Saturday, 3 March 2012

Anglican Covenant: two more diocesan rejections, one in favour

Today the dioceses of Bradford, Chelmsford and Hereford voted on the Anglican Covenant. Chelmsford and Hereford rejected the proposal, Bradford voted in favour.

The running totals are therefore 13 against, and 8 for.

In Chelmsford the voting was (Corrected):

Bishops: 2 for, 1 against, 1 abstention
Clergy: 27 for, 29 against, 7 abstentions
Laity: 31 for, 30 against, 3 abstentions

In Hereford the voting was:

Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 15 against, 1 abstention
Laity 21 for, 23 against, 1 abstention

In Bradford the voting was:

Bishop: 1 for, 0 against
Clergy: 15 for, 9 against, 2 abstentions
Laity: 16 for, 15 against, 3 abstentions

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 6:50pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England

Surely, Bradford was considered to be one of the dioceses most likely to vote for the Covenant? Nevertheless, even there it only narrowly squeaked through ... hardly a resounding endorsement for what is now indisputably a profoundly divisive idea.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 9:57pm GMT

Naughty old bishops, everywhere voting preponderantly for what most other sane people are clearly against... it does look like the Church needs reform at the top, doesn't it?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 10:34pm GMT

In these three results, it would seem that the House of bishops might be backing up Archbishop Rowan. However, in Chelmsford and Hereford, at least, they do not have the 'other' numbers.

Bradford may be predictably in favour, because of its close proximity to York, but Urim and Thummim may not be working in favour of the Covenant. The ABC and the ABY may have to put on their thinking caps to devise some non-synodical way through if they are intent on having 'Their way'.

I remember being told at theological college that there was only One Way - 'My Way' or Yahweh!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 3 March 2012 at 11:37pm GMT

Can someone confirm?

Of the total number of votes cast are the pro-covenant votes about 90 more than anti?

Posted by: c.r.seitz on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 2:33am GMT

The Telegraph thinks it's lost.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 9:20am GMT

The relatively high number of abstentions in the Covenant debates interests me. Are people genuinely perplexed as to what it will really entail and what, in practice ,it will mean..?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 11:50am GMT

Some aggregate statistics on voting can now be found at

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 12:30pm GMT

Since you ask, c.r. seitz, by my count (which excludes two dioceses for which no data is available), there are so far 721 votes in favour (49.22%), 663 against (45.26%), and 81 abstentions (5.53%). That gives the pro-covenant party a margin of just 58 votes, and this lead slips to 30 if you exclude the bishops.

I'm now going to give up statistics for Lent, and I swear I won't mention another percentage until this whole business is over.

Posted by: rjb on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 12:48pm GMT

What I would find interesting is some figures on the numbers of people entitled to attend and vote. It seems to me that some of the attendances are quite small but, without data on the size of each house in each diocese, it is difficult to gauge the level of interest that this reference to the dioceses is generating. Is such data readily available? If so, can someone point me to a source?

Posted by: RPNewark on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 1:45pm GMT

Nice try, Telegraph, at attempting to awaken sympathy for the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Also, look at how badly that article conflates the Church of England with the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 2:23pm GMT

If there is any truth in the rumours that ++Rowan will retire in year or so, the likely defeat or at least the half hearted and divisive approval of the Covenant is going to mark a new low in his term of office. How will history judge him? I cannot but think that it will regard him as much a failure as his predecessor (though hopefully ++Rowan will keep his mouth more firmly shut). What a disappointing end to something which started in such hope. But perhaps the whole thing was impossible anyway. The furore surrounding his appointment from the evangelical wing and their failure to be propitiated by the sacrifice of Jeffery John was the harbinger of a decade in which no one could be satisfied and in which ++Rowan's elliptical way of conveying his message meant that he could safely be ignored by those who wouldn't listen.

Perhaps the job has become impossible? Who on earth would want it in such circumstances? Who wants to try and keep a fractious Anglican Communion together? Who would be a diocesan bishop either (didn't I read that there is a shortage of good candidates)? Much better to be a Dean or a Precentor, or to advance in a University or theological setting. Perhaps the time has come to wind up the Anglican Communion, as a remnant of Victorian colonialism like the Commonwealth) and to move on to something much less structured and more in tune with the fluidity of modern times and much more like personal relationships. The covenant's model of a sort of Anglican magisterium is neither desirable nor workable. Bonds of affection only can keep us together, and that requires neither Head, nor bureaucracy. Is there anyone brave enough to say that?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 4:36pm GMT

The Diocese of Sodor and Man also rejected the Covenant on Thursday evening ( 2 March)


Bishops For 1 Against 0
Clergy For 5 Against 12
Laity For 21 Against 15 Abstain 1

Posted by: Jean Mary Mayland on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 5:23pm GMT

Overall percentages are interesting but irrelevant. But thanks for taking the time and effort to calculate them.

However, my guess is that by the time this Covenant voting exercise is finished total numbers will also be against, even taking into account the bishops who have little choice but to vote in favour, with a few brave and notable exceptions.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 5:50pm GMT

If anybody else missed the earlier reporting of the Sodor and Man voting here
do go back there and notice the two comment items that are linked in the same article.
The piece by Liam Beadle is particularly good.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 7:49pm GMT

I echo Conerned Anglican's comment that the "overall" figures may be interesting -- insofar as they show that among those eligible to vote the Covenant has not achieved a majority -- but that the voting in synods ia by orders, and resolutions must be adopted in all three orders within a diocese so as to determine the diocesan "vote." The real "vote" at this point, in terms of the process, remains at 13 against, 8 for. This voting system is an essentially conservative process, and surely appropriate for something portrayed as "way forward" for Anglicanism.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 8:24pm GMT

I do have some sympathy for the diocesan bishops. When a diocesan synod votes in line with their bishop, he or she is accused of dictatorial leadership. When the synod votes the other way, they have "lost all credibility and should resign".

These results, which seem I trust to be leading in the direction of rejecting the covenant, illustrate one of the finest things about the Anglican tradition. We tend to place authority on The-Bishop-in-Synod. If the bishop cannot persuade synod, that does not mean that s/he has lost credibility, simply that s/he has not persuaded the synod. That is why voting in houses is so important. There can be no mandate for a controversial initiative if the House of Clergy (or Laity) is opposed.
That is how it should be.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 10:52pm GMT

"Can someone confirm? Of the total number of votes cast are the pro-covenant votes about 90 more than anti?"

crs, President Al Gore (!) can tell you what this kind of reasoning is worth. Whether it's the Electoral College, or vote-by-orders, the system is what it is.

As for the "How will history judge +++Rowan?" question, I think the die was cast his first year w/ Jeffrey John. Chickens -> Roost

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 4 March 2012 at 11:32pm GMT

I do so wish the House of Bishops would stop this whole "whip" culture. Hoorah for +Nick Sarum!

Posted by: Dan BD on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 12:27am GMT

Edward Prebble said: "I do have some sympathy for the diocesan bishops. When a diocesan synod votes in line with their bishop, he or she is accused of dictatorial leadership. When the synod votes the other way, they have "lost all credibility and should resign"."

Well there certainly have been some "dictatorial" bishops who have tried to force the Covenant through with limited debate and only proCovenant information provided. About eight of them, the data suggests.

Seriously though, in every case where synod members have been provided with information both in favour of and opposed to the Covenant, and where opening presentations have included speakers from both sides, the Covenant has consistently gone down to defeat.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 7:13am GMT

@Concerned Anglican: Why do the bishops have little choice but to vote yes? Are they not men (and only so, in the C-of-E, alas)?

@JCF: but surely many believe that a recount in Florida would have given Al Gore the electoral votes he needed to win - so it isn't popular vs electoral votes, it's a supreme court decision which the supreme court really didn't have the right to make (no recount in Florida, where the governor was ......)

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 9:35am GMT

Dear Richard its way the Lambeth Conference of 1948 said it, but by the late 1950's we were moving on a different trajectory.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 11:52am GMT

@Dan - AND Bishop Tim Thornton of Truro - the first bishop to vote against the Covenant.

Does anyone know which bishop voted against in Chelmsford? Was it +Stephen?

Posted by: Jim on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 12:54pm GMT

Sterling summation JCF. Many thanks.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 4:30pm GMT

[Off-topic, @SaraMcV: it's a simple fact that Al Gore received a higher # of the Popular Vote, nation-wide, in the US Presidential election of 2000. Whether he *also* received a higher # of Popular Vote in the State of Florida---thus receiving a majority of the Electoral College votes, and the Presidency---will probably always be debateable (as will SCOTUS's role in the mess)]

Any organization that is NOT a direct democracy (one person, one equal vote) will be subject to those who would like to slice&dice in a different fashion, depending on whose ox is being, um, gored (I'm no different than anyone else in this regard). But direct democracies can have their own problems (see re voting on civil rights: Boo!), so...

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 7:51pm GMT

No, Bishop Stephen abstained and did not speak in the debate. Both the Bishop of Barking and the Bishop of Colchester spoke and, I assume voted, in favour
This leaves John Wraw our new Bishop of Bradwell as the one who voted against.

Posted by: Ray Descombes on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 9:06pm GMT

Perry - I was 3 in 1948. What have I missed?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 5 March 2012 at 10:47pm GMT e mail is if you want an answer..

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 at 9:39am GMT
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