THINKING ANGLICANS

Anglican Covenant rejection in England: various reactions

Updated

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition issued this press release.

The Guardian has published this article by Diarmaid MacCulloch The Anglican church can start afresh. The recent vote against the Anglican covenant is hugely significant. But are the bishops ready to listen?

…So now Anglicanism needs to move forward and forget this sorry diversion, into which many perfectly well-meaning people poured a huge amount of energy over a decade when they might have been doing something useful. Woe betide any attempt to revive it, though I notice that the secretary general of the Anglican communion (now there’s an office that sounds ripe for culling) is clearly determined to keep it alive. To judge by a press statement he issued after the votes, he simply hasn’t understood the scale of the catastrophe the covenant has suffered at the hands of ordinary English Anglicans.

Anglicanism has the chance to rediscover painful lessons from its chequered past. After the 16th century Reformation, Scotland, Ireland and England all had churches with bishops. All three churches wanted to monopolise every form of religious expression throughout the realm. All failed.

In the end, episcopal churches were disestablished in Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but even the established Church of England learned that it could not boss around an entire nation, and had to accept that it ministered within a country of many faiths and none. That is a precious lesson to teach its many sister churches worldwide. Try and lay down the law in that delicate, nuanced thing that is religious belief, and you end up damaging or hurting a great many people.

Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don’t expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them. Now Anglicans can start listening afresh. The present archbishop of Canterbury has their warm good wishes, as he prepares to use his many talents and graces in a different setting. They should ask the next man or woman in the job to reconnect with the church and the nation.

Fulcrum has published this article by Andrew Goddard The Anglican Communion Covenant and the Church of England: Ramifications.

Executive Summary

  • The Church of England cannot reconsider the covenant until 2015.
  • Although diocesan votes are quite strongly against, actual votes cast remain marginally for the covenant and English supporters need to continue advocating for the covenant and its vision.
  • The covenant will continue to be considered around the Communion – eight provinces have embraced it and ACC in November will take stock but cannot end the process. * Other provinces should be encouraged to adopt the covenant despite the English decision.
  • The Church of England remains a full member of the Communion.
  • Although the CofE’s representatives cannot now participate in decision-making about the covenant within the Instruments of Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, as an Instrument rather than a provincial representative, may be able to do so.
  • There continue to be 3 visions of communion within the Communion – (1) the covenant vision of autonomy and interdependence with accountability, (2) the confessional GAFCON vision and (3) the TEC autonomy-as-independence vision. Only the first vision is likely to get the support of most provinces as, though different, it is compatible with the second but not the third vision.
  • The Communion now must choose between two main paths of significant reconfiguration – (A) A covenant-focussed Communion but with the Church of England outside the covenant, (B) A looser, more incoherent Communion with various networks within or possibly separate from it.
  • Archbishop Rowan’s via media approach of holding the Communion together by enabling conversation within the framework of upholding the Windsor Report, Lambeth I.10 and the covenant now needs major restructuring if it is to survive.
  • Neither the Communion nor the Church of England can remain unchanged by this development which makes it harder for Anglicanism’s distinctive historic tradition and global communion of churches to “survive with all its aspects intact”.

Anglican Mainstream has published Anglican Communion Covenant will not be debated by CofE General Synod.

…Bishop Michael Nazir Ali said that “I am disappointed that the Anglican Communion Covenant, even in its watered down version,has failed to gain the support of the Church of England. This now means that the Jerusalem Statement (2008) is now ‘The only game in town.’”

In which connection, there is this announcement of a GAFCON meeting in London in April.

Update

Here are two more analyses:

Pluralist Analysis of the Anglican Futures

In terms of the Anglican Communion, the balkanisation that was taking place will now obviously continue. There will be those Anglicans who do use the Covenant, which will be like a declaration to each other of being relatively conservative. There will be those Anglicans of the Jerusalem Declaration (who may and may not also Covenant – see below why probably not) who are producing a strongly doctrinal Protestant version of Anglicanism. Then there will be those leaving open a more flexible future outside any Covenant.

Whatever happens, Anglicans of the confessional and doctrinal type are going to be competitive. I can’t see the Covenant as a process being sufficient for them, but then they have additional statements. The real issue for them is how they try on international oversight via their own Primates’ Council and attempt to compete using fellowship structures. Churches ‘taken on’ by them will have to force the GAFCON/ FCA into independence, possibly then forming an Anglican Church of Northern Europe (or similar title) to parallel ACNA (or have one ACN).

The fact is that if an Anglican congregation decides to ignore the diocesan bishop and seek fellowship structures and international oversight instead, the congregation will lose its church building and the parish restored. Those seeking other oversight will have to leave and be self-sufficient, and this is the means by which ‘entryism’ if practised becomes separation. There aren’t the property issues as in North America but there are issues of dioceses and structures.

The Church of England will have competition within from outside as one faction but it will also have those who dream of Covenanting. These hopefuls (of reintroducing legislation) will include diocesan bishops who can behave as if they are Covenanting. They might even declare themselves ‘Windsor Compliant bishops’, but some would do so knowing they didn’t carry their own dioceses with them. But dioceses cannot join the Covenant, and it was invasive of Rowan Williams to suggest that some American bishops could escape their own province. Only by being competitive, can they: canon law is by Church, not Communion or Covenant. One could only see such an outcome of ‘Windsor Compliants’ popping up within the Church of England if the Conservative Evangelicals were invasive in terms of competition and nothing much was being done about them…

Paul Bagshaw A personal postmortem

…The Church of England

  • The defeat will echo round the CofE’s structures of governance for some time to come.
  • It puts a question mark against the relationship of bishop to diocese (or, at least, to diocesan synod). Some will draw the lesson that new ways must be found to reduce opposition to the leadership; others, that better – more open, more 2-way communication – working relations between leadership and the rest of the diocese is needed.
  • Synodical government itself came under great strain. Win or lose, the tactics used by some bishops, and the Covenant’s inherent overweaning character, was designed to marginalise voters and thus, to diminish the whole system of synodical government.
  • This was possible because it had been steadily weakened over years. The normal tone of deference, the occasional note of ‘fear’ of opposing the bishops, the appeal to loyalty as a motive to vote, all undermine rational and prayerful decision making.
  • The premium placed on the univocal character of the House of Bishops in recent times may either be reinforced or called into question.
  • Will liberals feel emboldened again (after 20 years of Evangelicals making the running)?
  • If so, will an increasingly liberal Church of England move further away from the churches of the Global South, schism or no schism?
  • Establishment will be untouched by this – though it might have been had the Covenant been implemented…

Peter Carrell The Anglican Association and the Anglican Communion

Ideas have their time and some ideas find their time does not come according to their supporters timetable. The Anglican Covenant may prove to be such an idea as a proposal for the Anglican Communion. (It has clearly proved in the last few days to be an idea whose time has not yet come for the Church of England). As the Living Church editorial I pointed to yesterday says, we can look back to 1963 and the Toronto Congress to see that the notion of mutual responsibility and interdependence has charted the evolution of the Communion for nearly fifty years:

“The [No Anglican Covenant] coalition’s opposition to the Covenant has principally centered on a sustained disinterest in global Communion structures, funded by an unhappy amnesia (at best, ignorance at worst) regarding the modern evolution of the Anglican Communion. Among other things, prescribed reading for all members of the NACC, and those tempted to follow them, would include the report from the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto, Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ, which charted the course for inter-Anglican conversation of the last half century in a visionary, missionary mode.”

Will future historians look back and see that the Anglican Covenant’s rejection by sufficient member churches to prevent its effective implementation was just a hiccup on the way to fulfilment of the Toronto vision? Were that to be so then the next period of Communion life will likely show signs of the situation being a hiccup rather than a dead end. Here is how our global life might play out over the next few decades…

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Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Andrew Goddard just doesn’t get it. Does he? Little of his analysis strikes true. I don’t accept the choices he says puts before us – nor do I think the three ways he describes are particularly helpful – yet alone an accurate portrayal of the wide spectrum of views held across the Communion. His constant attempts to “slice and dice” have fostered division by concealing the nuanced layers that run through AND CONNECT the many varied views we Anglicans hold. Let’s seen an end to this type of spin that tries to tell us what IS and then mislead us… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

““I am disappointed that the Anglican Communion Covenant, even in its watered down version,has failed to gain the support of the Church of England. This now means that the Jerusalem Statement (2008) is now ‘The only game in town.’” – Bp.Nazir-Ali – So here we have a clear declaration from the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, that the ‘only game in town’ is the GAFCON resolution known as the ‘Jerusalem Declaration. As he is one of the Key-Note Speakers for the up-coming conference of the FCA/GAFCON leadership in Egland next month, he obviously has a decidedly un-English agenda on… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

As mentioned by Perry on a thread below, the churches of the Indian subcontinent are completely ignored by Goddard.

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

Dear God, this is such a mess!

History will show the Covenant proposals to be one of the most divisive projects ever undertaken in the history of Anglicanism.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

I read about half of Andrew Goddard’s epistle and then got bored. Perhaps someone can tell me if I missed anything important.

john
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john

‘Anglicanism could be seen as a family: in families, you don’t expect everyone to think in exactly the same way. You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise. You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them.’ Couldn’t agree more. But again and again I invite my fellow liberals to bite the requisite bullet and admit that this conception of the C of E/Anglicanism absolutely requires that we give traditionalist Anglicans (who want to remain Anglicans) the space they require to remain Anglicans (which they want to do). I know rjb… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

Peter Carrell quotes: “the course for inter-Anglican conversation of the last half century in a visionary, missionary mode”

There’s nothing “visionary” or “missionary” about institutionalized homophobia. Nothing.

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

I hope it will not sound churlish to inquire, is MacCulloch serious? ‘Start afresh’? ‘Just get on with being a family’? Is this pollyana or just being out of touch with communion realities? Maybe it is just nice to give a happy line to the Guardian, but anyone following this cannot for a minute think there is some nice re-set button to push. Yes, a ‘family’ idea may work for progressives as they wrestle with Communion without Baptism and Same-Sex blessings/civil marriage/etc and whether Christianity is a World Religion compatible like others and best forms of polity, and so on… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

Sorry john, although I might be considered a progressive I am very definitely not a liberal!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Peter Carrell does not speak for the majority in ACANZP. His known support for GAFCON is a potent sign of his opposition to the emancipation of the LGBT community in the Church.

Most New Zealand Anglicans are more open-minded to the natural phenomenon of the continuum occurring in human sexual-orientation. Important to understand is that our Province will probably reject the Covenant.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“But what percentage of the Communion are we talking about in this kind of ‘family’?”

Ah, the old “Nigeria has tens of millions so we should do what they say” argument.

Did I really sign up to be a member of an international organization where doctrine and discipline are driven by the local needs of churches in sub-Saharan Africa?

I don’t think so!

Father David
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Father David

So, it would seem, using Bishop Kings’ analogy that we in the Church of England are indeed a bag of marbles rather than a bunch of grapes, after all!

MarkBrunson
Guest

With Martin Reynolds.

I stand behind the belief that they *have* a place in the Christian family, though not, perhaps, the Anglican branch. I still think this “encompassing everybody” trope points to a disturbing deeply-held-and-denied belief that we are the ONLY TRUE CHURCH, pat. pend.

Paul may have been able to be all things to all men – I doubt it – but the rest of us can’t. Recognizing limits is humility, not hubris.

toby forward
Guest

john, how do you square your idea that ‘You do not show the door to one member of the family, just because you don’t agree with them’ with your idea that ‘we give traditionalist Anglicans (who want to remain Anglicans) the space they require to remain Anglicans (which they want to do’? After all, it is these so-called ‘traditionalist Anglicans’ who show the door to women priests and partnered gay priests. I’m happy to leave the door open to all, as long as all leave the door open to others – but they won’t. It’s this conflict which which is… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

John
if people are so determined to kick the likes of me out of their church that they set up a whole Covenant exercise for the purpose of disciplining those who are happy to include me and treat me as 100% equal – just how do you propose that I should give them space?

This is a genuine question.

rjb
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rjb

I very much fear that some of those who, like me, opposed the Covenant have no interest in a catholic and apostolic Anglican Communion at all. For some, I suspect, the defeat of the Covenant is simply a means to make our Broad Church much narrower: a “Church of Little England.” But Anglicanism has always been a diverse movement, and I for one think we will be impoverished inestimably if we try to cast out the conservatives and the traditionalists, bad theology and all. Of course, there may come a point where it is impossible for all parties to live… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

rjb
I also hope that it will not be liberals who shut the door. But I ask you the same question I have asked John. What does that mean in practice when the only way the door can remain open is for me to walk away or be kicked out?

It seems we’ll either end up with a conservative Communion or with 2 separate groups.
The kind of group I’d like to see where conservatives can tolerate liberals and don’t insist on treating me as a second class person does not appear to be on offer.

John
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John

Erika, If you polarise 100%, you are right. But you shouldn’t, so you are wrong. What is this nonsense about your being kicked out? A substantial proportion of C of E people – probably now a majority – have no problem with gayness. That is true of the church you attend. It is also true of the church I attend. It is true of most cathedrals, etc. etc. It is also of course true of many RC churches. The battle to secure blessings/church marriage for gay partnerships/marriages goes on but will be won. The battle to secure the same for… Read more »

Chris H.
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Chris H.

Erika, liberals don’t tolerate conservatives either. Just this morning I saw a blurb about the Gene Robinson movie and his push to make everyone who sees it a teacher/missionary for anyone who disagrees. Toleration is never enough for people on either side. Would your hypothetical group treat conservatives like second class citizens? If one side is trying to educate the other out of their position, it’s not acceptance. If people used the words in church face to face that they use to describe opponents on blogs like this, would opponents go to church together? Doubt it. As for “family” not… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John, I don’t like the use of right and wrong here, can we agree on just having different opinions? My point is that TEC and Canada have started a trend that, I hope, the CoE will eventually follow. The Covenant was conceived by people who are absolutely determined that TEC must be punished for having openly partnered gay priests and bishops. It is highly unlikey that these people are warmly welcoming of non ordained partnered gay couples in their midst. In fact, as group contact point for Changing Attitude and from my own experience I can assure you that this… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

This talk of toleration is wooly!

Listen to Erica. Lgbt people of all ages – yes we are young and old and widowed unemployed etc but also demeaned in public utterances of RC and CE leaders in a manner that would be illegal if spoken against Black or Jewish people. W

We are imprisoned and murdered around the globe.

So no, let us withstand them to their face wherever safe to.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Chris H, I don’t see a concerted American campaign to set up a system that is then used to impose relational consequences on Nigeria because of their reprehensible attitude to homosexuality. I don’t see any moves to cut parish links across Continents. It must be allowed to voice disagreement. And of course I want to educate people out of opinions I find appalling. They don’t have to accept my views just as I don’t have to accept theirs, but a lively debate must be allowed. But what actual moves are afoot to treat conservatives as second class people? To stop… Read more »

Murdoch
Guest
Murdoch

“Toleration is never enough for people on either side. . . . If one side is trying to educate the other out of their position, it’s not acceptance.” It’s wearying, the frequent assumption here among conservatives that “gay” and “straight” and their proper treatment are just matters of opinion, like use of candles or vestments. We all tend to take our own experience as the norm until we learn that other people experience things differently. (Strong case in point: how the nuns used to whack the knuckles of a fellow second-grader for “showing off,” “trying to be different,” as he… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Liberal pluralism by definition commits you to tolerance of positions you think wrong, always provided such positions are not vicious.” – John – In your argument, John, which I take it is not about the acceptance or rejection of sexual-orientation issues (an important one); you are saying that the Church ought to allow acceptance of two different theologies of the gender capability of women to represent the common humaity of christ at the altar. This, to my mind, is not ‘adiaphora’ (as I believe the sexual-orientation question to be) but rather a matter of basic Christian doctrine. It is possibile… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

It would always come to this: Rousseau v Locke liberals, once the outcomes they judged top priority came into view. Now the battle (within this segment of the Communion) will be between laissez-faire liberalism and justice-all-the-way-down liberalism.

David Shepherd
Guest

John: ‘You listen, you shout, cry, talk, compromise’ Oh well, sorry John, but that compromise idea of yours died in the space of about ten subsequent posts. As presented above, the non-liberal ‘anglicans’ have formed themselves into an unvarying monolith of Nazi-like hate. We hear that, to a man, we want to: 1. kick (or, less hyperbolically, constructively dismiss) LGBT’s out of the church; 2. show the door to women priests and partnered gay priests; 3. punish openly partnered gays and priests; 4. ‘effing push their effing faces in’ 5. imprison and murder gays around the globe 5. And worse… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

John, Simplest argument: It isn’t pluralism to “include” those who would end inclusion and pluralism, it’s impossibility. To try to force it to happen is insanity. This is not a pejorative argument, it’s reality. All the hand-wringing in the world, all the false “sacrifices,” won’t change it. You cannot put the two together and make a community – it is impossibility. This alleged “compromise” you keep speaking of, is, in fact, the end of community while imposing an undue burden on both parties. It has been tried. It hasn’t worked, it won’t work, it can’t work. I understand you feel… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Again – regarding the dubious claims of “exclusion” of people who are, traditionally, in the majority; First – the basis of the argument is completely wrong: no one is excluded from Christ or Christianity by refusing to cooperate with creating these special places. The anglican tradition has long accepted the legitimacy of other expressions of Christianity as valid. The insistence that people are being “thrown out” of community reeks of religious exclusivism itself and is deplorable. We *are* in community with the RCC’s, with the Orthodox, with the various Protestants, and, if they do not wish to acknowledge that we… Read more »

toby forward
Guest

john, thanks for your answer, but I think you’re still missing the point. You keep saying that the door must be open to everyone. But you’re saying it to the wrong people. Say it to Forward in Faith and the other objectors, and keep saying it until they listen. Until they do, they can’t be permitted to dictate the terms.

John
Guest
John

Lots to reply to here, no doubt. I’m tired. Best wishes to all from a laissez-faire liberal (sort of)/consequentialist (sort of).

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Isn’t is wonderful that God accepts us all – whether we like that or not. The real problem is, we don’t always, easily, accept one another. Whenever someone is told “You do not have a place in my Church” – solely because of their gender or sexuality – we may be refusing the companionship of Christ!

Think of Blessed Francis, whose life changed when he saw Christ in the face of a leper; and didn’t distance himself but actually embraced the leper!