Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Evangelical Response to Fulcrum

At the invitation of Dr. Lesley Crawley, the Coalition’s moderator, the Rev. Mark Bennet offered this brief analysis of Fulcrum’s incredible endorsement of the Covenant. We reprint it here with permission. We are posting it without comments because it needs none.


It is disappointing that an evangelical justification of the document nowhere cites scripture to justify the use of the word Covenant to describe a refashioning of the structures of human power and authority within the Church. In fact it doesn’t seem to mention scripture at all and describes the “Covenant” as a political document, not a theological one. The defence also makes ecclesiological assumptions and assertions which are inadequately justified—in particular putting process before relationship. It is like having a pre-nup: it assumes that the relationship is insufficient. God’s answer is the incarnation deepening the relationship in spite of the pain, because that is the only route to healing. The use of the word “only” in point 8 is almost a denial of the Gospel.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Understanding the significance of the Maori NO vote

Last week the governing body of the Maori jurisdiction of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia voted decisively against the proposed Anglican Covenant.

To understand the significance of this vote it’s helpful to know something of the unique constitutional arrangements of this antipodean church. As it name suggests it involves more than one jurisdiction and more than one country – Polynesia is actually a number of countries: Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and the Cook Islands. Also, as the name suggests, in the land mass commonly known as New Zealand, there are two jurisdictions, reflecting two histories: the Maori indigenous church [Aotearoa] and the settler church [New Zealand].

The first constitution of this Province was in 1857 and, with the blinkers of colonialism, only reflected the settler church's understanding. This constitution was radically revised in 1992. At the level of General Synod/te Hinota Whanui matters could now be decided not only by a simple majority, or a majority vote in each of the houses of laity, clergy, and bishops, but also by a vote in jurisdictions. In this latter method the three jurisdictions [Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia] need to either assent or abstain. If any of these three vote against a matter that matter is lost.

So the vote last week by Aotearoa’s governing body, Te Runanganui, means in effect that The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia will next July at its biennial General Synod/te Hinota Whanui reject the Covenant.

As reported in the official news magazine of the Church section 4.2 the proposed covenant was seen to be about control. If the Anglican Communion were to adopt the Anglican Covenant, the ability of the Standing Committee to commend relational consequences to the churches or the instruments of communion was viewed as a challenge to their sovereignty. The resolution passed by the Runanganui said, “Clause 4.2 of the proposed Covenant contains provisions which are contrary to our understanding of Anglican ecclesiology, to our way of unndestanding Christ, and to justice, and is unacceptable to the Runanganui.” For the jurisdiction of indigenous tribes that struggled for sovereignty in the structures of the Church for 145 years it was unlikely they were ever going to agree to this covenant. Two of Aotearoa’s dioceses [or rohe] had already rejected the covenant, one of those being the see of the Archbishop, Brown Turei, where it was rejected unanimously with acclamation. This is the equivalent of the Synod of York or Canterbury rejecting the Covenant.

In the other jurisdictions of The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, the New Zealand dioceses are currently three for, three against, and one still to vote. They won’t vote as a whole jurisdiction until just before the General Synod in July, but whatever that vote’s outcome it won’t change the ‘no’ decision for the whole church. The jurisdiction of Polynesia also has not yet voted, and likewise their decision will not affect the end result.

The Rev'd Glynn Cardy of Auckland, New Zealand.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Good News Continues

In England, many members of diocesan synods have really disappointed the proponents of the Covenant. They have accepted Canon Kearson’s advice, read the Covenant, considered it carefully, and voted no. Voting no is, as we have shown here, the correct response to the document.

The most recent diocese to read and understand the Covenant is St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese in the Church of England. The synod voted to reject adoption of the Covenant last week.

Four diocese in England have voted now. Two have voted no. Given the pull of the “loyalty to Rowan” argument and the determined effort of the proponents not to talk about the document, I think that is remarkable. I recall reading in a novel that there is a reason Americans have juries that are selected in a process while English juries are simply the next 12 on the list, “twelve Englishmen cannot be fooled.” It may be we are are seeing that now.


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No Anglican Covenant Coalition News

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition is pleased and proud to welcome Mrs. Laura Sykes as its newest member.

Laura brings a vibrant voice against the Covenant and a deep understanding of the Church of England’s polity.

We recommend the excellent blog Lay Anglicana which she edits, and we look forward to her posts here. Laura is a major voice in the Communion, a brilliant essayist and blogger, and an enthusiastic leader in the church. We are thrilled to have her join our campaign.

Welcome aboard Laura!

For the Coalition,
Jim Beyer


Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Year Later

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 ( 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.

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