South East Asia endorses Anglican Covenant

ACNS reports that the Province of South East Asia adopted the Anglican Covenant.

The Church of the Province of South East Asia has adopted the Anglican Communion Covenant saying that “In acceding to the Anglican Communion Covenant, we (Diocese or Province) are seeking with other Covenanting Provinces and Dioceses to express our communion with the Triune God and with one another, to guard the boundary-markers of the good deposit of the faith once for all delivered, and to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the fellowship we have with God and one another, and in common mission and ministry to the world.”

South East Asia is the fourth Anglican Communion Province to officially adopt the Covenant, the others being The Anglican Church of Mexico, The Church of the Province of Myanmar and The Church in the Province of the West Indies.

The Province released a statement detailing the background to their decision.

They point out the similarity between parts of the Covenant and the final text of the Kuala Lumpur Statement of 1997

2. In her December 2009 Meeting, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion approved the final text of the Anglican Communion Covenant for distribution to the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. The Provinces were asked to formally consider the Anglican Communion Covenant for adoption through appropriate processes. In the words of the Anglican Communion Covenant:

The Covenant operates to express the common commitments and mutual accountability which hold each Church in the relationship of communion one with another. Recognition of, and fidelity to, this Covenant, enable mutual recognition and communion. Participation in the Covenant implies a recognition by each Church of those elements which must be maintained in its own life and for which it is accountable to the Churches with which it is in Communion in order to sustain the relationship expressed in this Covenant.(4.2.1)

3. These words bear strong resemblance to the closing appeal in the Second South-to-South Encounter Kuala Lumpur Statement in 1997, where the need for accountability was also noted:

We further challenge our Anglican Churches to …guard the internal unity of our Communion. We therefore call on the Primates, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Lambeth Conference to take the necessary steps to establish such new structures (or reinforce old ones) that will strengthen the bonds of affection between our provinces, and especially, make for effective mutual accountability in all matters of doctrine and polity throughout the Communion.(7.2, 3)

The Province still declares themselves as being out of communion with the Episcopal Church. Not surprisingly they mainly focus on the disciplinary aspects of the Covenant.

15. The Anglican Communion Covenant offers a concrete platform in ordering the Churches in the Anglican Communion to be a Communion with a clear ecclesial identity. This is why global South Churches embraced the concept of the Anglican Communion Covenant when it was first proposed (South-to-South Encounter, Third Trumpet, 22). Global South Primates have participated actively in the drafting processes.

So what about “The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the unity of His Church?” Forget about it. They believe that most of the Anglican Communions problems can be fixed if only local provinces would not go around picking their own bishops based on local needs.

Churches that accede to the Anglican Communion Covenant need to subject their common life to the reforming and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, so that the Communion may be built up until all “reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4: 13). The Anglican Communion should adopt more uniform processes in the election and appointment of bishops, to ensure that such processes are not held hostage to local politics and to parochial understandings of the episcopal office.

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