Saturday, March 24, 2012

The "Other" March Madness: Update on Anglican Covenant Brackets

How are your brackets looking for the Anglican Covenant? The breaking news from across the pond this morning was that an early "shoe in" to make the Final Four -- the Church of England -- defeated the Covenant with the votes today in diocesan synods in Oxford and Lincoln. From the No Anglican Covenant Coalition statement:
With today’s results from the dioceses of Oxford and Lincoln, the proposed Anglican Covenant is now dead in the water in the Church of England. This also poses serious problems for the Covenant in other Provinces as it seems nonsensical to have the Archbishop of Canterbury in the second tier of the Anglican Communion and excluded from the central committees.

When we launched the No Anglican Covenant Coalition 18 months ago, we were assured that the Anglican Covenant was an unstoppable juggernaut. We started as simply a band of bloggers, but we would like to thank the hundreds of supporters and our patrons for their dedication to promoting debate. The Covenant needed the approval of 23 diocesan synods, as of today, that result is no longer possible.

Especially we would like to congratulate people in Diocesan Synods across the Church of England who, despite attempts in many dioceses to silence or marginalize dissenting voices, endeavoured to promote debate, ensuring that the Anglican Covenant was subjected to significant and meaningful scrutiny. We found, as the debate went on, that the more people read and studied the Covenant, the less they liked it.
Meanwhile, in a statement kinder folk than I deemed "disingenuous" the Anglican Communion Office's General Secretary Kenneth Kearon noted:
In the light of today's news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant I wanted to clarify the current situation across the Anglican Communion. In December 2009, as requested by the Standing Committee, I sent the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant to all the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion asking that they consider it for adoption according to their own internal procedures.

I have received notifications from eight Provinces that they have approved, or subscribed, the Covenant or, in the case of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, have approved pending ratification at the next synod which is usual procedure in that Province. What next steps are taken by the Church of England is up to that Province. Consideration of the Covenant continues across the Anglican Communion and this was always expected to be a lengthy process.
What Kearon failed to note ... (and here comes the "disingenuous" part) ... but clergy colleague (no relation) Michael Russell caught is:

The SecGen of the Anglican Communion issues a report showing that nine provinces have passed it, but fails to mention at all those who have rejected it. The remaining nine GafCon provinces have already rejected it as well. Thus Provincially the count is perhaps 9 sorta yes and 11 sorta no. England makes that 12

There was no amount of tweaking that could make a silk purse from this sow's ear document, it is a clear rejection of Rowan's appeasement policies and his betrayals. However smart or spiritual he may be, perhaps he will learn that pandering to bullies is never fruitful while reasonable people remain free to confront that behavior.

I am sad that so much time has been wasted on promoting a document that was so fatally flawed in all its dimensions. Perhaps now we can get back to the work of ministry, or maybe sometime address the real issues that divide us.
And THAT should engender a great big fat AMEN ... (and if it wasn't for the fact that it's Lent a couple of heartfelt Alleluias as well!)

Finally, the "spin" has -- of course -- already begun. UK journalist Ruth Gledhill tweeted not moments after the deciding vote "Big covenant fail today as Oxford and Lincoln say no. Will Communion now become Anglican Federation?" My response was:

@RuthieGledhill false dichotomy alert! It's not a choice between Communion & Federation. Communion=relationship Covenant=control. Cheers!
And Tobias Haller's more articulate response was like unto it
:"The supreme irony in this is that the word "federation" derives from the Latin "foederis" = covenant. A federation is precisely a group of entities bound by an agreed covenant. What we are is a "communion" and the proposed Anglican Covenant would have turned us into a weak federation."
And onward we go.

In closing, let me just note that this stunning defeat of the Anglican Covenant in the "Mother Ship" herself is a tribute to the Gospel According to Margaret Mead in action:
"Never doubt that a few faithful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
Well done, No Covenant Coalition! Let's keep it up!

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