Sunday, 18 March 2012

Bishop of Liverpool on the Anglican Covenant

Updated

The Diocese of Liverpool voted yesterday to reject the Anglican Covenant. The presidential address to the diocesan synod by the Right Reverend James Jones can be found in full as a PDF file here.

Update the full address can now be seen on video here.

A press release about it from the diocese: The Anglican Covenant will undermine not save the Communion.

In his Presidential Address to the synod of the Diocese of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones readdresses his longstanding concerns about the creation of the Covenant. The Bishop will tell synod “far from being the salvation of the Communion the Anglican Covenant would undermine it”.

Bishop James set out six key concerns over the Covenant.

  • That in a litigious world where the religious dimension makes this more fraught the Covenant with “its explicit threats of ‘relational consequences’ will be making our Communion more vulnerable to those forces that propel people forward in litigation.”
  • That the Communion will become increasingly absorbed by internal order which will take time money and energy – he will state “my heartache here is that those precious gifts of time, money and energy should be directed to the mission of God”.
  • That the church “has been born for mission” and the Covenant can introduce a dynamic the makes the communion resistant to change. As he says “instead of setting us free to engage with a changing world it freezes us at a given point in our formation, holding us back and making us nervous about going beyond the boundaries and reaching out into God’s world.” The Bishop argues that the “church must be free to go into all the world and to engage with new cultures enabling us all to learn Christ”.
  • Pointing to the Diocese of Liverpool’s relationship with the Diocese of Akure and the Diocese of Virginia he will say “the beauty of the Communion is that it allows for such ad hoc partnerships to spring up all over the world” and that “we learn most about the Gospel form those who differ from us”. The quasi legal nature of the Covenant will threaten that dynamic.
  • That through the Bible, the Creeds, the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the 39 Articles and Book of Common Prayer we have sufficient credentials for our common life.
  • Bishop James also talked about the act of grace that it is to be in Christ stating “when we are in Christ, we are in Christ with everybody else who is in Christ, whether we like it or not- or them or not…”

The Bishop’s address continues his long stated contribution around how we should relate to those with whom we have differing theological or political viewpoints. From “Making space for truth and grace” to his speeches on the environment; relationships with other faiths and on the Ordination of women to the Episcopate the Bishop has urged a greater understanding of the opinions of those with whom we disagree. This is an approach the Bishop himself has taken within the Diocese of Liverpool as the diocese works together to pursue the mission of God in our region.

As Bishop James concludes “The Church of England and the Anglican Communion have over the centuries developed a generous embrace allowing seekers to taste and see the goodness of God. Within our borders there is a generous orthodoxy. There is space for the seeker to breathe, to enquire, to ask questions, to doubt and to grope towards faith and to find God. That I believe is a space within the Body of Christ worth preserving.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 2:05pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Anglican Communion | Church of England
Comments

I thought Liverpool a good possibility for ABC last time -- I thought perhaps not this time because of his age, but the subesquent post makes me reconsider. I think that Liverpool might be just what is needed now for the ABC.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 3:35pm GMT

I think the last thing 'Liverpool' needs is endorsement from the savants of TA. So I'm supporting another candidate ...

Posted by: john on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 7:02pm GMT

Positioning himself for the succession already!

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 19 March 2012 at 1:01am GMT

I think that +James Jones, as an acknowledgedly 'reformed' Evangelical Bishop (but not 'Reform') would make an excellent Archbishop of Canterbury.

Part of +James' reformation came when he began to understand that the LGBT community is made in the very same Image & Likeness of God as the majority of human beings who happen to be heterosexual. He also is aware that no Covenant process like the one suggested would ever entice the GAFCON Primates back into filial relationship with progressive Churches of the Communion. That must be a plus - in the light of current developments.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 March 2012 at 10:38am GMT

I think +James Jones' concerns about the Covenant are long standing and sincerely held. If the Covenant is rejected in England then it makes a lot of sense to consider people who have developed a different way of thinking about the Communion.

A rejection of the Covenant is a major reversal of the leadership within the CofE and the Communion as a whole over the last 10 years or so and leadership that understands that and has an alternative way forward is important.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 19 March 2012 at 2:02pm GMT

Craig, I agree with you, because I too have watched this man for a fair while. But: if he is thought a 'liberal' candidate, it will scupper him. Also: I share 'Spirit''s unease about the timing of this manifesto. Father Ron: I don't agree with you. This man is not a 'liberal' or 'progressive' in your sense: he is a 'liberal pluralist'. Excellent - I am with that (although I am also 'liberal'/'progressive' in your sense). Bu the inescapable 'quid pro quo', which you never seem to grasp, is that 'liberals' like us HAVE to extend generosity to 'non-liberals' (like, for example, Father David). That seems stomaching some things we disapprove of, just as (sensible) 'non-liberals' have to stomach some things from us.

Posted by: John on Monday, 19 March 2012 at 7:55pm GMT

My only response to your comment here, John, is that of my old primary school motto: 'To thine own-self be true'. Bending over backwards to accommodate what one feels, instinctively, to be wrong is what has landed the Communion into this pickle we are in!

Unity is not necessarily 'going along with' - at the price of personal integrity; whichever side we find ourselves on. I suppose that Jesus' liberality was a mark against Him, but it didn't prevent him continuing to be seen with 'the wrong people'. In fact, he paid the price for His openness to the despised and rejected of society.

Sometimes we need to stick our necks out, and be recognised for what we are and what we believe in. After all, the 'other lot' do.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 at 4:40am GMT

Father Ron,

If that's what you believe, you should not be supporting Jones.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 20 March 2012 at 10:57am GMT

John, I am not of the Evangelical school myself, but that would not prevent my supporting +James Jones. He appears to have relented on the old con-evo position about LGBT people, and to my mind, that needs to be supported. Generosity begins at home, and home is where the heart is. The Church has been equivocal about common justice for too long.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 at 8:12am GMT
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