Comments: Canadian General Synod

'Additionally, the final Covenant text makes it clear that “Nothing in this Covenant of itself shall be deemed to alter any provision of the Constitution and Canons of any Church of the Communion, or to limit its autonomy of governance.” '

- A137 Explanatory Note -

This indication of the A.C.of C.'s response to the Covenant - prepared for the Canadian G.S. 2010 - is perhaps the most important indicator of what ought to be a governance issue in any Covenant for the Anglican Communion. Each Province has it own provincial statutes, which ought never to become a secondary influence in the way it responds to Gospel mission within its own context.

In the light of this question, it is interesting that one of the first initiatives towards the formation of a world-wide Communion actually came from PECUSA. Without that initiative there may never have been an Anglican Communion - especially when one realises that PECUSA's episcopal origins owes more to the Scottish Episcopal Church than it does to the Church of England.

One of the glories of the newly-formed Communion was the fact that the original Lambeth Conference did not claim any sort of governing pre-eminence - but rather establishing a consultative ethos, giving support to the fact that each Province was self-governing, and not subject to the rule of Canterbury - except by the concept of the ABC becoming 'Primus inter pares' and not a sort of Anglican Pope.

With the upcoming scheduling of several General Synods in the near future (C.of E., A.C. of C., and the Scottish Episcopal Church) it will be very interesting to see each of these Provinces' take on how a Covenant process would affect them.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 1 June 2010 at 11:55pm BST

Actions mean consequences. If you vote for it, that is adopt it, you get the consequences.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 12:49am BST

I find the wording of the Explanatory Note/Background Information worrisome. The message seems to be that all our concerns have been addressed; there is nothing to worry about here. Provinces should be asking fundamental questions such as: Is a covenant necessary, helpful, or perhaps even dangerous? Are there better strategies for saving the Anglican Communion? Is the Anglican Communion worth saving? If so, at what price?

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 12:59am BST

Interesting that of all the things to be talked about at our General Synod this one document would be picked up. I am here to do staff work for one of the Anglican Church of Canada's ministries, the Council of the North, and I haven't heard much about the Covenant. I am hearing a lot more chatter about governance, about indigenous ministry, about financial stability. I hope that you will pick up some of these things over the next week and a half. Greetings to all from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Posted by Fiona Brownlee at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 2:46am BST

"Interesting that of all the things to be talked about at our General Synod this one document would be picked up. I am here to do staff work for one of the Anglican Church of Canada's ministries, the Council of the North, and I haven't heard much about the Covenant."

Considering the far reaching importance of the Covenant, this is not an encouraging statement.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 9:16am BST

Statements from staffers and official sources of the Anglican Church of Canada should be evaluated closely. The Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada have recommended to the Covenant for consideration but NOT for adoption. One reason for this is conflict in the order of bishops, and the fact that major urban dioceses have already moved to allow same gender blessings(New Westminster, Ottawa, Montreal, Niagara, Huron,and Toronto has a half way house on this.) Also, direction from the previous GS to our National executive to develop an amendment to the marriage canon allowing same sex marriage, put the executive committee (COGS) into crisis.
The result is that a micromanagerial process on same sex issues has been put in place at next week's GS in hopes of putting same sex issues "on the back burner". If you want a read on the polarization and controversy in Canada read the articles with posts on human sexuality and the covenant at this site at National Church HQ.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 12:23pm BST

Erika, I did not mean my statement to be encouraging or discouraging - just trying to show that Canadian Anglicans are getting on with the living out of God's mission here, in this time & place. We are much more concerned with the number of indigenous clergy who do not get paid for the fine, fine work that they do - this is a justice issue for many of us. We are concerned about our relationships with the wider church which is why both the Bishop of Jerusalem and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church are speaking to us. I am just saying that the Covenant and its outcome are not 'THE' top priority - it is one of many.

Please pray for us as we gather over the next several days.

Posted by Fiona Brownlee at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 2:23pm BST

I did not mean to criticise your comment!
And I so want to agree with you that there are so many truly important things to be done.

But I also recognise that, at least here in the CoE, it is largely because of the general attitude of "you continue your squabbling while we get on with the important things", that the church is drifting more and more toward the fundamentalist right, and soon it will be too late for everyone to wake up and do something about it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 4:27pm BST

Even if the 'Covenant' is adopted in current unacceptable form it will never be implemented.

It is unimplementable or rather unenforceable which amounts to the same thing.

I don't think much of an Anglican Communion will survive Williams' tenure.It is not very nice now. Not al all.

And it used to be too nice, so there we are.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 10:49pm BST

In terms of our internal processes, it's probably good tactics (from a progressive perspective) for General Synod to "manage" the same sex issue to the backburner. The longer that equal marriage is the norm in anada, the less the ravings of a small minority of extremists will be able to stampede the majority of moderates (including conservative moderates).

But Erika is right that there is a significant danger to downplaying the importance of the Covenant issue. I am constantly amazed by the number of progressives and moderates who, precisely because they are getting on with important things, have failed to grasp what an insidious power grab the Covenant as proposed really is. We risk stumbling into a complete remaking of the Anglican Communion along a curial model without even noticing.

That said, if General Synod merely initiates a process to consider the Covenant, that allows a process foor both proponents and opponents to get their oar in. If the Covenant (and possibly the Communion along with it) is still a living issue at GS 2013, then Covenant-sceptics will have had sufficient time to educate decision-makers - and to affect the outcome of General Synod elections.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Wednesday, 2 June 2010 at 10:55pm BST

Oh that would be terrible if they moved toward the fundamentalist right because they would have to obey the Word of the Lord.

Posted by Jack at Thursday, 3 June 2010 at 12:28am BST

Erika: Your words are wise and well taken. I hope you will also consider that the Holy Spirit is at work in every Christian Community be they Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox or the many Protestant Christian communities. True, the Fundamentalists have seized control of the power levers in many Christian communities but the Holy Spirit has not forsaken the rest of us. We would not have had a Vatican II or the election of an American Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine if the Holy Spirit were not actively at work. Inclusive love is what Jesus taught his disciples. I have no doubt that The Anglican Church of Canada has great things happening as a result of this inclusive love. The same Holy Spirit has not abandoned The Church of England. I know it may seem a long way off but I think things will eventually get much better for our sisters and brothers in The Church of England. Fundamentalist elements tried to sabotage the Second Vatican Council but the Holy Spirit broke through. It will happen again.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 3 June 2010 at 3:20am BST

Anyone interested in the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, opening tomorrow, can get info and a live feed by visiting this official page.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 3 June 2010 at 1:03pm BST

"Oh that would be terrible if they moved toward the fundamentalist right because they would have to obey the Word of the Lord." How nice that fundamentalists have the ear of God and speak with the mouth of God. This sounds like those who talk about "the plain meaning of scripture" only when it is plain to them-which means when they can use it to bolster their arguments or give them power. If scripture were to be read only one way we would still have slavery and women regarded as property, and if you read much of the OT, lots of people being stoned to death. Have you heard of the Holy Spirit? Jesus says that the Spirit has much to teach us that he was not able ("you cannot bear them now"). If God was only to be found in a book, we wouldn't have had the Word made Flesh.

Posted by Adam Armstrong at Thursday, 3 June 2010 at 10:00pm BST

Adam: Thank you for your words in this thread. I think most Fundamentalists are viewed as speaking out of two sides of their mouths. This is commonly referred to as "hypocrisy" and it has no place in the family that claim to be disciples of Jesus. Their ideas of the "plain meaning of scripture" is a two thousand year old debate that has never been won by either side. It is precisely because the Holy Spirit is ACTIVE in the community of Churches called Christianity, that brave branches of this family have chosen to be INCLUSIVE of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered human beings. It is exactly what Jesus would do. The so called right wing or Fundamentalists just can't deal with this concept of inclusive love. The Fundamentalists use words of hatred which bring violence to this marginalized and disenfranchised group of human beings. They don't seem to care about such consequences. I'm with you, I believe the Holy Spirit is ALIVE and ACTIVE. The best is yet to be.

Posted by Chris Smith at Friday, 4 June 2010 at 3:13am BST
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