Thinking Anglicans

the Anglican covenant proposal

TA recently linked to a Church Times article by Vincent Strudwick. Discussion of the covenant proposals here and elsewhere suggests that not everyone has read the latest covenant document published by the Anglican Communion Office. This was linked on TA back on 22 May, but it bears repetition:

See covering note: Towards an Anglican Covenant

And the actual document The Proposal for an Anglican Covenant starts here.

PDF copies of the document in both English and Spanish can be found here.

Here’s the concluding bit:

The Provenance of this document

This document was prepared by a small working party convened by the Deputy Secretary General at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Secretary General. It was intended to inform the deliberation of JSC upon the proposal for an Anglican Covenant and was adopted by them as a basis for further consultation across the Communion. Since this is only a tentative and consultative document, the drafting group was deliberately kept small and relatively inexpensive, which meant confining membership to those who could come easily to London for two day meetings. The CDG mandated by the decision of the JSC will be a body more representative of the wider Anglican Communion.

The members of the group were:

  • Professor Norman Doe, Director of the Centre for Law and Religion, Cardiff University, author of “Canon Law in the Anglican Communion” and member of the Lambeth Commission on Communion;
  • Dr Andrew Goddard, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and Fellow of the Anglican Communion Institute;
  • Canon Robert Paterson, Senior Bishops’ Adviser, Church in Wales and Vice-Chair of the Primates’ Working Party on Theological Education for the Anglican Communion;
  • Canon John Rees, Legal Adviser to the Anglican Consultative Council, consultant to the Lambeth Commission and to the Reception Reference Group, and convenor of ACLAN;
  • Canon Vincent Strudwick, Fellow Emeritus of Kellogg College, Oxford;
  • Canon Gregory Cameron, Deputy Secretary General, Secretary of the Lambeth Commission and of the Reception Reference Group, ACO Staff Consultant to ACLAN.

London, 20th March 2006

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Laurence RobertsMerseymikeCynthia GilliattAlan MarshCharles Recent comment authors
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Merseymike
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Merseymike

I think its more interesting to see how divisions within provinces will be dealt with. It seems clear to me that there could be parts of provinces who wish to sign with others not. How will that be dealt with? It will also take a long time – and it doesn’t appear to me that everyone wishes to enter this sort of time consuming, slow-moving project. The outcome is clearly to try and hold at least some semblance of communion between everyone. I don’t know if its possible ornot. I think it will depend on the conservatives, and if those… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Just a question – are there no women with expertise in these areas in the Church of England?

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Very few – the legal profession has been fully open to women for a very long time, but this is not an area of expertise to which they have exactly flocked. I can think of just three: one has recently retired, one is about to, and one is at home having just had her first baby.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I think Cynthia’s question was more general than that. All the six names in the list are male. Only two of them are there because they are lawyers.

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Three are lawyers – and to produce a document such as a Covenant will require substantial legal knowledge. But even in more general terms, it is hard to think of women at a sufficiently senior level, lay or ordained, with that kind of expertise. I can think of only one, who is very definitely retired. There are many parts of church life which have always been open to women, or at least have been so for very many years, but they do not come forward for this type of work which really is open to anyone suitably qualified, despite great… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Yes – it was a more general question. I see that some are active or retired academics or hold advisory positions to senior clergy. Are there not women in similar positions in C of E? I think about the seniosr staff of the Diocese of Virgnia, and I think that it is about 50/50 men and women. As it happens the women are all ordained but not all of the men are. I would be curious about the % of men and women in senior staff positions in the C of E – say the ABC’s office, the office of… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

What seems critical here is that we have not yet seen the proposed Covenant Development Group, much less a proposed covenant. Now, personally, that doesn’t bother me. I think the possibility of a covenant is interesting, but, as the Report acknowledges, the content of a proposed covenant will really be the topic of discussion. One question I would have, though, from the report is that the first acknowledgement of a draft covenant would be from the primates. I think it would be much better to have it be from the Anglican Consultative Council. First, it’s the only “instrument of communion”… Read more »

Charles
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Charles

“But even in more general terms, it is hard to think of women at a sufficiently senior level, lay or ordained, with that kind of expertise. I can think of only one, who is very definitely retired.”

Well, I note that all of the members listed are UK based. I can think of at least one female Canadian lawyer (and also a number of male lawyers with expertise in Canon Law including Stephen Toope, who was recently appointed as President of the University of British Columbia).

I am sure there are many others in the US and around the world.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

I assume Alan is counting Canon Cameron as the third lawyer: he does have a law degree to be sure. But he isn’t on the panel for that reason, is he? In any case, I think it is quite wrong to suppose that the drafting of a covenant should be the exclusive province of lawyers. The report itself suggests that other kinds of covenant may in fact prove to be more appropriate. Cynthia’s question about the proportion of females in senior staff positions at Lambeth or Bishopthorpe or at Church House, Westminster is a very good one. The figures are… Read more »

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Charles, you have perhaps not read the statement, “the drafting group was deliberately kept small and relatively inexpensive, which meant confining membership to those who could come easily to London for two day meetings”.

The finances of these bodies are not limitless, and that is why, it seems, the group was UK based. If someone would like to donate a large amount of money to the Church of England General Synod, no doubt more global-scale activities can be entertained.

Simon Sarmiento
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Alan
Do you mean Anglican Communion Office rather than Churcb of England General Synod?

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

I was being less than specific for the sake of those at home and abroad who do not know or understand (why should they?) the arcane way in which the Church of England is funded. There are two main sources of income for the Church of England nationally. One is the budget of General Synod, levied on all the dioceses (actually the parishes) and the other is the income from the Church Commissioners, which comes through the Archbishops’ Council. The ACO budget is severely restricted, not least because some of those who make the most noise pay the least towards… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Alan

Your comments, in my opinion, only serve to confuse.

The Anglican Communion Office is NO part of the Church of England.

The ACO budget comes from all the member churches of the Communion, but indeed principally from the two wealthiest members, ECUSA and the CofE.

The CofE contribution is provided for in the annual budgets of the Archbishops’ Council, for example the 2007 budget figure is £393K. This was recently approved by General Synod.

The total ACO budget in 2006 was around US$ 2.5 million.

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Simon, the ACO budget, as you say, comes principally from ECUSA and the CofE. Where do you suppose the CofE gets the money to give to the ACO? There is no Philosopher’s Stone hidden in the basement of Church House. Any increase in budget falls in the final analysis on the parishes of the Church of England and therefore on its parishioners. Any additional contribution to the ACO (or funding provided for the Lambeth Conference) means that the money comes out of the budget which we approved last week, or from the Church Commissioners. It is then either not available… Read more »

Charles
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Charles

Alan – it may be true that the drafting group was set up in the way you described. That does not neccessarily make it right. One of the biggest reasons for the problems we face today is that the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) and ECUSA have significantly different legal frameworks than the CofE and most provinces of the Communion. We both set great store on the democratic nature of our Churches. For instance in my own Diocese (New Westminster – yes, the one that authorised the blessings of monogamous same-gender relationships), our Diocesan Synod requested the Bishop 3 times,… Read more »

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Charles, I am sorry to disappoint you but you are quite wrong about the way bishops are appointed in England. We do not have a “democratic election” because we regard bishops as servants of the Church of God, not just of one diocese. They are appointed by a Nominations Commission composed entirely of church members, six from the diocese concerned, six from General Synod (3 clergy and 3 laity) and the two archbishops. The government has no say in the matter. Two names are chosen by the Commission, and the prime minister (who still, but only just, appoints members of… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Alan I am not aware of any request from the Anglican Consultative Council to the Church of England for additional money beyond what has already been agreed. The ACC finances remain quite separate from those of the CofE. Of course, if the Americans were for whatever reason excluded, and stopped contributing, then – never mind increases for covenant drafting – that would be a very severe problem for the ACO in general and the Lambeth Conference in particular. If that is your point, then I am in total agreement with you: I can see no reason why the CofE should… Read more »

Marshall Scott
Guest

Charles: Here in the United States in the Episcopal Church are also servants of the whole Church, and not just of the individual Diocese. Thus, both the decision to hold an election and the results of the election must be confirmed by a majority of bishops and a majority of diocesan Standing Committees (elected clergy and lay leadership; note that confirmation by General Convention is the exception, and not the rule). However, we also believe in the priesthood of all believers, based on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer from baptism. So, we have both local participation… Read more »

Lois Keen
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Lois Keen

Dear friends, The exchange of postings between Charles and Alan regarding the appointment, or election, of bishops is helpful. I am glad to have Alan state the CofE’s understanding that their polity is one of appointing a bishop “for the whole church”. At the same time, Charles quite clearly states the very difference in polity between us in the U.S.A. and in Canada and that of much of the rest of the Communion. And our polity is not going to change. It is appropriate, just as the polity of the CofE is appropriate, in our varied circumstances. And so, do… Read more »

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Simon, thank you – we are back where we began, and the answer to the question why the group concerned was drawn from people easily able to make two day meetings in London. It might not include representatives of North and South, male and female, black and white, Catholic and Evangelical, etc etc etc – but the UK rail fares are very modest compared to the cost of air fares. The ACO’s funds are very stretched already. If it had to have an international, representative group for every purpose, it would have to come back to its sponsoring churches for… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

Well, maybe I was not complete in my description of the electoral process in Canada. The elected Bishop (as in the US) still has to be approved by the provincial House of Bishops – we have 4 eclesiastical provinces similar to the 9 Provinces in ECUSA, and the elected Bishop IS considered to be a Bishop of the whole church. This difference, between us and ECUSA (Canada’s bishops only requires approval of the HOB of the Province, ECUSA from the National HOB, and other Diocesan Standing Committees), is again due to the distrust I mentioned earlier. The dioceses of the… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

One of the major funding sources to the Anglican Communion is the “Compass Rose Society”, whose membership is almost exclusively drawn from ECUSA and the ACC (Anglican Church of Canada).

If that source together with the ECUSA and ACC contributions to the Anglican Communion were lost, due to the loss of ECUSA and the ACC, then the CofE would be left to carry the can.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“The government has no say in the matter. Two names are chosen by the Commission, and the prime minister … sends one name to the Queen, who appoints on his advice.”

Uh … am I missing something here? Is the PM not part of the government? Or is the PM in some way not part of the government when she or he picks a name to send to the Queen?

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Given that they make so much noise, the so-called Global South will simply have to put their money where there mouths are and cough up – after all, wouldn’t want to be tainted with that nasty liberal American money, would they? (rolls around the floor in hysteria….)

Alan Marsh
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Alan Marsh

Cynthia, The prime minister can not choose candidates. He is given two names chosen by the Church of England, as I have explained, either of whom is perfectly acceptable for the vacant see having been approved by the Church’s own Nominations Commission, which includes six representatives of the vacant diocese. The Queen has no say whatsoever. She is a constitutional monarch who acts on the advice of the PM. The PM in this matter is also acting constitutionally. He can only forward a name which has been approved by the Church. The residual right of the PM to choose between… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“You may call that a role for the government. I would describe it as delivering a letter.” I see what you’re saying. I am so wedded to the separation of church and state – as Jefferson termed it in his letter to the Rhode Island [I think] Baptists – the wall of separation – that any such involvement is suspect. I think that that wall has been extremely healthy for both church and state here. And I don’t see that his choosing between two equally OK candidates does NOT have consequences, unless said candidates are clones. We’ll have to agree… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think the only known time when the No. 2 choice was picked was in the case of John Habgood, who lost out to a far inferior first choice in the person of Carey, simp[ly because of Thatcher’s loathing for Habgood.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The Crown Nominations Commission (formerly the Crown Appointments Commission) works entirely confidentially, so in principle it is hard to know quite when the PM has chosen the second name rather than the first, Rarely, apparently. The PM has a residual right too: to reject both names and ask for a further two names. This is reputed to have happened in the appointment of the present Bp of Liverpool. In addition, the PM has his own representative on the Commission — his own Appointments Secretary. It is naive to think that the PM’s views, if he should happen to have any… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Friends of mine who have taken part in the appointment of a bishop very recently assured me that there was no question of being told what to do by the Crown Appointments Secretary. The Commission members are encouraged to submit the names they wish to be considered, and only the members of the Commission vote on the names. Finally the six diocesan representatives are asked if they approve of the two names finally selected, and if not, the process begins again. Both names must be acceptable to the diocesan representatives – not clones but equally regarded as appropriate choices by… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“[Bishops] are appointed by a Nominations Commission composed entirely of church members, six from the diocese concerned, six from General Synod (3 clergy and 3 laity) and the two archbishops.” “The bishops we have are therefore, for better or worse, chosen by the whole of the Church…” “And in my book, “democratic” would mean that someone elected by a diocesan synod could be sacked in the same way – but it never seems to happen.” “I still think it better than allowing a very small group of people to vote for a bishop, who is then held up as the… Read more »

Charles
Guest
Charles

When I raised the issue of election vs appointment of Bishops it wasn’t my intention to discus the merits of the differences, just to indicate that there are differences in polity, that will make a covenant unworkable without significant input from throughout the communion.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

One quick afterthought – given the importance within the US Constitution of the US Supreme Court, why is it that the nine judges are not elected, but appointed for life by the President in office at the time?

It is quite a precise analogy – except that the PM has had only a vestigial part to play in the appointment of bishops since 1976.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

I think Alan is right about the CofE appointments procedure. Thus it was that one Dr.J. John came to receive the Royal Assent as Bishop Suffragan of Reading. So the procedure, though essentailly ersatian, can work extremely well, at times.

I think it is clear comparing the C of E with ECUSA / TEC which system works the better….

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

About the Supreme Court – am no great student of constitutional history – but I think the idea was to have one branch with longer term continuity, and one that is NOT subject to election vagaries. Federal judges also are appointed, not elected. But note, the nomination to the federal court is subject to confirmation by the Senate. It’s part of the checks and balances, which doesn’t always work out in practice. As our political system has developed, it has gotten more democratic in some ways [senators are no longer appointed by state governors but are elected] and less in… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Cynthia, I note you use the term “election vagaries”, and that is my concern with the system you describe. It is entirely possible and frequently happens that an organisation can be taken over by a small but determined group of activists, and its leadership swiftly replaced according to one ideology or another. The Scottish Episcopal Church (which allows the diocese to elect its bishops) has been radically changed by a faction which took control some 20 years ago. The result is that it has been abandoned to the radicals in many places, and is facing extinction. It is also possible… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Laurence, suffragan bishops are a very different matter in England, They are appointed by The Queen on the advice of the PM, who receives two names from the diocesan bishop concerned, rather than from the Crown Nominations Commission, which chooses diocesan bishops. We don’t have co-adjutor bishops here: suffragans have no right to succeed the diocesan concerned. The Jeffrey John fiasco came about because the Bishop of Oxford failed to recognise the difficulties which his candidate posed: in an already tense situation, he proposed John, a partnered gay clergyman who had published a volume arguing for gay marriage. The debacle… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Having the Royal Prerogative Dr. John needed none other. Not Phillip Giddings.

If only John had stood firm, so much good would have come. This is the Church by Law Established. This is the Church with civil partnerships for all==lay and ordained. All incoporated into Church Law. The CofE ‘s Law means, it treats my partner as my—well, partner and in due course, as my widower.

So lets hear no more about the difficulties Dr. John’s candidacy posed. He was no cadidate but the Church and the State and the Queen’s choice.
QED

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Laurence, I am afraid it is not so. He was Bishop Harries’ choice, but was unacceptable both to sections of the diocese of Oxford and of the Church of England.

The Church of England accepts that the state has created civil partnerships but does not endorse the concept. It is obliged by law to pay pensions to surviving civil partners, but it would have wished to extend the concept of civil partners to include siblings, carers, friends etc – all of which was rejected by the government which insisted on GAY civil partners to the exclusion of anyone else.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“Cynthia, I note you use the term “election vagaries”, and that is my concern with the system you describe. “It is entirely possible and frequently happens that an organisation can be taken over by a small but determined group of activists, and its leadership swiftly replaced according to one ideology or another.” It would be very hard for a determined minority to elect a bishop, although such a group might be able to frustrate the will of the majority, depending on the precise election system used. I’d rather take my chances over the long haul with democratic process, vagaries and… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

TEC is evolving, Alan. Indeed, there are some who think everything should evolve except theology!

Funny, that.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

NO, no,no, Alan ! The CofE bishops could have with-stood Tony blair to his face, and showed unto him the better way. But being too gutless, to take on the State and disobey the Law for the sake of the gospel, they followed the line of least resistance. It was SO much easier to sacrifice Jeffrey John, to the wolves baying for his blood,as they always make lgbt people pay the price. They could have faced the Courts for the sake of the truth. John completely fit the kind of queer endorsed by ‘Issues’–but was still hypocritically turned on. Nonetheles,… Read more »