Since I last wrote to you, developments in the progress on the development of the Covenant have been fast and (occasionally) furious. We had previously assumed that adoption of the Covenant would come before General Synod in York this July, and we were concerned that it might be overshadowed by the – hopefully final – debate on the appointment of women bishops. But this has almost certainly been overtaken by events.
Voting has been continuing in the dioceses, the surprise being that the current state of play is 17 against the adoption of the Covenant, with only 10 in favour of it. If a simple majority of the dioceses vote to reject it, the Covenant will not after all be brought before General Synod. There are 44 dioceses, which means that the pro-Covenanters need 23 to be in favour. Thus to defeat it, we only need to have 22 dioceses reject it. The Covenant could not be brought before General Synod again in this quinquennium, i.e. not before July 2015 (and it is hard to see how it could be revived then).
On 17 March, this coming Saturday, Norwich, Liverpool, St Albans, Chester and Ely will vote; and on the following Saturday, 24 March, they will be followed by Lincoln, Exeter, Blackburn, Oxford, Guildford and Peterborough. You can follow the results on the Thinking Anglicans website and also at Modern Church.
Our experience in the last few months has been that, wherever members of the diocesan synods are briefed on both sides of the question, they have tended to vote against the Covenant. In several cases, synods have refused to allow briefing papers on both sides to be circulated. In Sodor and Man, Bishop Gregory Cameron of St Asaph debated with Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church before the diocesan synod: despite an address by the Bishop of Sodor and Man strongly in favour of the Covenant, it was rejected.
Our team in the Coalition has been strengthened by the recruitment of 5 more patrons: from England, the Revd Dr Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of Church History at Oxford University, and the Revd Canon Sarah Coakley, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge University; from the USA the Revd Dr Marilyn McCord Adams, Professor of Philosophy at University of North Carolina and formerly Regius Professor at Oxford University; from Australia, Dr Muriel Porter, OAM, a senior Anglican and correspondent for ‘The Church Times’; and from New Zealand the Rt Revd James White, Assistant Bishop of Auckland.
Concentration remains, for the moment, on the Church of England. Professor MacCulloch was interviewed with Bishop Graham Kings of Sherborne by Edward Stourton last Sunday. You can hear it on YouTube, and you can also hear his general comments on the Covenant here. This video was fortuitously uploaded to YouTube the day after the Archbishop of Canterbury’s rather rambling piece - and appeared to be in response to it.
So, to summarise, it is possible that by the end of March we will have defeated the Anglican Covenant, at least in its present form. I never imagined, when we started the No Anglican Covenant Coalition in 2010, that we could conceivably achieve this result. It has not happened yet, so for now our efforts are concentrated on getting at least 5 more dioceses voting our way. If we succeed, the next task will be to keep a close eye on what the Anglican Communion Office do next. Will they try to rescue it in some way or other, or will we have a part to play in more constructive dialogue about the future of the Anglican Communion?
Thank-you to so many people who have been working hard at the local level to enable both sides of the debate to be heard. Please continue your efforts, we still need your help.
With very best wishes,
Labels: No Anglican Covenant Coalition