Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Friday, April 29, 2011

Michigan has its say

And now Michigan's deputation has made its collective judgement known. Another diocese says no to the so-called covenant.

Response to the Anglican Covenant
General Convention Deputation
Diocese of Michigan
The Deputies and Alternates to the 77th General Convention met on March 10 to consider the Anglican Covenant and the accompanying Study Guide. Our response to the proposed Covenant comes in seven parts:

Our first response to the Anglican Covenant is to affirm fellowship and communion.

Such unity as these words imply is our highest good and perhaps our greatest blessing. We uphold, stand for, honor and thank God for communion.

Our second response is to ask how we can newly enter into a relationship in which we already stand and have been enjoying for some time. Just as one would not ask people long married to enter into a newly-written contract of marriage, nor ask members of a family suddenly to enter into a contract of kinship, neither can we understand why or how we could suddenly attempt to do so among our sister and brother Anglicans around the world. We believe the effort is redundant, and indeed, perhaps even dishonors the reality in which we live.

Our third response is to question the appropriateness of “Covenant” as a model for ecclesial relations. To quote from materials prepared by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, “’Covenant” implies a superior who offers the covenant and a subordinate who accepts it. So God extends the covenant to Israel and Israel is bound to the terms of God's covenant. As applied to the relationship between God and Israel and between Christ and the Church this implication is foundational.” Because “Covenant” implies a hierarchical relationship, the term is inappropriate when used to describe the network of relationships between co-equal and autonomous national churches.

Our fourth response is to suggest that the Covenant document creates an international bureaucratic superstructure whose existence is at odds with the longstanding autonomy of national churches. To give juridical, disciplinary authority to super-national bodies contradicts the foundational impulses that led to the establishment of the Church of England in the sixteenth century. We believe that the Constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council already serves as a warrant for fellowship, communion, and ministry between the churches of the Anglican Communion.

Our fifth response is to affirm the vocation of the Episcopal Church in the full inclusion of all its members in all orders of ministry and the full access of all its members to its sacramental rites. Since 1979, the Episcopal Church’s baptismal covenant has included a promise to, among other things, “respect the dignity of every human being.”

Our sixth response is to express our fervent hope that the Anglican Covenant process may be an occasion to refocus our national and international energies on mission and ministry. The challenges facing us together and severally are profound. We believe that energy expended on the disciplinary processes outlined in section four would be better spent in proactive ministry to the poor, the oppressed, and those who have yet to hear the Gospel.

Our seventh and final response is to reaffirm that we are in relationship already with one another, quite apart from signing or not signing a document. Are we not the Body of Christ, and individually members of it? As the eye cannot say to the ear, "I have no need of you", nor the hand to the foot, neither can we deny what is our heritage, reality, hope, and destiny. The Covenant that binds us together is the mutuality of our ministry and accountability conferred in Baptism. The Baptismal Covenant that binds us together is no imperfect human creation. The Baptismal Covenant by which we are bound one to another is the one, perfect, eternal covenant given us by God in Christ. On that covenant we delight to stand; in that communion, second to none, we are proud to serve.

For these and other reasons, we recommend against adoption of the Anglican Covenant by the Episcopal Church.
Find on our resources page

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another Diocese heard from --- brilliantly!

I shall let the deputation speak for itself. I do note that the recognition of the "final draft" as deeply flawed seems to be growing.



Members of the Diocese of Colorado’s General Convention Deputation
have accepted and faithfully engaged Executive Council’s invitation to
study, pray and discuss with members of our diocese the proposed
Anglican Covenant. In addition to our own conversations as a
deputation, we listened to others in congregations and in other
contexts throughout the diocese, and these conversations also inform
our understanding of the proposed covenant and this response. Our
fellowship with each other and our desire to be in relationship with
sisters and brothers in Christ in other parts of the Anglican
Communion have been strengthened by our study and discussions. We give
thanks for the collaborative work of the committees and writing teams
who have created the successive drafts of the proposed Anglican

Based on our engagement with the text and with each other, our
deputation (with one exception) has concluded that adoption of the
proposed covenant would not strengthen our relationships within the
Anglican Communion or foster our witness to God’s transforming love in
the world. We, therefore, recommend to Executive Council that The
Episcopal Church encourage members of the Anglican Communion to
persevere in strengthening relationships through ongoing conversation
and living into those covenants that already bind us in missio dei –
the Baptismal Covenant, the Five Marks of Mission and the Millennium
Development Goals - while refraining from adoption of the final draft
of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

Our concerns with the final draft of the proposed Anglican Covenant
include the following:

· The idea for a covenant 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. Instead it offers a punitive Section 4 that proposes
relational consequences that formalize separation and suspension from
participation in the life of the Communion. One member of our
deputation suggests that this is an example of proffering a legalistic
solution to remedy a relationship problem. Another deputy asks, “How
would the events of 2003 have turned out differently had such an
Anglican Covenant been in place then?”

· The Preamble acknowledges that signatories adopt the
covenant “in order to proclaim more effectively in our different
contexts the grace of God.” However, Section 4 directly contravenes
the Preamble by promulgating disciplinary procedures that do not
respect those different contexts. The polity of the provinces in the
Anglican Communion varies widely, and Section 4.1.3 affirms the
“autonomy of governance” of each province.

· Section 3.1.3 elevates “the historic threefold ministry of
bishops, priests and deacons, ordained for service in the Church of
God” into ministry leadership above the laity, which is contradictory
to The Episcopal Church’s theological understanding of the ministry of
all the baptized, including the laity who share in the governance and
leadership of the Church.

· Section 3.1.4 codifies The Four Instruments of Communion and
their powers in a new way that is not in alignment with how they are
perceived, received and understood by all provinces of the Anglican

· Some experience the proposed self-description of Anglicanism
(Sections 1-3) as "too Anglican" while others experience it as "too
generically Christian." This confusion about how a particularly
Anglican understanding of Christianity fits within a general
understanding of Christianity may undermine the integrity of
ecumenical relationships. Moreover, if the proposed covenant
accurately describes Anglicanism's self-understanding, why is it
necessary? If, on the other hand, it does not accurately describe our
self-understanding, then how is it helpful? And does it not then
fundamentally change who we are?

· The broad authority proposed for the Standing Committee of
the covenant suggests the “covenant” is really a “contract.” The grace
and beauty of the Anglican Communion has always been the voluntary
fellowship of provinces bound together by affection. Covenants in the
biblical tradition are about relationship, identity, and
transformation, and are rooted in models of shared abundance
(Eucharistic fellowship). On the other hand, contracts are merely
transactions or exchanges for mutual benefit. Contractual arrangements
fall short of our vocation to love one another as we have been loved
by God.

The Colorado deputation affirms the need to maintain and deepen
fellowship within the Anglican Communion as well as within The
Episcopal Church. Our relationships are troubled and the members of
the Anglican Communion are not of one mind about how to reconcile and
restore our relationships. Some would even diagnose the Anglican
Communion as a global entity as being profoundly fractured, our
relationships ruptured, and our attention to missio dei compromised.
Precisely for these reasons, we must work to intensify our
relationships across the communion through engagement with the
promises we have already made to care for one another.

All of us must continue to seek ways to connect our Anglican identity
and relationships to God’s mission for the Church. Some believe it is
incumbent upon those opposed to this version of the covenant to
propose alternative, clear, realistic and definitive strategies by
which this global family can weather and address the divergent
theological and ecclesial realities in the Anglican Communion.

We look forward to continuing to walk together with all our brothers
and sisters in the Anglican Communion and give thanks for our

General Convention Deputation of the Diocese of Colorado
Ms. L. Zoe Cole, Esq.
Mr. Jack Finlaw, Esq.
Mr. Lawrence Hitt, III, Esq.
Ms. Lelanda Lee - Co-Chair

Ms. Janet Farmer
Ms. Erica Hein

The Rev. Andrew Cooley - Co-Chair
The Rev. Brooks Keith
The Rev. Christy Shain-Hendricks
The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley

The Rev. Max Bailey


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Couple of Great Covenant Posts

From Preludium:
So it is high time to give a reading of the tea leaves. It is high time for the Anglican Covenant Crapshoot, whereby, by guess and by golly, a chart of the impending frightful mess is uncovered, complete with some wild guesses as to the number of National or Regional Churches (that's what Provinces are) willing to buy into the Anglican Covenant, and why. Read the rest HERE

And From Liturgy:
I think it is not unfair to say that Maori have considerable experience and energy around the concept of signing a document which has the sense of a sacred covenant, and the use and abuse of such a document, the issues that arise through the differing understandings and misunderstandings of texts, the use and abuse of power, and the differing motivations of people who sign up to such a document and urge people to sign. All this, I think, I hope, helps to understand some of what is in and lies underneath the motion passed. Read the Whole article HERE.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wales Commission Urges Covenant Adoption

The Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales recently published a 12-page briefing paper on the Covenant. Much of the paper is devoted to describing the Covenant. The description might be said to be seen through rose-colored glasses. The Commission finally concludes:
The Doctrinal Commission of the Church in Wales commends the Anglican Communion Covenant to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales. We regard it as a theologically coherent description of the nature of the Church and the form of the Christian life as expressed in Scripture and Church tradition. The Covenant falls within a discernable trajectory in the development of Anglican identity.
Apparently, however, the views of Commission members were not uniform, judging from the final paragraph of the paper:
Most members of the Commission welcome the Covenant, regarding it as an opportunity to deal more clearly with the many tensions that have beset the Anglican Communion in recent years. Some would rather the Covenant were clearer concerning the consequences of fractured relations. Other members of the Commission express some reservations concerning the Covenant, pointing out that, of itself, it solves none of our difficulties. Much depends on the way in which the Covenant is received and lived. Properly used, the processes outlined in the Covenant should assist this process of discerning the work of the Spirit within the Anglican Communion. However, this will only be possible if a conscious effort is made to foster proper lines of communication and deeper bonds of friendship across the Communion. However, the Covenant is an attempt to describe and clarify the nature of our mutual commitments and the form of life required to begin the process of discernment towards deeper communion and a more intense participation in the life of God made known in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Seemingly, there are some big ifs here. In any case, “An Anglican Communion Covenant: A Briefing Paper” has been added to the Resources page of the No Anglican Covenant Web site.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Genius of Anglicanism

Report coverThe Chicago Consultation, which advocates for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, has issued a 67-page collection of essays and questions about the Anglican Covenant titled “The Genius of Anglicanism: Perspectives on the Proposed Anglican Covenant.” The publication is targeted to Episcopalians, but the thought-provoking essays will be of interest to Anglicans in other Communion churches as well.

“The Genius of Anglicanism” takes no position on the Covenant, but, if you find its essays compelling, you will conclude that the case for the Covenant is anything but.

“Genius” treats many topics related to the Covenant that have not been explored adequately elsewhere. Essays deal with such topics as the Episcopal Church’s Baptismal Covenant, the role of bishops, reception, and the role of laypersons.

At the end of each essay are related questions. Thus, “Genius” could easily be used as a study guide or, at the very least, as an important resource in a study of the Covenant.

Labels: , ,