Sunday, July 8, 2012

Anglican Covenant: where do we go from here?

ENS article here...

Since the Windsor Report came out in 2004 Anglicans around the world have been debating an Anglican Covenant. The final text of the Covenant was released in 2009 after many incarnations and that is the text Anglicans (and Episcopalians) are considering in their various governing institutions.

"The Lambeth Commission on Communion was established in October 2003 by the Archbishop of Canterbury at the request of the Anglican Primates, in response to developments in North America with respect to same-sex relationships. The mandate requested consideration of ways in which communion and understanding could be enhanced where serious differences threatened the life of a diverse worldwide Church. In short, how does the Anglican Communion address relationships between its component parts in a true spirit of communion? ... It should be mentioned that, while the issue of human sexuality brought tensions within the Communion into particular focus in 2003, other controversial issues have affected our common life in recent years. The Covenant is intended to express clearly the Communion’s Christian life, and the process which must be undertaken when disputes arise. " (from here)

Many dioceses in the Anglican Communion have already voted on whether or not to adopt the Covenant. The Church of England earlier this year voted not to adopt it and with Archbishop Williams stepping down later this year supporters will lose their loudest voice. At last count, only seven provinces have voted to adopt it and the rest either haven't voted yet or voted no.

But Bishop Bauerschmidt of the Diocese of Tennessee remains among the supporters of affirming the covenant and his proposed resolution, B006, includes this explanation:

"This resolution builds upon The Episcopal Church’s pivotal role in bringing the Anglican Communion into  being through its own formation as a Church and its ongoing role in the development of the Lambeth Conference and other Communion structures, several of which are the fruit of the call for “mutual responsibility and interdependence” at the 1963 Anglican Congress in Toronto. This resolution affirms the Covenant as a whole and commits The Episcopal Church to it, recognizing that the commitment to seeking a
shared mind with other Churches requires some process by which that common mind may be discovered, hence that the procedures outlined in Section Four of the Covenant, “Our Covenanted Life Together,” are in
keeping with and implied by the affirmations of the first three sections. Finally, the resolution charts a course
for the adoption of the Covenant according to The Episcopal Church’s own constitutional and canonical
procedures, as called for by the Covenant."

The big question I think we are facing as a worldwide Communion is how do we keep pace with a society that changes so rapidly while remaining true to the diversity in peoples, cultures, and generations and the traditions we all hold dear? Change in a big institution like the Episcopal Church or the larger Anglican Communion is not going to happen overnight. It's going to take decades. (it hasn't even been one decade since the final draft of the Covenant was proposed!) But how do we deal with issues that we face in the meantime?

Clearly we are looking for some way to affirm our commitment to being in communion with one another. So what is this going to look like? It's looking more and more like the Anglican Covenant is not going to be the answer, at least not in its current text, so where do we go from here?

I do like the Continuing Indaba process, which comes up in proposed resolution D008. Building up our relationships will strengthen our commitments to one another, and the more we interact and make things personal the more passionately we will pursue Communion.

Wherever we go from here, whether it is into some incarnation of a Covenant or another process as-yet-determined, I hope and pray that the amazing Anglican Communion that I am a part of and came to know more intimately through my time in Hong Kong will grow in love and service to one another and the world.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

And whatever you do,whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:12-17)

Grace & Peace,

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