Thinking Anglicans

more reactions to the Anglican Covenant's rejection in England

Yes to the Covenant has issued this press release (not yet on its website):

ANGLICAN COVENANT SUPPORTERS EXPRESS ‘DEEEP REGRET

Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant have expressed their deep regret at the decision by the majority of Church of England Dioceses not to support the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant. Although in total more people in Diocesan Synods voted for the Covenant than against it, the rules required a majority of both clergy and laity in favour in each Diocese in order for it to go through. The decisions means that the Covenant has now been officially rejected by the Church of England, and will not be going forward for ratification by the General Synod later in the year.

Prudence Dailey, a member of General Synod and co-founder of the ‘Yes to the Covenant’ campaign, said: ‘I deeply regret what I believe to be a profoundly mistaken decision, especially when the General Synod had previously given the Covenant such overwhelming support. Many in the worldwide Anglican Communion were pinning their hopes on the Covenant as the only way forward, and I cannot help wondering what they—and especially those Provinces that have already ratified the Covenant—will make of us in the Church of England’.

She indicated that she hoped those dioceses yet to vote would still take the voting seriously to enable the mind of the whole Church of England to be reflected, and that many of them would vote in favour. Although this would not affect the outcome, it would be symbolically significant, she explained.

‘At the same time’, she said, ‘it is now necessary to look forwards rather than back. Many Provinces have already ratified the Covenant, and others may well do so; and its provisions will remain in force for those who have signed up to it. The new Archbishop of Canterbury has now potentially been left with an even more difficult and challenging task than his predecessor, but I hope and pray that a way can still be found to keep Anglicans together in a meaningful and coherent sense’. It remained to be seen whether or not it would still be possible for the Church of England to remain in any sense at the heart of the Anglican Communion, she added.

Andrew Brown has written at Cif belief about The Anglican schism. The international Anglican communion was always a rather ridiculous notion, but liberals may not like what replaces it

Historians know it is difficult to date a schism, just as it’s difficult to point to the precise row when a marriage breaks down. But in his article for the Guardian, Diarmaid MacCulloch might, I think, have pointed out that the end of the covenant also marks the end of the Anglican communion, which was always a slightly ridiculous conception, and more of an idea than an administrative reality. I still think that the single most perfectly comic line that George Carey ever delivered in his previous role as archbishop of Canterbury, was his statement to the UN general assembly that “The Anglican communion, with 80m members, is well placed to be a major player”.

Carey’s grandiosity can be put in proportion by remembering that 30 million of the Anglicans he purported to lead when he said that, were in England, most of them quite unaware of his existence.

But that doesn’t mean the communion was nothing but a comedy act, nor that its end is an entirely good thing. Christians ought to be able to agree without discipline, and for many years it appeared that the Anglican communion might offer a model for how they could do so across huge cultural and national boundaries. What, after all, did the church in New Zealand have in common with that in Nigeria, except for the accident that both descended from British colonies? For nearly 150 years, the idea of the Anglican communion seemed to supply some kind of answer: they cared about each other, and cared to some extent for each other. Once every ten years, their bishops would come to Canterbury to demonstrate this, at a shindig called the Lambeth conference…

The Anglican Communion Institute has published The Communion After Williams.

…Given the current state of the Instruments of Communion – Canterbury, Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC – it is likely that many African and Asian churches will simply choose not to participate in these councils and relationships. The Covenant, precisely in its likely rejection by the Church of England and other Western churches, can now provide an alternative means of Anglican witness for non-Western churches that is nonetheless able to maintain its links with ongoing Communion structures. Saying “No” to the Covenant is something the Covenant itself acknowledges as possible, and churches like England’s are exercising that choice. But no one can say “No” in such a way as to co-opt the choice of others to say “Yes”, and it is for those who embrace the Covenant now to chart its common usefulness, which remains one of rich possibility. In general, the key to the Covenant’s dynamic adaptation to the needs of its adopting members lies in the fact that its ongoing shape and application is under the exclusive governance of those who have adopted it. And key to its potential unifying role in the future are its origins, content, and intrinsic interest in the older structures and membership of the Communion itself.

Three elements now place a wedge between any future covenanting Anglican churches and not only the Church of England, but the current Instruments of Communion themselves. First, the Covenant itself grants a functional role to the Archbishop of Canterbury within the Instruments of Communion (3.1.4); second, after its recent legal reorganization, the ACC is now an English company, whose membership for purposes of English law is the Standing Committee, of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is an ex officio member; third, Paragraph 4.2.8 of the Covenant limits participation in the Instruments for purposes of the Covenant to “those members of the Instruments of Communion who are representatives of those churches who have adopted the Covenant, or who are still in the process of adoption.” It is difficult to see, then, how the current Instruments can function for the Covenant, without the Church of England, in the absence of substantial clarification of the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury as a “representative” of the Church of England. The problem with the current Instruments is only magnified by the near certainty that other western churches, who collectively exercise disproportionate influence over the Instruments, will refuse the Covenant as well.

Fortunately, the Covenant already lays out the procedural means for resolving these difficulties through its amendment provision. Paragraph 4.4.2 provides that any “covenanting Church” (or Instrument) can propose an amendment, which will take effect when ratified by three quarters of the covenanting Churches. A proposed amendment is to be submitted “through” the Standing Committee, which solicits advice and makes recommendations; but the Standing Committee’s role is mandatory not discretionary. It has no discretion to refrain from sending the proposal to the covenanting Churches for ratification. If for any reason the Standing Committee failed to send the proposed amendment out as required in dereliction of its duty, the covenanting Churches could simply deem that procedural step waived. And it must be emphasized that neither the Instruments nor the non-covenanting Churches have any ability either to amend the Covenant or to interfere in the decision of the covenanting Churches to amend. The Covenant now lies outside their control. The Covenant offers a way out of the impasse Williams’ resignation has now exposed. And it does so in a fashion that is continuous with the Communion’s own movement and spirit of counsel – it is, in other words, ecclesially legitimate…

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c.r.seitzSimon KershawErika BakerScot PetersonFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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JeremyP
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JeremyP

With thanks to Laurence C:

This is all worthy of an episode of Yes, Prime Minister. Creating an institution that is the only way forward, which, when the Church of England declines to be part of it, becomes a group of which the Archbishop of Canterbury is at one and the same time, the head, and also unable to be part of it because of the decision of the Province which he leads.

Prudence Dailey makes me howl with laughter.

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

All this infrastructure accreting power to itself … who will be paying for it?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The grand-sounding ‘Anglican Communion Institute’, fronted on this site. mainly, by cseitz, sadly adds nothing but confusion to the already confused situation of the present Communion dilemma. Despite its pretension to guru status on Communion governance, the ACI has absolutely no influence beyond its own little circle of academics in North America who have distanced themselves from TEC’s and the Anglican Church of Canada’s eirenic movement towards the inclusion of LGBT people in the life and ministry of their Provinces of the Communion. One wonders what will happen to their small circle of academics when they have to decide, ultimately,… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

At the General Synod which Prudence says overwhelmingly supported the Covenant, many speakers said they would vote yes at this stage to keep the conversation going but were not at heart supportive of the Covenant – the vote then was to send the Covenant to the dioceses to see what they thought, not to approve the Covenant in toto. Those who so voted have now got the answer back from the dioceses!

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Everyone forgets that the Lambeth Conference of 1948 declared the Anglican Communion was “provisional” and that its vocation was to disappear….If the Churches of the Anglican Communion have a vocation ( including the Church of England), it is surely to be in communion with other churches on their own turf on the basis of the Lambeth Quadrilateral as in South India. What sense is there in Nigeria, for example, being in communion with New Zealand and not the Methodists of Nigeria… what witness is that?

Pluralist
Guest

The ACI argument is flawed because it treats signatories and potential signatories as one and the same. (Nor will the nonsignatories have the same agendas, if they have agendas.)

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/aci-somewhat-skewed.html

David
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David

Message for administrator: For the last few days I have not been able to see your main web page. I get this “There is no website at this URL” for http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/. I can see the current posts at http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/2012_03.html.

Dave

ED: You need to refresh the page, as explained on several other threads earlier:

You can force your browser to fetch the current version of a web page with a “Force Refresh”. Depending on your operating system all you need to do is the following key combination:

Windows: ctrl + F5
Mac/Apple: Apple + R or command + R
Linux: F5

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

The ACI argument, flawed or not, shows that the Covenant agenda has always been to co-opt the structures of the Communion for the conservatives, and to take the Communion over. Perhaps Williams is now realizing this. Creating a new structure for the imposition of doctrine is of little interest to those who do not want a magisterium, but–surprise, surprise–is of great interest to those who want to impose their doctrinal views on others. The real question now is whether the “Instruments of Unity”–now Instruments of Disunity–will allow the Covenant to be so co-opted. One rather suspects that with the Church… Read more »

Concerned Anglican
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Concerned Anglican

Regarding ‘Yes to the Covenant’ and their press release. Hold on a moment, you may well find that the laity also end up with a majority rejecting it, there are still six dioceses to go. I repeat in any case what I’ve asked before, how can any project or scheme that purports to establish unity and order have any credibility when people are so divided about it. As for Provinces voting for or against, we aren’t half way through yet and there will be at least several more (especially the ones which where to be ‘disciplined’) who will vote against.… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

Dave – clearing your cache will end your issue. A good thing to do every so often. See your browser tools for doing this.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
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Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

To what extent might the recent female bishop debate & votes in General Synod have played a part in the rejection of the Covenant (clergy, in particular)? The overwhelming rejection of the Archbishops’ Amendment by General Synod, followed by the prospect, as I understand it, of the House of Bishops’ bypassing the GS vote to make provision for a “pure”, male only Succession, and Williams’ talk of “fine tuning”, can hardly have lessened suspicion of episcopal arrogance.

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

From a practical standpoint, it seems quite healthy that a schism would become reality. After all, why would one group of Churches be interested in being in communion with a group (the glbt community and women), that they clearly devalue as human beings? I believe the “schisms” throughout history, serve a practical purpose in that they allow the progressive branches of the Communion to go forward with their belief system while the conservative or right wing factions practice their belief systems and go their own way. In England, as in America, the conservative groups may try to steal or take… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury has turned in his resignation. Like many a resignation in the real world of leaders, spiritual and otherwise, he´s announced he will leave at the end of 2012 to give everyone plenty of ¨time.¨ Time out, wait a minute please: I see NO sign of remorse shown, or even sadness, from Dr. Williams regarding his insisting and demanding that the Anglican Covenant be signed (both at home and abroad)immediately…ASAP! Dr. Williams and his specially initiated worldwide/communionwide ¨excluding¨ campaign has taken ¨covenant promoters/presenters¨ around the globe lickety split to promote this document. His design team… Read more »

Clive
Guest
Clive

Watching the unfolding slow motion train wreck of my former church, it is impossible not to agree that at this point a clean break would be the least painful and best option for everyone. I am troubled however when I read something like “conservatives may try to steal church property that doesn’t belong to them.” Does church property automatically cease to belong to them because they’re conservatives? That seems to be the implication. Now, it seems to me that a better analogy for the coming schisms at all levels is that of a marriage breakup. In a marriage breakup, one… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Clive, tell that to the US courts, which have almost uniformly (and correctly) held that people can leave the Episcopal Church, but they cannot take the land, silver, and endowments. Why is it only the conservatives who wanted to leave the larger church? I’m sure you can answer that question yourself. But there is no “implication” about property rights and ideology–there is a historical record. Indeed, throughout the US, any appeal for a “cooperative and amicable split” is years too late. Much water is already under the bridge. If you haven’t noticed that in many US dioceses the departing conservatives… Read more »

karen macqueen+
Guest
karen macqueen+

Is it just me or does Prudence Dailey’s scolding of many CofE dioceses seem odd? Who is this lady that she scolds bishops, clergy and lay people for not agreeing with her favored plan to shut down acceptance of LGBT persons in the life of the Churches or to reduce to second class status those who disagree with her? And what of this, “Many in the worldwide Anglican Communion were pinning their hopes on the Covenant as the only way forward.” Who are these people who clung desperately to the Covenant, a mere proposal? Certainly not the conservative Primates who… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

It never belonged to them, Clive, any more than church property belongs to liberals.

You don’t “buy” your way into church, still less “buy” church, itself. If you want that route, go independent churches without bishops or presbytery.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Is Anglicanism really collapsing? The Covenant McGuffin has kept Anglicans talking for the last 7 or 8 years — and has neatly substituted for an endless rerun of divisive gay v. homophobe polemics. So maybe it served a purpose in shoring up church unity after all??

Scot Peterson
Guest

Could I please pile on in support of Clive’s position if anyone is still reading this thread? The opposite strategy was followed in the United States, and it led to really terrible feelings and the near-bankruptcy of one diocese I know of because of the legal expense. They got to keep their property, but at what cost? My position is not popular amongst the leadership of the church in the US, but I think that the CofE and its lawyers are probably already gearing up for a fight that no one will win. They should learn from the experience of… Read more »

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

The massive Methodist Church in America had to split in the early 1800s over the issue of slavery, with the southern Methodists believing that scripture endorsed it. It took I think about 100 years for reconciliation: time for the pro-slavers to die, and residual bureaucratic stuff to be worked out, for reunion. Hands up all those who REGRET that the Northern Methodists in the US took a stand for human rights, even though it caused a split for a time. I thought not. As a Canadian, I’m proud that England is taking a stand with the North American church in… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Scot, I really don’t think the Church of England is going to be massively concerned for possible property alienation by departing dissidents. The Established Church has been around for a long time now – and is not ‘owned’ by anyone but the constitutionally-governed church authorities.

Certain R.C. converts still maunder about what they see as the Established Church of England ‘stealing’ their (R.C.) property. But that argument has never held any water. The Church of England is still the catholic Church of England.

Tobias Haller
Guest
Tobias Haller

It should be noted that the amendment process to the Covenant involves and requires the full Standing Committee and Primates and ACC — not just the signatories. The signatories have the last word on amendments once passed through this digestion process, but they have no capability to amend on their own.

Clive
Guest
Clive

The situation in the US is special, not least because both sides pursue their agenda there with considerably more aggression than we have seen in other provinces, and because the US is by nature a litigious society. There is a level of spite and vindictiveness in ECUSA that has for the most part been avoided in the Church of England. Nevertheless, although it might be legally achievable for ECUSA to cling on to a church building after the vast majority of its congregation has left, I don’t believe it’s *necessarily* morally correct to do so or to rule out any… Read more »

JeremyP
Guest
JeremyP

In fact, Ron, the Established church as a central body does not own the property. Parishes themselves own their parish churches. Representation is usually vested in churchwardens (an office dating back to the reign of Edward the Confessor pre1066), but closing down a parish and its church is an extremely difficult thing to do unless everyone in the parish agrees with this course of action. The possibility of any group who want to walk away from the C of E being able to take the parish church and other assets is, frankly, nil.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Thanks, JeremyP, for your up-dating of my (mis)information about ‘who owns the property of the Church of England’.In view of the fact that, as you say, the local parish owns the property; is it possible that an almost totally F.i>F. parish could alienate the property in favour of the Ordinariate?
That would seem rather drastic!

Scot Peterson
Guest

The biggest issue here is that church buildings are, despite most people’s intuitive understanding, liabilities, not assets. If a large enough group in a village, town or city (quaere: are these different?) wants to walk away and keep a church, my position would be that they should be allowed to. Quitclaim it to them. I’m not sure that I agree (as an American lawyer) with Clive’s characterization of the US as litigious–for example, it’s much easier to get compensation from the government here than in the US. But I heartily agree with the last point in his post about only… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Isn’t all this talk about sharing property a little premature when at present it is impossible for dioceses to sign up to the Covenant on their own and to leave the CoE?
Wouldn’t it be more sense to wait and see which diocese, if any, will eventually make any moves towards this?

It seems a bit early to accuse each other of mean spiritedness and intolerance when no-one is even talking about doing anything.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Ron: the legal situation is complex (surprise, surprise). Although the freehold is vested in the incumbent it is inalienable and is essentially vested in the office-holder not the person. So as soon as the incumbent decides to leave the Church of England then they are by definition no longer the incumbent, no longer the office-holder, and no longer possessed of the freehold. The property vests in the (diocesan) bishop during a vacancy, and is conveyed to the new incumbent by the archdeacon at the Institution. Something like that anyway, I think. And presumably ‘freehold’ is affected by the introduction of… Read more »

c.r.seitz
Guest
c.r.seitz

“But try convincing a diocesan bishop in the US of that!” I agree with much of what you write, but in fact, diocesan Bishops in Central Florida, Dallas (and others), and recently NJ and SC did just that, carefully and prayerfully, with result. We have it in the record that +VA was also following this trajectory in the case of Northern Virginia parishes (though some dispute the details of this). +Griswold indicated that he had no intention of interfering in dioceses and in the diocesan Bishops’ considerations re: negotiation. That changed when the present PB took office. It was somewhat… Read more »