Report of the Covenant Design Group

UPDATED with links

From the Anglican Communion News Service.

Two very quick cents: the role of the Anglican Consultative Council seems to me to be downgraded a bit, or, at the very least, it seems to be relegated to a lesser role among the Instruments of Unity.

The knotty piece is here, at section 6. Even if we were not in the midst of a controversy in which the Primates Meeting has tended to be a source of strength for our political opponents, I would still think that this formulation gives too much power to the wrong group of people. I expect others inside and outside of our Church will raise similar concerns. Also, as a resident of our nation’s capital, I can’t help pointing out that the smaller the group that wields power, the fewer people special interest groups have to impress with their generosity in order to get their way.

Section 6:

Each Church commits itself

in essential matters of common concern, to have regard to the common good of the Communion in the exercise of its autonomy, and to support the work of the Instruments of Communion with the spiritual and material resources available to it.

to spend time with openness and patience in matters of theological debate and discernment to listen and to study with one another in order to comprehend the will of God. Such study and debate is an essential feature of the life of the Church as its seeks to be led by the Spirit into all truth and to proclaim the Gospel afresh in each generation. Some issues, which are perceived as controversial or new when they arise, may well evoke a deeper understanding of the implications of God’s revelation to us; others may prove to be distractions or even obstacles to the faith: all therefore need to be tested by shared discernment in the life of the Church.

to seek with other members, through the Church’s shared councils, a common mind about matters of essential concern, consistent with the Scriptures, common standards of faith, and the canon law of our churches.

to heed the counsel of our Instruments of Communion in matters which threaten the unity of the Communion and the effectiveness of our mission. While the Instruments of Communion have no juridical or executive authority in our Provinces, we recognise them as those bodies by which our common life in Christ is articulated and sustained, and which therefore carry a moral authority which commands our respect.

to seek the guidance of the Instruments of Communion, where there are matters in serious dispute among churches that cannot be resolved by mutual admonition and counsel:

by submitting the matter to the Primates Meeting

if the Primates believe that the matter is not one for which a common mind has been articulated, they will seek it with the other instruments and their councils

finally, on this basis, the Primates will offer guidance and direction.

We acknowledge that in the most extreme circumstances, where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches.

Some other responses: here, here and here.

There will be interesting disputes on the right between the “leave now” and the “stay and fight” wings, and on the left between the institutionalists and those who value a more democratic ecclesiology.

The erratic Ruth Gledhill’s story is here. She may be right, but she’s writing before she is certain. Matthew Davies story for ENS is here.

Past Posts