From the Lichfield Diocesan Website
Lichfield Diocese approves Anglican Communion Covenant
The Lichfield Diocesan Synod has become the first in the Church of England to approve the Anglican Communion Covenant with overwhelming votes in favour in all three houses (bishops, clergy and laity).
The vote at today’s meeting in Longton Hall near Stoke on Trent is in response to the General Synod’s decision to refer the matter to the dioceses. All 44 dioceses in the Church of England are being asked to “approve the draft Act of Synod adopting the Anglican Communion Covenant.” Last week the diocese of Wakefield voted to reject the motion; and the diocese of Hereford voted to refer the matter to deanery synods for wider discussion.
An attempt to adjourn the debate in Lichfield diocese so it could be referred to deanery synods was rejected with 47 voting in favour of an adjournment and 60 voting against.
Before the debate, members heard from the Revd Dr Andrew Goddard, lecturer in ethics at Trinity College, Bristol, who introduced the Covenant and outlined some of the arguments for and against it.
The idea behind an Anglican Communion Covenant – the closest thing to a constitution for the worldwide Anglican Communion – was first proposed in the Windsor report of 2004, following developments in relation to same-sex partnerships in North America. It was envisaged that the Anglican Covenant would “make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection” which govern the relationships between the churches of the Anglican Communion.
A text of the Covenant was sent to all the Provinces of the Anglican Communion for their approval in December 2009. Each Province has different governance structures and it is expected to be a number of years before all the Provinces complete the process for acceptance or rejection. The Anglican Consultative Council will discuss progress at its meeting expected in November 2012.
In the Church of England, the House of Bishops agreed in May 2010 to commend the Covenant to the General Synod and a draft Act of Synod was debated by the General Synod in November last year and referred to diocesan synods. If a majority of dioceses agree to the draft Act of Synod it will return to the General Synod for final approval, possibly in 2012.
The Anglican Communion is not a single church or a federation of churches but a collection of 44 different churches made up of 34 Provinces, four United Churches, and six other churches, spread across the globe; with an estimated 80 million Christians.
The tensions in the Communion which arose as a result of the liberalising actions of the Episcopal Church of the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada in the area of sexuality highlighted that there were no formal structures or agreements for handling disputes when they arise. The Covenant is designed to balance the need to define how the churches of the Communion formally relate to each other without creating a formal constitution or federation; continuing to hold the Communion together through mutual relationships.
The Diocese of Lichfield has formal mission partnerships with the Dioceses of West Malaysia, Kuching and Singapore in South East Asia, Matlosane in South Africa and Qu’Appelle in Canada. Churches within the diocese enjoy individual relationships with churches across the Communion.
The result of the vote in the Lichfield Diocesan Synod were:
The audio of the Synod debate will be available on the Lichfield Diocesan website on Monday afternoon: lichfield.anglican.org/chadnet/synod.