This has provoked several strong responses: The Fat is in the Fire: The Network and the Windsor Action Covenant and also Windsor, DOA. But clearest of all is this from the Bishop of California, Bill Swing: The House of Bishops: All for One and Some for Something. Some extracts from these:
Bill Swing asks NACDAP these questions:
1. Why do you usually avoid House of Bishops meetings? And why will you not go to the altar rail and receive Communion alongside your sister and brother bishops?
2. Rumor has it that you receive lots of money from private foundations and give it to support African bishops who, in turn, will attack the Episcopal Church. Is there an audit of your receipts and disbursements? Could I review it? What are the goals of the foundations that financially support you? What African bishops receive your money? What American Episcopalians whom you know are on the staffs of African bishops?
3. If the bishops of the Episcopal Church are not invited to Lambeth Conference 2008 but the Network bishops with Bishop Robert Duncan as head are invited, will you attend?
4. What are the names of Network bishops who have consulted lawyers to ascertain the possibilities of someday separating “Network properties” from “Episcopal Church properties?”
5. In what situations around the USA is the Network in conversation with individual congregations, strategizing as to how the congregation can leave the Episcopal Church, take its assets, and join the Network?
6. It is stated that Bishop Duncan is on record as promising “to wage guerilla warfare on the Episcopal Church.” Is this true? Also on the House floor he has been accused of paying lay people of his diocese to go to a neighboring diocese to try to persuade conservative members to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Network. Is that true?
Mark Harris writes:
This Covenant is an attempt to hijack the Windsor Report and make it the instrument of the realignment effort. It is yet another effort to spin an advisory committee’s report into a partisan litmus test.
…All of this would be of no great import if it were not for the last pledge, not bulleted, which is the real basis of the covenant, and its only focus. That last pledge states, “If General Convention chooses finally to walk apart, I will not follow, but will remain a faithful Anglican, God being my helper.”
This then is the opening salvo of the battle of General Convention. One may be sure that the Network will come to Convention with pledge lists of persons who they contend will not be bound by General Convention action IF the Convention “chooses finally to walk apart.” And of course, it will be the Network and its leadership that will want to determine if General Convention has so chosen.
This Covenant is a marshalling of numbers, and an attempt to get members of this Church to pledge disavowal of actions of General Convention, leadership of the bishops of their dioceses, if not viewed as “Windsor Dioceses” and teaching of their clergy, if not viewed as “Windsor Parishes.” Its purpose is to implement resistance to any leadership other than that of the realignment groups, and in particular the Network itself.
The fat is in the fire and the play is unfolding. It is time to be watchful. It is not a time to be nice, for these are not nice times.
It’s heart breaking. It really is. The Windsor Report has some deep flaws. But I have remained hopeful that it can be a starting point, a place to facilitate communication and unity. Certainly the folks who produced it had that hope for it. The Network does not. It chooses instead to use Windsor as a weapon, a method of labeling and relabeling those who it dislikes. This is an especially interesting development considering the Network’s own deep criticism of Windsor in the days after it came out. Now all of a sudden the Network wants to embrace Windsor, but only in so far as it pushes us forward into the rift.
…But the enemy that presents itself in the Network is not that of ultra-conservatism or homophobia. The enemy that presents itself in the Network is the evil of pride, deceit, lust for power, and a thorough drive to divide the Church. Not all members of the Network are engaged in this kind of behavior, but the Network perpetrates it on behalf of all who it calls “orthodox,” leaving those on the so-called right who truly wish to be in communion without a voice.
I call on Anglicans and Episcopalians of good conscience, whatever their political stripes or feelings about human sexuality, to reject the evil, schismatic vision that the Network is trying to perpetrate. If we have to split in the end, let it be because we have tried every possible remedy, every conceivable avenue of dialogue, and nothing else seems like it can be done. Let it not be because a small group of the power hungry possessed swept us into armageddon like battle with our friends and neighbors for the purpose of fulfilling their own ambitions….