Happy Richard Hooker Day!
It is no coincidence that today -- November 3rd AKA the Feast of Richard Hooker -- was chosen to launch an international campagin to oppose the proposed Anglican Covenant.
The new website -- No Anglican Covenant: Anglicans for Comprehensive Unity -- offers an impressive wealth of resources, background information and context to inform, empower and engage in the process of pushing back on this ill conceived proposal. And I am honored to listed among a truly amazing cloud of witnesses calling our communion to reclaim its foundational value of Anglican comprehensiveness.
Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the current proposal is coercion in covenant clothing. Scripture and tradition tell us to value the ideal of Covenant. Reason tells us to reject this proposal lest we throw out the baby of historic Anglican comprehensiveness with the bathwater of hysteric Anglican politics.
Here's today's press release.
INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN SEEKS TO STOP ANGLICAN COVENANT
LONDON - An international coalition of Anglicans has been created to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant. Campaigners believe the proposed Covenant constitutes unwarranted interference in the internal life of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, would narrow the acceptable range of belief and practice within Anglicanism, and would prevent further development of Anglican thought.
The Coalition's website will provide resources for Anglicans around the world to learn about the potential risks of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
"We believe that the majority of the clergy and laity in the Anglican Communion would not wish to endorse this document," according to the Coalition's Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows, who is also the Coalition's Convenor for the Church of England. "Apart from church insiders, very few people are aware of the Covenant. We want to encourage a wider discussion and to highlight the problems the Covenant will cause."
The idea of an Anglican Covenant was first proposed in 2004 as a means to address divisions among the member churches of the Anglican Communion on matters ranging from human sexuality to the role of women. The current draft of the Covenant, which has been unilaterally designated as the "final" draft, has been referred to the member churches of the Communion.
The proposed Covenant establishes mechanisms which would have the effect of forcing member churches to conform to the demands and expectations of other churches or risk exclusion from the Communion.
Critics of the proposed Anglican Covenant, including members of the new Coalition, believe that it will fundamentally alter the nature of historic Anglicanism in several ways, including the narrowing of theological views deemed acceptable, the erosion of the freedom of the member churches to govern themselves, and the concentration of authority in the hands of a small number of bishops.
Two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, ran anti-Covenant advertisements in last week's Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper aiming to make more members of the Church of England aware of the dangers of the proposed Anglican Covenant.
"If the Anglican Communion has a problem, this is not the solution," according to former Bishop of Worcester Peter Selby. "Whether those who originated the Covenant intended it or not, it is already, and will become even more, a basis for a litigious Communion from which some will seek to exclude others."
The launch of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition website coincides with the commemoration of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker. "Hooker taught us that God's gifts of scripture, tradition, and reason will guide us to new insights in every age," according to the Canadian priest and canon law expert, the Revd. Canon Alan Perry.
"The proposed Anglican Covenant would freeze Anglican theology and Anglican polity at a particular moment. Anglican polity rejected control by foreign bishops nearly 500 years ago. The proposed Anglican Covenant reinstates it."
The No Anglican Covenant Coalition began in late October with a series of informal email conversations among several international Anglican bloggers concerned that the Covenant was being rushed through the approval process before most Anglicans had any opportunity to learn how the proposed new structures would affect them.
Revd. Dr Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1-412-512-9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1-306-550-2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384