Comments: General Synod - press reports of Wednesday's business

reins? Sure Ekklesia means "reigns". The writer had too much post-synod alcohol in his veigns.

Posted by Raspberry Rabbit at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 11:37am GMT

Assuming no effect from the GAFCON decision, it seems to me that the dioceses will pass the Covenant and put on the Synod afterwards exactly the moral pressure to pass it that the Covenant would exert on Churches to resist changes. However, there may be a twist in this in that GAFCON could find itself on the outside, and thus be forced into entryist strategies of parallel institutions of parishes, bishops, theological colleges and the like.

Passing the Covenant is a small confirmation of my own move to the Unitarians where creeds and such coercion are rejected in favour of evolving belief and plurality.

Posted by Pluralist at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 3:33pm GMT

Like most contributors to TA, I am opposed to the Covenant. I voted to remain in the Common Market in 1975 but, given the opportunity today, I would vote to leave because the present EU has become a bureaucratic monster. I am afraid the Anglican Communion will go exactly the same way. (I’m particularly against the CofE signing the Covenant because, in doing so, it will not only bind itself to the agreed standards of behaviour, it will bind the Royal Prerogative as well, which I don’t think it is legally able to do. But what do I know?)

However, I have no doubt the CofE will sign the Covenant. I very much hope, therefore, that TEC and the Canadian Church will sign up as well. Both Churches exemplify the standards of behaviour set out in Section Three of the Covenant (Our Unity and Common Life) while the Gafcon Primates have made it clear that those are not standards they themselves are willing to live by.

I’m not a sporty person but isn’t there something in football about a ‘loose ball’, where either team can gain possession and go on to score? I would like to see the Americans run with this one and place themselves firmly at the centre of communion life.

Posted by Terence Dear at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 4:21pm GMT

"I very much hope, therefore, that TEC and the Canadian Church will sign up as well."

No - I've commented on this elsewhere, but want to repeat it here.

We in the US are painfully aware of our history -when the whites sat in the nave, and the slaves in the balcony. I don't want to belong to something that has a balcony for the "lesser" Anglicans - and that includes GAFCON.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 5:35pm GMT

I think the loose ball Mr. Dear is thinking of occurs in basketball, not football. Although that may be a hopelessly American perspective.

Posted by Gene O'Grady at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 7:41pm GMT

I think Cynthia is absolutely right. No multi-tier Communion. If any Churches think they need to "walk apart" that would be very tragic, but people need to take responsibility for their own actions and not blame them on what somebody else does.

I commented over at The Lead this morning: "I think one of the ways God pours out grace upon us when we wander astray is with a bucket of irony. It may be that the defection of the GAFCON gang will have the effect of saving the Covenant for +Rowan. On the other hand, if the GAFCON gang refuses to sign the Covenant, then the rest of us don't need it."

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 8:16pm GMT

Terence, why should Canada and the TEC sign up for something that has now lost its raison d'etre?

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 8:28pm GMT

"However, I have no doubt the CofE will sign the Covenant. I very much hope, therefore, that TEC and the Canadian Church will sign up as well. Both Churches exemplify the standards of behaviour set out in Section Three of the Covenant (Our Unity and Common Life) while the Gafcon Primates have made it clear that those are not standards they themselves are willing to live by." - Terence Dear, on Thursday -

I think, Terence, in the circumstances, many of us who look with suspicion on the Covenant could tentatively endorse your suggestion here - that TEC and the A.C.of C. take this opportunity to 'run with the ball' and score. One hopes, though, that it wouldn't become an 'own goal'!

However, there is still the risk that the ACO could enforce the newly-spawned disciplinary factor of Section 4.2 of the Covenant, to stifle any further moves to emancipate gays and other minorities who share membership with us in the Body of Christ.

Notwithstanding the fact that Archbishop Rowan has indicated, in his Synod Address, that time should be taken to re-address the subject of the issue of gender and sexuality in the Church; one wonders exactly how much more 'time' must be wasted on discussion, before realising the lost opportunities (latent in that decision) that could futher distance the youth of the Church who are becoming impatient to see action on this matter?

There has been quite enough time spent - at least by those Provinces of the Church that can claim not to be homophobic or misoynist - on studying these important matters. Actions speak louder than words - especially where common justice is at stake.

I've no doubt that, if Section 4.2. of the Covenant doucment were to be excised; there would be a lot more support for a Covenant relationship within the Anglican Communion at large. However, the secessionists of the Global South may just be left out in the cold - preferring to follow their iconic 'Jerusalem Declaration' - outlawing any further research into the mystery of human sexuality and its beneficial consequences.

On balance, I'm still: No Covenant!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 25 November 2010 at 11:26pm GMT

Dear Rowan Williams,

Hello? Hello? Is there anyone at the other end of the line? Hello-o?

Oh, thanks. I couldn't hear you. Perhaps it's the beard... Anyway, I wanted to hear your thinking about the Covenant at this point. I noted your fervent speech at the General Synod. It seems to have brought the members of Synod around, huh? Nice work. Did they understand what you were saying or did they just vote the thing in the affirmative to send it on?

So, now what? The GAFCON heavyweights will not come to the Primates Meeting. So, you can shelve your musical rooms strategy to have a meeting without having a meeting. By the way, I can hardly imagine what the "communique" would report about the meetings that weren't a meeting. If anyone could draft such a communique, it is you, reverend sir. It looks like you will not have to perform this task, so I will miss out on reading another "end of the Communion as we know it" statement from the Primates.

It seems that the people for whom the Covenant was written don't want the Covenant either. They call it "fatally flawed". I could say that we told you so, but according to you we represent the people who "unthinkingly" regard inclusion of women and LGBT persons as "one of those matters on which the church must be brought into line with what our culture can make sense of."

I understand that you're not happy. Sort of like being stranded on an island after the last boat has left. And, just to mention it, does it seem to you, as it does to me, that the GAFCON/GS Primates are quite willing to form a new Communion that doesn't include you and your successors? So what about that?

Do you use oral analgesics? Perhaps a stiff drink?

It's been lovely having these few words with you. You really haven't been keeping in touch, except for scoldings and removals, of course. I don't blame you for feeling badly. Go to bed. A headache can be an awful thing.

Posted by karenmacqueen+ at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 12:37am GMT

What Cynthia said.

And our leadership is becoming aware that - even if they are blind enough to sign on - we won't necessarily follow where they lead.

Sheep know bad shepherds, as well as the Good One.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 5:10am GMT

I believe Cynthia Gilliatt's comments in this thread are right on target! I would add: A two tier Anglican Communion whereby institutionalized homophobia and misogyny are accepted practice is something that The Episcopal Church and the Canadian Church should reject at every turn. I believe they will do so. If the Church of England adopts such a Covenant it will ultimately destroy their credibility with society at large. It is already a destructive and divisive time bomb in the Roman Catholic Church. It is better to stay the course and follow the light of Christ's inclusive love and allow the Fundamentalists to go their on way.

Posted by Chris Smith at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 5:12am GMT

I can assure our American readers that the 'loose ball' is indeed a term from football. There is not much basketball played here for it it be a term from that game (and even less American football)

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 8:16am GMT

How much of a two tier communion will there be? If the Gafcon Churches withdraw from the Primates’ Meeting, the Standing Committee and the Covenant, to what extent will they constitute the second tier that Cynthia, and I, are equally opposed to?

All I'm suggesting is that, if the game changes, it is usually a good thing to at least review your tactics.

Cliché coming up! – Some of my best friends are Americans. I have a great affection for America but two things disturb me: Specific to TA is the sense of victim-hood that comes across in many of the comments. I don’t myself do victim-hood. It’s too self-indulgent and a waste of energy. The other thing is the American propensity for isolationism. Walking out on the game because you don’t like the ref’s decision isn’t good.

Christmas is coming and in the UK that means Pantomime! The Wicked Fairy casts a spell on the beautiful princess but then the Good Fairy appears. She cannot undo the spell but she can change it to something less harmful. Perhaps if TEC stays in the game, or on stage (oh dear, too many metaphors), she can turn the Covenant, and the Communion, into a good thing.

Posted by Terence Dear at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 10:21am GMT

'Lose cannon' or should that be Canon ! - expresses the destructiveness better though.

Any one for croquet?

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 10:26am GMT

Is the Covenant the Anglican version of Infallibility?

Posted by Nom de Plume at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 10:33am GMT

Terence Dear "Specific to TA is the sense of victim-hood that comes across in many of the comments"

Isn't this a little patronising? Perhaps honouring those who have been wounded by the institution of the Church would be more sensitive here.

I would say that TA receives comments from a lot of people who have been badly treated by those in power in the Church, and who yet refuse to walk away altogether, which is what those in power would much prefer them to do. Instead, they have decided to at least stay in the forum of debate and make sure their voices are also included in some small part. Is that not a rather noble attitude, more so than slinking away, or pretending the Church has in fact been behaving well to them, at least?

Posted by Fr Mark at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 12:53pm GMT

Terence Dear said, "American propensity for isolationism. Walking out on the game because you don’t like the ref’s decision isn’t good."

Cliches are not only cliches but also quite often inaccurate. It is ironic to level the isolationism accusation, when it was North Americans who first proposed that the Lambeth Conference take place.

As far as I know, Canada and TEC are still attending the primates' meeting in Ireland. So they are not walking off any field.

And last I checked, the Archbishop of Canterbury was primus inter pares -- first among equals. Nothing like an international referee. Not a judge of any sort.

Now if TEC and Canada reject the Covenant, then they will simply be refusing an invitation to a different sort of game. That's a perfectly legitimate position.

An alternative analogy to the athletic one might be to the world of mergers and acquisitions. The Covenant is like an attempt at a hostile takeover of three dozens different corporations at once.

Just because the Canterbury launches a merger campaign doesn't mean that other churches must accede to it.

If shareholders value their interests in their own distinct entities, then of course they ought to reject the merger.

Isolationism? Or mere independence?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 1:45pm GMT

Fr Mark
thank you.
I am also always surprised that people seem to assume that the only ones struggling with staying together are the conservatives and that liberals are generally considered to be selfish and unwilling to compromise.
The sacrifice and compromise for liberal provinces and for individuals is enormous when you think that they are willing to live side by side with someone like Bishop Orombi who would have them executed if they lived in his country, or with Western churches who will not allow them to be priests or bishops and who would rather not employ them in any capacity.
Yet, they are not insisting that only their way has to be right for anyone else, they are not forcing change on more conservative provinces, they are not turning away in disgust or despair. Instead, they are willing to see them as sisters and brothers in Christ.
That is a huge act of faith and of courage for some of us and we are not asking others for sacrifices we are not making ourselves.
The Covenant proposal is saying in essence “we don’t see you sacrificing anything, we see you selfishly obstructing the Communion, so we would either like you to sign up to our values or to relegate yourself to a lesser tier”.
Are you surprised that Americans are saying that enough is enough?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 2:23pm GMT

A couple of Posters have expressed hope that Canada will not sign the covenant. Canada passed a resolution at its most recent GS commending The Covenant for study in advance of the next GS in 2013.We are in much the same situation as the C of E at this point--except for the time frames. I've attached a link to the resolution and the comment with it. The comments were authored by our church bureaucracy. They are very covenant friendly regarding changes made to the original covenant draft. I think it fair to say that they are indicative of a pro-covenant perspective.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 2:38pm GMT

According LGTBTs second-class status in an institution is morally indefensible. What is at stake here is not some silly doctrine about something unfalsifiable but rather people's lives.

A covenant that would discipline provinces for opening up marriage to same-sex couples and the ordained ministry to all LGBTs, married, partnered, whatever, would communicate that the Anglican Communion still promotes gay bashing/bullying.

Like the ecumenical movement, this covenant assumes that dog collars make up the church rather than the people. LGBT lay people will be able to drop out of provinces that sign on to homophobia or refuse to enforce equal protection. The people vote with their feet while the dog collars continue the medieval paradigm that sees bishops as the guarantors of catholicity. Rather than a sign of hope the dog collar has continued to be a sign of division.

This unseemly debate about who is authorized to have a dog collar, i.e., a bishop's mitre, is evangelical suicide in North America and, I suspect, even in England, with its state church--if I can trust the figures on church attendance in the UK.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by garydasein at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 8:09pm GMT

Indeed, the term "loose ball" applies in North American football as well - as in this example from last weekend's Canadian Football League Western Division Final:

I agree with Rod that antiCovenanters in Canada need to begin making our case beyond the blogosphere. Any Canadians interested in being part of that process, please sign up at so that, as the Canadian Convenor for the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, I will have your contact information. I expect to be making further contact with the Canadian group over the next week.

Canadians have played a significant role in the campaign against the Anglican Covenant to date, including articles by Canon Alan Perry of Montreal and by our former Chancellor, the Hon. Ronald Stevenson QC. Both of those articles (and several others) are available on the Resources page at

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Friday, 26 November 2010 at 10:09pm GMT

In addition to Malcolm's comments, let me say that I have a post on my new blog, and will be posting every few days with further thoughts on the Covenant. I have roughly a half dozen posts fermenting in my head, and no doubt that will keep growing. Click on the link below for the most current, a discussion on the question of Instrument Choice, in other words whether there ought to be any kind of Covenant, which is a question that has been largely ignored since the beginning. I hope that what I write, though from a Canadian perspective, will be relevant to anyone in the Communion who is considering this question.

Alan T Perry, LLM (Canon Law)

Posted by Alan T Perry at Saturday, 27 November 2010 at 2:30am GMT

"Isolationism" is an easy charge, and simplistic.

I have no problem with being "isolationist" when, for instance, someone is saying to me, "Look, to be a part of this group you have to beat up and rob that guy over there," or "To be in the group you've got to do drugs," or "To be in the group you've got to drink this and get on the comet to Heaven!"

Stepping out of a failed, morally-reprehensible "communion" is not isolationism. We can't make you go with us, so it's your choice to stay. We're not cutting ourselves off from the rest of the world, just not playing the game you want us to to validate your continuing in the AC. If "isolationism" means refusing to participate in evil-doing to let a few fell all good about themselves, then *vive* isolationism!

Sometimes, going it alone isn't a choice, it isn't a petulant storming out; sometimes it's what you have to do when others won't do what's right.

In that, I respect the orthodite position much more than the "middle-grounders" - at least GAFCON stands for something.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Saturday, 27 November 2010 at 5:26am GMT

Must thank Rod Gillis for the link.

Especially for

'request that conversations, both within the Anglican Church of Canada and across the Communion, reflect the values of openness, transparency, generosity of spirit, and integrity, which have been requested repeatedly in the context of the discussion of controversial matters within the Communion;'

I have would never have associated the treatment of lesbians and gays in and by the Church with 'openess', 'generosity... and integrity'. Nor the process leading to and following the 'Windsor Report' with 'openness, transparency, generosity or integrity'.

I am speaking from experience.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Saturday, 27 November 2010 at 2:21pm GMT

Mr. Dear,

Well, if others refuse to fight the powers-that-be to do what is right - I think a sense of "victimhood" is easily found on both sides of the Atlantic, given the excuse of "we-can-do-nothing-because-it-puts-our-jobs-at-risk" we constantly hear for not opposing the bishops and archbishops - if others refuse to stand, we must "go it alone" - if that's isolationism, then well and good; some of us don't see this as a trivial ball game but as something that actually matters in the lives of ourselves and others, and find the constant politicking and excuse-making to be repugnant - bordering on the unholy.

What I'm hearing isn't "don't isolate yourselves" but "play it our way at your expense."

Now, try to convince me I'm wrong.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 30 November 2010 at 6:15am GMT

"I have a great affection for America but two things disturb me: Specific to TA is the sense of victim-hood that comes across in many of the comments. I don’t myself do victim-hood. It’s too self-indulgent and a waste of energy. The other thing is the American propensity for isolation-ism. Walking out on the game because you don’t like the ref’s decision isn’t good.

- Terence Dear, on Friday -

Terence, I sometimes look right through the comments on a particular thread again. And I can see what Mark finds difficult about your state-ment here; Victimhood happens - when people are isolated and made objects of injustice - which is what I see TEC and the A.C.of C. have been subjected to, in a big way, by Provincial Primates who have not stepped up to the mark, to counter the abusive comments and actions made by certain Global South Provinces made against them.

For these two Provinces in North America - who do happen to be 'on their own' in many senses of those words (but actually up with the mood of the times in terms of justice-making) - to have to contend with the degree of suspicion and brute arrogance that has been dealt out to them by their Communion confederates, must have worn their patience and charity to the limits.

And then, to have Head Office (ACO), deny their duly-appointed Bishop in New Hampshire a place at the Table at Lambeth 2008 - while America's critics disdained to even sit down with Presiding Bishop Katherine in that same assembly - and then, to cap it all, to deny TEC any further share in the ecumenical courts of the Communion's conversations with other Churches - this was surely the very last straw.

This is the reason that people like myself, who may have been baptised and confirmed into the Church of England, and have relations who are clergy and laity within that body, and are now part of another Province (mine is NZ), inclined towards TEC and the A.C.of C.'s position than that of our Mother church of England. I only pray that the C.of E., when it comes to the point of acceptance or rejection of the Covenant, will say "NO We have given anough slack to GAFCON, the Global South, ACNA and the ACI, and will not look for any Confessional partnership that might fall short of full inclusion for TEC and the A.C.of C.

That's not about Victimhood, Terence, but about Common Justice and Christian Charity. That's the Churches' Mission in god's World.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 1 December 2010 at 9:22am GMT

Fr. Smith wrote: "That's not about Victimhood, Terence, but about Common Justice and Christian Charity. That's the Churches' Mission in god's World."


I'll go with what Jesus said, and actually did, rather than the oppression and hate displayed by much of the self-appointed ultra-orthodox, anytime.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Thursday, 2 December 2010 at 5:03am GMT
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