Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Anglican Communion Covenant - latest draft

The Covenant Design Group (CDG) met between 29 March and 2 April 2009, in Ridley Hall, Cambridge. There is a press release, copied below the fold.

The main work of the group was to prepare a revised draft for the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant which could be presented to the fourteenth Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and commended to the Provinces for adoption.

The ACC is meeting in Jamaica from 1 to 13 May 2009.

This third “Ridley Cambridge” draft of the Covenant is online here.

The Introduction is here.

The accompanying Commentary is available here.

The Summary of Provincial Responses is here as a PDF file.

Earlier drafts and papers are online here.

The Covenant Design Group (CDG) met under the chairmanship of the Most Revd Drexel Gomez, former Primate of the Church in the Province of the West Indies, between 29th March and 2nd April, 2009, in Ridley Hall, Cambridge, at the invitation of the Principal, the Revd Canon Andrew Norman, former Representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Covenant Design Group. We are grateful for the warm welcome received.

The main work of the group was to prepare a revised draft for the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant which could be presented to the fourteenth Meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, and commended to the Provinces for adoption. The CDG now presents the third “Ridley Cambridge” draft for the Anglican Communion Covenant.

This text has been developed in the light of responses received in the twelve month consultation period requested by the Joint Standing Committee since the production of the Saint Andrew’s Draft in February 2008. The CDG has worked with the twenty or so Provincial responses which have been received to the St Andrew’s Draft, and which are listed in Appendix One of this Report. We also received a large number of responses from individuals, diocesan synods and other institutions, including ecumenical partners, which were also circulated among the group. All these responses are in the process of being published now on the Anglican Communion website.

The Ridley Cambridge Draft (RCD) of the Covenant text follows the pattern established in the St. Andrew’s Draft, of an Introduction, a Preamble, three Sections (to which a fourth is now added), and a Declaration. “We recognise the importance of renewing in a solemn way our commitment to one another, and to the common understanding of faith and order we have received, so that the bonds of affection which hold us together may be re-affirmed and intensified.”

The members present in the meeting in Cambridge were:

Drexel Gomez, Chair
Victor Atta-Baffoe
John Chew
Katherine Grieb
Santosh Marray
John Neill
Rubie Nottage (unable to be at the Cambridge Meeting)
Ephraim Radner
Eileen Scully

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 8 April 2009 at 5:03pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

On first reading, this draft is one that all in the Episcopal Church, progressings, moderates, and conservatives alike, could talk about. It reflects explicitly the language of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral. Much of it is consonant with the Baptismal Covenant as used in the Prayer Books of the Episcopal Church; the Church of England; of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia; and others (who don't all use it exactly the same way, but who all have opportunity to use it in the Baptismal rite). It affirms the autonomy of member churches, and puts the Instruments of Communion in a more proper historical precedent and authority. We still need a full three years to discuss the last section, and to consider how this might work with our canonical processes; but this is much more like what Episcopalians have been talking about. Now, how others might see these same changes remains to be seen.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Wednesday, 8 April 2009 at 6:21pm BST

It's much better than previous versions, but I'm still bothered that it seems, over all, a profoundly conservative document--one that seeks to limit the ability of any constituent church to take a prophetic action without first receiving the consent of all the other churches (since any single church appears to be able to make a protest to the Instruments of Communion that another church is acting out of consonance with the covenant).

To me, this would make all the churches captive to the most conservative ones.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 8 April 2009 at 8:11pm BST

I hope TEC refers this for study until the next General Convention, three years hence. Let's emulate Publius Maximus Cunctator and delay delay delay.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 8 April 2009 at 9:44pm BST

I agree, Marshall Scott. It appears that the Covenant Design Group have at last produced something workable.

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 8 April 2009 at 9:53pm BST

"(1.2.8) to pursue a common pilgrimage with the whole Body of Christ continually to discern the fullness of truth into which the Spirit leads us, that peoples from all nations may be set free to receive new and abundant life in the Lord Jesus Christ." - New proposed Covenant -

This item on its own, in the first section of the proposed new Covenant document, seems to sum up what many of us hope for in our relationship togetherr as members of the world-wide Anglican Communion. The reference to the intention to -"continually discern the fullness of truth into which the Spirit leads us" - implies that open-ness to prophetic inspiration that is needed if all members of the Communion are to respect one another's capacity for discernment of what each Church sees as culturally appropriate for its own ministry and mission in its part of the world.

This would allow individual Churches to minister appropriately in their own specific context - a possibility which has more recently been threatened by those who would question the viability of a progressive working out of the Gospel initiatives in other situations than their own.

I see great hope for this particular version of the Covenant. It will require an openness to contextual theology which has been notably lacking in some parts of our Communion. May wisdom prevail in any discussions on this prospective document of our relationship.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 12:46am BST

"It appears that the Covenant Design Group have at last produced something workable"

But why do we need it in the first place?

TEC and Canada have ventured forth.

That appears to be our gift to the wider church.

If some parts of the wider church choose not to follow us right now, fine. No one is forcing them to.

But let's not construct a new layer of buracracy and drain on our resources that in fact we do not need.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 2:16am BST

I would agree with Marshall and Charlotte, that it is a vast improvement over previous drafts and certainly merits some serious discussion.

But I still have some concerns.

First, the paragraph on the Primates' Meeting, in speaking of "the authority that primates bring to the meeting" and "as representatives of their provinces", suggests an ability to speak authoritatively and to bind their provinces that some primates (notably Canada and TEC) do not have.

Second, I think the "dispute resolution" section still has a ways to go. As Pat says, it can be used to limit/prevent prophetic actions by one church, and has what looks like punitive sanctions. I am not opposed to putting on the brakes to allow for consultation and listening, but there also needs to be a point where a church can say "we hear and understand your objections, but this is where we feel the Spirit is calling us to go". The idea of a formal ruling that something may be "incompatible with the Covenant" is itself incompatible with the idea of a covenant.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 2:29am BST

There is more that concerns me about the covenant than the punitive element.

As someone trying to be a faithful Anglican in Scotland, I'm appalled at any suggestion that the church I belong to, would affirm the 39 Articles of the Church of England.

I've never had to agree to them, or perform some kind of double-think affirmation of them as colleagues in England sometimes seem to have done.

The 39 Articles look from this vantage point a horribly sectarian, anti-catholic collection of statements. Living in a city where sectarianism is one of the things we live with, it is astonishing to me that anyone might think the 39 Articles to be either a badge of orthodoxy or rallying point for Anglican unity.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 10:40am BST

"... the paragraph on the Primates' Meeting, in speaking of "the authority that primates bring to the meeting" and "as representatives of their provinces", suggests an ability to speak authoritatively and to bind their provinces that some primates (notably Canada and TEC) do not have."

Or alternatively; "the different authority that Primates bring to the meeting"?

Which would be a much more pertinent and realistic interpretation/view.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 11:34am BST

"As someone trying to be a faithful Anglican in Scotland, I'm appalled at any suggestion that the church I belong to, would affirm the 39 Articles of the Church of England."

In the BCP, the articles are printed with other historical documents of the church. They are not, and have not ever been, since the American Revolution, any part of our polity.

They speak to a specific time and place in English Reformation history. Why they are so festishized by 21st c. people in widely different parts of the world, whose only other points of agreement apppear to be anti-gayness and anti-North Americanism, is beyond my comprehension.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 1:30pm BST

"I'm appalled at any suggestion that the church I belong to, would affirm the 39 Articles of the Church of England."

YES!!!! Where did conservatives ever get the idea that the 39 are anything more than a feeble attempt by a Protestant government to solidify its power? They've only ever had to be affirmed by clergy in Britain, and only then so that the government could be a little less suspicious of the clergy. There's not too many that I know of who could affirm all of them, some of them aren't even consonant with the Gospel. We used to print them in the back of the prayer book, and I remember as a kid reading what I knew, but couldn't put into words, was a quaint museum piece, a reflection of ancient political struggles that still acho in some places, but have lost most of their force. We don't even print them in the Book of Abysmal Services. Honestly! This is all about the fact that some people just cannot abide doubt and uncertainty, and they will call upon any kind of "Law" for a bit of comfort. What does that say about thier faith in "the Lover of Mankind"? Oh, right, to them, He isn't the Lover of Mankind, He's a vindictive angry judge who records and punishes the least infraction. But tonight, we'll experience a better way.

Posted by: Ford elms on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 1:41pm BST

This point strikes me as very important indeed. Especially in terms of present witness whether in Glasgow, Liverpool, Belfast or Johannesburg.

The C of E moved away from its former position of requiring Subscription some years ago.
--
The 39 Articles look from this vantage point a horribly sectarian, anti-catholic collection of statements. Living in a city where sectarianism is one of the things we live with, it is astonishing to me that anyone might think the 39 Articles to be either a badge of orthodoxy or rallying point for Anglican unity.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 10:40am BST

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 2:22pm BST

Those following the comments at Titus 1:9 will have seen that a member of the CDG, Ephraim Radner, has written some things to be pondered carefully:

"Dr. Noll asks one of the question very much in some people’s minds. The answer is that the word “church” is not carefully defined because it would have been overly limiting of a number of potential situations we did not feel it was wise to constrain in advance, including churches now in a relationship of ecumenical partnership, as well as future uniting churches, currently extra-jurisdictional dioceses, or future ones, etc.. The specific issue of ACNA or an individual diocese in a non-covenanting province was placed on the table, discussed at length, and we agreed that no limitation on this possibility would be defined. I.e., of course ACNA or siuch a diocese can sign and formally request recognition and participation."
...
"The best thing, as I see it, is for as many provinces (GAFCON included!) to sign on as quickly as possible."
...
"One important thing to note is that the JSC is likely to changed in its composition, according to the Windsor Continuation Group’s recommendations—upping the number of Primates who sit on it."

Posted by: John B. Chilton on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 2:24pm BST

Brother Chilton, I had the same concern. Let me identify the item from the Draft that is relevant, along with my comment.

"4.1.5) It shall be open to other Churches to adopt the Covenant. Adoption of this Covenant does not bring any right of recognition by, or membership of, the Instruments of Communion. Such recognition and membership are dependent on the satisfaction of those conditions set out by each of the Instruments. However, adoption of the Covenant by a Church may be accompanied by a formal request to the Instruments for recognition and membership to be acted upon according to each Instrument's procedures."


One wonders who these “other Churches” would be. This would suggest the possibility that the Anglican Church of North America could also adopt the Covenant, and request recognition by one or more Instruments of Communion. One wonders what the consequences would be of ACNA adopting the Covenant, even if not recognized by any of the Instruments; especially as one of the commitments in Section One is “to seek in all things to uphold the solemn obligation to nurture and sustain eucharistic communion….” How would that prepare the ground, as it were, for a challenge from ACNA to some action of the Episcopal Church, whether or not ACNA was recognized by Instruments of Communion?

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 3:38pm BST

Ford - I'm sure it was just a slip when you said clergy in Britain rather than clergy in England.

Kennedy

Posted by: Kennedy on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 3:56pm BST

Again, I must point out that the Articles of Religion have never been very popular in the American Church. In the Proposed Prayer Book of 1785, the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England were cut down to twenty. In the Authorized Prayer Book of 1789 they were left out altogether. The question of their reinstatement proved to be troublesome.

An informal discussion at the General Convention of 1792 revealed that the bishops themselves were divided in opinion. Bishop White, a Low Church Latitudinarian, by no means approved of the language of some of the Articles, but felt that without them every priest would be his own judge of orthodoxy and his judgment might well be affected by his particular prejudices. To the surprise of many of those present, Bishop Seabury doubted the expediency of any Articles at all, believing as he did very strongly that the doctrines of the Church "should be comprehended in the Liturgy." This conviction, however, was counterbalanced by his sense of the necessity for some definite and authorized declaration of the faith. Bishop Claggett was decidedly in favor of their insertion; Bishops Provoost and Madison were in favor of dropping them entirely.

Eventually, of course, in 1801 a modified set of Thirty-eight Articles was included in the American Prayer Book. Today, they have been removed to the “historical documents” section at the end of the 1979 Prayer Book (where they belong!)

Posted by: Kurt on Thursday, 9 April 2009 at 5:24pm BST

When I was made a deacon in 1980, and ordained priest the following year, I was not asked specifically to assent to the 39 Articles, nor today in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand is any other clergy-person asked to do so. It is commonly understood by most of our clergy that the 39 Articles belong to a part of the history of the Church of England, and as such are not mandatory in other provincial Churches - unless specifically included in their Ordinal.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 10 April 2009 at 11:32am BST

John B. Chilton wrote: "... a member of the CDG, Ephraim Radner, has written some things to be pondered carefully: ... the word “church” is not carefully defined because it would have been overly limiting of a number of potential situations..."

This effort to muddle the waters perhaps explains Baby Blues recent claim on Mark Harris' PRELUDIUM that +Rowans letter to +Howe, means not that the Province (CofE, TEC), but the Diocese (Virginia) is the church...

She lets this claim be accompanied, however, with a quote that clearly shows the claim is n o t found in the letter, which merely says the Bishop is the link between the Diocese and the wider Church ;=)

http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2009/04/third-and-final-draft-of-anglican.html

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 12 April 2009 at 5:35am BST

"Ford - I'm sure it was just a slip when you said clergy in Britain"

Sackcloth and ashes here! You are absolutely right.

"doctrines of the Church "should be comprehended in the Liturgy." "

Brilliant man!

"The 39 Articles look...anti-catholic..."

yet in their day they were intended to be conciliatory! Wired huh?

"Living in a city where sectarianism is one of the things we live with, it is astonishing to me that anyone might think the 39 Articles to be either a badge of orthodoxy or rallying point for Anglican unity."

But sectarianism's the point. By making the Articles a badge of Pseudorthodoxy, all those who have trouble with them, ie everyone who is not Pseudorthodox, is marked as "other". So, all those evil Hell Bound Liberals, all the AngloCatholics, etc. will be cast out of the fellowship of the holy, you see. So, they can purify the ranks all the while looking like they are being accomodating by referring to a document that 500 or so years ago was written so that a bunch of sectarians purify the ranks while appearing to be accomodating. 500 years, and it still works! They don't call us the Church of England for nothing!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 13 April 2009 at 5:47pm BST

Yes, the bottom line on this new draft, as was the bottom line on the former versions, is just that nobody among us can possibly be allowed to ask questions or study higher math unless and until everybody gives unqualified permission.

If this does not work well in a class of thirty students, with varied backgrounds and degrees of preparation and spontaneous temperaments and interests, why should it be a guaranteed solid gold highway to nothing but educated intelligence across a global communion of millions of Anglican believers?

This new draft is therefore a prescription to dumb down Anglicanism in general, particularly if or when it comes to some controversial change domain (predictably, stimulated by one or another startling new empirical finding or critical scholarship consensus).

Other than slowing down and ruling out best practices considerations of any possible further flat earthisms revealed among us as believers; the only other possible outcome would be a nice new mechanic for allowing one party to bring the other up on charges, for strategic and positional purposes. If an adult has ever mediated among a pack of ratfink kids making constant cross-accusations against each other to gain even a temporary home advantage, then you can imagine how that will go in the new improved conservative Anglican Communion.

Does Rowan Williams really want to babysit either outcome? How dumb will it have to get before he retires to get out of the go ever slowest literalistic religion stupidities? How meanly backstabbing will it have to get before he retires to seek peace from the constant nitpicking charges?

You see, without a standing presumption of affection and good will, the covenant is a prescription for trouble. Our whole reason for having to agree to a new covenant in the first place is that we now cannot supposedly presume upon our sharing, that degree of worldwide Anglican affection or goodwill or ... gasp ... shared integrity across our Anglican hot buttons. So, what gives?

Neither stream is a useful way to increase the intensities of our real affection for one another across hot button differences, let alone for deepening our spiritual communion or worship or witness or service across hot button believer differences.

This may be a strict conservative believer's nice way forward; but hardly anybody else's way forward into a glorious new Anglican global future.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 15 April 2009 at 1:17am BST

As I keep saying, we were given a covenant by God Himself. Why do these uberrighteous people think that one made by human beings will be any better than the Divinely given one they so blatantly refuse to follow now?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 16 April 2009 at 2:33pm BST
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