Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Anglican Communion Covenant - CofE consideration

General Synod members have been sent the following paper outlining how the proposed Anglican Communion Covenant will be considered for adoption by the Church of England.

GS MISC 934

THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION COVENANT

1. I received on 18 December from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion the final text of the Anglican Communion Covenant, approved for distribution that day by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, for formal consideration for adoption. The full copy of the text is available at http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm.

2. The approval of the text by the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion comes at the end of a long process flowing from the publication of the report of the Lambeth Commission - The Windsor Report - in October 2004. Synod has subsequently discussed governance issues in the Anglican Communion and the possibility of the draft Covenant in February 2005, July 2007, February 2008, July 2008 and February 2009.

3. GS 1716, which was prepared for last February’s debate, gave some indication of the synodical process which would need to be undertaken to adopt the Covenant, though it made clear that certain matters could not be resolved until the final text of the Covenant was available.

4. What happens now is that the Faith and Order Advisory Group, which has led the work on earlier Church of England responses to drafts of the Covenant, will consider the text and offer an assessment which will be available to the House of Bishops when it next meets in May. In addition the Legal Office will consider whether the text means that the Synod’s process of adoption will need to follow the Article 7 and or 8 procedures.

5. Once the House of Bishops is satisfied that the Covenant should be commended to the Synod for adoption it will be for the Business Committee to decide when to schedule the initial debate. As noted in GS 1716 it is likely that, from receiving the final text the Church of England will need “at least 18 months to 2 years to come to a final decision.”

WILLIAM FITTALL
12 January 2010

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 1:46pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

"Once the House of Bishops is satisfied that the Covenant should be commended to the Synod for adoption it will be for the Business Committee to decide when to schedule the initial debate."

So if the House of Bishops does not think the Covenant should be commended to the Synod for adoption, it will not be debated at GS?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 1:53pm GMT

Can't find anything explanatory about Article 7 and or 8 procedures.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 3:40pm GMT

Well, I believe the House of Bishops may send the Covenant to GS, but without any -- or a very tepid -- recommendation. The ABC has pushed for it, so it seems, at least to me, unthinkable that the HOB would not act.

Thomas+

Posted by: thomas+ on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 3:44pm GMT

Article 7 and Article 8 are detailed here:
http://peterowen.org.uk/articles/gs-constitution.html

Article 7 business relates to doctrine and sacraments; Article 8 to relationships with other churches. Both require the special procedures set out in their respective articles.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 3:57pm GMT

Ah, politics. Article this, subsection that. Just what the Gospel is all about.

Posted by: toby forward on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 4:45pm GMT

"Once the House of Bishops is satisfied that the Covenant should be commended to the Synod for adoption..."

This does read as if it's all a foregone conclusion: like a child being packed off to boarding school, your parents will decide for you when and where you are going and then inform you of the fact.

Lord, preserve us from our elders and betters!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 4:46pm GMT

In response to Erica, if the House of Bishops does not bring this to General Synod, no doubt there will be a private members motion on the subject.

It seems to me that the big decision is whether to bring this in July 2010 (when the legislation enabling women to become bishops will surely be a substantial item) or to defer to November 2010 (first session of new Synod) or Feb 2011. If it were to come that late and require debate in Dioceses the 18 months - 2 years would not be achieved.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 5:54pm GMT

"If it were to come that late and require debate in Dioceses the 18 months - 2 years would not be achieved." -- Mark Bennet

In that case, can it be brought before the GS at a date later than Feb 2011?

Posted by: peterpi on Wednesday, 20 January 2010 at 10:57pm GMT

If lay persons in The Church of England stopped all financial support in their parishes and contributions to various appeals by Church of England bishops, do you think women would be invited to the same table and be consecrated bishops? I wonder.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 2:54am GMT

Ah yes, the Instruments of Communion (section 3.1.4 etc.). Kind of reminds one of a Monty Python bit doesn't it? "No one ever expects the Instruments of Communion" -Chuck Inglis

Posted by: Chuck Inglis on Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 4:19am GMT

Chris
Evangelical parishes have once threatened to withhold the parish share and it pushed Rowan to backtrack on making Jeffrey John a bishop.
I don't think this kind of pressure is altogether a Christian way of working with each other.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 21 January 2010 at 8:22am GMT

Erika, while I tend to agree with most of your posts, I feel that your disinclination to use the power of the purse -- while noble for the best of reasons -- is doomed to failure when the deceitful antagonists readily use that, and so much more.

We are not engaging in debate, on fair and honest terms, but are fighting for the heart and soul of the Anglican Communion.

I refuse to stand idly by while the fundamentalists engage in a carefully contrived takeover of Anglicanism, and, unlike some of my TEC brethren, I refuse to simply thumb my nose at the CofE and go off and form a new communion (call it Reformed Anglican Communion or Traditional Anglican Communion or what you will) with the other provinces of what I will call Global North Plus.

I remain fond of the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] do nothing."

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Friday, 22 January 2010 at 12:51am GMT

Jerry
I suppose there's a difference between individual lay members witholding their money and a whole diocese blackmailing the church on behalf of all its parishioners. But is there? Is it only a matter of degree?

You've made me feel very uneasy, because while I don't believe that the end justifies the means, I have admitted here before that I am not making a proper financial contribution to the church at the moment and concentrate on being active in the parish until the church concedes to treat me as a full and equal member.

It feels different, but I'm not sure why... I have to think about that! Thanks.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 22 January 2010 at 9:52am GMT

I am not convinced 'the anglican communion' has a heart and soul to fight for.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Friday, 22 January 2010 at 7:45pm GMT

I'm with Rev L Roberts. I'm not convinced the so-called Anglican Communion is worth staying in. Particularly under its current primus-inter-pares Chief Inviter-ship.

I say "so-called" because it's neither Anglican nor a Communion anymore.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 23 January 2010 at 1:44am GMT

"4. Each Church affirms the following principles and procedures, and, reliant on the Holy Spirit, commits itself to their implementation."
- Covenant Document -

The phrase: "reliant on the Holy Spirit" - to those of us in Provinces which have been led by the same "Holy Spirit" to a prophetic inclusivity of women and LGBT candidates into the leadership and ministry of our Churches - would be vital to any consideration of our adoption of a newly-enunciated Covenant relationship with Churches that deny such measures in their own respective situations.

For instance, in Uganda, the Anglican Church has vilified homosexuals as being less than human and agents of the Devil. Is this the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Also, the Anglican Church of Nigeria, together with certain other Provinces of the Church have already shown their disdain for any connection with the primacy of Canterbury, whose identity has been purged from their constitution.
Were these, one wonders, the result of discerning spirits or the discernment of the Holy Spirit?

For other Provinces of the Communion to renege on their commitment to Women and Gays in ministry would be tantamount to an admission that the Holy Spirit of God had nothing to do with their deliberations in their respective Church bodies; which they firmly believe were guided by the Holy Spirit of the One True God we all claim to worship

It is interesting that the Church of England, now considering its own response to the Covenant, has notably been the last of the Anglican Provinces to adopt new initiatives that - to some other Provinces, have seemed the work of the Holy Spirit in their situation and circumstances of mission. Could the C.of E. be 'Hard of Hearing' on these important matters of Gospel inclusivity?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 24 January 2010 at 10:53pm GMT

"reliant on the Holy Spirit" -

What has the Spirit to do with any of this ?

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 at 9:06pm GMT

"5. Once the House of Bishops is satisfied that the Covenant should be commended to the Synod for adoption it will be for the Business Committee to decide when to schedule the initial debate. As noted in GS 1716 it is likely that, from receiving the final text the Church of England will need “at least 18 months to 2 years to come to a final decision.” - William Fittall, C.of E. -

SO! The Church of England needs, before the INITIAL debate on whether or not the final Covenant can be recommended to the General Synod for adoption by the Church of England; to await the approval of the House of Bishops. GS 1716 still requires 'at least 18 months to 2 years' before G.S. could come to a final decision!

If the debate on the Covenant by the C.of E. G.S. cannot proceed until the H.o B. has approved of the final format - then this surely would give the Anglican Church of Canada plenty of time before it even has to consider membership? - that is, if the
Canadian amendment (to delay a response until the Covenant has been approved by the C.of E.) passes.

Perhaps each and every Province should delay its response to the Covenant, until we make sure that the Church of England (Mother Church) accepts it. Only in this way can members of the Communion be assured that the Covenant will hold.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 8 June 2010 at 11:27pm BST

The estimate of 18 - 24 months should probably be calculated to run from December 2009, when William Fittall announced that he had received the final text from the ACO.

But the earliest the first synodical debate can now occur is November 2010 and even that is not yet confirmed.

A referral to diocesan synods takes a while because they each have to find time to schedule a debate. Mostly they meet three times a year, typically on a Saturday. The Diocese in Europe only meets once a year, typically in late May.

GS 1716 which is available at
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/gensynod/agendas/feb2009/gspapers/gs1716.pdf
discusses the process likely to be applicable in considerable detail.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 9 June 2010 at 7:15am BST
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