Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Church of England Final Voting Stats

Today the final two dioceses in the Church of England voted on the proposed Anglican Covenant. Newcastle (against) and York (for) complete the voting on a reference to the dioceses.

In total, 18 of the 44 dioceses voted for the Covenant, and 26 against. In order for a resolution to adopt the Covenant to return to the General Synod in July, a majority (23) of the dioceses would have needed to vote for it. That became mathematically impossible a few weeks ago after over 22 dioceses had voted against the Covenant.

In all, 3588 people voted in the 44 diocesan synods, including 94 bishops, 1584 clergy and 1910 laity. The bishops' votes actually did not count toward the results, but were nevertheless recorded. In order for the resolution to be adopted by any given diocesan synod, it was required to be adopted by a majority among both the clergy and the laity. Failure to secure a majority in either of those houses defeated the resolution.

If we include the bishops, a total of 49.25% of all synod members voted for the Covenant, 46.29% against, and 4.46% abstained.

Excluding the bishops, 48.43% voted for, 47.14% against, and 4.44% abstained.

Amongst the bishops, 79.79% voted for, 14.89% against and 5.32% abstained.

Amongst clergy, 46.65% voted for, 49.49% against and 3.85% abstained.

Amongst laity, 49.90% voted for, 45.19% against and 4.92% abstained.

Looking at voting by order and diocese, the bishops voted for the Covenant in 37 dioceses and against in 7.

Clergy voted for the Covenant in 18 dioceses and against in 26.

Laity voted for in 22 dioceses and against in 22.

It is clear overall that the Covenant was unable to secure majority support amongst either the clergy or the laity. The bishops voted overwhelmingly for the Covenant, although their votes did not count toward the result.


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Friday, April 27, 2012

Model Covenant Resolution for 2012 General Convention

A big test for the Anglican Covenant comes this summer when the General Convention of The Episcopal Church takes up the matter of Covenant adoption.

For the benefit of non-Episcopalians, I should explain that the General Convention has two houses, the House of Deputies (clergy and laypeople) and the House of Bishops (bishops, of course). For a resolution to be passed by the governing body of the church, the same text must be approved by both houses.

It has been widely assumed that the Covenant will not be adopted by the American church. Three resolutions about the Covenant have been announced publicly. The church’s Executive Council has proposed a polite resolution that declares that “The Episcopal Church is unable to adopt the Anglican
Covenant in its present form.” Two groups of bishops have offered much more positive resolutions that say something less—even a good deal less—than “no” to the Covenant. (Those three resolutions can be read here.)

It is the view of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition that The Episcopal Church must reject the Anglican Covenant definitively, an action that we hope will encourage other Communion churches to do likewise. It is clear that not all Communion churches—perhaps not even many—will adopt the Covenant, creating the ironic situation of having the Covenant divide the Communion into covenanting and non-covenanting churches. It is our hope that, eventually, churches that have adopted the Covenant will reverse their action, so that the unity of the Anglican Communion can be enhanced and our churches can once again concentrate on the work of Jesus Christ and not on political battles.

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition therefore proposes the model resolution below for consideration by the 2012 General Convention. We commend it to deputies who will, we hope, submit our resolution or a similar resolution to be considered in Indianapolis. Note that, when many resolutions are offered dealing with the same issue, the resolution brought to the floor for consideration is some amalgam of the submissions.

Here is our model resolution, which is also available here as a Microsoft Word file and here as a PDF file:

Title: Relation to the Anglican Communion

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 77th General Convention give thanks to all who have worked to increase understanding and strengthen relationships among the churches of the Anglican Communion, and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention reaffirm the commitment of this church to the fellowship of autonomous national and regional churches that is the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention believe that sister churches of the Anglican Communion are properly drawn together by bonds of affection, by participation in the common mission of the gospel, and by consultation without coercion or intimidation; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention, having prayerfully considered the merits of the Anglican Communion Covenant and believing said agreement to be contrary to Anglican ecclesiology and tradition and to the best interests of the Anglican Communion, respectfully decline to adopt the same; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention call upon the leaders of The Episcopal Church at every level to seek opportunities to reach out to strengthen and restore relationships between this church and sister churches of the Communion.

Explanation: Churches of the Anglican Communion have been asked to adopt the so-called Anglican Communion Covenant. The suggestion for such an agreement was made in the 2004 Windsor Report, which proposed “the adoption by the churches of the Communion of a common Anglican Covenant which would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion.”

The Windsor Report was produced at the request of Primates upset with the impending consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire and the promulgation of a liturgy for the blessing of same-sex unions by the Diocese of New Westminster in the Anglican Church of Canada.

Archbishop Drexel Gomez, of the Anglican Province of the West Indies, was entrusted with leading the development of the first draft of a covenant. This same Archbishop Gomez was one of the editors of To Mend the Net, a collection of essays dating from 2001 and advocating enhancing the power of the Anglican Primates to deter, inter alia, the ordination of women and “active homosexuals,” as well as the blessing of same-sex unions. Archbishop Gomez’s punitive agenda remains evident in the final draft of the proposed Covenant.

Despite protestations to the contrary, the Anglican Communion Covenant attempts to create a centralized authority that would constrain the self-governance of The Episcopal Church and other churches of the Communion. This unacceptably inhibits Communion churches from pursuing the gospel mission as they discern it.

The Church of England has already declined to adopt the Anglican Communion Covenant. The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines has indicated that they will not support the Covenant, and the rejection of the Covenant by the Tikanga Maori of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia renders it virtually certain that those churches will also reject the Covenant. A number of Global South churches have indicated that they will decline to adopt the Covenant.

The deficiencies of the Covenant are legion, and the Anglican Communion faces the prospect of becoming a fellowship not united but divided by the Covenant. It is essential to reject the Anglican Communion Covenant in order to avoid the Communion’s permanent, institutionalized division.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Message to Episcopal Church Supporters

The message below was sent today to members of The Episcopal Church who have signed up as friends of the Coalition on our No Anglican Covenant Web Site.

April 20, 2012

Dear Episcopalian No Anglican Covenant Coalition Supporter,

It has been quite some time since I wrote to our supporters in The Episcopal Church. Much has happened since then, but the big news is that the Church of England has failed to adopt the Anglican Covenant. In principle, this is not a rejection for all time, but, at the very least, adoption cannot be considered again before 2015.

We now need to turn our attention to The Episcopal Church and to the 2012 General Convention that meets this summer in Indianapolis. It has been widely assumed that the General Convention will reject the Covenant, and the resolution proposed some time ago by Executive Council would do essentially that. Recently, however, a group of bishops, led by Ian Douglas, has proposed a resolution that does not accept the Covenant but puts our church on the road to eventually doing so. Another group of bishops, led by John Bauerschmidt, has offered an even stronger pro-Covenant resolution that commits to adoption and looks to constitutional and canonical changes to make the Covenant “active and effective.” Suddenly, the independence of The Episcopal Church appears to be at risk. (If you want to read the resolutions on the Covenant proposed so far, you can do so here. Mark Harris has posted an analysis of the resolutions on his blog.)

I am writing to ask for your help. If you are a deputy or an alternate deputy to the General Convention, please let me know, so that you can help us defeat any attempt to adopt the Covenant or to cause The Episcopal Church to expend any additional resources on the “Covenant process.”

Even if you are not a deputy, please do what you can to encourage your lay and clergy deputies to reject the Anglican Covenant outright. If possible, speak to or write to your bishop(s) about the need to put the Covenant behind us.

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition is planning to propose our own model resolution for the 2012 General Convention. If you have any thoughts as to what that resolution should look like, please send them along to me.

I urge you to continue to look for updates at our Web site, our blog, our Facebook page, and on Twitter.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Lionel E. Deimel, Ph.D.
Episcopal Church Convenor
No Anglican Covenant Coalition
828 Rockwood Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15234
+1 412-343-5337

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter From Canada

Recently, the Coalition was sent a copy of this letter with a request that we publish it. We are pleased to do so.  

March 24, 2012

To Rupertsland Anglicans

Dear members of the Body of Christ

We are aware that the Diocese is studying the final version of the Anglican Communion “Covenant”.  There have been several deanery meetings, and it appears that further meetings may be scheduled, with a view to bringing recommendations to Diocesan Council and thence to Synod this fall.

We know too of the extensive literature opposing the Covenant that has developed, as for example in the website We have also reviewed the General Synod document in the link below which sets forth serious procedural and doctrinal questions to which there do not appear to be answers at present.  Finally, of course we are aware of the reason that this document has been born, but on which the document is entirely silent, namely, the matter of gay and lesbian persons’ rights in regard to marriage, ordination and consecration.

While it is quite appropriate to study new documents that attempt to speak to our faith in relevant and yet historically faithful ways, we do not wish to debate the contents of the Covenant, confusing and unclear though they are.  The much more central issue is the assumed need for the Anglican Church of Canada to subscribe to this latter day creed, with its quasi-judicial processes in section three and four.

The best test in regard to the need for such a document is to ask, “What would happen if this document were adopted, and then a real issue came along that promised division among the world-wide Anglican Communion?”  Appropriately enough, there was such an issue 35 years ago, namely, the ordination of women.

What would have happened regarding the plan to ordain women when first it was being advocated if the “Covenant” were in place 35 years ago?  First, there would be notice given about the plan to ordain women.  Then unhappy churches, some of whom still today do not ordain women, would express their discomfort through the world councils such as Lambeth, or the meetings of bishops.  Then would come committees, consultations, theological debates and more process.  Finally, if the initiating church stuck to its plans, it could be “sanctioned”; thrown out of wider church councils, or even perhaps be declared to be “not in communion”.

It seems to us that this is not an exaggeration. Some parts of our world-wide communion still do not ordain women, let alone consecrate women bishops.

Anglicanism works best when it is allowed to muddle, rather like John Ralston Saul claims Canada works best.  Muddling is also an important aspect of  listening for the Spirit. We muddle big ideas and changes for a while, often quite a while, but then we move, as in the ordaining of women.  We trust and hope that we will get over our sexuality muddle relatively soon.  In the meantime, we don’t need the pressure and promised endless process of the Covenant to place a stumbling block in the midst of our muddling.

Each autonomous Anglican Church lives in the midst of cultural and other conditions that profoundly shape its missional response to the gospel call for justice and compassion.  It is our central task to search in each time and place for that faithful response, which will differ as we perceive that call.  While acknowledging that change can be both painful as well as liberating, we ought not to chain ourselves to seeking agreement across vastly different cultures and contexts before responding to the Spirit’s call for justice, compassion and inclusion.

Please give this letter and the document in the attached link your prayerful consideration. If you have not yet done so, please read the Report of the Governance Committee of our National Church at the website below. Other helpful websites are listed as well for further reading. We have attached the letter as a Word doc. file as well for ease of forwarding.

If you wish to join your name to ours in sending this letter to a wider audience, please reply accordingly to this email.  You also may wish to know that we have informed the Bishop about our intent, and shared with him this letter.

Yours in faith

Peter Flynn Tim Sale Maylanne Maybee Fletcher Stewart
Bill Duff Mary Duff Phil Barnett Berni Beare
David Pate Lynn Pate Geoff Woodcroft Bob Binding
Karen Binding Terry Reilly David Punter Jamie Howison
Judith Whitmore Bryan Bjerring Judith Bjerring Mary Holmen
John Holmen Catherine Pate Brian Crow Barbara Crow
Lyndon Hutchison-Hounsell   Julie Collings Tom Collings Jack Risk
Peter Williams Peg Williams Alice Williams Simon Blaikie
Diana Wilde Rod Sprange Gordon Shields Donna Joy
Ralph Baxter Eileen Baxter

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Breaking News From New Zealand

I seem to be unable to get a reliable link to the New Zealand news. However, pending that, if you go to the Anglican Ordinariate page on Facebook, you will find some current postings. More to come. Jim B

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dear Rowan

Dear Rowan:

A piece of advice from someone who has lost battles in church. Stop being a whiner or that will be your legacy -- grumpy old has-been. Accept the fact that it was neither the "radical liberals" nor the "hard line conservatives" who sank your dream. It was doomed from the beginning - not punitive enough for those who read the Bible selectively and not enough space for the Spirit to lead us into things we could not bear before (John 16:12).

Those who voted against the Covenant were not rejecting you, it was not all about you. Regular faithful church members voted against it once they read it and began to think about the ramifications of the entire document. The ACO and your arguments boiled down to "trust us" we know what we are doing and you don't, or we need it to save the communion, or it won't really change things. These are not facts but coercion.

It was not based in Anglican theology - a balance of scripture, tradition and reason. The last section had no mechanism for enforcement except a very fuzzy set of ideas centered around a small group of people. Anyone could grind any other province to a halt just by raising a complaint. The complaints were not limited in scope. They could come from any place on the spectrum of Anglican practice.

Think about it - detach your ego from Covenant. Read what people are saying now that it is no longer on the table. Perhaps you will understand why we worked to get the facts out in public - not just have people vote because someone tells them to vote a certain way with "trust me."

Yours truly,
The Rev. Ann Fontaine
a vicar of small church on the Oregon Coast.