to conservative primates. Many of their voices had not been heard at Lambeth due to the boycott by a majority of African bishops, one primate said. Speaking to ReligiousIntelligence.com one conservative primate was skeptical of the viability of any Covenant, absent an independent authority who could judge whether it had been broken, and enforce sanctions for non-compliance.

Citing the failed Panel of Reference and the imperfect responses by The Episcopal Church to the Dar es Salaam communiqué and the Jan 31 announcement by the US Church’s Executive Council that six more years were needed to study the Covenant, he was not sanguine that any Covenant would work.

Primates See Covenant ‘With Teeth’ As Unrealistic: TLC 2.02.09 February 3, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Living Church, Primates Meeting 2009.
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First published by the Living Church.

There has been a “pulling back from the language of sanctions and teeth” in the crafting of the Anglican Covenant, the Primate of Australia told reporters at the Primates’ Meeting in Alexandria on Feb 2.

The Most Rev. Philip Aspinall said that whereas earlier drafts of the covenant envisioned sanctions for violations, disciplinary mechanisms were not likely to make it into the final draft.

“Hitting people over the head with sticks” was not what the Anglican Communion wanted to do to provinces that violated the Covenant, Archbishop Aspinall said. Instead, the covenant-designed to set the parameters of Anglican life and worship-is evolving into a document about “koinonia…fellowship…of communion” between churches, and would not be a sanctions-based legal code, he explained.

Creating a document whose goal was increased fellowship, but whose ultimate sanction “is not inviting you to a meeting,” was self-defeating the Australian primate observed.

The primates’ first day of business included presentations on the covenant and papers given by five primates on the effects of the controversy over homosexuality in their provinces.

Gathering for Morning Prayer with Eucharist at 7:15 am, the primates began their day after breakfast with a Bible study at 9:15, breaking at 10:15 for tea and beginning their first business session at 11:00. Controversies over the corporate reception of Holy Communion, which had dogged the last three primates meetings, were not aired at the first two Eucharists, Archbishop Aspinall said in answer to a reporter’s question.

He said he had not been keeping watch over who did or did not receive Holy Communion, but one participant told The Living Church that no one abstained. However, no tally was kept of who was present at the service.

Mission Impact
At the opening session, the primates of The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma), and the Church of Uganda responded to a question given them by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, asking them what affect the present difficulties had on mission in their provinces.

This elicited a “very interesting discussion” Archbishop Aspinall observed, noting there was a “huge diversity” of responses. One primate told The Living Church that there had been a “full and frank” statement of views and a clear statement of where each church was.

Canadian Archbishop Fred Hiltz spoke of his province’s open discussion of these issues over a number of years, adding that issues in human sexuality had been a live issue outside the church for over a decade. Changing social attitudes, the courts, and civil government were behind the change in society’s attitude towards homosexuality, he said, not the church.

Burmese Archbishop Stephan Than Myint Oo said that social taboos in his province forbad the discussion of homosexuality. The church’s bishops had discussed the issue, but it had not percolated down to the grass roots, and it was the bishops’ desire that the issue not be raised as it would be unsettling to church life in the midst of a difficult political and social climate.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori spoke of the unique polity of The Episcopal Church that had led to the election of Bishop Gene Robinson by the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003. She noted that the issues had been under discussion for many years and had been given a thorough theological airing. She also noted The Episcopal Church could not be bound by decisions made by bodies other than its General Convention.

The Most Rev. Henry Orombi spoke to his province’s adherence to the clear words of scripture and the unbroken tradition of the Christian Church through the ages on human sexuality, saying the innovation proposed in the United States and Canada on homosexuality was not a faithful witness to the world. The issue could not be tested against the vagaries of culture, he argued, but against the immutable words of scripture.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, the South African primate, offered a plea for continued dialogue. Drawing upon the recent experience of his province, he said that the Anglican Church in South Africa had nearly been torn apart over the issue of armed struggle against the apartheid regime. The South African experience of working through what seemed an irreconcilable division, could lend itself to the current disputes over doctrine and discipline.

‘Increasing Realism’
In the afternoon session, the Most Rev. John Chew, Primate of Southeast Asia and Archbishop of Singapore, gave a presentation on the covenant process. Members of the Covenant Design Group were receiving responses from the provinces through March 9, and then would prepare a final draft for submission to the Anglican Consultative Council at its May meeting in Jamaica.

Archbishop Aspinall told reporters that it was his impression that there was an “increasing realism” about the limits of the covenant. The emphasis was on developing closer relations, “building trust” and encouraging “self-limitation” from the provinces. He said a covenant with teeth, punishment or sanctions was unrealistic in the current environment. It was the opinion of many bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference that a covenant that was crafted as a “moral obligation” was more likely to be adopted by the Communion, he added.

The push to remove disciplinary mechanisms from the covenant does not come as a surprise to conservative primates. A number of Global South primates said they were skeptical of the viability of a covenant, absent an independent authority who could judge whether it had been broken. Citing the failed Panel of Reference and the responses by The Episcopal Church to the Dar es Salaam communiqué, many of the Global South primates were not convinced that any covenant would work given the current structures of the Communion.

Archbishop Aspinall said a communiqué drafting committee had been formed led by the Primate of Burundi, the Most Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi. The committee also includes the Most Rev Alan Harper of Ireland, the Most Rev. Ian Earnest of the Indian Ocean, the Most Rev. Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, and the Most Rev. Carlos Touche-Porter of Mexico, with the assistance of the Rev. Canon Gregory Cameron, the ACC’s Deputy Secretary General.

On Tuesday, the primates will hear presentations from the Windsor Continuation Group and discuss theological education and global warming. Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone is expected to address the primates, explaining his support for the Anglican Church in North America.