Comprehensive Unity: The No Anglican Covenant Blog

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Is it dead yet?

There has been very little significant news about the proposed Anglican Covenant for some time. Already three years have passed since the dioceses of the Church of England failed to vote in favour of considering the Covenant at their General Synod. At the time it was suggested that this did not mean the Church of England had said no to the Covenant, and that it still could say yes. Technically, this is quite true. The Church of England didn't say no because it didn't consider the question. And it hasn't taken advantage of the intervening three years to revisit the Covenant.

Now, the most recent news is that the Episcopal Church has similarly not taken advantage of an opportunity to say something about the Covenant - be it no or maybe, though decidedly not yes. At its recent General Convention, the Episcopal Church was offered two equal but opposite resolutions. Both resolutions proposed to affirm the membership in and common identity of the Anglican Communion. But one said that this was described in the first three sections of the Covenant, and the other said that the Covenant did not adequately describe membership and common identity of the Anglican Communion. Neither resolution proposed to adopt or reject the Covenant definitively, merely to comment on the value of the first three sections in describing the membership and common identity of the Anglican Communion. Both resolutions were clear in valuing membership in the Communion, and the common identity (however described) of Anglicanism. And both proposed to communicate the Episcopal Church's appreciation for the Communion to the next meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. In the end, however, the Convention chose to say all the positive things about the Communion without reference to the Covenant. Not yes, not no, not maybe, not even an unenthusiastic "meh".

Two things are clear from this outcome. First, the Episcopal Church values its membership in the Anglican Communion and appreciates its shared Anglican Identity. Second, it does not apparently see the need to bring the Covenant into that conversation.

Like the Church of England, the Episcopal Church has no apparent energy to discuss the project. Both churches seem to have moved on. The only thing missing now is a formal statement from some credible body (such as the Anglican Consultative Council) that the project is officially dead.

In the absence of such a pronouncement,  the Covenant process has ground to a halt, sitting on a long-forgotten list of things to do, gathering dust.

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The Episcopal Church Walks Away from Covenant

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church had two resolutions before it dealing with the Anglican Covenant. Resolution A040, while not declaring that the church was adopting the Covenant, declared that most of the Covenant was acceptable and asked the church’s representatives to thank the Communion for the conversation around the Covenant. Resolution D022 was as gracious about offering thanks but categorically rejected the Covenant.

In the end, the convention passed on both A040 and D022 but reaffirmed its commitment to and financial support for the Communion by way of Resolution A019. That resolution, which received concurrence from the House of Bishops on the last day of the convention, June 3, makes no mention of the Covenant.

Thus, The Episcopal Church has essentially rejected the Anglican Covenant by simply ignoring it. All this might not be apparent to the casual observer. However, Lionel Deimel, Episcopal Church Convenor of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, explains what happened in Salt Lake City on his blog. No doubt, the Anglican Communion Office will not view The Episcopal Church as having rejected the Covenant, but it has.

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