Last Saturday two more dioceses considered the proposal to approve the Anglican Covenant, and the motion passed in both cases.
In Sheffield the voting was:
Bishops: 2 for, 0 against
Clergy: 16 for, 6 against, 1 abstention
Laity: 31 for, 9 against, 0 abstentions
In Winchester the voting was:
Bishops: 3 for, 0 against
Clergy: 22 for, 11 against, 4 abstentions
Laity: 38 for, 10 against, 2 abstentions
Subsequently, the Yes to the Covenant campaign issued this press release:
BISHOPS RALLY TO SUPPORT ANGLICAN COVENANT CAMPAIGN AS TIDE TURNS
Supporters of the Anglican Communion Covenant expressed optimism this weekend, after Diocesan Synods in the Winchester and Sheffield dioceses voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Covenant. This represents a significant turnaround from only a week ago, when four dioceses voted against the Covenant.
The shift follows the establishment of the new grassroots campaign, ‘Yes to the Covenant’, whose Patrons are the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, and the Bishop of Sherborne, the Rt Revd Graham Kings. A number of other Bishops have also expressed their support, including the bishops of Peterborough, Southwell & Nottingham and Brixworth. Other high-profile supporters include eminent theologians Professor N T Wright (formerly Bishop of Durham) and Professor Oliver O’Donovan.
Prudence Dailey, co-founder of ‘Yes to the Covenant’, said the campaign had clearly succeeded in presenting a more balanced view, against a background of determined negative campaigning by a small group of detractors. Diocesan Synod members now stood a better chance of being fully informed before casting their votes, she said.
Voting now stands at 7 dioceses in favour and 10 against. If the Covenant is approved by a majority of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses, it will then go forward to the General Synod to decide whether to adopt it formally.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The Anglican Communion Covenant is being promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to foster greater unity among Anglicans worldwide. The need for a Covenant was initially recognised as a result of divisions originating following the consecration of the actively gay Gene Robinson as a bishop in the USA. All Anglican Provinces are being encouraged to adopt the Covenant, as a way of establishing general mutual accountability by agreement.
The initial press release from this group which was only received at TA today, is dated 21 February.
NEW PRO-ANGLICAN COVENANT CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED
The Church of England is in danger of sleepwalking into a terrible mistake, according to a new campaign group launched today.
‘Yes to the Covenant’ is urging the Church of England to sign up to the Anglican Communion Covenant. The Covenant is being promoted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to foster greater unity among Anglicans worldwide, amid deepening divisions which originated following the consecration of the actively gay Gene Robinson as a bishop in the USA.
Campaigners warn that Anglicanism—the third largest church in the world after Roman Catholicism and the Orthodox church—is on the verge of collapse as a coherent global entity, and that local Synods are in danger of unwittingly aiding its disintegration. The Covenant has to be approved in a majority the 44 Church of England Dioceses before it can go forward to the General Synod for a final vote; but it has been rejected by a majority of the Diocesan Synods which have voted to date.
According to Prudence Dailey, co-founder of the ‘Yes’ campaign and a lay member of General Synod, preoccupation with issues such as women bishops has resulted in a failure to take the Anglian Covenant sufficiently seriously. ‘Many Diocesan Synod members are turning up to vote with very little idea of what the Covenant is or why it matters, and many are not turning up at all—if you compare the totals of those present and voting with the recent Diocesan vote on women bishops, for instance, the figures are significantly lower.’
At the same time, there had been an orchestrated campaign against the Covenant, with opponents spreading ill-founded fears that it was somehow ‘un-Anglican’, without providing any realistic alternative, she said. Whenever the Covenant had been discussed previously in the General Synod, it had received overwhelming support, and might reasonably have been expected to be adopted comfortably, until a vocal minority began sowing doubts about it.
A number of other Anglican Provinces—mostly in poorer parts of the world—have already signed up, and regard the Covenant as of great symbolic importance in reinforcing their identity as part of a worldwide community of fellow Anglicans. ‘The Anglican Covenant is about mutual accountability, mutual trust. For the Church of England to walk away from it now would be interpreted as us saying to the poor and marginalised, “we don’t trust you, and we don’t need you”. That might not be what was meant, but it is undoubtedly what would be heard—and we would all be the poorer for that’, said Miss Dailey.
A website, www.yestothecovenant.org, has been set up, with information about the Covenant and reasons for supporting it.