The Episcopal Diocese of California is taking the job of responding to The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council call for feedback on the Anglican Covenant very seriously. It is sponsoring 90-minute deanery discussions on the Covenant. We have added the diocese’s Facilitator’s Guide for these discussions, as well as an interesting of collection of facts to our Resources page on the No Anglican Covenant Web site.
Some sample facts from the Diocese of California document:
- The principle of local autonomy was abruptly generated in the wake of the American Revolution which ended formal ties of church and state between 13 colonies in North American and the government and Church of England [1784 and following.] [sic] Two initial local actions were to acquire bishops—enough to be self-perpetuating—and to craft a “local” Book of Common Prayer.
- In 1865 the Synod of the Anglican Church in Canada demanded a gathering of Anglican bishops to respond to a “case” involving biblical interpretation in the Province of South Africa. [The Colenso Case.] That gathering evolved into the decennial Lambeth Conference. However, the first gathering of bishops determined that they were not a governing body of any kind. They had neither mandate nor authority to so act and thus affirmed that the Lambeth Conference was for communication, mutual learning and support.
- The decisions of The Episcopal Church and some other provinces (constituent churches) of The Anglican Communion to ordain women and openly gay persons to the diaconate, priesthood, and episcopacy are understood principally as matters of justice rooted in the Gospel. Others in the communion see these decisions in the light of traditional beliefs and scriptural authority. Several of the 38 churches of the Communion have recently broken communion with The Episcopal Church over these differences.
Will the Anglican Covenant restore the Anglican Communion or cause more division?
- From the Reformation of the 16th century to the present, Christian churches are by their nature either creedal or confessional (covenantal). The former affirm the ancient creeds of the ecumenical councils of the undivided church as the foundation for belief. Confessional churches regard creeds as limited instruments of a corrupt church and have created their own foundational statements of what they believe. Historically, churches of the Anglican Communion have been creedal in their identity.
Will an Anglican Covenant change the fundamental nature of the churches in the Anglican tradition? Is that good or bad?