Comments: Wales and the Anglican Covenant

Another case of one way bias.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 7:46pm BST

This seems to me to be an exemplary exercise in openness. The contrast with the seemingly closed discussions in the Church of England is stark. In the light of links, articles and letters posted here there should be great concern that the issue seems to be being steam-rollered through to approval and that the justified concerns over the Covenant are neither being heard or considered. The Church of England Synodical system and the electoral college makes it very difficuly to ensure that the voice of the person in the pew is also heard alongside the professional committee goers. Some dioceses haven't even referred it to Deaneries let alone further down and the lack of balanced accompanying papers for and against is most alarming. I am not usually one for conspiracy theories, preferring the c*ck up theory generally. But I can't help wondering.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 7:54pm BST

Shame that a Welsh Archbishop of Canterbury can't emulate the Church in Wales.

I agree with Richard Ashby that "the Church of England Synodical system and the electoral college makes it very difficult to ensure that the voice of the person in the pew is also heard alongside the professional committee goers."

However, I think that this is part of a wider problem whereby the church authorities pay scant attention to the views of the laity; even Licensed Lay Ministers seem to be undervalued.

Posted by Laura Sykes at Wednesday, 6 April 2011 at 10:21pm BST

I hope that the Church in Wales website will post my comment:

I am a young American who strongly supports the Covenant. I am also principal editor of Pro Communione: Theological Essays on the Anglican Covenant (Wipf & Stock/Pickwick, forthcoming), a collection of essays by younger Anglicans from across the Anglo-American world which is due to be published next year. Notably, even as we all have questions about the Covenant we also fundamentally support it.

The current generation of leadership must ask itself if it wishes to be the generation that dismantled the Anglican Communion. No generation has the right to destroy that which was once entrusted to it. I would like to implore all people, particularly those who are in decision-making positions within the Communion, to ask themselves what they wish to pass on to the next generation. My generation is the direct inheritor of every decision that has been and is being made within the Anglican Communion, on both provincial and pan-provincial levels. An ideological flight to utopian complacency is wholly at odds with what the present moment needs: a clear-sighted realism which accounts for this generation's legacy.

It is unfair to expect the children of the the 'Me' Generation/Baby Boomers to follow in their parents' footsteps. It is unfair to ask us to share their values or their pop song laden politics. No generation lives to write its own history - that is the task (or the curse) of its progeny. Decisions about the Anglican Covenant ought to be made with this mind, for the histories that are written will bear full witness to the decisions that are made on this matter in the coming years.

Posted by guyer at Thursday, 7 April 2011 at 6:55pm BST

Mr. Guyer writes: "The current generation of leadership must ask itself if it wishes to be the generation that dismantled the Anglican Communion." I'm not quite sure to whom he is referring. It seems to me that if the Anglican Communion is dismantled, the perpetrators will be those who are saying "If you do not sign our Anglicaner-than-thou Covenant, you have no place with us."

I am an old American who strongly opposes the Covenant. I am older than the "Me" Generation/Baby Boomers. I have been an active Anglican/Episcopalian all my life. I'm not at all sure what Mr. Guyer is talking about. Perhaps he would give us a more specific critique of whatever it is he thinks we are doing. "Pop song laden politics"?

Posted by Bill Moorhead at Thursday, 7 April 2011 at 10:01pm BST

Did Mr. Moorhead not live through the 1960s? How can he not know what pop song politics are? Does something like "The Times They Are A-Changin'" sound familiar?

As for the latter comment - "I am an old American who strongly opposes the Covenant" - age, like frequency of church attendance, is immaterial. I did not claim (and I know of no one who would be so naive to claim) that there is a simple generational bifurcation on the matter. The issue which I have raised, and which Mr. Moorhead did not answer, remains: "The current generation of leadership must ask itself if it wishes to be the generation that dismantled the Anglican Communion. No generation has the right to destroy that which was once entrusted to it. I would like to implore all people, particularly those who are in decision-making positions within the Communion, to ask themselves what they wish to pass on to the next generation."

Perhaps Mr. Moorhead might tell us what the legacy that he and the anti-Covenant crowd are bequeathing to the world? What will speak more loudly to history - the various ideals which drive the anti-Covenant lobby or the destruction of the Anglican Communion? I don't suspect that the children of the 'Me' Generation's many divorces are as sympathetic to this destruction as Mr. Moorhead might imagine, regardless of our views on human sexuality (which are, as we all surely recognize, diverse).

Perhaps this is the reason I feel so passionately about the issue: I am looking at a lot more decades in this church. Mr. Moorhead is likely looking at less. Young people thus have a greater vested interest in the preservation and pacification of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by guyer at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 2:09am BST

One can be of any generation and be for the Anglican Communion and also have hesitancies about or even problems with the proposed Covenant. Pitting entire generations of each other against each other in this way does not allow for nuances among persons much less among arguments.

Posted by Christopher at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 2:58am BST

"regardless of our views on human sexuality (which are, as we all surely recognize, diverse)"

Surely? Nope, can't say it rings a bell: I don't know what "young" Anglicans you hang out with but I don't know anyone under, oh, 30ish for whom the "presenting issue" of the Covenant (the intransigent refusal of a few brave provinces to unchurch a certain segment of the faithful, much as the "second wave" of Covenant supporters may distance themselves from its source) is in any wise an issue.

As a gay youth whose own parents' separation has deepened my scepticism about no-fault divorce, I'm a little insulted to be lumped in with the "permissive society" or other culture war debates of preceding generations for which I was not (blaming the "Me" generation, which I missed by a wide mark, is a cheap dodge). How is asking the Church for the opportunity to be bound by the same marital discipline as my straight peers "permissive"? And why the sudden need for restraint now, rather than when the far more problematic issue of second marriages was introduced? I suspect the "legacy" we homewrecking queers hope to leave is a church will sticks to a few doctrinal essentials and sticks to them well, while allowing generosity of interpretation, as our current Covenant does in a mere 104 words. It may not be an attitude directly exegetable from Hooker, but it's certainly consonant with the view of Elizabeth I's (hardly a woolly liberal) refusal to fashion "windows into men's [sic] souls."

Posted by Geoff at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 1:59pm BST

'Young people thus have a greater vested interest in the preservation and pacification of the Anglican Communion'.

O come on! For 'Young people', like most of us, the Anglican Communion is completely irrelevant to both our religious and secular lives. Except where it tries to interfer with legitimate developments in doctrine and practice of each Church and where one group tries to impose its views on the rest.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 2:33pm BST

Young or old has nothing to do with this. This "covenant" is a nasty attempt to convert a fellowship of national churches into an RC-style international church. Look, I'm not a baby boomer and understand your anger with their generation. But that has nothing to do with this callous attempt to enforce conformity (and homophobia) on the Episcopal Church in America, along with Anglicans in Canada, New Zealand, and elsewhere.

Posted by Dennis at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 2:42pm BST

While I agree with Mr Guyer's concern that this generation not be known as the one that dismantled the Anglican Communion, I think adopting the covenant will be exactly that: dismantling the Anglican Communion. We were not founded as a confessional movement and the covenant essentially makes us a confessional movement. We are not a world-wide church, but a gathering of autonomous churches. The covenant seeks to end that autonomy. The ABC has no authority beyond England - nobody has an authority beyond their boundaries - the covenant fundamentally changes that. A covenant-based worldwide Anglican Church would be an entirely new and different thing and it would be the end of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by Scott at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 4:27pm BST

I woud like to briefly respond to a few points.

First, and generally, as I noted in my second post above, age is immaterial. I have asked a question about what the current leadership (I used the term 'generation', clearly a poor choice on my part - perhaps 'leadership cohort' or just 'leadership' is better?) wishes to bequeath to those who are growing up within our Communion or entering into positions of leadership. As several other posts have noted, there is a certain sense that the 'Me' Generation has derailed a few things. But I certainly don't think that support for the Covenant boils down to a "Talkin' 'bout my generation" sort of difference between 'us' and 'them'. I'm sorry if I failed to make that clearer earlier. Again, as I wrote in my second post, age is immaterial. The question is, what do we (and specifically those making decisions) wish to leave to the future? I do wish that someone would take a stab at this question!

Second, to Geoff, I confess that I don't understand the reference to 'homewrecking queers'. I don't know who has argued this and it certainly wasn't a part of my own statement. Nonetheless, I am sorry to hear of it. I recognize that arguments about human sexuality will continue. Arguments have to be had through to their end, whatever it might be (hence my statement that we have diverse views on point). Is shirking the question of unity excusable or justifiable when it comes to human sexuality? I honestly don't think so, as it assumes that human sexuality is more important.

Third, to Richard Ashby, I should have altered the above to say 'young people within the Anglican Communion'. I assumed that was the obvious referent, and I apologize that it was not.

Posted by guyer at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 4:55pm BST

guyer wrote, "No generation has the right to destroy that which was once entrusted to it."

I beg your pardon? I would argue that at times a new generation has the right - indeed, the *obligation* - to destroy what was once entrusted to it. I keep trusting that with each new generation are able to further dismantle the nuclear terror that clouded my childhood. I am glad that a previous generation restructured the Church from an institution racially segregated by canon to one that knows its sin of racism and struggles against it - and, guyer, be assured that where I grew up that change did involve destroying some institutions along the way.

We are called to be stewards of that with which God entrusts us. Sometimes it is good stewardship to preserve. Sometimes it is good stewardship to repair. Sometimes it is good stewardship to tear down and start over.

Now, in the efforts around the Covenant, it's a matter of debate just who's more in the "tear down and start over" mindset. Those who have called for a "new reformation," for many of whom the Covenant isn't sufficiently rigorous, have as much a part in risking the Communion as those of us who want respect for each church's efforts within each church's specific cultural setting.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 5:03pm BST

Benjamin Guyer is here playing the role of the young naïf (who only wants his chance to enjoy the Anglican Communion). He is no such thing. He is an active combatant in the web battles over the direction of the Anglican Communion, he is a regular poster over at Living Church, and is in regular working relationships with the usual suspects over on the right hand side of the Anglican debates.

A thirty year old activist for conservative theology has every right to participate in the discussion, and to bring his beliefs from his charismatic and "continuing Anglican" background into the debate, but to take on the role of the young outsider who just wants those mean old people to stop fighting and love the Covenant is a little disingenuous.

Posted by Dennis at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 5:56pm BST

"The current generation of leadership must ask itself if it wishes to be the generation that dismantled the Anglican Communion. No generation has the right to destroy that which was once entrusted to it."

Couldn't agree more. This new structure of Anglicanism changes the Communion beyond recognition and you could well argue that, while every generation has the right to change what was once entrusted to it, it has to be done carefully, wisely, slowly and with a substantial majority agreement.

Not sure that applies to the Covenant proposal and the machamisms for its adoption.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 6:50pm BST

I thought only people much much older than I am had issues with Bob Dylan. So far as I know, he's not had anything to say - or sing - about the Anglican Communion, but then, I've not heard him lately.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 8 April 2011 at 8:42pm BST

"Is shirking the question of unity excusable or justifiable when it comes to human sexuality?"

Yep. If "unity" is code for being blackmailed into doctrinal uniformity then it takes back seat to doing right by our own gay parishioners and ending the double standard. After all, it's not like SSM or gay bishops *force* anyone to leave the communion, the implicit assumption underpinning the dichotomous "Covenant or schism" choice being presented. Unity we have in spades: it's in the current Anglican Covenant and in our willingness to meet at the same table (both sacramentally and in terms of governance) at an international level. More than that crosses from unity into doctrine police, and if that's your bag there are plenty of denominations out there to choose from. Just don't try to pass it off as some two-bit "genuine Anglicanism" - many Anglicans in fact came to be such as refugees *from* those traditions.

Posted by Geoff at Saturday, 9 April 2011 at 2:49am BST

"The current generation of leadership must ask itself if it wishes to be the generation that dismantled the Anglican Communion. No generation has the right to destroy that which was once entrusted to it." - guyer -

Too late, guyer, the severance has already occurred. Ask GAFCON and ACNA about their new claims to 'orthodoxy' within the Communion (as opposed, presumably, to the 'un-orthodoxy' of the rest of us who want to see an inclusive future for ALL churches and ALL people of the Communion.

Whether they will ever come to any sort of agreed covenantal status within the 'Bonds of Affection' Communion that has hitherto existed is doubful - whatever the rest of us might think about the need for togetherness.

Your enthusiasm for the Covenant is touching, but based on a peculiar premise that your generation alone is to be affected by the outcome. I suggest you take note of those who have borne the 'Heat and Burden' of the day - who also need to be considered as part of the Communion fellowship - but not necessarily from the magisterial centre which you seem to prefer.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 9 April 2011 at 6:03am BST

'I should have altered the above to say 'young people within the Anglican Communion'.

Mr Guyer: That is exactly what I thought you meant and my comment stands.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 9 April 2011 at 9:04am BST

Mr Guyer: "An ideological flight to utopian complacency is wholly at odds with what the present moment needs: a clear-sighted realism which accounts for this generation's legacy."

I have to admit to a double take at this posting of Mr Guyer, and also a quick mental check that it wasn't 1st April. Those of us who have misgivings over the proposed Covenant do so precisely because we believe it will dismantle the Anglican Communion as it has developed over many years and in which we have found a home. It will replace gracious bonds of affection (and, yes, they do exist everywhere in the Communion) with an adversarial and juridical spirit. It is this latter which is the spirit of this age and I for one believe that Christian love is the distinctive gift that the Church brings to the secular world - how will the Covenant do that? This is not 'utopian complacency' but, forgive me for being fuddy-duddy, I thought this was what the Christian gospel and God's reality was all about.

If we are talking about being realistic, then we only have to view the growing gulf between the widespread views of people about inclusiveness and the church's official defensive position, always apparently trying to carve out a special exemption for itself, and in the process making itself irrelevant and a mockery. The Covenant will start to take away the ability of churches to be culturally relevant, to take prophetic risks and to communicate a gospel which, as I recall, caused scandal to the religious officials of the time to the extent that they tried to smother it with an appeal to the 'tradition'.

Posted by Roger Antell at Saturday, 9 April 2011 at 6:21pm BST

The so-called Anglican Covenant would simply convert the Anglican Communion into something it never was, and never should be.

Leave the Roman magisterium with them; if you happen to find that attractive, well, Rome is certainly willing to accept you.

However, our parish church has seen more former Romans join in the past three years than had joined over the prior ten years. I departed from Rome thirty-six years ago, and have no interest at seeing Anglicanism emulate the structure of the church of my birth and my upbringing.

There should be no covenant as is presently constructed, and as long as we have the Creeds, there should probably be no covenant at all.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Sunday, 10 April 2011 at 2:54am BST

"The current generation of leadership must ask itself if it wishes to be the generation that dismantled the Anglican Communion."

Up until now, the Anglican Communion has been a loose association of autonomous churches. A family of churches, really.

These days, some people want the family to restructure itself into a corporation. It is these same people who are refusing to show up at family reunions.

Who then is rejecting what history has handed down to us?

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 10 April 2011 at 1:00pm BST

If the so-called Covenant gets through it will be largely ignored except perhaps at the international jet-setting and chattering level.

So that is encouraging I guess.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 10 April 2011 at 4:38pm BST
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