Thursday, May 3, 2007

The First Question: Do you think an Anglican Covenant is necessary?

The full text is Do you think an Anglican Covenant is necessary and/or will help to strengthen the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion? Why or why not?
From one point of view, of course, it sounds helpful. After all, as a colleague of mine points out, we have covenants of agreement with other denominations when we enter into Eucharistic Sharing with them, so it would make sense that we should articulate what we believe that we have in common with other Anglicans. After all, the whole Windsor process seems to have gotten rolling because Episcopalians had one understanding of what it meant to be Anglican and other Anglicans had another understanding drastically at odds with it. So being clear about what our union consists of makes some sense. On the other hand, you could argue that the Chicago/Lambeth Quadrilateral is an expression of what we believe and who we are as Anglicans and that it is un-Anglican to get much more specific than that. Still, at GC 2006 we affirmed our desire to remain part of the communion and our support for the covenant process. So why does this particular draft feel less like a mutual commitment freely entered into, like the covenant of marriage, and more like a list of rules ?


mclark said...

At this point in our church history, it seems that an Anglican Covenant would be a really good idea. We've spent some time now describing the difficulty of accepting the diversity of our diversity in the Anglican Communion. ('Diversity', to me, is a strength of the world-wide Anglican Communion.) So, to draft a covenant to remind us all of our common-ness and shared love of Jesus and the Gospel sounds like it could help right now.
I am concerned that even this task though, could become politicized to the point that the covenant becomes a tool used to set up a structure of authority and establish a set of conditions to determine who the 'true Anglicans' really are. I believe no person has a monopoly on the Holy Spirit, nor the Wisdom of God. To try to determine who is righteous and who falls short will not be helpful; to me, this determination is not a human responsibility, and to try to do so disrespects the wonderful Mystery of salvation.
At our meeting yesterday, the deputies talked about the diversity found in the different forms of The Book of Common Prayer used throughout the world. Wouldn't it be terrible if the outcome of all this was to set up some sort of 'Super-structure of Authority' that had the power to, for example, rule that our ECUSA Book of Common Prayer was unorthodox and could no longer be used? Of course, debating the propriety of ordaining women would be something the whole Anglican Communion would have to debate and vote on as well. I truly believe gay and lesbian Episcopalians are being used as a wedge-issue to force a different question: Who has the authority to say what's right and what's wrong? Is there one, and only ONE WAY, to read the Scriptures? Who has the authority to say what's Holy?...and what's Anglican?
I'm not in favor of finding a way to vote people on or off of the 'Anglican island'. I am in favor of celebrating the joy of a God who brings us all together around a common table to share our love of Jesus and each other. Is the covenant going to say that?

Lydia said...

You can actually POST rather than merely comment, if you want-- the idea is that we on the deputation (four or five last time I looked) will post reflections on the questions and anyone who wants (in diocese of MO) will reply.