Sunday, 8 July 2007

GS: more on the covenant debate

The complete audio recording of the debate is linked from the official report page here.

The full text of the opening address by Archbishop Drexel Gomez can be found here.

Also, the speech of the Bishop of Rochester here.

News reports of the debate:

Church Times Synod: Sunday 8 July

BBC Church agrees plan over disputes

Update And Robert Pigott also has Nervous support for Church rules.

Guardian Stephen Bates Synod agrees deal over discipline to head off church rift over gay clergy

The Times Ruth Gledhill Church takes a step back from schism with gay expulsion plan

Update And now also Ruth’s blog comments on this at: Synod Days 2,3 & 4.

Daily Telegraph Jonathan Petre Anglican covenant ‘will halt slide to a schism’

Press Association Synod try to avoid schism over gays

Church Society has this version of what happened.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 8 July 2007 at 11:46pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: General Synod
Comments

When I went via that audio link, I got the Anglican-Methodist Covenant debate even though it was under the Anglican Communion Covenant report, and the link under the Anglican-Methodist Covenant debate went nowhere.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 12:08am BST

The BBC report in its last paragraph states:

_Dr Williams has suggested the Communion could be divided into "associated" and "constituent" provinces as a way round problems._

But on 30 September, for many a deadline for such action, the Covenant will still be in its early construction stages, and presumably the completed Covenant be the basis for inclusion or exclusion of Churches and provinces. So TEC cannot be excluded then, 1 October, and any exclusion will depend on the Covenant as completed, and thus the invitations to TEC and Gene Robinson's consecrators will surely continue (plus ongoing discussions), and, therefore, if true to their words, the Rwandans, Ugandans and Nigerians will be walking, and Sydney should hold something else nearby to Lambeth.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 12:18am BST

Having grown up in a house hold where there was clear authority and no dissent was tolerated, I don't think much of the being able to live under the one roof as a motivator.

It appears that the price of being allowed into their patriarchial house is an endless reciting of why women were God's failures and thus destined to be breeding and cleaning drones, entitled to crumbs if and when the men don't want them. It also means loving our children conditionally, and where the Potter's spectrum affronts our sensibilities to cast them out into the streets.

They can keep their houses, their ornaments, their careers, their theology, and their slaves.

I am going to the streets to catch the ones that their hearts are too small to care for.

Rehoboam was not deprived of a kingdom, it was simply reduced to a size appropriate to his heart and ego. Since his heart was not big enough to fairly share Jesse's inheritance, then he lost authority to rule over those he had dismissed and abused.

God willing, some kind of church will be formed that is capable of genuinely providing unconditional gentle love. God knows, the world needs some small prick of conscience.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 1:07am BST

I'd like to see the GS primates and their supporters explain exactly how the Anglican Communion is going to replace all the income that flows from the Episcopal Church once they oust it from the Communion...and how they expect to maintain the AC's many programs--including the ones that benefit the African provinces--without that cash.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 2:08am BST

"gay expulsion plan"???

God forgive that woman, and I'm trying.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 6:58am BST

"I am going to the streets to catch the ones that their hearts are too small to care for."

I'm coming with you!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 9:15am BST

I am trying to give Ruth Gledhill the benefit of the doubt and assume that someone else (maybe a summer intern) wrote that headline, which is about the worst one I have ever seen. The Times's coverage of Anglican and Episcopal news has descended to the level of yellow journalism.

Posted by: Mary Clara on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 10:54am BST

Bless you for your post, Cheryl. I'm joining you and Erika on the streets. And I'm memorizing your post.
Lois

Posted by: Lois Keen on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 11:53am BST

JCF wrote ' "gay expulsion plan"??? God forgive that woman, and I'm trying. Lord have mercy!'

I have read the article carefully both online and in the paper edition and I cannot find the phrase, or even the idea of "gay expulsion" within the text that "that woman" wrote. As we all know journalists are not responsible for the sub-editors' headlines. So I think that man should withdraw his criticism of Ms Gledhill.

Posted by: John Simmons on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 12:00pm BST

Is it possible to get the voting details from this debate in General Synod, much the same as you can with voting in Parliament? I would be interested in seeing how many women voted for this having been warned that the admission of women to the priesthood might have been blocked by such a measure. In the Church of England it could still be used to block the admission of women to the episcopate. Perhaps this might account for the strange coalition of vioces crying for the reception of a Covenant?

Posted by: Anglicanus on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 12:27pm BST

I'm not sure I get the point. It seems to me that to stand much chance of being accepted by every province, a covenant would have to be so vacuous that nothing much would change. If it has "teeth", it will almost certainly be thrown out by a number of them. What happens then? Do the covenanters go ahead with a two-tier communion or with expulsions of the refuseniks? Either way, I can't see the point in the expenditure of time, paper and money. Surely there are more pressing calls on the time and energies of our chief priests.
If there is going to be a bust-up, let's have it now and not two or three tedious years down the line. Pity the GS didn't chuck the thing out. Am I stupid/naive?

Posted by: Laodicean on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 12:36pm BST

The BBC report includes: "The liberal US Episcopal Church's ordination of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 marked the start of the divisions."

Bad reportage! The stresses and strains in the Communion go back way before the New Hampshire election and ordination. Gene Robinson's episcopate and the same-sex blessings proposed in New Westminster (Canada) are simply an excuse, a place for the schimsatic conservatives to put their fulcrum and attempt to move the Communion to the "right". If it hadn't been the "gay issue", it would have been something else.

Synod's support of the "covenant process" is simply playing into their hands. I'm very disappointed.

Posted by: The Rev. Dr. C. Eric Funston on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 12:47pm BST

"it would put in place a curial-type structure that would mean other doctrinal innovations would also be jeopardised."

Interesting wording. Too bad Rome didn't have such a covenant 500 years ago, the "doctrinal innovations" of the Reformation could have been avoided too. And we wouldn't need to re-establish a curia if we hadn't been so foolish as to do away with it 500 years ago! What were thsoe reformers thinking? (sarcasm, people!)

“An appropriately considered and drawn covenant might help us to love one another more.”

I believe we were given a Convenant that was supposed to make us love one another. That one was drawn up by God. We now, it would seem, are being forced to deal with the fact that the Almighty didn't appropriately consider and draw up that First Draft, so we must now make up for the Divinely overlooked deficiancies. Is this not hubris? Is this not rebellion against God Himself, to say that we know better how to love one another than God does? Let's call it New Covenant 2.0, shall we? Do we need a New Lamb of God to crucify as well? "The new improved Body of Christ, given for Thee....". "This is my Blood of the new New Covenant, it's a lot more salvific than the old version."

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 2:15pm BST

John Simmons: I do not find the idea of "gay expulsion" in the reporting on the Covenant debate at General Synod, not even in Ruth Gledhill's article, and still less in those written by more reliable journalists. Yet many fear that "gay expulsion" is exactly the direction persons such as ++Drexel Gomez want the Communion to take, the Covenant being merely a device to force it to do so. As the Times headline confirms our worst fears, it is a very unfortunate one. Ruth Gledhill should instruct her sub-editor to change it forthwith and apologize for this bit of inflammatory journalism, even if it was inadvertent.

Posted by: Charlotte on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 2:16pm BST

Trouble is, Joe Public doesn't all know.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 2:30pm BST

>>>The Times's coverage of Anglican and Episcopal news has descended to the level of yellow journalism.

Well, the Times is a Murdoch paper now.

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 2:47pm BST

Pluralist - "if true to their words, the Rwandans, Ugandans and Nigerians will be walking, and Sydney should hold something else nearby to Lambeth."

I imagine there is going to be a lot of talk about the covenant in the next six months as a way of keeping the GS interested in not making a complete break with the AC. Even if they don't go to Lambeth and have something else on their own, it doesn't mean they are "walking."

I expect something much messier than a clean break right now. At least until the covenant is settled.

Posted by: C.B. on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 2:59pm BST

OT? good article from Canada on the actual consequences of the confused voting on SSBs

http://tinyurl.com/2kew2k

Currently the Proposed Covenant IS a gay expulsion plan, but it sets in a place an unelected & imposed curia which has no purpose other than the expel churches from the WWAC -- "First they came for the gays..."

Bishop Tom Wright's comment "It simply will not do to live with differences," is really astonishing & about an "un-Anglican" as anything imaginable!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:02pm BST

Mr Simmons might note that 'gay' and 'expulsion' are used in the same sentence by Ms Gledhill. If you remove the phrase that she has placed between commas it is even more striking. So perhaps it is the writer of the headline who should be judged less harshly as Ms Gledhill sowed the seeds in his mind.

Posted by: Anglicanus on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:05pm BST

No, the voting details are not available, as it was done by a show of hands. Archdeacon Mansell, the chair of the debate, estimated that it was about 2:1 in favour. And that is all we know. No roll call exists.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:11pm BST

On the subject of headlines, the Telegraph website has now changed the headline on Jonathan Petre's story linked above to
Gay clergy to be banned in Synod deal
JP is sitting near me in the press gallery, and had no knowledge of this change, nor any idea why this has been done. It certainly isn't justified by his story, in my opinion.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:31pm BST

Anglicanus - that's a laughable stretch in parsing as there are not commas in the sentence you mention.

Posted by: Chris on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 3:50pm BST

Thanks much, PriorA, for the Beresford/AST linked article. Trenchant commentary, as I read it.

Thanks, too, very, very much to CherylC and all for the remarks about taking the gospel to the streets where the rest of us will eventually live and work and worship, so far as the new realigned Anglican Communion is no doubt intended to put us out.

Conservative believers talk and act as if they can completely do without queer folks expertise, thank you very much. It remains to be seen if they can also do without inquiry, research, and the often condemned innovations upon which modern global life is increasingly built in all the rest of our global institutions.

Bishop Wright's remark to me read as completely astounding. Could he be any more off mark? The gospel witness for this century? We cannot simply live with our differences. Something else, something by force no doubt, needs to be done about our differences. By getting the like-minded together, and stirring them up with narratives of fear, disgust, and all those other (NOT) fruits of the realignment spirit? Can any covenant welcomed by realignment thinking be anything other than some version of Borg Anglicanism, shifted as far to the right as possible?

Beresford's essay is a great clue. What shall we do, then, if the very efforts to head off Anglican schism propagate the toxic seeds of hybrid realignment devotion to groupthink vigor, when not to stand against and aside from this nastiness (that knows a final everything bad and awful about everybody) is to fall to it?

If AB Gomez is in a crisis of his traditionalistic faith, he needs to seek the healing of his likely partial flat earth belief system concerning the very queer folks, thanks to whose competency and human wholeness his models have started to unravel and fray in their former exclusive authority. Not cry wolf, and set the whole communion to carry big sticks in search of the fabled gay Abomination about which so many folk stories have been told among us.

Come to think of it, maybe living the joyous and inclusive and transforming gospel in the streets with all the other cast outs isn't such a bad idea, anyway. I already do it as well as I can muster, every day, at work. I just won't be invited to do it, down at the local realigned Anglican parish.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:08pm BST

I think there are two such sentences and that Anglicanus was referring to the second one. Thus, if the excision were to be made, the relevant sentence would then read:

The covenant would prevent any province from consecrating an openly gay bishop ... without risking expulsion.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:15pm BST

Perhaps the Proposed Covenant discussions really are moot -- if Archbishop Akinola is being honest in his interview with Ruth Gledhill:
http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2007/07/peter-akinola-w.html#more
it looks like Nigeria won't be at Lambeth unless Martyn Minns is invited & the American bishops diocesan whose consented to the election of Gene Robinson are disinvited -- odds?

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:27pm BST

Whoever wrote the headline should perhaps be commended for calling it like it is. Is there really any other agenda behind the covenant than the exclusion of Gays and Lesbians and the Churches that welcome us? This action of synod is truly disheartening. I agree with Ford Elms, we already have a Covenant, given by Jesus. That's the one I'm sticking with.

Posted by: Garth on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:32pm BST

Simon,

Thanks for the clarification.

Anglicanus's parsing is still a stretch as the sentence is dealing with provinces and bishops and not individual members. Further, Gledhill is simply reporting the potential effects of the covenant.

Posted by: Chris on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 4:48pm BST

_I expect something much messier than a clean break right now. At least until the covenant is settled._
Posted by: C.B.

Quite indeed possible.

As for the rest of the debate on these discussion boards, it is as if practically speaking the Covenant makers want a kind of cut off point of diversity and difference that will apparently satisfy the bulk of Anglican Churches. It is just not available.

Talking about Christian theology being redone, a linked idea of a neat cut off is a neat sacrifice - who can be cut out that satisfies the wrath of the some in the bulk that are left? It would likely be gay people and inclusion, and various liberals (read Tom Wright on Fulcrum and his attempted rubbishing of John Robinson).

A key body here would be Affirming Catholicism: whether it keeps to upholding the dignity of differences or, for the sake of the institution, tips a few overboard; at the moment it justifies a pro-Covenant stance via its wishful thinking, as if the Covenant would do something that it is precisely designed to contradict.

And what big impact is this happening in the wider world? Nil. I remember a sixth form class discussion about civil partnerships. Someone said why don't they call them marriages? No one batted an eyelid, no one raised any opposition to the idea that two gay people could join together for themselves and the world to know. The Anglican Church just looks marginal and pointless in all this of its own institutional obsession.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 10:08pm BST

Take heart everyone! American missionaries are coming to found the Episcopal Mission in England, or something. Boundaries are falling with impunity and I've wanted to get to know youz guyz better. It's only a matter of time until we figure out where the affinities are.

Posted by: Curtis on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 10:32pm BST

Ford's bringing forward of this passage is priceless: “An appropriately considered and drawn covenant might help us to love one another more.”

An emotionally dead sociopath asks to be given the attributes of what love does, so they can take on the form of love. They might do the deeds, and the fear of God is useful for these souls, as it is only the fear of God that get some of these monkeys to behave properly. God sometimes annoys souls as they realise that some offerings are more pleasing to God than their own. If they don't control their jealousy, they can come to desire to kill or maim their competitors e.g. Cain or Esau.

Rev Eric's posting reminds us that we have been dealing with competition elimination strategies for a long time, 1987 for this current guard and 500 years ago with the protestant reformation. One contemplation as a fourth generation Aussie with all my acknowledged ancestors Lutherans who fled from religious persecution, I am aware that one of the quandries in a global community is there is no where new to flee. (Not all Aussies are descendants of convicts, some of us have righteous heritage. It is a hallmark of Australian culture that we generally believe in fresh starts and don't hold peoples' past mistakes against them. We have the odd puritanical extremist, but they usually dislike this Aussie attribute, so we laugh at their hypocrisy of claiming to represent love and forgiveness whilst manifesting hatred and grudges).

We need to find better ways to handle jealousy.

If a province doesn't consecrate a gay, then they won't be expelled? So the church would revert to closet gays or public media spins that we are one big happy family. We tell mothers to deny the truth of what their children are and thus deprive them what they most need - unconditional love.

Luke 11:46-54 seems appropriate. Jesus' words include: ...woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry... So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. Therefore this generation will be held responsible... Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 9 July 2007 at 11:28pm BST

The best approach is this - keep in while this Covenant thing goes on until is fails by its contradictions. Should it get forced through - via some speech like "it has been approved by big majorities before, you're letting the Archbishop down, what about less fortunate Anglicans, we cannot live with these differences" - then finally see what it is like, and possibly even sign up to it: to then act in accordance with autonomy anyway, subject to the Covenant process, and possibly then go. But by then you can bet that the sectarians will be so boiling over they will have set up something stronger, exclusive, their own, or whatever, that the Covenant will die a death of irrelevance amongst the rest. There'll be a few high and dry bishops and the like wondering what all the effort was for.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 11 July 2007 at 11:28pm BST
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