A year ago today, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition announced that it had come on the scene to defeat adoption of the Anglican Covenant. The date of November 3 was chosen because it is the day that Anglicans remember Richard Hooker, that quintessential Anglican theologian who, we believed, would be appalled at the direction the Anglican Communion seemed to be headed.
As the Coalition celebrates its first birthday, there is cause for both optimism and concern. The program to impose a repressive covenant on worldwide Anglicanism has lost momentum. Few churches have adopted it, and some of those that have have framed their actions in ways that undermine the intent of the proposed agreement. The GAFCON churches have largely rejected the Covenant as inadequate, and many Western churches are expected to reject it as too intrusive. The Covenant is not dead, but it is severely wounded.
That said, the state of the Communion is worrisome. The Anglican Covenant, which was intended by its authors to unite Anglican churches, has served only to accentuate differences. The so-called Instruments of Communion are widely criticized as ineffective or worse, and the Communion itself is threatened with disintegration or schism. Prayers for sanity and toleration are surely in order.
In this painful period of Anglican history, it is worthwhile to revisit what the Coalition had to say about Richard Hooker as it announced itself one year ago today. That essay began as follows:
November 3, 2010 — November 3rd is an ideal day to launch a new international organization resisting the proposed Anglican Covenant because it is the day Anglicans commemorate the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker. Hooker argued that the Church should use the full range of reasoning faculties in matters of faith and should develop in light of changing circumstances. New ideas and differences of opinion, therefore, have a proper place within the Church. It is this openness and tolerance that we, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, wish to defend today against an Anglican Covenant that would suppress differences of opinion.The entire essay can be read here.
One year ago, the No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued a news release titled “International Campaign Seeks to Stop Anglican Covenant.” It began
LONDON – An international coalition of Anglicans has been created to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant. Campaigners believe the proposed Covenant constitutes unwarranted interference in the internal life of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, would narrow the acceptable range of belief and practice within Anglicanism, and would prevent further development of Anglican thought. The Coalition’s website (noanglicancovenant.org) will provide resources for Anglicans around the world to learn about the potential risks of the proposed Anglican Covenant.The full text is available here.
Much has been accomplished in the past year, and there is reason to believe that the Anglican Covenant will never become the Anglican straightjacket that threatened to constrain Anglican thought and action. Defeating the Covenant is, nonetheless, an ongoing task. Re-imagining the Anglican Communion to allow it to move forward as an instrument of God’s grace and mercy in the twenty-first century will be an even more daunting enterprise. It is a task about which Anglicans everywhere should be thinking and praying.