Anglican Archbishops here look forward to the proposed international Anglican covenant
The Anglican Archbishops in this country welcome the prospect of contributing to the shaping of a worldwide Anglican Communion covenant on doctrine, as outlined today by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
And they say that describing such a covenant as an “ultimatum” to the liberal wing of the church is a misrepresentation of his address.
Furthermore, suggestions that New Zealand’s Anglican church might find itself on the outer with the Archbishop of Canterbury is hard to imagine, says Archbishop David Moxon, one of the co-presiding bishops of the church here.
“I believe we will always be in communion with him,” says Archbishop Moxon. “And also, with this particular Archbishop of Canterbury, there’s a widespread trust in his scholarship, integrity and spirituality. Being in communion with him is a pleasure.”
The Times in England has reported a significant address by Dr Williams, which he made in response to the recent convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA). The American church had sparked concern among the worldwide Anglican Communion when it unilaterally ordained a man in a gay partnership as a bishop.
The ECUSA convention made significant concessions to the worldwide communion, including an acknowledgment that it had “strained” the communion by its actions. Even so, the American church’s moves did not satisfy Biblical conservatives, especially in some parts of Africa.
Dr Williams, in a major address, was responding to the ECUSA actions, and he suggested that a two stage “opt-in” covenant, to be developed over time by the Anglican Communion – whereby those who didn’t wish to fully subscribe to a covenant defining Biblical standards could become “associate” members of the communion, rather than full members, if they wished.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Moxon has said that the English press has gone off on the wrong foot.
“They’re assuming,” he says, “what the covenant will say – and that has yet to be shaped. Their assumptions are premature.
“There are many liberals and conservatives who trust Dr William’s scholarship and reason. He will be a key player in the wording.
“And if you look at the people, including two New Zealanders, who wrote the Windsor Report, and who suggested the covenant, there are some very deep, reflective scholars – liberal and conservative – on that group.
“They weren’t suggesting a straitjacket. They were suggesting clear claims about the Bible in coherent, contemporary terms, which we would all gather around, if we can.
“Anglicanism has only ever survived because of the genius of the wording we’ve been able to gather around, with integrity and hospitality.
“Because the classic Anglican texts, including liturgical texts, are ‘roomy’. We can say them, we can pray them, we can believe them – but there is also room for a reasonable variety of Christian points of view.
“Anglican Christianity has tried to say that we want a large room, of unity in diversity, which is clearly and simply described, and a covenant can do that.”
Source: The Anglican Church, New Zealand website