Sunday, 3 January 2010

Covenant roundup

The latest text of the Anglican Covenant is linked from this earlier article.

Responses from Provinces to Section 4 of the Ridley Cambridge Draft of the Anglican Covenant are in a PDF, here.

This week’s Church Times summarises the story, see Pat Ashworth Anglican Churches sent final text of Covenant — ‘not a penal code’.

Responses to the final version are varied. Here is a selection:

Living Church

Catholic Voices: Four Responses to the Covenant (Graham Kings, Josiah Idowu-Fearon, Tony Clavier, Richard Kew) and also The Covenant and the Fullness of Time (Peter Carrell). Also Essential Aspects (Christopher Wells) and Editorial: To Arrive Where We Started.

Anglican Communion Institute

Committing to the Anglican Covenant:An analysis by the Anglican Communion Institute and also Ephraim Radner The New Season: The Emerging Shape of Anglican Mission

A.S. Haley Common Sense and the Covenant

Bishop Chris Epting An Improved Anglican Covenant

Bosco Peters Anglican Covenant – partly used

Jim Stockton Bad Fruit from Bad Seed

Adrian Worsfold Anglicanism gives way to Democratic Centralism and also Authority to the Standing Committee!

Mark Harris Coal in your Christmas Stocking? One lump or two?

Tobias Haller Incarnation (?)

Jim Naughton What are the consequences of not signing the covenant?

And, linked earlier, but repeated for convenience, Giles Fraser Covenant fatalism (almost).

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One cannot help but wonder, in the light of all these opinions about the proposed Covenant, what will be offered to the Provinces which thought so little of the Lambeth process that they elected not even to be present at the last Lambeth Conference? Instead, they chose to create a form of shism from the Communion, setting themselves apart from the Instruments of Unity (so-called - but hardly maintaining that charismm lately) by setting up their own Instrument at GAFCON.

The implication at that Jerusalem meeting was that they were already out of communion with the existing set-up, thereby abrogating their former fellowship with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth, the remainder of the Primates, and ACC.

My question of the Instruments of Unity and the Covenant Commission would be this: "Why should the rest of the Anglican Communion bend over backwards to accommodate an already schismatic body of Primates which, by its own declarations at GAFCON, has already distanced itself from the rest of the Communion? To do so, would indicate that the rest of us are in grave error, and needy of a complete reformation - in contrast with the inclusive character of Anglicanism.

For the Communion to be defined by its resistance to change from a pre-enlightenment understanding of the Gospel in the completely un-Anglican form of a covenantal relationship, enforcible by some newly-formed 'Fifth Instrument of Communion', will, to some world-wide Anglican Churches, seem to compromise the very essence of its beginnings

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 3 January 2010 at 10:26pm GMT

Only a trifle disappointed you missed this: http://simplemassingpriest.blogspot.com/2009/12/anglican-covenant-and-democratic.html

I do note, though, that my comparison of Rowan to Joe predate's Adrian's.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Sunday, 3 January 2010 at 10:36pm GMT

"So any time you see the phrase 'Standing Committee of the anglican Communion', remember that this body, which will soon be making essential decisions about the life of the Communion operates in secret" - Jim Naughton, Episcopal Cafe -

I must say that this sounds rather sinister - in the way of the 'cultura Vaticano', where members of the newly-formed 'Standing Committee' are not allowed to talk about the secret goings-on in that committee. Is this already a sign of the inevitability of magisterial rule within their Communion?

One can only hope that the presence of Bishops from TEC and other moderate Provinces of the Communion will be able to prevent the wholesale abandonment of the existing protocol of Scripture, Tradition and Reason within the newly evolving Communion partnerships.

The GAFCON Provinces have already separated themselves out from the Communion by their intent to establish their own culture and protocols. The rest of us do not want to have to conform to their out-dated understandings of the inclusive nature of the Gospel.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 3 January 2010 at 11:01pm GMT

The fact that the Standing Committee conducts its business in camera may or may not be sinister in and of itself. The fact that it has been arbitrarily assigned broad powers without any meaningful process of consultation is certainly and unambiguously sinister.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 4:02am GMT

It is, no doubt, foolhardy to make predictions in matters of church politics three years hence. With that in mind, I venture to predict that the Covenant will not be adopted by TEC at its next General Convention for at least these reasons:

1. Authoritarianism is antithetical to TEC and to much of the American spirit. It is clear that the Covenant is an authoritarian document, establishing authoritarian bodies to force the "mind" of the most conservative provinces of the Communion on the rest of us. The self-invented "Standing Committee" which deliberates in secret is just the latest evidence of the snowballing authoritarianism of the Covenant.

2. Hegemony of the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury over TEC is an absolute non-starter. How would a bishop in TEC explain to her diocese that both she and the Church are under the authority of the ABC? It is inconceivable; and far more so now, as RW has spoken openly about the "defective" sense of their ecclesial role by the bishops of TEC.

3. The Covenant is by, for, and about bishops. Nothing could be more antithetical to TEC whose bishops are subject to General Convention. The absense of lay people from all but one of the so-called Instruments of Communion (and the ACC is being taken over by the Primates), would, all by itself, doom the Covenant in the House of Deputies. Unless they vote for it, the Covenant will not be adopted.

4. Interdependence is codependence. Isn't this obvious? At General Convention 2009, we decided to give up the codependence of a renewed commitment to the "moratorium" in favor of a simple statement that we would be guided in choosing bishops by our Constitution and Canons. We are no longer interested in codependence. It is an immature and dysfunctional form of relationship.

5. The Covenant has injustice and immorality at its core, and it defies TEC's practical theology of inclusion. Everyone knows that the purpose of the Covenant is to enforce exclusion of LGBT persons from ministry in any Church in the Communion. Anglican Primates have mounted an aggressive campaign to dismember our Church and steal our property, while at the same time campaigning for the imprisonment and execution of LGBT persons in their own countries. Is there any sane person who thinks that General Convention will turn our backs on our LGBT members and clergy, whom we have come to love, and in whose lives and relationships we find the grace of God, in favor of what amounts to an agreement to discriminate?

6. Mary Glasspool's consecration will be decisive in that adoption of the Covenant would require General Convention to repudiate its own standards for the selection of a bishop. If Mary is consecrated suffragan bishop of Los Angeles, and I pray that she will, the Communion will have been told to seek another way. Either we will adopt a commitment to unity in diversity or TEC will be marginalized in the Communion. We strongly prefer the former, but I believe that we are well prepared for the latter.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 5:19am GMT

Honest, Malcolm, I didn't know - apparently I wasn't first at likening GAFCON to Militant style entryism either.

However, I think I am first with this suggestion, should the Anglican Communion Covenant be signed up according to Giles Fraser's fatalism:

http://pluralistspeaks.blogspot.com/2010/01/liberal-ordinariates-for-anglicans.html

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 5:44am GMT

Ah very good Malcolm+, and I never thought of the Dictatorship of the Primatariate, nor 'Uncle Rowan'. But timely ideas often have more than one inventor.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 5:49am GMT

Thanks for your comments, Karen. A couple in response:

1. In particular you come to the essence of the problem that many Anglicans worldwide have with the current ecclesiology of TEC: you state that '[TEC] bishops are subject to General Convention'.

Now many liberal Anglicans in the Church of England who have problems with the Covenant would have even more problems with such an ecclesiology. The discussions on the Covenant have highlighted the 'extraordinary' ecclesiology of TEC which puts the General Convention above its bishops. Not so much, perhaps, 'episcopally led and synodically governed' as 'General Convention led and episcopally followed'?

2. You reject - and expect TEC to reject - interdependence as an 'immature and dysfunctional form of relationship'.

That undercuts the very basis of Anglicanism worldwide, including the four Instruments of Communion.

Is it worth remembering the opening sermon of Robert Runcie at the Lambeth Conference of 1988? He asked prophetically:

'Let me put it in starkly simple terms: do we really want unity within the Anglican Communion? Is our worldwide family of Christians worth bonding together? Or is our paramount concern the preservation or promotion of that particular expression of Anglicanism which has developed within the culture of our own province?... I believe we still need the Anglican Communion.' (Adrian Hastings, Robert Runcie, London: Mowbray, 1991, pp. 154-5)

Posted by: Graham Kings on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 8:42am GMT

Graham Kings "Now many liberal Anglicans in the Church of England who have problems with the Covenant would have even more problems with such an ecclesiology."

I disagree: I think the TEC mode of governance is far preferable to the C of E's current one, which is demonstrably disastrous and in urgent need of root and branch reform. Members of the C of E are asked to pay ever greater sums of money to support an ever-increasing number of bishops, (while the numbers of the faithful dwindle). These bishops have not been chosen by the faithful; are of at best doubtful competence as either senior managers or contributors to public debate; are completely unaccountable (the Bishop of Hereford, for example, lost an employment tribunal case on an issue of human rights not long ago, yet is still in post); and are prone to holding very high views of their own importance, which leads to the "big beasts" behaviour of the likes of Tom Wright and Michael Nazir-Ali, for example.

It is a terrible system, and I think the problem is that it is all based on a top-down feudal baronial ecclesiology and not at all based on concepts of service and accountability. How C of E leaders have the gall to criticise TEC, which is, in stark contrast, a model of openness, shared ownership and accountability, and therefore gets a much higher grade of leadership, is quite beyond me. A little humility rather than imperial sneering from those of us in the C of E would perhaps be more in order. We have got very much wrong in the C of E, which is why there is an ever-widening gap between how decent British people think and how the C of E operates, as we see in the feeble dilatory approach to justice and equality issues which C of E bishops have been allowed to get away with for far too long. We need to commit to intelligent structural reform urgently.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 11:59am GMT

I can only presume from the comment above by Graham Kings that he mistakenly believes that the US bishops are absent from the General Convention.

They are not at all absent and indeed form one of its two houses.

It is absurd to suggest that the church formerly known as ECUSA is 'General Convention led and episcopally followed'.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 12:04pm GMT

> I never thought of the Dictatorship of the Primatariate, nor 'Uncle Rowan'.

I'm horrified by the comparison. What an insult to Stalin!

Posted by: Robin on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 12:14pm GMT

Great post, Fr Mark.

We have bishops. Great. Apostolic succession and all that (including conformity with a certain understanding of Catholicity). But the age of deference is long gone and people in the pews are largely funding the whole operation, which is indeed absurdly and self-destructively top-heavy. Sensible bishops realise that, and, while they may give leads (and, sometimes, rightly so), they do not impose.

I am proud to be a member of a church (and of a communion) where 'juniors' (albeit in this case ordained) can give feisty and cogent public responses to bishops.

Posted by: john on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 1:24pm GMT

"Everyone knows that the purpose of the Covenant is to enforce exclusion of LGBT persons from ministry in any Church in the Communion."

Not exactly - it's only the exclusion of open and honest glbt people in ministry. Closet cases are just fine - like the ones who enjoyed a secret Mass w/His Fuzziness. My fantasy is that at the next occcasion when all of the bishops of the C of E are present, all the closet cases find their foreheads indelibly colored with pink triangles.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 2:05pm GMT

Graham, it is helpful to quote Robert Runcie. Reuters spoke to him in 1996 and he confirmed that he had ignored church rules by ordaining practicing homosexuals while in office. He had not actually confirmed that they were homosexual and living in a committed relationship; he simply did not inquire and assumed that they were. He said that the Church of England's stand on homosexual priests is "ludicrous" and an "unsatisfactory compromise." It was well known that he held a more sympathetic view and consciously ordained a number of openly gay men as priests.
So I doubt he would agree with your view that 'In the light of recent developments, it may well be that not all Provinces will enter the Covenant. Tragically, that may be appropriate at this time.'.
It also seems an appropriate to ask, now you are a bishop, what is your disciplinary approach to those clergy in your care who are in faithful, stable same sex relationships? Now is a time for honesty. And having spent quite a long time in the Diocese of London, were you then in a covenant of communion with the many clergy (including some bishops during your time there) in that diocese in such relationships? The Anglican Covenant must not be allowed to institutionalise hypocrisy, surely?

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 2:10pm GMT

There is nothing new about TEC's ecclesiology. The notion that after more than 200 years it is suddenly something the rest of the Communion can't live with is too silly to engage. Advancing it, as Graham Kings does, is a diversionary tactic. He knows that as long as the conversation stays focused on the rampaging homophobia of so many of the covenant's supporters, the covenant faces tough political sledding.

Equally silly is the assertion that opponents of a covenant don't value interdependence. It is an interest in interdependence--real mutuality--that motivates many who oppose the covenant. They suspect that the covenant will produce not interdependence, but a new power structure that is far more centralized and far less responsive to the movement of the Spirit among the people of God than the Churches to which they belong.

Followers of this blog have probably watched the Church of England attempt to somehow avoid consecrating women to the episcopacy. They are probably familiar with the Churches of Nigeria and Uganda's efforts to advance draconian laws against their theological opponents. They may know that the Church of Rwanda now has more American bishops than Rwandan ones. And perhaps they have followed the trail of failed episcopal elections and extensive recriminations in the Province of Central Africa.

Why, then, do we end up talking about the governance of the Episcopal Church as though it has failed to measure up to the sterling example established by the rest of the Communion?

The logic behind the covenant is simply this: it seems, to many, an intellectually respectable way to keep certain kinds of people--gays, lesbians, the laity--in their place. It is about power, nothing else.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 2:11pm GMT

Let me be clear that I was not suggesting that Adrian had nicked the idea from me - though I'd be honoured if he had. Since people often miss dates, I just wanted to emphasize that my analogy to Stalinist Democratic Centralism was not derived from Adrian's. As he says, "timely ideas often have more than one inventor."

Ironically, I'd forgotten about my creative reference to the Dictatorship of the Primatariate.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 2:52pm GMT

Graham Kings' comment does portray a certain naivete concerning the means by which TEC bishops -- and all clergy -- are subject to the General Convention. This "subjection" takes place through the Constitution and Canons, which all clergy (including bishops) are pledged to uphold, by means of a solemn Declaration of Conformity. As the Bishops have a strong voice in the formation of the Constitution and Canons (and the equivalent of veto power over any proposal from the Deputies) they are "governed" by laws they themselves have a definitive role in enacting.

I am, I confess, equally innocent of intimate familiarity with the governance of the Church of England, but isn't there a similar requirement for English bishops (and clergy) to abide by the Canons of the Church, and the civil law of the nation?

It seems to me that people make both too much and too little of the "distinctive" features of The Episcopal Church.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 2:53pm GMT

Thanks, Kevin. I do realise that there is a House of Bishops in General Convention.

On Tuesday 14 June 2009 at 8.57am, I started a Fulcrum forum thread, 'General Convention Rescinding B033 and the consequences', with these words:

'The House of Bishops of General Convention of The Episcopal Church last night, 13 July 2009 - note the date for future reference - passed a slightly amended resolution (D025) which in effect has rescinded the General Convention resolution B033. This now goes back to the House of Deputies who passed the original motion by a large majority and looks set to pass this amended motion.'

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/forum/thread.cfm?thread=12019&sort=creatasc

In this case, chronologically and, it could be argued theologically, the vote of the House of Bishops followed the vote of the House of Deputies. Many of us hoped they would make a stand for 'restraint' but they did not.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 3:44pm GMT

Graham, what is it about our (TEC) gracious restraint in not consecrating any (qualified) LGBT people for the past three years, while our parishes were poached by Uganda, Southern Cone & Co. that you do not understand? And what would a "covenant" had done about this? Oh wait....perhaps if the parties that proportionally contribute to the Anglican Communion need's (like every ten year tea parties and mission work) were the proportional membership of Standing Committee....oh, sorry, I'm dreaming...

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 4:39pm GMT

While not a specialist in matters of the Covenant I thought to make a 'comment' on this post.

I have sympathies on both sides of the equation (though as regards *polity* TEC seems a model of rationality as it represents government of the church by bishops and lay people together - as has been said there has been no bar on TEC due to its polity up until now and it compares well with the ludicrous *polity* of Monarchical/Prime Ministerial appointment we have in England - the idea that a Prime Ministerial/committee appointment effectively have some sort of primacy over the rest of the Communion is bizarre).

Those points aside - I have some sympathy with the idea of a Covenant. It is unfortunate that the Covenant is specially designed to deal with one issue and one province. But I am not against it per se.

The idea that LGBT people and acceptance can be got rid of by such means is absurd (though bishops and formal liturgies might be more easily so disposed of).

The idea of relegating TEC and having the disgraceful church of Uganda in the 'Inner Ring' of the Communion with no adverse consequences to its behaviour and that of its allies in this matter is preposterous and actually obscene.

I feel that, whatever the ecclesiology, I need to be in a church that is in full communion with Los Angeles, New Hampshire, Stockholm and New Westminster.

At the same time, though I am full of disapproval of the Province of Uganda (and others) I do not wish to relegate them or their voice within the Communion (though there does need to be an honest and formal defence of universal human rights (as opposed to casual press interviews).

From what I can see TEC won't sign up to the Covenant but I think those of us who disagree with the unbearable self righteous smugness of the 'Inner Ring' given the debacle over Uganda and previously with similar proposals from Nigeria, with similar religious inspiration.

The 'Inner Ring' is actually going to be defined by one issue above all others - very un-Anglican and morally advantageous to be outside of.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 4:53pm GMT

And here I thought after over 30 years in the Church of England (having come from ECUSA) that it was a synodically governed church. The Houses of Clergy and Laity are not 'subject' to the House of Bishops, but partners, surely. Also, if one wishes to speak of being 'distinct', and out of step, surely the English system of appointing (in what remains a pretty untransparent and unaccountable process whatever folks say), not electing, bishops, makes it *very* out of step with most of the rest of the Communion, not just those 'pesky' people in TEC. Time for the CofE to note that beam before worrying about other folks motes, perhaps?

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 5:06pm GMT

The House of Bishops followed the House of Deputies chronologically in the instance that Graham Kings cites because the HoD was the house of initial action for legilsation coming out of that particular legislative committee. Nothing should be read into the relationship between the two houses based on this example.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 5:14pm GMT

Graham Kings said, "In this case, chronologically and, it could be argued theologically, the vote of the House of Bishops followed the vote of the House of Deputies. Many of us hoped they would make a stand for 'restraint' but they did not."

Well yes, but I'm not sure that gets us very far. Many of us hoped they would make a stand for gracious progress. And they did.

Anyway, is it really a terrible thing to think that bishops happening to agree with a resolutation made by laity and other clergy is automatically a terrible departure from The Christian Faith as We Know It?

Is the suggestion being made that the only people who can legitimately temper the actions of bishops, influence the decisions of bishop or indeed work collaboratively with bishops are other bishops?

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 6:38pm GMT

I'd like to question what is meant by "unity"? Graham Kings writes,

'Let me put it in starkly simple terms: do we really want unity within the Anglican Communion?

Peter Carrell has also spoke of the need for a "theology of unity."

However, unity is not the same as conformity, it is quite possible to achieve unity by respecting difference. In 1 Corinthians we are told that no one part of the body can tell another part that it can be dispensed with or is dishonourable because of its difference. I do not see this type of "unity" enabled within this Covenant. If it were a document for a unity that accepted difference, then I would support it.
Anglicanism itself came about through an attempt to reconcile those who were bitterly divided and
often murderously opposed. We have a template for unity in our history and traditions, if only we care to rediscover it, a generous and humane approach to difference and discord.

Posted by: suem on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 6:42pm GMT

Jim Naughton's post on this thread is brilliant and should be required reading for all. His quote "Why, then, do we end up talking about the governance of the Episcopal Church as though it has failed to measure up to the sterling example established by the rest of the Communion?" completely nails it.

Thanks Jim.

Posted by: Dallas Bob on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 6:51pm GMT

'Graham, it is helpful to quote Robert Runcie. Reuters spoke to him in 1996 and he confirmed that he had ignored church rules by ordaining practicing homosexuals while in office.'

In fact, as far as I know there have never been official rules in the C of E banning gay clergy with partners or a sex life. If there is or was I'd like to see when and where made, and where recorded.

No, it was the arbitrary and inconsistent exercise of a prejudice by some with the clout, to impose on others -- in both senses of that word.

Anti-gay 'Evangelicals' are destroying the C of E and anglican relations as was.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 6:52pm GMT

Graham, just to be entirely clear: Resolution B033 was not "law" in any sense. Indeed, it could not be mandated under our Constitution and Canons, without amending said documents, that no Bishop or Standing Committee could consent to the election of a person whose manner of life might cause difficulties within the Anglican Communion. The Bishops and Standing Committees hold, as a matter of Constitutional and Canonical right, the capacity to refuse such consent, if they choose to do so. B033 did not change that, though it issued a clear recommendation. D025 did not undo that, except to the extent it reminded everyone of the actual Constitutional and Canonical powers vested in the Bishops and Standing Committees. So, in fact, the whole point is that General Convention _cannot_ tell the Bishops how to vote, short of amending the Constitution and Canons -- which if the bishops themselves do not agree to it, will not happen.

Restraint is thus still a possibility. (I disagree with Bishop Jon Bruno's reading that to fail to consent is a violation of Canon). And consent (or refusal to consent) lies in the hands of the Bishops and Standing Committees. General Convention, in this case (unlike at the election of Bishop Robinson, because of the timing) has literally nothing to do with it.

Lest this seem too off topic, I think it very important, if we are discussing some kind of trans-provincial Covenant, that we understand the difference between voluntary commitment and legal sanction. The Covenant describes itself (and is described by others) along the former lines, though it has some hints of the latter. Some have suggested that signing the Covenant binds a signatory never to do anything others might find objectionable. This is clearly specious as the Covenant itself includes procedures for dealing with just such an eventuality.

For me the question is simple, Shall we have a new body of Anglican Law, or a Charter of Good Intentions? For the sake of clarity I would prefer the former.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 7:08pm GMT

Rev Roberts wrote "In fact, as far as I know there have never been offical rules in the C of E banning gay clergy with partners or a sex life. If there is or was I'd like to see when and where made, and where recorded."

I have been led to believe that the 1991 document "Issues in Human Sexuality" contains such a ban, although if anybody believes otherwise I would be very interested in hearing the arguments.

Why is it, by the way, that the Issues booklet has to be purchased from Amazon.com (at 5 pounds a copy) and can't just be downloaded as a PDF file like most policy documents.

Simon Dawson

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 8:24pm GMT

Concerning the authority of the House of Deputies and of the House of Bishops in General Convention, I was following what was written by Bonnie Anderson, the President of the House of Deputies, in her article 'The Senior House', and in her opening video statement to General Convention 2009. Both are on:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/phod_113252_ENG_HTM.htm

Also helpful I have found 'Summary of Authority of The Episcopal Church as it relates to the demands of the February 2007 Primates' Communique', (Dec 2007) by Sally Johnson, chancellor to the President of the House of Deputies, (Daily Episcopalian, 19 Dec 2007)

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/phod_113252_ENG_HTM.htm

This is a summary of a more detailed memo published on:

http://www.edow.org/church-authority/Authority_Memo_Dec2.pdf

Bonnie Anderson also referred to The Senior House (and gave the numbers of the two houses) in a sermon at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, 19 October 2008:

'Referring to the House of Deputies as "the senior house," she offered a short course about the Episcopal Church's bicameral structure. She added that, for the first time ever, the General Convention has set aside time for a conversation about mission, and hopes that both the approximately 300-member House of Bishops and the 800-plus member House of Deputies will do just that.' See article by Pat McCaughan, Episcopal Church site, 21 October 2009:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/92553_101748_ENG_HTM.htm

It seems to me that the Covenant for the Anglican Communion:

1 is about ecclesiology - so TEC's ecclesiology is indeed relevant in its discussion, as are those of other provinces

2 relates to the whole Anglican Communion - and not just to TEC

3 has in mind wider issues than sexuality which are surfacing now and may increasingly in the future - eg lay presidency at the eucharist

4 is about authority in the Anglican Communion, which, yes, does inevitably include issues of power.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 8:57pm GMT

"the problem that many Anglicans worldwide have with the current ecclesiology of TEC: you state that '[TEC] bishops are subject to General Convention'. Now many liberal Anglicans in the Church of England who have problems with the Covenant would have even more problems with such an ecclesiology."

Citation, Graham? For the CofE, nevermind "many Anglicans worldwide"?

As Jim N (among others) note: TEC has been governed this way for *over 200 years*. It was only when our "ecclesiology" began including openly gay&partnered ordained people, that suddenly (some) other Anglicans began having a "problem" with it. The tail is wagging the dog here.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 9:20pm GMT

Jim Naughton: "Nothing should be read into the relationship between the two houses based on this example."

But it will - because it suits the agenda of those who would impose curial government and Stalinist democratic centralism on what has been, up until now, a voluntary association of sister churches.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 11:42pm GMT

JCF wrote:"As Jim N (among others) note: TEC has been governed this way for *over 200 years*. It was only when our "ecclesiology" began including openly gay&partnered ordained people, that suddenly (some) other Anglicans began having a "problem" with it. The tail is wagging the dog here."

Amen,brother. The duplicity of the fundamentalists, who would like to take over Anglicanism, is startling.

It is time for all Anglicans to reject the new Puritans, just as they rejected the old Puritans.

And, no, I am not gay, and that is not my personal issue of concern. I do believe that there are forces destroying the true message of Christ, and that those forces happen to be primarily the anti-gay/anti-liberation theology groupies.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 12:37am GMT

Graham: So the fact that the House of Deputies existed before the House of Bishops is the reed on which you are hanging all of this? That's what we mean when we say it is the senior house. And nothing Sally Johnson wrote supports your assertions. It is either careless, irresponsible or simply erroneous to suggest otherwise.

This thread has been a lengthy demonstration of how little you know about our Church and how determined you are to pass judgement on it.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 1:49am GMT

Bp. Kings misconstrues the use of "senior house" by President Anderson, knowing full well that she explained the use of the term in the first paragraph of the first document to which he links. It is referred to as the senior house because it existed first. The House of Deputies grew out of the organizing conventions of TEC during the time when there were no Anglican bishops in North America, and specifically in the newly founded USA.

The HoD is the "senior house" because it is chronologically older than the House of Bishops. It is not the "senior house" because it holds more authority in General Convention and not because it is numerically larger. Nothing becomes "law" in TEC unless it passes both houses of General Convention. The HoD cannot do anything without the approval of the HoB. Conversely the HoB cannot do anything without the approval of the HoD. When both houses agree on something it then becomes the joint action of both houses acting as General Convention.

Posted by: David | Dah•veed on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 3:04am GMT

Well, the simple fact of the matter is that whatever TEC does or doesn't do, or however it may be governed or not governed, or whatever the precise meaning is of something that Robert Runcie once said, people like Graham Kings have decided that TEC is out of the Anglican Communion, and that's that.

Keep in mind that Bishop Wright has already said he wants the Americans expelled even if they sign the Covenant.

So all Graham Kings' careful backing and filing and drawing of distinctions means nothing at all; he's not giving reasons for his objections to TEC, but inventing post facto justifications for what he has already determined must happen: the Americans must go. Debate and discussion are beside the point. Answer one of his specious objections and he'll come back with ten more. It's like debating with Rush Limbaugh. Why bother? Why do we continue to waste our time on these people, anyway?

Posted by: Charlotte on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 4:43am GMT

Graham Kings says:
"2. You reject - and expect TEC to reject - interdependence as an 'immature and dysfunctional form of relationship'.

"That undercuts the very basis of Anglicanism worldwide, including the four Instruments of Communion."

So sorry, Graham, but I thought that the "basis of Anglicanism" is 1000 years of English Christianity, the Elizabethan Settlement, the via media, and the thinking of such divines as Cranmer, Hooker, and Taylor.

Are such firm foundations now to be replaced by so-called "instruments of unity" that were created in 1867, 1968, and 1978?

Don't make me laugh.

There is no basis in Anglicanism for any international juridical body whatsoever. Indeed, one "basis of Anglicanism" is that we have no star chamber, no Inquisition, and no curia.

Let's keep it that way. No Anglican Covenant!

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 5:39am GMT

Ah, Kings is a bishop?

Could this obsessive concern have more to do with a certain concern for personal power?

Bishops are hardly infallible, so it could not possibly be argued that a group cloistered within their own concerns and with no real contact as pastors could be better equipped for decision making for the whole. Certainly, they have a charism to preside, but not to stand above as the final arbiter - such totalitarianism fails inevitably, whether church or state.

End the Anglican Communion; it has become no more than an excuse to allow "bishops," who have no real pastoral ability and more ambition than heart, to elevate themselves in their own minds.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 5:48am GMT

Graham you said it seems to you that the proposed covenant 'has in mind wider issues than sexuality which are surfacing now and may increasingly in the future - eg lay presidency at the eucharist'
Does it also have in mind 'border crossing'? Would the border crossing that has already gone on have 'relational consequences' do you think?
And I wonder if you missed my earlier questions about covenantal relationships currently within the C of E? Your answer to those questions would be very enlightening concerning the integrity of what is now being proposed and what you are supporting, I think!

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 9:02am GMT

"3 has in mind wider issues than sexuality which are surfacing now and may increasingly in the future - eg lay presidency at the eucharist
4 is about authority in the Anglican Communion, which, yes, does inevitably include issues of power." - Graham Kings on Monday -

Graham Kings (now a Bishop of the C.of E.) states that there are 'other issues' being dealt with in the proposed covenant document - than sexuality. He quotes 'lay presidency' as one of them. However one of Bp.Graham's GAFCON friends, Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney - who is one of the movers and shakers on this particular issue - does not seem upset about any convenantal threat to his plans for Lay Presidency. For Jensen, the only reason he would support the Covenant is that he believes it will further the cause of his fellow anti-gay, sola scriptura, evangelicals in the long run - so that they can then go ahead with their own agenda to take over the Communion.

The Revd Peter Carrel's hopes for unity under the Covenant, I believe, are based on the very same premise as that of Sydney and the Global South.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 9:39am GMT

How much we're learning about Bp. Kings!

The whole canard of "improving the communion" has always been a lie. This covenant has never been about mutuality or decency or community, but about preserving the power - power unearned - of a small number of ambitious clerics and fundamentalists threatened by the idea that God's plans might be bigger and messier than their own personal goals.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 9:49am GMT

Abp Jensen is probably not too upset by the thought of a covenant, whereby member provinces restrain themselves to maintain Christian unity, because he respects what the Scriptures say about unity and restraint as well as about sexual behaviour..

Critically reevaluating the teachings of Christ and his Apostles based on current societal assumpions, rather than criticall evaluating current societal assumpions based on the teaching of Christ and his Apostles, has driven TEC down the path it's on, and created the dis-unity in the Communion.

As liberal provinces follow that dead-end route, I wonder how long it will be before we find them defending and blessing polygamy too, now that it seems to be being seen in a more tolerant light by more powerful and influential people: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8434865.stm

Posted by: davidwh on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:08am GMT

What an excellent thread!

No mention (naturally, perhaps?) of our own historical upset in South Africa when Robert Gray arrived at the Cape in 1849 and instituted government by Synod. A move roundly opposed by several of the old low churchmen.

The ripples are still felt today. The parish of St. John's, Wynberg - opposed to Gray from the start - is (or was until recently) only "in association" with the CPSA (now the Anglican Church of Southern Africa) - and, surprise, surprise it is a major source of the pernicious homophobia which is spreading through the veins of the South African church.

As someone implies above, the stiff-necked heretical ("the Bible IS the Word of God") Evangelicals will not rest until they have killed off the beautiful old Anglican church - the Via Media - Reformed and Catholic. I pray God that the scales will fall from their eyes when they have accomplished the devil's work - and that they will sit down and cry over what they have done.


William
Cape Town

Posted by: William on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:23am GMT

Another thought about the word 'Authority'.

As a State authorised Church, the Church of England, at present, (as different from TEC and many other Provinces of the Communion) does not even have the authority to choose its own bishops. This is a process whereby candidates' names have to be submitted to the Crown (Parliament), and the final decision is made by the State (Queen and Parliament. Is this not so, Bishop Graham Kings?

Whereas: TEC has the power and authority to elect its own Bishops. The name of the Candidate is chosen by the local Diocesan Synod (Bishops, Clergy and Laity), it is then submitted to all the other dioceses of TEC for them to give a qualifying majority approval. The successful candidate's name is then announced as a lawfully-appointed Bishop of the Church. This was the canonical procedure followed for Bishop Gene Robinson, whose lawful election by TEC has been the cause of uproar in Churches whose bishops are appointed by a far less ecclesiatical means.

Anglican unity has historically been based, not on uniformity, but on mutual respect and the toleration of what might be called theological difference. For instance, polygamy, I believe, is still a matter of some concern to Western Provinces, but is still tolerated in other parts of the Communion. This has not been seen to cause a stand-off policy by the West. Why, then, should the ordination of LGBT persons and women, or the blessing of same-sex unions be a fit reason for exclusion from the Anglican Communion in this modern, enlightened age?

If 'absolute morality' is to become the basis of a Covenant, then Uganda and Nigeria would never qualify - on their record of treatment of LGBTs alone.

Also, those Provinces which absented themselves from the last Lambeth Conference - on the grounds of their incompatibility with TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada - have already shown their unwillingness to accept diversity among the Communion Partners - to the extent of forming their own para-Church in the formation of GAFCON.
How possibly can the rest of the Provinces - loyal to Lambeth - co-exist with the GAFCON Primates in a formalised Covenantal relationship?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:25am GMT

Ron

I'm afraid your idea of how English bishops are chosen is not quite right, or at least is misleading.

Diocesan bishops are chosen by the Crown Nominations Commission, which consists of 6 people elected by the diocese in question and 6 people elected by and from the General Synod. The relevant Archbishop is ex officio a member. The two appointments secretaries (one of the Prime Minister and the other of the two archbishops) provide secretarial, admin, research and other support but are not actually members. The Commission puts forward one name to the PM who advises the Crown (not Parliament, not the Crown in Parliament, but the Crown in Council) to nominate this person to the vacancy. The PM does reserve the right, I think, not to accept the name, but instead to ask the Commission for another name.

Suffragan bishops are selected by the diocesan bishop who will put in place an appropriate selection process within the diocese. The name goes via the Archbishop to the Prime Minister for him or her to advise the Crown to make the nomination. In practice the agreement of the Archbishop (who will after all consecrate the man as bishop) is required, as we saw just a few years ago.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 11:17am GMT

Thanks for these comments - much to ponder and to reply to after more thought.

Meanwhile - with apologies in advance for the self references - since some has raised the issue of my relationship to GAFCON etc the following are past articles which may help to explain my critique of both TEC and of GAFCON and my encouragement of the Covenant:

Federation Isn't Enough

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/aug/05/anglican-communion-covenant


The Queen, the church and the fellowship

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/13/religion-anglicanism-fca

Glacial Gravity or Opportunist Autonomy?

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=437

Between the Primates' Meeting and the ACC

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=421

Reading and Reshaping the Anglican Communion

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=310

Substance and Shadow: Lambeth Conference and GAFCON

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/page.cfm?ID=270

Stretching and the Spirit (written with Jonathan Clark of Affirming Catholicism)

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/?216

Posted by: Graham Kings on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 11:44am GMT

A small amendment to Simon Kershaw's comment above. Both archbishops are members of the Crown Nominations Commission.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 11:56am GMT

Just a reminder to davidwh, in case he hasn't noticed, that the C-of-E (and I imagine many of the other Anglican churches in the industrialised western world) is rife with gay priests, who are, correctly as I see it, evaluated on the same basis as their hetero-colleagues. ALL the bishops in the C-of-E know this, and I suspect most have taken part in ordaining these priests. Many of them are in civil partnerships (somewhere I read the figure that the percentage of clergy in civil partnerships is ten times the percentage of the public at large). Many of the same bishops have been present at or celebrated the blessings of these partnerships. So the only way the ABC and various bishops, clergy and lay persons can upbraid TEC or the ACofC for bring 'unbiblical' (your words not mine, for sure)is by abject hypocracy. The covenant itself is formalised hypocracy if not blasphemy as well, in my opinion.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 1:13pm GMT

Sara - I think you are correct to highlight these issues, and I do hope Graham does feel able to respond once he has had time to ponder. The question of hypocrisy is central to the whole question of the proposed Covenant.

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 3:09pm GMT

What if the Covenant were to contain a juridical clause, similar to that in the Constitution and Canons of TEC, that no one shall be consecrated bishop in any province until a majority of all of the provinces consent to the election and consecration? Would Bishop Kings approve such a concept, that would put real teeth into a concept of interdependence?

My concerns about the Covenant at this point is that it is vague enough to be mischievous, and not well-formed enough to provide for anything other than an aspirational interdependence -- which is what we have now.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 3:30pm GMT

Ms. MacVane,

I believe the word you were searching for was "hypocrisy," as the word you used would translate (roughly) as "rule by syringes."

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

Posted by: Martial Artist on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 6:25pm GMT

Another interesting view for the roundup form Moses Tay:
http://sg.christianpost.com/dbase/church/2414/section/1.htmAnglican

Posted by: Geoffrey Hoare on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 6:29pm GMT

With respect to Graham Kings, I would like to offer a few clarifications to my posting:

1. Your comments to the effect that the ecclesiology of TEC and the role of bishops in our Church might be a fitting subject for consideration under the Covenant is an example of why I believe that the Covenant, as now presented in its "final" form, has no chance of passage by General Convention. Your remark here reflects the same thinking that underlies continuing attempts to circumvent our polity by the ABC and the Primates, who have regularly addressed our House of Bishops with demands to take a position on the implementation of our Canons on the election of bishops in our Church; which address them as a separate authority in our Church; and which separates them from our shared understanding of the repeated agreements of General Convention.

The position that we took at GC 2009 regarding the "moratorium" represented a joint decision by both Houses that our Constitution and Canons were the guides in the election of bishops. Underlying this decision was a deeply held belief shared by both Houses that the ABC and the Primates were acting improperly in making demands of our House of Bishops that would, in effect, subvert our polity.

This is why we treat the Covenant with serious concern as to its effects in our Church. We know where and from whom this Covenant is coming and we see, in the domination of its decision making bodies by bishops a way of subjecting our Church to a polity that we rejected over two hundred years ago.

2. Of course both Houses, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies are equally subject to General Convention.

3. TEC, through General Convention and Executive Council, has repeatedly committed ourselves to the Anglican Communion. We desire enhanced interrelationship and not marginalization or exclusion. The ABC and the language of the Covenant consistently describe the relationship among the Churches as "interdependence". I suggest that "interdependence" as used in the Communion language suggests "codependence", i.e. an unhealthy form of relationship in which one member of a family is contrained to sacrifice its core values and needs or face marginalization or exclusion from the family.

We need to find a better way to describe our interelationships than that contained in the Covenant. If TEC is to subscribe to a Covenant, I think that we will have to move to a model of unity in diversity that provides greater allowance for member Churches to differ with one another over that which is not the "esse" of the Church.

4. A Covenant that allows Churches that work for the imprisonment and execution of their own members to dominate our relationship and to marginalize or expel those who disagree with them is an moral absurdity. Consideration of the Covenant without taking seriously its implications for the very lives of those oppressed by dominating member Churches is also a moral absurdity. Having a very clean and orderly house for our family in which members of the family are being raped, murdered and killed, while we all stay quiet and "get along" for the sake of the family, and family members are punished for coming to their aid, is no house or family that I want to belong to. I truly don't get bishops and other thoughtful commentators on the Covenant who ignore its moral implications for members of our Churches who are fighting for their lives.

Posted by: karen macqueen+ on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 8:28pm GMT

"Desmond Tutu has often talked of the crucial support of the Anglican communion when he was under pressure from the apartheid regime. Robert Runcie, the archbishop of Canterbury at the time, commented that it signalled to the regime, "Touch Tutu, and you touch the whole Anglican communion." Tutu was not isolated."
- Graham Kings, Guardian Article 05 Aug.2009 -

Following this line of thought from Bishop Graham Kings, leads me to suggest that, nowadays, the Gospel of Inclusion, continued by Bishop Desmond Tutu in the present climate of disputes about sexuality in the Communion, is not regarded as quite so in line with his "Touch Tutu, and you touch the whole Communion" philosophy that Graham espouses here.

What is it about the radiant spirituality of Desmond Tutu that has been 'diminished' and found so threatening by those who, like Bishop Graham Kings, wants to isolate TEC and the Anglican Church of canada, while aiding and abetting the ambitions of CANA, GAFCON, Nigeria and Uganda, and others Provinces which have already declared themselves out of Communion with Canterbury?

If the Provinces have to choose between: a copy of the Roman Magisterium and: the traditional three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition and Reason, then there may be separation on two different understandings of what the Gospel is really all about: Authority, or Christian Inclusivity in Christ? I know which I would want to espouse.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 9:23pm GMT

To my way of thinking it is good that Graham Kings is able to post his honest views here. As a relatively new suffragan bishop some of the personal things being said contribute very little to the sum of human knowledge. As a key member of the Fulcrum leadership team, and as a bishop, he is expounding a view which is not merely his own personal opinion, but which is current in a respectable part of the Church of England. So far as I can tell it is honestly and sincerely held.

Part of the problem ('hypocrisy' if you like) is not personal to people like Graham, but systematic - 'don't ask, don't tell' and the like have been espoused in private, while statements and resolutions of the House of Bishops and General Synod have said something else.

Liturgically, I am profoundly disturbed that in worship it is as if some members of the church are asked to leave part of themselves behind at the church door - not least because the act of confession involves our whole lives and not just the bits we are prepared to admit in public. I do not like what is involved in this, but the history is nor Graham's fault - nor is his own position at variance with the history of the part of the Church of England from which he comes.

I know there are people for whom the current situation is personally intolerable. I myself think it is unsustainable - and I rather think the "Covenant" dodges the issue so far as the CofE is concerned - but let's not rewrite history, nor overpersonalise general points - that is dishonest too.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 9:29pm GMT

As liberal provinces follow that dead-end route, I wonder how long it will be before we find them defending and blessing polygamy too, now that it seems to be being seen in a more tolerant light by more powerful and influential people: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8434865.stm

Posted by: davidwh on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:08am GMT

Polygamy is Scriptural too. Think Abraham. think Isaac , Jacob...

Just think !

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:10pm GMT

Rev Roberts wrote "In fact, as far as I know there have never been official rules in the C of E banning gay clergy with partners or a sex life. If there is or was I'd like to see when and where made, and where recorded."

I have been led to believe that the 1991 document "Issues in Human Sexuality" contains such a ban, although if anybody believes otherwise I would be very interested in hearing the arguments.

Why is it, by the way, that the Issues booklet has to be purchased from Amazon.com (at 5 pounds a copy) and can't just be downloaded as a PDF file like most policy documents.
Simon Dawson
Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 8:24pm GMT

Good you have raised this, as those people are mistaken and being rather wooly! 'Issues' is a discussion booklet. Meant to aid and stimulate discussion. Not legislation or Rule Making.

However, it is very positive (for its time) about lesbian and gay relationships, even if somewhat condescending in tone.

It did try to say gay people shouldn't be ordained any longer. But failed in its wooliness to address what was to be done about all the EXISTING relationships and whether clergy partners were to be sent away (-- and if so where ? ); and what compensation would be paid. It was just up in the clouds about the reality of gay relationships on the ground, and what they require to thrive. Because ministers thrive best when their partners, relationships and home life are valued, supported, recognised and honoured.

My partner has supported me for over 36 years, 31 of them in ordained ministry, with not much support or thanks from 'the (official) Church' - so far. Though we did receive a very nice letter from a previous Bishop of Chelmsford come to think of it.

'Issues' failed to really accept that people fall in love, it makes the world go round along with the Church and it can never be Stopped --
but who in their right mind ( / heart) would want to

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:32pm GMT

Why is it, by the way, that the Issues booklet has to be purchased from Amazon.com (at 5 pounds a copy) and can't just be downloaded as a PDF file like most policy documents.
Simon Dawson

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Monday, 4 January 2010 at 8:24pm GMT

Well, it is so typical of the gross financial mismanagment of the the Church's national finances, that an opportunity to recoup some money is lost in this way. Putting our pensions in doubt, let alone the mission of the Church into the future.

However, I would urge everyone to read the Osborne Report. This excellent report by Canon June Osborne was suppressed and never officially published in the name of the Church. It is none the worse for that -in fact, you can imagine how much better it is !-- and this used to be readily available in photostat format from Revd Kirker at the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement.

I'd be very surprised if they are not still able to supply it in brown wrappers of course !

Fortunately, we in the Church of England, do not require documents to be granted a Nihil Obstat from the 'official Church' in order for us to benefit from them, or be convinced by their intrinsic authority.

We benefit as protestant catholics (and vice versa), from the absence of any one purported source of authority. We have various and varying authorities, and at the end of the day, after reading the Bible for ourselves prayerfully, and reading God's revelation from where-ever it strikes us, and after consulting conscience, we tend to make up our own minds, and act accordingly, to the best of our ability.

When in my teens, I accepted Christ as my saviour, and then grappled with my own gayness, and (eventually) came to accept myself, and fell in love, I had no idea that 40 and more,odd years later, that my conscientious acceptance of myself and of emerging understandings of gay relationships, would now be so widely and thoroughly accepted in Church and state.

My teen self could not have imagined the decriminalization (1967), that I would be openly gay at theological college and be there with my new-ish partner, that a gay bishop would accept me as gay and ordain me along with the gay DDO etc., and the author of Honest To God !

I could not have imagined even Issues, or the Osborne Report, or the magnificent witness of TEC to full inclusion.

Nor, Civil Partnerships, in UK and many another country, and undifferentiated Marriage in a growing number of jurisdictions.

I could never have imagined any of this, though I never (hardly ever) gave up Hope of the better, truer future; and though imperfect, on this eve of Epiphany I feel happy.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 5 January 2010 at 10:59pm GMT

If deeper issues-dilemmas underlie the vexed presenting issue of queer folks, I nominate hermeneutics. So far as I can tell, so far: A categorical-presuppositional hermeutic or method for reading what God says about sex in scripture is rather consistently advanced by folks like Bishop Kings. He is outright fudging at least three early considerations.

1.This method tries to render itself, Given. We are supposed to take it for granted; not be believers choosing from among a modern best practice tool kit of interpreting-reading methods. This is a lie, frankly. One can make a strong case that the categorical-presuppositional stuff does not even belong inside a modern best practices believer took kit for reading the scriptures. No good, this deep Anglican dishonesty early on.

2.If we do adopt this sole hermenuetic, say because bishops can never be wrong about sex? We are right back to pre-Copernicus church manners. So we are set up to pretty constantly come into sharp conflict with a huge number of empirically testable bits available to us nowadays. The only way to fudge this fudge is to selectively pretend that we are presuppositional believers when it comes to sex, and keep acting like sane modern folks when it comes to ... bacteria, neurological disorders, ..... and even those longstanding former believer red hot buttons that included circumcision, following strict Mosaic kosher eating laws, public hob-nobbing with non-Jews.

One mess on top of the other does not a healthy global Anglican interdependence make. Let alone a mutual respect-restraint with room for anybody to grow, read science, and change for the better accordingly.

3.We hereby lose access to the real big tent special Anglican deal which used to be agreeing to disagree while we actually saw what was what over time. The sort of vaunted new covenant Anglican interdependence that deliberately leaves out healthy, inevitable human differentiation throughout the extended modern life cycle (see Bowenian family therapy models?) is blind and deaf in curious spots.

On top of two smelly messes, then, pile a required habit of throwing certain queer babies out along with their progressive Anglican bath water? Ah presuppositional hermeneutics, how sweet the sound that promises to save a wretch like me from having dirty queer folks among my friends or family or coworkers or ...? It should be enough to make me eat kosher, lose my foreskin, and avoid rubbing shoulders with non-Jews.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:03am GMT

I just cannot help myself, I am so amazed by Rowan Williams, lobbying for his beloved new covenant as nicely hummed up by the Church Times article.

Not a penal code indeed. Not, unless (A)you happen to be a queer citizen related to church life directly or indirectly; or somebody connected with such a queer citizen. Or, (B) you happen to be a progressive believer who must covenant and stand by while every best practice modern tool for reading scriptures gets likely ruled out of official covenant bounds, elevating a conservative hermeneutic as a closed solution that now newly defines what is Anglican. Or, (B) unless you happen to be willing to change for the better anywhere on the planet in some little or medium or big way that might upset a conservative-covenanted Anglican, especially I suspect, any bishop.

RW is deluding himself. Again. Today, right at this moment, I slightly favor signing the covenant then prayerfully going forward while the conservative realigned Anglican house of cards continues to shake, rattle, and roll. Bishops should have some criminology training, post-covenant, so that they can investigate, build accusatory cases against all manner of modern folks (especially in western democracies?), and assist in the prosecutions that we will need as one of our main global Anglican witnesses to Jesus as Lord. Better not leave those science journals lying around on the coffee table or book shelf when the bishop arrives to visit, inspect?

All occasioned and triggered by those dirty queer folks, my, my, my, my.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:17am GMT

for future reference, folks should note the hit and run behavior of Graham Kings on this thread. He is unwilling to respond directly to valid criticisms of his tendentious arguments, leading us instead down a yellow brick road to, ta da, his own writings. Americans will be familiar with the slang expression "bush league." I don't know if there is a British equivalent.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:37am GMT

No, indeed, Mr. Bennet, Kings is not displaying merely a *personal* failing in his statements. The problem is the "respectable part" of the CofE and, indeed, all Anglican bodies which hold the appeasement approach seems to be the *bishops,* who find themselves suddenly very threatened by egalitarianism.

I believe it is very much hypocrisy for those in a position of entrusted, but not necessarily earned, power to speak in some sort of metaphysical terms about authority, especially in a religion in which Christ has spoken very clearly about the dangers of such hierarchical patriarchates. It is simply dishonest to try to stretch a Roman Catholic understanding of episcopacy as temporal lordship and claim it as a third century vision of church function.

While the bishop serves an important symbolic focus, showing that we are all in one faith regardless of individual differences, and an executive function in dealing with priests (employees) and property, the bishop is, regardless of medieval innovations, as much a part of the Body as us poor, ignorant, oh-so-unclean laity. His power over the church, as a whole, cannot supercede that of the laity, without coming up with some far better argument than, "That's the way we've done it before."

This entire crisis has been driven by a clergy - most particularly bishops - with a dangerous sense of entitlement and a complete lack of self-knowledge or humility. And we have allowed it, whether in your CofE or my TEC.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 5:46am GMT

Mark Bennet you said:"Part of the problem ('hypocrisy' if you like) is not personal to people like Graham, but systematic - 'don't ask, don't tell' and the like have been espoused in private, while statements and resolutions of the House of Bishops and General Synod have said something else."

I agree entirely, and I am not making any personal comments about or against Graham. The point is that it might not be possible to support the Covenant as strongly as he seems to be doing whilst effectively forgetting the ordained in the C of E who are in faithful stable same sex partnerships - Graham is effectively in 'covenant' with them. I served in the same Diocese as Graham for years. He will know as well as I do the situation in the London diocese. I also know the Diocese of Salisbury well enough to know clergy is such situations there. It is simply not possible to ask for TEC to withdraw or threaten 'relational consequences' when we are in exactly the same situation as they are without having the cry of hypocrisy levelled at us. I hope that Graham will respond to this key point; silence is not helpful.

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 8:16am GMT

In these globally coldest of Epiphany days I should be pleased that this thread discussion has generated much more heat than light, but it has left me very sad on several levels. Most of all the breathtaking ignorance of the thoughts and moods of the vast majority of C of E worshippers, who are becoming heartily fed up with both the TEC anti-covenanters and the GAFCON polemicists. The only covenant debate they are interested in is the unsophisticated idea that an organisation should have agreed rules and then keep them. The same majority by the way, do not approve of "Don't ask, don't tell" and are critical of those bishops who apply this approach to any well understood rules. BTW, when they read Hooker, they would think that he agreed.

My second sadness is to recognise from the debate about the role of bishops that for TEC they have never shared the Anglican tradition. In fact like so much American policy (League of Nations, International Court etc.)their tradition is consistently rejectionist about any foreign authority, however just or lawful; it is not "our law" and "outside our power". Those commentators planning a Churchillian fight on the beach over the covenant should recall that the USA left Britain hanging out alone in two world wars until it suited their interests; the beach was a lonely place. In one respect I do support the TA party line. For TEC the covenant was never alive. They should resign the communion and refuse any further dealings with the Instruments. That would not be hypocritical. My sadness is summarised by the metaphor of a family trying to maintain relationships with an addicted child; the attempt is worthy but the outcome usually disappointing.

Posted by: John Waldsax on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 8:38am GMT

I'm tired of all this infighting. That is why I sit back and watch straight people argue about us, ... We already know we belong, ...you're the ones lagging behind.

Posted by: David G on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 10:47am GMT

Believe me, Mr. Waldsax, most of us want to be quit of your "anglicanism." It is unhealthy and spiritually-bankrupt.

As for this bizarre concept of some global episcopacy, you might want to ask the Roman church about Anglicanism and it's "international" flavor, which didn't exist until some self-promoting American bishops gave enough money and support to allow Canterbury to imagine itself other than the provincial interest it should rightfully be. Just and lawful neither one have anything to do with you and Williams' ham-handed attempts to interfere in a church structure which is not yours.

However, as soon as we're allowed to elect the next Archbishop of Canterbury from amongst the Episcopal Church's clergy, I might consider that you have a point rather than a severe case of self-delusion.

The "historic" episcopacy, as I said earlier, is not necessarily the correct form, nor even the intended form, for the episcopacy. If we are outside the "anglican" tradition in that, it is a point upon which we should congratulate ourselves and hold our church up as a model.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 11:53am GMT

"Polygamy is Scriptural too. Think Abraham. think Isaac , Jacob..." Posted by: Rev L Roberts

As I was saying! Not five years ago liberals were arguing that conservative African provinces were hypocritical because they didn't completely reject evils like polygamy. But now polygamy is no longer rejected out of hand by some liberals, and is argued to be tolerable because it appears in (Old Testament) scripture!

So, if the CofE and Communion continue to reject homosexual relationships AND polygamous relationships on the basis that, on the basis of the teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Scripture supports neither as being holy and conducive to human flourishing, is that OK?

ps I'm always amused by the juxtaposition of arguments that the CofE is institutionally homophobic with claims about the high number of clergy in same-sex sexual relationships! The truth is that the Church is just being tolerant while adhering to the personal morality teachings of Christ and the Apostles which, like their theological belief teachings, define who is truly following Christ.

Posted by: davidwh on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 11:58am GMT

@ John Waldsax

I am not sure that I followed much of what you wrote - you're obviously brighter than me - but it seems that you're arguing that the "TEC have never shared the Anglican tradition," because, "like so much American policy their tradition is consistently rejectionist about any foreign authority, however just or lawful."

If that is a fair reflection of your reasoning, it's complete nonsense.

1. The Anglican tradition is no wise a tradition of imposed authority (from where?) on the churches in communion. Again, the South African situation is instructive. After his consecration to the see of Cape Town in 1849, Robert Gray clearly understood that it was his mission to found a South African church - separate from the Church of England. After many vicissitudes we adopted our own constitution and canons in 1870. The CPSA (now Anglican Church of Southern Africa) has been an independent church ever since and no amount of wringing of hands or banging on tables in Lambeth could have brought us to heel.

2. The covenant is not “just” (by what authority is this “justice” dispensed?) and is merely “lawful” because it is the fruit of a negotiated settlement. Put less grandly, a contract. Why any of the churches would want to sign up to it leaves me puzzled. Today the TEC is in the proverbial. Tomorrow it will be Sydney. What a lot of conflict ahead!!

But perhaps I do malign you?

William

Posted by: William on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 12:58pm GMT

John Waldsax: what are the agreed rules that there are and should be kept, that the 'anti-covenanters' are offending?

There's much dejure in Anglicanism and then the de facto, the actuality. So the rules and keeping them is a grey area.

I think I'm outside the rules, meaning de facto, but I'd like to know how you intend to define them de jure and de facto - to pull them together perhaps - and what is going to happen to the ever greater number who fall outside the rules?

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:05pm GMT

John Waldsax says "The only covenant debate they are interested in is the unsophisticated idea that an organisation should have agreed rules and then keep them."

To think that the Anglican Communion is an "organisation" is unsophisticated indeed. To think that it ever had "rules" that should be "kept" on the subject of who should be ordained is also breathtakingly naive. If this is the state of thinking about the Communion in the English pews -- which I seriously doubt -- then the Church of England is going down an increasingly obscurantist and ahistorical road.

Speaking of obscurantism and ahistoricism, John Waldsax also says, "TEC [ ] have never shared the Anglican tradition. In fact like so much American policy (League of Nations, International Court etc.) their tradition is consistently rejectionist about any foreign authority, however just or lawful."

This statement betrays an astonishing ignorance about the history of the United States, about The Episcopal Church, and about the Anglican tradition.

TEC first became an episcopal church -- one with bishops, one that claims apostolic succession -- through the aid of the Church of Scotland, not the C of E. After the American War of Independence, the Church of England never had any authority in the United States; so why assert that newfangled creations organized by Canterbury two centuries later have any pretense to justice or lawfulness? This kind of thinking -- if it is lawful in the UK, it must be lawful elsewhere -- smacks of neoimperialism.

To equate "sharing the Anglican tradition" with "accepting foreign authority" is likewise risible. If the Anglican tradition stands for anything historically, it is the independence of national churches. There's a strong streak in Anglicanism of resistance against foreign prelates. Canterbury may be surprised that such resistance may now be directed against London rather than Rome; but the resistance is highly traditional and deeply Anglican.

Up until now the Anglican Communion has been a family of independent churches that share a common ancestry. Whether the Communion should be something more is the question advanced by the Covenant.

Given the sponsorship, genesis, and purpose of the Covenant, the answer is no.

No to institutionalized homophobia and misogyny. No to fundamentalist misreadings of Scripture. No inquisition, no curia, no star chamber. No Anglican Covenant!

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:21pm GMT

If the Episcopal Church is thrown out of the Anglican Communion, then there will be no more Anglican Communion. The central African churches have already effectively left the Communion.
The Episcopal Church, like so many American entities, may cherish its independence and deeply resent the meddling of foreigners (remind me once again, what was the nationality of the person who said that the Bishop of Rome has no dominion in the land?), but the Episcopal Church was one of the founders of the Anglican Communion, and the only one that was a truly independent church and not just some legacy of the British Empire in a former colony.
We xenophobic Yanks may well have rejected participation in the League of Nations, but we played an instrumental role in the founding of the United Nations. Our own Eleanor Roosevelt was a major force behind the United Nations charter on human rights.
It is the most xenophobic and jingoistic among us, our right wing, that is generously funding right wing schism throughout the Anglican Communion. I doubt any of the current troubles in the Communion would get as far as they have without American money and initiative. It will take more American money and initiative to undo that damage.
If we are forced out, then the heart will be ripped out of the Communion. The Communion will become what its detractors always said it was, a rump of the British Empire.
If the rest of the Communion wants something like Roman curial authority complete with a Holy Office to enforce a magisterium, then so be it. This American wants no part of it. And if he did, why NOT just ditch the whole Canterbury thing and join the Romans? They've had much more practice at the whole international centralized authority business. Why bother with an imitation?

Posted by: Counterlight on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:24pm GMT

Thanks, Jim. Not so much ‘hit and run’ as ‘time to ponder and reply after more thought’ - while also travelling around Dorset. I like the idea of ‘bush league’, having had to look it up. It may well indeed be fitting for me. I still think that Bonnie Anderson deliberately chose a dramatic headline for her article ‘The Senior House’. Although the key reference to chronology is plain, the reference to the respective sizes of the House of Deputies and of the House of Bishops, in the article I linked to, carry her wry implication, it seems to me at least.

Thanks, Andrew. Sometimes, silence is helpful – even golden – for reflection. Mark Bennet’s comments on the subject of hypocrisy seem to me to carry weight. I am, of course, conscious of gay clergy friends and colleagues in dioceses in which I have ministered and elsewhere. Friendships and pastoral care remain appropriately confidential. I don’t think this means silence has to be kept on commenting on the Covenant for otherwise, few people could say anything.

Thanks, Karen, for the clarification. Concerning ‘Churches that work for the imprisonment and execution of their own members’, I think you may be referring to the anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. Fulcrum published a critical briefing paper on this on 10 Dec 2010 (drafted by Andrew Goddard):

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/?482

and we also published ‘Rights, Homosexuals and Communion: Reflections in Light of Nigeria’ by Ephraim Radner and Andrew Goddard, in November 2006:

http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/?167

Thanks for all the other comments too.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:47pm GMT

"My second sadness is to recognise from the debate about the role of bishops that for TEC they have never shared the Anglican tradition."

Would you please explain this peculiar statement?

At the time of our political break from England, the newly formed American Episcopal Church was at pains to find Bishops in the Anglican tradition who could consecrate a bishop for us. These we found in the church in Scotland - non-jurors, but ordained by Anglican bishops in the apostolic succession.

What more do you want?

The Catechism in the BCP describes the roles of bishops:

"The ministry of a bishop is to represent Christ and his church, particularly as apostle, chief priest and pastor of the diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry," [p.855]

Aside from sitting in the House of Lords [do they still do that? only a few? all of them?], which our bishops don't do, how are yours more Anglican than ours?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 1:51pm GMT

"I don’t think this means silence has to be kept on commenting on the Covenant for otherwise, few people could say anything."

Graham thank you for ackowledging your gay clergy friends and colleagues, and of course I agree with what you say about commenting on the covenant. But I think I do need to press you again. The issue is that your comments elsewhere have implied that some members of the Anglican Communion would, (sadly you say), have to walk apart because of their actions in ordaining actively gay people. But if the C of E ordains such people (as you acknowledge it does), why would the C of E not have to walk apart from the Anglican Communion? Why does one rule apply to TEC, but not to the C of E? Is it simply because the C of E has an official policy of not doing so, whilst unofficially getting on with it, whereas TEC are honest about what they do do you think?

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 3:39pm GMT

Interesting Cynthia!

Someone - was it the Right Reverend Bishop? - was banging on above about the fact that TEC Bishops have become subordinate to the other members of the General Convention ... or some such point.

I've looked again at the C of E's Liturgy of Ordination in the Ordination and Consecration of a Bishop, and find there ...

"As chief pastors, it is their duty to share with their fellow presbyters the oversight of the Church, speaking in the name of God and expounding the gospel of salvation. With the Shepherd’s love, they are to be merciful, but with firmness; to minister discipline, but with compassion. They are to have a special care for the poor, the outcast and those who are in need. They are to seek out those who are lost and lead them home with rejoicing, declaring the absolution and forgiveness of sins to those who turn to Christ."

So nowadays Presbyters are the fellow-Presbyters of Bishops. Why all the fuss (again!!) about the standing of Bishops in the good old US of A?

Truly we are counting angels on the heads of pins while the flock scatters far and wide.

By the way if the Bishops in GAFCON and their running dogs around the world can put their hands on their hearts and say they have a special care for the gay outcast ... well, I'd be flabbergasted.

Pip, pip!
William

Posted by: William on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 3:45pm GMT

Since no one has answered my question, I am bold enough to repeat it, hoping someone from England can respond: are English bishops not bound by the Canons of the Church of England?

Bishop Kings, you are making too much of "Senior House." Just as you had to look up "Bush League" you should know that the phrase "Senior House" is only used ironically in GC -- everyone knows that the two Houses are equally capable of taking leadership in their own areas of competence, and being overruled by the other (since 1804, when the House of Bishops was given veto authority over the House of Deputies.)

Moreover, as Jim Naughton alluded to: different acts proposed to GC originate in different houses, thus giving the "House of initial action" opportunity to "kill" anything and preventing it even from reaching the other house. All resolutions dealing with Ministry and Liturgy begin in the House of Bishops, thus giving them a leading edge in shaping the legislation, or killing it. So in those two key areas of the life of the church, the Bishops have the upper hand.

Finally, it is very important to recognize the crucial difference between leadership and governance.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 3:55pm GMT

"No to institutionalized homophobia and misogyny. No to fundamentalist misreadings of Scripture. No inquisition, no curia, no star chamber. No Anglican Covenant! - Jeremy

This is a succinct, yet profound, statement.

I agree, and believe that a super-majority of Anglicans outside central Africa would also agree.

What is being attempted by Archbishop Williams is nothing more than institutionalized fantasy, or his own crazed vision of Roman Curia-light.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 4:48pm GMT

Jeremy said, "TEC first became an episcopal church -- one with bishops, one that claims apostolic succession -- through the aid of the Church of Scotland"

However he is mistaken. If the Church of Scotland had been involved we would be talking about TPC - The Presbyterian Church.

The Church formerly known as ECUSA received its first episcopal orders from the Scottish Episcopal Church not the Church of Scotland.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 4:51pm GMT

Thanks, Tobias, for your question and apologies for not responding beforehand.

Yes, English bishops are bound by the canons of the Church of England, and also by their 'oath of allegiance to the Sovereign' and 'oath of due obedience' to their Archbishop.

These oaths are usually administered just before the service of ordination and consecration, and during the service the Archbishop reads of the Preface to the Declaration of Assent:

'The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In the declaration you are about to make, will you affirm your loyalty to this inheritance of faith as your inspiration and guidance under God in bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him known to those in your care?'

and the ordinand responds:

'I, AB, do so affirm, and accordingly declare my belief in the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use only the forms of service which are authorized or allowed by Canon.'

http://cofe.anglican.org/worship/liturgy/commonworship/texts/books/mv/preface.html

Maybe The Declaration of Assent has some clues about how to view the Covenant? There are many obvious differences, but it was developed succinctly (...) to state core belief which was acceptable to a wide range of traditions, and was, I think, drafted by the philosophical theologian Ian Ramsey, Bishop of Durham.

Thanks for the further notes about 'Houses of initial action', which Jim touched on. This is indeed helpful for understanding General Convention. You mention also that 'all resolutions dealing with ministry and liturgy begin in the House of Bishops'. The consecration of bishops is to do with ministry and liturgy and was at the heart of resolution B033 of 2006 General Convention.

I agree with you that 'it is very important to recognize the crucial difference between leadership and governance' - that is why I quoted earlier on this thread the phrase 'episcopally led and synodically governed'.

It is helpful to know that 'the senior house' is often used ironically concerning the House of Deputies - striking while the iron is hot?. Chronology does not always involve seniority - John 1: 29 ff.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 5:41pm GMT

Thanks, Andrew. Yes, the official policy of the Church of England (and of other Provinces) is crucial concerning the Covenant. What else could be the basis? Hearsay? Reports in newspapers? Comments on blogs like this?

Official policies - like official liturgies - are indeed important and that is why General Convention 2009 was so significant.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 5:48pm GMT

"TEC they have never shared the Anglican tradition. In fact like so much American policy (League of Nations, International Court etc.)their tradition is consistently rejectionist about any foreign authority, however just or lawful; it is not "our law" and "outside our power". Those commentators planning a Churchillian fight on the beach over the covenant should recall that the USA left Britain hanging out alone in two world wars until it suited their interests; the beach was a lonely place."


So much revisionist tripe, so little time.

1. Clearly you know absolutely nothing about the history of the Church of England. Allow me to enlighten you.

Beginning at least as early as the reign of Henry II, there had been disputes about the issue of what authority the Bishop of Rome had within the Kingdom of England. These tensions reached a crisis point during the reign of Henry VIII, who declared that said Italian bishop had no authority within the Kingdom of England and hence the Church of England. That policy was advanced during the reign of Edward VI with the declaration that "the Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this realm of England" as part of a set of 39 Articles to which all clergy and office holders were required to subscribe.

Thus, for any member of the Church of England to fling pooh at the Episcopal Church for being "rejectionist about any foreign authority" is beyond pathetic.

2. My country did a great deal of the heavy lifting for yours in both WWI and WWII. We managed to take Vimy Ridge when the successive efforts of tradition-bound English aristos consistently failed. We declared war on Nazi germany a mere week after you - based on the "rejectionist" concept that perhaps the Canadian Parliament might possibly be involved in sending Canada to war. I'm sitting in the very home city of the only allied regiment which achieved all its assigned objectives on D-Day. I don't need any lecturing from you, sir, about who won the war for whom.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 7:18pm GMT

The authority of a bishop in the Church of England, the authority of which Graham Kings is so fond, is given a stunning expose in today's Times. Apparently it's a problem for him and his fellows that the American Church doesn't work like this:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6976975.ece

"... Bishops have become pen-pushing bureaucrats who routinely ignore pastoral problems. Sometimes they behave more like bullies than pastors. [...] A friend of ours, for example, waited several years for a post that he was ideal for, with a Vicarage big enough for his large family. He never got a look in. We found out later that the Bishop had picked his own candidate, told the church that they couldn’t see the shortlist and would have to decide on the day of interview, put in a couple of stalking horses and the deed was done. Distraught members of the congregation rang the previous Vicar for advice. Redress? It was out of the question.

"Another friend spent three years applying for every post that came up in a particular city, in order to be near his wife’s elderly parents and his own two disabled children who were at university there. When he found himself not even shortlisted for an unpaid post with no other candidates, he discovered that the Archdeacon had been blackballing him all that time, because he didn’t like his wife. The Bishop there backed his Archdeacon and told the candidate’s Bishop that there would be no post in the Diocese for the man in the foreseeable future. In any other profession, it could be challenged.

"In recent years I have seen more and more to disturb me. Clergy isolated, abused, bullied and abandoned. [...] And when things go wrong, they find themselves in an impossible bind. If a member of the clergy complains — or, Heaven forbid, considers legal action — he or she will never work again. There is talk among those in the know of a so-called Lambeth List, on which blacklisted names (some think up to 3,000) are secreted. [...] One minister reported a member of his congregation for child abuse, not knowing (or perhaps not thinking it right to care) that he was a personal friend of someone higher up. Although the man admitted his guilt and was cautioned by the police, the clergyman who blew the whistle was frozen out, and the congregation, who were not told the truth, were allowed to pass a vote of no confidence in him.

"One church worker I know reported a superior for bullying, only to have the case heard by another member of the same church, in front of the bully. The victim was disciplined for disloyalty. [...]"

Posted by: Charlotte on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 7:44pm GMT

A thought, prompted by this thread, re hypocrisy:

1) Two men, one an Anglican priest, are schtupping. They have every intention of continuing (days, weeks, months, years) to schtup.

2) Same as the first . . . except, that the schtupping is happening on their *Wedding Night* (following their publicly celebrated, by Church and/or State, wedding. Let's even say the bishop was there!)

In WHAT moral universe can the second example possibly be considered more "sinful" than the first? And the church wherein the second occurred be punished more severely as a result?

I'm not saying that there can't be a "No-Gays Anglican Covenant". Just that the CofE can't be a party to the same! ;-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 8:39pm GMT

Jerry Hannon: "What is being attempted by Archbishop Williams is nothing more than... his own crazed vision of Roman Curia-light."

Yes, I agree. What is odd about it, though, is that the centralised post-Vatican I Roman ecclesiological model has just about had its day. Top-down control has not worked in the Roman Church since Humanae Vitae at the end of the 60s, and its being widely ignored by the faithful. The widespread and increasing estrangement of traditionally Catholic European societies from the Vatican's view on just about every moral issue is indicative of this.

It is strange that someone as intelligent as Abp Rowan would wish to hitch Anglicanism in perpetuity to a clearly failing ecclesiology, and I wonder why he is so starry-eyed about it. Is it simply traditional Anglo-Catholic naivete regarding all things Roman? Or is it a lack of intellectual confidence in our ability to work through a better ecclesiological model more suited to our time and place?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 9:04pm GMT

Graham you said: "Thanks, Andrew. Yes, the official policy of the Church of England (and of other Provinces) is crucial concerning the Covenant. What else could be the basis? Hearsay? Reports in newspapers? Comments on blogs like this?

Official policies - like official liturgies - are indeed important and that is why General Convention 2009 was so significant."

I don't think those comments are really worthy of you alas, and make absolutely no recognition of the essential point I was making. I can only conclude you actually don't want to engage with it. The real basis of any covenant is surely what Churches actually do, not just what they say. And we have both acknowledged what the C of E actually does.

So the important point concerning any covenant is not the letter of the law (the official policy) but the spirit. (I seem to recall someone else saying that as well.) If the proposed covenant is only going to deal with official policy, and that is all you are interested in, then we should have even less to do with it. It's simply about an outward show. I thought we had got well beyond being Pharisaical....what a pity...

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 10:22pm GMT

Thank you, Bishop Kings. If I could be sure that -- as the first sections of the Covenant suggest -- we were dealing with "core beliefs" founded on Scripture as expressed in the historic Creeds, and so on, I would have little or no trouble signing the Covenant and urging General Convention to do so. This matches nicely with our own Ordination Oath, and the vows made in ordination.

The problem is that people such as Dr. Ephraim Radner, who was on the drafting committee, continue as recently as this past week to insist that the Covenant is really about sidelining TEC for its positions on sexuality in relation to ministry and liturgy.

As these are not "core beliefs" of a "creedal" nature, you may see my reason for concern. There has been, since the founding of Anglicanism, a provision for variety in matters of rite and ceremony, and a recognition of the breadth of pastoral theology (as opposed to the narrowness of dogmatic theology), and a light hand on discipline coupled with a firm one on doctrine (individual eccentricities of odd bishops notwithstanding.)

If the Anglican Covenant will solely be directed at uniformity of core creedal beliefs, more power to it. However, its genesis and dare I say exodus through the deserts of revision, have been informed and driven by concerns not demonstrably creedal or core. Shall it issue into a promised land of blessing and unity, or one in which "each one did what was right in his own eyes"? Will it be a source of unity or the tool of schism (as Dr. Radner seems -- and I wish I could say I was misreading him -- to hope)?

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 at 10:39pm GMT

I would still like a detailed answer to my question about why one writer here thinks that TEC bishops are not really Anglican bishops.

cat got your tongue?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 12:09am GMT

Thanks, Andrew. I agree that what a church does is, of course, crucial and important.

The 2003 New Hampshire consecration was an example of such an important action. It was historic in that it very publicly went ahead against the specific wishes and warnings of the 2003 extraordinary Primates' Meeting and of the Archbishop of Canterbury just before it.

Was it a one off deed or would it become a policy? This was a key question in the intervening years which the 2006 B033 resolution tried to deal with. At the 2009 General Convention it became a policy.

It seems to me that there has not been a similarly fully publicised consecration in the Church of England which the Primates' Meeting and the Archbishop of Canterbury have warned against, and there is not such a policy.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 12:54am GMT

" But if the C of E ordains such people (as you acknowledge it does), why would the C of E not have to walk apart from the Anglican Communion? Why does one rule apply to TEC, but not to the C of E? Is it simply because the C of E has an official policy of not doing so, whilst unofficially getting on with it, whereas TEC are honest about what they do do you think?"
- Canon Andrew Godsall -

I repeat this statement of Andrew Godsall simply because it has important relevance to the main difference between the policy of TEC and that of the Church of England on the issue of ordination of Gays.

TEC does it, and is honest about it; whereas the Church of England does it, and is dishonest about the fact that it ordains Gay candidates. This is, surely, a vital matter of moral rectitude. To my simple mind, TEC is doing what it feels is a Gospel imperative, and therefore honest about it; while the C.of E. actually does ordain Gay candidates but is unwilling to admit to doing so, presumably because it does not recognise the relative importance of the whole issue!

Which, Bishop Graham Kings, is the more reputable way of behaviour; TEC's honesty about what they are doing? Or the C.of.E.'s dishonesty?

Perhaps this would be of minor importance if the C.of E. Leadership were not seeking to side-line TEC on this matter of the ordination of Gays, by insisting on a Covenantal relationship only with those Provinces which are AGANST Gay ordination.

The word hypocrisy, on the part of the Bishops of the Mother Church of England, seems to me to best fit the situation Canon Andrew is talking about. Do you, Bishop Graham Kings, have a definitive answer on this question? Or will you dodge the issue once again? TEC deserves an honest answer.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 3:44am GMT

Tobias,

Come on! He's not concerned with core credal beliefs at all! This has *never* been about that! What it is is that, apart from the responsibilities they have, TEC's bishops are also held accountable, are considered part of not above the church and it's laity.

That's what offends Kings and Williams and Sentamu - if our model catches on, they won't be "special" any more, won't be able to wave some mystical superiority around as excuse to do just as they please.

The British establishment has always had the hardest trouble with the idea that Empire is over.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 5:45am GMT

Graham, I think again I'd want to push you on the matter of something else the Archbishop and Primates meeting warned against - the issue of border crossing.

And whilst the C of E might not have a 'fully publicised' ordinations, they have still gone ahead over a considerable number of years.

I think I am coming to the conclusion that TEC should simply sign the covenant if it comes into being anyway. Those of us who have links with TEC will go on being in communion with them, whatever the 'relational consequences.' It seems to me that if the C of E is to be hypocritical in signing the Covenant, TEC should do just the same. And if we are to believe the current final draft at 4.2.7, TEC simply needs to 'determine whether or not to accept such recommendations.' (about withdrawing). TEC can simply decide not to withdraw can't it? Will the Covenant have any kind of force at all in the end?

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 8:16am GMT

I assume Graham Kings' views are genuine, which make them even more shocking to me.

When I first started to live with my new partner we were told that she could remain a Lay Reader and I could finish my final year of training provided we did not "openly" live together.
Apart from the fact that this was a practical impossibility in a small village, a tiny house and 2 children, it is absolutely 100% against what drives me to follow The Way, The Truth and The Light.

What truth? What kind of Christ are we preaching if we encourage his followers to live lies and to see this destructive dualism of living as commendable? If we can make ourselves believe that we follow the rules by deliberately ignoring the evidence?

It was that attitude more than the virulent homophobia that propelled me to the margins of the church, just about clinging on by my fingertips in an honest, sustaining local parish.

I prefer the open homophobes to this kind of duplicity. If that is really the official view of what Christian living is about, it's not surprising that people are increasingly turning away.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 9:15am GMT

It is very clear from the words and actions of its episcopacy and its primate, that the CofE has, like a fish, rotted head first and no longer has *any* moral authority to offer guidance or make demands.

Empire, once again, is over. It's time for the sun to set on the empire of the CofE episcopacy called the Anglican Communion. The greatest shame is that it was the vanity and self-promotion of our own US bishops which allowed this ecclesial disaster to be established, grow and fester.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 9:19am GMT

I think Erika is right. There really is no place for attitudes which are from another age which is very much the CofE position. They just can't see how out of step it makes them appear.

If they embraced the homophobic stance of the conservatives, then it is likely that they would have to become disestablished and would be marginalised still further

They are in a position where the stance they hold is not sustainable and where the ever falling attendance other than by immigrants is making them appear a curious, quaint, foreign anachronism

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 12:04pm GMT

Erika is right. It is about duplicity. There is always going to be some duplicity in an organisation that has formal rules way stricter than the actuality, but duplicity is a rotten basis of managing matters, especially that of volunteering and recruiting, and even more especially around who you are as a person. This duplicity is combined with some pretty horrible ethical stances by similar formal appearances, and the whole thing starts to look very rotten from the inside and in need of a cleaning up.

If it going to be narrow and homophobic, then be so, and bring the rules into play; if not, then clear out this level of duplicity. The Covenant, principally, represents duplicity, and if TEC signs the Covenant on the basis of duplicity it only contributes to the rot. The rot would then be, for TEC, ways of being progressive and inclusive while attempting to appear to be all part of one happy family of Anglicanism where the central committee operates its own form of footwork.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 12:24pm GMT

Let Mark Brunson's last comment be the theme of the next HoB meeting, "The greatest shame is that it was the vanity and self-promotion of our own US bishops which allowed this ecclesial disaster to be established, grow and fester." Too true, sadly, and the bishops might well take the time to examine the need so many of them seem to have to be important. They might want to think about James and John and their mother, and Jesus' interesting response to their need to be important. This exercise might serve all the bishops of the communion well.

Posted by: Lavabo Towel on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 1:42pm GMT

"there has not been a similarly fully publicised consecration in the Church of England which the Primates' Meeting and the Archbishop of Canterbury have warned against, and there is not such a policy."
In fact there was a hugely publicised refusal to consecrate a priest whose life perfectly fulfilled all the obligations the Church policy placed on gay people -

A fine demonstration of how the policies of the Church of England are worthless and dishonest.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 5:39pm GMT

Rather than duplicity, allow me to suggest that taking the Covenant at its best (which I do think possible) can represent a kind of pragmatic optimism akin to the Tractarians' reading of the Articles of Religion. If we can focus on what the text actually says and put aside the well known motives for it having been said, there might be a way through this muddle. This strikes me as a particularly Anglican response to what at first appears to be a movement towards confessionalism at best, and sectarianism at worst. It may be possible to "save" or "redeem" the Covenant by treating it as better than it at first appears.

Of course, I could be wrong. But as one of my best spiritual directors used to say when anxieties threatened, 'What's the worst that could happen?' The Primates do not have a standing army, last I heard, and if they find what TEC / ACoC and others to be inconsistent with their gospel, the most they can do is urge us to withdraw, which we do not need to do!

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 7:17pm GMT

Tobias - it was Newman's reading of the Articles of Religion in Tract 90 which precipitated the crisis which led to the end of the tracts.

So if you think Covenant optimism is akin, is this an inevitable prelude to people leaving? Newman left, others stayed.

I agree that it is good to read optimistically - but we also have a doctrine of sin, and we read realistically and theologically too.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 10:08pm GMT

I think there is real wisdom in what Tobias has to say. There will be a robust debate about the Covenant in the Episcopal Church about whether to sign the Covenant. One obstacle that those who favor signing it will have to overcome is that the motives of so many of its proponents are transparently punitive.

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 11:10pm GMT

Alas, Tobias, what you are suggesting here may not be consonant with what might best suit the circumstances of how we should deal with the problem of the proposed Covenant.

As someone outside of the English Province of the Communion, who has problems with the provision of Section 4 of the Covenant; I feel that we who are in disagreement with the proscriptive nature of the Section, which seeks to disadvantage the likes of TEC and others who wish to continue with the Ordination of Gays and the Blessing of same-sex unions, should stay clear of signing up to the covenant until such time as Section 4 is either removed or changed to accept membership of TEC and other Provinces that wish to continue with these prophetic and enlightened procedures.

To go along with further attempt to collude with a culture of hypocrisy on these issues, would be to pander to the exclusivism of Provinces that cannot face up to the justice issues involved.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 11:53pm GMT

Well, Mark, I think division is the handwriting on the wall, whatever anyone does. The Covenant is a confession to the brokenness of the Communion, and three years from now the WWAC will not be what it is even today. My point is to avoid consequentialism, and do what is right. It is not for me to say who has the greater sin in all of this.

While Newman's effort to "save" the Articles didn't work for him, it has worked for countless other Anglo-Catholics since. I think we will see a similar pattern with the Covenant -- some will choose to walk apart, others may be expelled or "suffer relational consequences." But I still think it worth trying to save as much as we can, even if it is only an ear, two legs, the corner of a couch... Who knows, maybe only the angry Gafconites will walk apart -- as they have done to date.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 12:21am GMT

You know, a selection process that raised to such heights first George Carey and then Rowan Williams probably should not be held up as some sort of ideal.

I'm just saying....

Posted by: JPM on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 6:02am GMT

Thanks, Andrew, for your question about boundary crossing. I have been against this from the beginning of AMiA - interesting to see Moses Tay commenting recently against the Covenant which his successor has been so closely involved in.

I have also written consistently against the setting up of ACNA. The 'third moratoria' on this subject goes with the other two. The Covenant is meant to deal with all three.

I mentioned in the Glacial Gravity article, linked to above on this thread, that just before the launch of ACNA, the Province of Ruanda created more facts on the ground by announcing more trans-provincial consecrations. In June, here in Dorset, I had a very fruitful three hour meeting with a bishop in the ACNA. I asked him about African archbishops consecrating American priests as bishops of African provinces for the missionary work of African provinces in the USA to replace bishops of The Episcopal Church. His evasive answer was not encouraging, implying that it was the other two moratoria which were really important. When pressed on the incongruity of some of the American bishops of African provinces working in the same geographical area as TEC dioceses which are conservative on sexual issues, answer came there none.

Thanks, William, for your earlier comments about South Africa. It is not yet clear that ACNA will ever apply to become a province of the Anglican Communion. We shall see. Maybe there will be a parallel with the Church of England in South Africa, an autonomous separate church, which has been recognized by the Diocese of Sydney for many decades, but is not part of the Anglican Communion.

Thanks, Tobias, for the reference to John H Newman's reinterpretation of the 39 articles in Tract Ninety - in retrospect, perhaps almost a postmodern 'reader response' reinterpretation which was happy to differ from the authors' intent? Mark's reply, concerning the consequences of Tract Ninety is perceptive.

Wow, over 100 comments on this thread...

Posted by: Graham Kings on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 8:18am GMT

Tobias
I agree that trying to imagine the worst that could happen is a good idea. But your analysis only focuses on the intellectual “what does the Covenant say, can we truthfully fulfil it, what happens if we don’t” This is precisely the thinking that has got us to where we find ourselves now. It assumes that the other side plays by the same rules. Yet again and again, we’ve seen that it is not the letter of the document that determines the shift in Anglican policy, but how it is presented on the ground and who makes most skilful use of it.
So often in this debate, the emphasis has moved, the power balance has shifted, not because of what actually did happen (Windsor is still only a report), but because of how people presented what had happened and how perception changed. And although TEC has behaved according to the letter of each imposed document, the perception is that it is wilfully disobedient and in the wrong. Have you noticed the increasing number of comments suggesting that it isn’t even properly Anglican at all because of its different system of governance? It’s easy to see where this one will end up!

Unless you are prepared to play exactly the same games as the "conservatives", and I would suggest that agreeing to play games would be the first real moral failing, you will merely find yourself in the same place as you have with every previous document, or decision by a self appointed body.

At first you will think nothing has been lost but potentially much has been gained. Then you will be surprised by the conclusions the other side draws and by how the actual situation on the ground shifts because of who shouts loudest, and you will, yet again, be reduced to saying “that’s not what it SAYS, that’s not what was MEANT”…. and no-one will be listening and the caravan will simply move on.

You only have to choice of playing the same dirty games or of preserving your integrity and opting out of games altogether. Playing and trying to stay clean is admirable but will not get you anywhere.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 9:05am GMT

"Wow, over 100 comments on this thread..."
- Graham Kings -

Yes! And there will no doubt be more, Graham, until and unless you are prepared to answer the question originally put to you by Canon Andrew:

Why should the prelates of the Canterbury Province of the Church of England seek to support the side-lining of TEC which ordains homosexuals and blesses same-sex unions when this is overtly taking place within its own boundaries.

Most of us who want TEC and the A.C.of C. to stay with us in the context of the Scripture, Tradition and Reason-based Anglican Communion, without having to renege on their inclusive, theologically-based practice on these issues, are still amazed at the obvious hypocrisy of the Covenant being forced upon everyone - just to suit the conservatism of the African Provinces.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 9:10am GMT

Thanks, Ron. See my replies to Andrew on 6 Jan at 5:41, combined with 7 Jan at 12:54. They may not satisfy, but I did attempt to reply.

I think it may be simplifying this subject to say that the Covenant is 'just to suit the conservatism of the African Provinces'. There are many other provinces world-wide which also are conservative on issues of sexuality, and there are some African provinces which are more liberal than others on those issues.

Posted by: Graham Kings on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 3:00pm GMT

Erika, I don't see it as playing the game, but looking for the best. My point about "the worst that could happen" needs to be closely looked at -- but at this point "the worst" is, from my perspective, a further breakdown of the WWAC, and I think that is inevitable at this point due the failures beginning with Lambeth 1998, in overstepping its bounds by ruling on doctrine -- or rather expressing an opinion on a matter of pastoral theology that has under certain pressure morphed into "the mind of the communion." So yes, I am fully aware of the dangers of the "facts on the ground." What I am saying is that TEC / ACoC and others who agree, should push back from a Gospel foundation. If this means not accepting the Covenant at all, so be it. But there is another kind of push-back that is not simply game-playing, but recognizing the pragmatic Ecclesiopolitik in which we are living, moving, and having our being. It is no use pretending this isn't church politics, so matters of polity will come into play. This is reality, and walking away will not change it. We are called to engagement, not abdication, as attractive as that might appear at times.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 3:35pm GMT

Tobias, how is signing the Covenant different from any of the other positive contributions TEC has been making in the debate so far, and how can it possibly suddenly be a force for good when no other attempt at dialogue, compromise and friendship has made a blind bit of difference?
What distinguishes this from the same old same old that has had absolutely no impact on where the Communion is hellbent on going?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 5:37pm GMT

There are a number of ways in which the Covenant differs from the debate so far. First, it is formal. Second, although in most conversation it seems the TACC is all about sexuality, in fact the Covenant need not be seen as solely about any one issue.

I disagree that no progress has been made in dialogue, friendship, and so on. I think there can and will be more of that to come. I also disagree that there has been "absolutely no impact." In some quarters, yes, but I think there has been a shift on the whole.

I am not, btw, insisting we sign the Covenant. I am merely suggesting that we ought not rule it out. We certainly need to keep our eyes open; but as I've said before, signing the Covenant does not in any way worsen our situation. Or if you think it does, how? I do not, btw, accept the Radnerian reading that TEC cannot sign on -- any rulings under the covenant must await the finalization of the covenant itself, and if TEC is part of the process and the GAFCON walk apart, I think very different decisions will be reached.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 8 January 2010 at 11:04pm GMT

Tobias, I think it is time for TEC to be much clearer about what it values.

If TEC values the Anglican Communion over TEC's baptismal covenant, then TEC could sign up for the so-called Covenant and its institutionalized homophobia and misogyny.

If TEC takes its own baptismal vows seriously, however, then it should reject the Covenant.

Normally one does not reach out to grasp and eat the fruit of a poisonous tree. If TEC recognizes the tree as poisonous, and acts accordingly, then perhaps other provinces will do the same.

Indeed, perhaps they might refuse the Covenant before TEC does. If enough provinces reject the Covenant, then it can be scuttled entirely.

Even a GAFCON-less Covenant will still be a curia, a magisterium, and a star chamber -- something entirely un-Anglican.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 9 January 2010 at 1:33am GMT

This is not, in fact, a complex question.

We, in the progressive wing of the church, are being asked to sacrifice our consciences to a political expedient. We are being asked to sell our dignity, our conviction and our intellect, as well as our freedom given by God through our faith, to serve those with neither honor nor conviction, other than their own personal ambition. The "conservatism" we are being *ordered* to accomodate and bow to is, bluntly put, barbarism and wilfull violence.

You may argue that we can sign the covenant with a wink over the shoulder, saying that we will adhere to the letter and ignore the obvious malevolent intent. That is dishonesty. If we do that, we are selling our faith and our dignity as human beings made in the Divine Image cheaply.

If we sign this covenant, we will be signing a deal with the Devil. The future implications mean that we will be placing our children in the belly of Molech. The psychological and emotional "victory" it will give those who would do violence against women, gays, lesbians, any "Other," is so great that we might as well build a stepped pyramid to offer mass sacrifice.

Even if we will no longer be "anglican," no longer part of some world-wide ecclesial bureaucracy, is that such a sacrifice? Most of the world is *not* Anglican, and they seem to be just fine. Worldwide? Do you really think that it is only Canada and the US that feel this? If we are no longer with Canterbury, then, when CofE priests and congregations turn to us for help, we can give them a new church structure to join -- and we won't try to steal the property! Canterbury has, in effect, declared war on us in TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, so we no longer owe allegiance or respect to Canterbury. We have been threatened, humiliated, lied about, bullied and coerced by a foreign prelate.

How much longer does it have to go on before we understand our co-dependency? How much more will be enough? How much longer before we tell our own leadership "No more. You are *our* bishops and not princes of a worldwide temporal power?" How much more humiliation, abuse and despair will we pour on those our churches were meant to protect and elevate to God's Arms?

And, how much longer can we behave this dishonest and disgraceful way and expect to have a church, before all its followers bleed away in disgust and heartache like the CofE?

We. Have. Had. Enough.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Saturday, 9 January 2010 at 5:45am GMT

Graham you said:
I think it may be simplifying this subject to say that the Covenant is 'just to suit the conservatism of the African Provinces'. There are many other provinces world-wide which also are conservative on issues of sexuality, and there are some African provinces which are more liberal than others on those issues.

I agree with you about not oversimplifying. But I think the key question might now be whether ultra conservative provinces would actually want to sign the Covenant if the C of E is in it. As you have acknowledged, the C of E has priests and bishops who are in same sex partnerships, even though the official position of the C of E is contrary to that. Why would conservative provinces wish to be in Covenant with us, knowing that we have clergy who are in openly in same sex partnerships?

Posted by: Canon Andrew Godsall on Saturday, 9 January 2010 at 9:52am GMT

Tobias
I don't actually know what I fear could happen in practice, I just don't trust a contract, any contract between people of completely different intent. If both sides believe they’ve achieved something different, it’s only really a surface manoeuvre, and it doesn’t stand the test of conflict.

If two parties genuinely want to resolve an issue and find a valid compromise, contracts are an excellent means of solidifying that.
But what we have here is one group of people who believes the contract will finally help them to get rid of those who don't agree with them or to make them compliant, and another group of people who might sign it knowing they will be able to fulfil its letter but not the spirit through which it came into being.

There's something... not quite honest about it... I can't put it much clearer because I'm not very clear about it myself.

I'm with Jeremy, TEC could only sign the contract if it declared at the same time that it will continue to work for the full inclusion of lgbt people.
If that is possible, then it should sign.
But if that isn't possible, it should not play games and simply withdraw.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 9 January 2010 at 9:12pm GMT

Perhaps I'm not being clear. I am not suggesting that TEC give in or give up on holding fast to our electing of any bishop we think it right to elect, or continuing to study and move towards the blessing of same-sex relationships. I think both of these things are consistent with the Gospel. I refuse to accept the reading of the Evangelicaliban that these are matters of core doctrine, and therefore susceptible to definitive denial. I plan to vote for the approval of Mary Glasspool -- and being a member of a standing committee I actually have a vote; but I am also considering the Covenant with care.

But when I suggest considering signing the Covenant, it is with this in mind. I want to press the issue, not equivocate _or_ abdicate. I'm looking for honest engagement rather than flying apart. The fact that some are really at the "Don't Ask / Don't Tell" stage rather than the "No Way No How" stage, is, I take it, an indication that change may happen. If we can encourage movement towards honesty and away from hypocrisy, I am all for it, and the Covenant could be a means to such movement, rather than a move away from it.

Of course, if the Kakangelists have their way and the Covenant really does become a nest of biting and devouring (Galatians 5:15), as some clearly are concerned might be the case, and as I admit is a real possibility, then of course we should walk apart instead. At its worst the Covenant (in some descriptions) represents the old Roman penalty for parricide -- being sewn in a bag with a rooster, snake, dog and ape, and cast into the water. If the Kakangelists succeed in killing the Anglican Communion, the sentence will be fitting.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Saturday, 9 January 2010 at 9:15pm GMT

Tobias
thank you for the clarification.

If you ask those churches likely to sign now whether they could accept an honest TEC signing it while retaining its right to elect any bishop it sees fit, you would get a resounding no. After all, that's why the Covenant proposal came into being in the first place.

As I see it, whether the Covenant will become a nest of biting and devouring will only be clear after everyone has signed it and a test case arises.

So my new question would be: knowing that the Covenant only came about to stop TEC from being honest, what do you think would happen if TEC offered to sign while retaining its integrity?

Would others try to forbid you to sign? Would it simply blow the whole Covenant proposal out of the water? Is there any realistic possibility at all that signing the Covenant while retaining your integrity is even possible?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 10 January 2010 at 10:27am GMT

Having read all the arguments on the Covenant issue, I am inclined to agree with Tobias, and would suggest that the proponents of the Covenant Document (in this case, the new 'Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion'), might be approached by representatives of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada, voicing their genuine reluctance to sign up to the present version of the Covenant Document on the following grounds:

a. Their reservations towards the prospect of any rejection of their Gospel initiatives on the Ordination of Gays and Women.

b. Their reservations towards the proposal to outlaw the prospect of exploring the theological appropriateness of Same-Sex Blessings.

c. Their constitutional objection to any rule of governance within the Communion which would come into conflict with their own Provincial Polity.

In this way, there would, at least, be an open and objective spproach to matters of Gospel expediency, which could clear the air and make way for the exploration of local contextual outworkings of the Mission of the Church.

In other words, TEC and the A.C. of C., unlike ACNA, FOCA and GAFCON, would not be instigating schism but rather engaging in honest and open dialogue with prospective Communion Partners.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 10 January 2010 at 10:50am GMT

Erika, good questions. Let me close my thought here with brief answers:

Would others try to forbid you to sign?
They already have. Fortunately the decision to sign rests with each Province.

Would it [our signing] simply blow the whole Covenant proposal out of the water?
That is certainly possible, and it might not be the worst thing to happen. If it shows that the Covenant is a Bad Idea, we will have accomplished something -- in a forward movement rather than in retreat. I am all for learning by doing. If the Covenant is only going to be for those who already agree with each other about everything, what's the point? However, if the Covenant can become (regardless of its original intent) a way to stay together while disagreeing, so much the better. I actually think the majority of the communion want that.

Is there any realistic possibility at all that signing the Covenant while retaining your integrity is even possible?
Yes, I think it is quite possible. It requires exercise of the virtues, primarily fortitude and prudence, with a heavy dose of charity.

What I want to avoid is a reverse puritanism that says, "I will only have to do with people who accept me and agree with me." I want to model Christ's behavior of eating with the sinners -- even those who considered themselves free from sin. Otherwise I fear we face a divided church in which half say "I will not eat with gays" and the other "I will not eat with bigots."

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 10 January 2010 at 8:51pm GMT
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