It is no exaggeration to say that the members of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition were shocked and saddened by the events of the November 2010 meeting of General Synod, and many of our supporters have expressed similar sentiments. In a spirit of trying to understand what is happening to the Anglican Communion, we have carefully read the Presidential Address and listened to those who spoke in the debate. Our considered thoughts and conclusions are below:
In his Presidential Address on 23 November 2010, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams presented a message of fear and gloom to the Church of England General Synod. He suggested that, if the Synod did not accept the Anglican Covenant, we could witness the “piece-by-piece dissolution of the Communion.” The “risk and reality of such rupture [of some aspects of communion] is already there, make no mistake,” he said. “Historic allegiances cannot be taken for granted.” If we try to carry on as usual, he warned, there is a danger of creating “new structures in which relation to the Church of England and the See of Canterbury are likely not to figure significantly.”Our complete analysis is available on the Resources page of the No Anglican Covenant Web site. You can view “Observations on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Presidential Address and the Anglican Covenant Debate in the Church of England General Synod, November 2010” directly by clicking here.
The Archbishop’s message was clear—be afraid of rejecting the Covenant. It is the only lifeboat in the troubled sea of Anglicanism, and doing nothing or being idealistic is not an option. It is particularly ironic that Dr. Williams painted a picture of a frightening Anglican dystopia should the Covenant fail, as he and other supporters of the Covenant have been quick to accuse Covenant sceptics of “scaremongering.” It is also surprising, both in this speech and in the subsequent debate, that concerns were raised about the decline of the role of the Church of England, as well as references to its being “the mother church” that needs to set an example, whereas Covenant sceptics have been accused of being “Little Englanders.”
The interpretation that most people put on the speech was that Dr. Williams saw the Covenant as the only way to keep the GAFCON Primates and their allies in the Anglican Communion. Ironically, even as the 24 November debate on the Covenant was going on, GAFCON issued its “Oxford Statement,” which rejected the Covenant as being “fatally flawed” and insisted on the more conservative Jerusalem Statement as the foundation of international Anglicanism. …