Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Anglican Covenant debate: a shift in momentum

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition has issued a news release: Momentum Shifting in Anglican Covenant Debate. (Full PDF version is over here.)

With one-third of English dioceses now having voted on the proposed Anglican Covenant, leaders of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition are detecting a significant shift in momentum. With last weekend’s clean sweep in Leicester, Portsmouth, Salisbury and Rochester, ten dioceses have rejected the Covenant while only five have approved it.

“When we launched the No Anglican Covenant Coalition just 16 months ago, it seemed like we were facing impossible odds,” said the Coalition’s Moderator, the Revd Dr Lesley Crawley. “But now the tide appears to be turning. The more church members learn about the Covenant, the less they like it.”

“I’m glad to see how perceptive the diocesan synods have been once well-rounded arguments are put to them,” said Coalition Patron and Oxford University Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch. “There were two Covenants in the Church of England’s seventeenth-century history, and in combination, they destroyed episcopacy until wiser counsels prevailed. It appears the dioceses are not interested in helping present-day bishops making it a hat trick.”

“It is heartening to see the dioceses rising up to their responsibilities instead of delegating their discernment to the House of Bishops and the archbishops,” according to former Oxford Professor and General Synod member Marilyn McCord Adams, who now teaches at the University of North Carolina. “Churches come to better decisions when parties feel free to disagree.” Professor McCord Adams is also a Patron of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

To date, the proposed Anglican Covenant has been approved by five dioceses of the Church of England (Lichfield; Durham; Europe; Bristol; Canterbury) and rejected by ten (Wakefield; St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich; Truro; Birmingham; Derby; Gloucester; Portsmouth; Rochester; Salisbury; Leicester). Approval by 23 diocesan synods is required for the Covenant to return to General Synod. Rejection by 22 dioceses would effectively derail approval of the Covenant by the Church of England.

Some historical background to the coalition can be found in this post by Malcolm French We happy few.

The current state of voting in the 44 Church of England dioceses is being tracked weekly by Modern Church at this page.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 8:59am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

It is interesting to discover, from the linked Malcolm French web-site, that though Bishop Graham Kings' efforts to promote the Covenant to the Lichfield Synod - together with an unbalanced allowance of time for other promoters to lobby that meeting - was rewarded with an affirmative vote; his attempts to similarly persuade the Salisbury Synod was not successful - thanks in part to his Diocesan Bishop's (Nicholas Holtam's) adverse opinion, and a balanced presentation to the members of Synod.

The problem of unbalanced time given to Covenant promoters at Diocesan Synods may just have tipped the balance away from the promoters' intentions.
How often 'God works in a mysterious way God's wonders to perform'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 10:03am GMT

It's becoming clear that what has happened is that gradually (thanks to the work of the Coalition) synod members are becoming better informed. Where dioceses have voted in favour in some cases only one speaker, usually one in favour, has presented the case both for an against.

Now, the distinctly magisterial and exclusivist nature of the Covenant is being made evident, of course people won't vote for something so unanglican.

It appears that a lot of pressure has been put on the bishops to 'toe the line' and as yet only a brave few have voted against. However, once the momentum shifts, as it now is beginning to, the whole project will fall ... thank God.

I'd like to come back in 50 years and see what historians will make of all this.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 11:02am GMT

Personally, I hope that more Diocesan Synods see the folly of tying up the existing open and free Anglican Communion in this way.

Posted by: Peter Lear on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 2:49pm GMT

I do not know the make-up of the CofE diocesan synods well enough to make any judgment on how the present state of affairs vis a vis the Covenant is likely to play out - but it does not look wholly promising. Does it?

My own Church (Wales) it seems is likely to be pressed to accept the Covenant by its entire bench of bishops, and that despite the fact that the ones I have spoken to are not really in favour of it - but say they ought to support it because one of their own (St Asaph) was its principal author/editor.

The sort of comments I get are:
"Oh, well - It's lost all its teeth now, it's not going to do any harm."
"We have to support Rowan and Gregory, they have a lot invested in this."
"I think we will vote it through, but it's already dead in the water." and worse ........

One weary bishop said: "I am fed up of fighting. It's meaningless really and I haven't the stomach for that sort of scrap."

My advice was to say he should be careful that this "meaningless little document didn't get up a few years down the line and bite him on his arse!"

Gregory Cameron is a sharp and wise cookie and he must know of his brothers lack of resolution even while he accepts their support. But I wonder if there will even be a vote if the Covenant fails in England as Giles states succinctly in his article reported by TA on an earlier thread:
"The idea that the C of E itself might be in the outer tier makes a nonsense of the whole Covenant idea. Communion with the see of Canterbury has always been the defining feature of what it means to be an Anglican."

The idea that the Church in Wales would be on the "intimate decision making inner circle" while the Primate of all England and the Mother Church languished on the almost completely ignored outer fringes is just too ridiculous to contemplate - though it is the reason I have always been a firm advocate that the only Church that just HAD to sign up to the Covenant was The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 4:42pm GMT

I suggest at this point to go back to the Advent Letter of 2007 and read it to get the flavour of intentions. It was before the Lambeth Conference, for sure, where there was no resolution, but the intention behind that letter confirmed my then opposition to the intended centralisation, to turn the Communion into a Church.


Posted by: Pluralist on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 7:59pm GMT

Father Ron, I hope you'll keep us informed on what happens in your own dear old diocese on March 10. Do feel free to be *frightfully indiscreet*.

Posted by: rjb on Tuesday, 21 February 2012 at 11:13pm GMT

Well, rjb, I shall be present (hopefully) at the meeting on March 10, but without voting rights. I know there has been a Motion already confected in support of the Covenant, but I suspect that our Bishop's membership of the Covenant Commission will sway the vote. Nevertheless, General Synod of ACANZP may not yet give its approval.

I heartily approve of our Diocesan Bishop Victoria. I just think she may be wrong on this single issue.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 22 February 2012 at 1:16am GMT

A real blockbuster on you-tube, by 'Mr.Catolick.
A must see' for everyone worried about the Anglican Covenant. Just click on my name, below:

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 23 February 2012 at 9:12am GMT

Jean Vanier writes that unity “surges up from a life that flows within us and through us all together.'

Thanks Father Ron I took this from the site linked to you, beautiful.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 9:39pm GMT

Fr Ron is that right ?-- your site when i click on your name goes to a Fulcrum piece by John Watson (i think it was) was that what you intended ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Monday, 27 February 2012 at 10:21pm GMT

Apologies, Laurence, for your disappointment. I did feature an article by John Watson, of Fulcrum, so that Thinking Anglicans could critique it. However. if you had scrolled down on kiwianglo, you would have found Mr.Catolick - plus a lot more items of intereste to 'No Covenant' believers.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 28 February 2012 at 10:53pm GMT
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