As an Episcopalian living on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean, the overwhelming vote in the Church of England General Synod to send the Anglican Covenant forward to the dioceses was perplexing. In particular, I know that not all CofE bishops are fond of the Covenant, yet none voted against the measure. Although, in one sense, the General Synod did nothing more than did The Episcopal Church General Convention in 2009—see Resolution D020—the passionate arguments for and against the Covenant in the weeks leading up the the 24 November 2010 vote and the very personal plea made by the Archbishop of Canterbury in his Presidential Address the day before made the action of the Synod seem momentous, perhaps more important than it actually was. (In light of the Oxford Statement from the GAFCON Primates’ Council, of course, the vote looks completely irrelevant.)
Helping me put things in perspective is the speech given by Bishop John Saxbee, Bishop of Lincoln, in the Synod debate. The Rev. Dr. Lesley Fellows has conveniently transcribed this speech and posted it on her blog. Here is a sample of what Bishop Saxbee said:
In relation to the Anglican Covenant, I’m on record as saying in this synod that I entirely support the process, as long as it never ends. …You can read the entire speech here.
Anglicanism has been described as a fellowship of civilised disagreement. Well I leave you to judge whether a two-tier Communion with first and second division members answers to that description of civilised disagreement. It frankly feels like we will be sending sincere and faithful Anglicans to stand in the corner until they have seen the error of their ways and can return to the ranks of the pure and spotless.