Saturday, May 26, 2007

What the MO deputies said...

Melanie Barbarito did a fabulous job of taking notes at the meeting of the Mo Deputies and here are our thoughts on the covenant:

Response to Draft Anglican Covenant
Diocese of Missouri
Deputation to General Convention
The Rev. Jack Fleming, the Rev. Lydia Agnew Speller,
The Rev. Tamsen Whistler, the Very Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel,
the Rev. Melanie Barbarito
Kathy Dyer, Mike Clark, Margie Bowman

Many of us agreed at the 2006 General Convention that the idea of a covenant is not a bad idea. But this is way too fast. Some of us were under the impression that this process could take up to ten years.
We presumed that this type of document would be a jumping off place.

While we affirm the idea of an Anglican Covenant, this seems more like a constitution than a covenantal document. We are not in favor of a constitution.

Responding to the Executive Council by the deadline honors that we are complementary to the HOB—recognizes the participation of laityBut we are disappointed not to have more time to educate members of parishes to get a wider response.

The Document as Written
Document is not historically accurate. Does not represent the evolution of the 4 Instruments of Communion; does not represent a consensus among the provinces about the Instruments of Unity.

This document contains historical inaccuracies that lead to erroneous assumptions.

The beginning of the reports states that: nothing which is commended in the draft text of the Covenant can be said to be “new”, but this is not true. It recommends previously unknown innovations.

The document speaks with two voices: it begins with relational wording; but later shifts to a list of rules. The Anglican Communion members are not of common mind, and that’s reflected in the Draft Covenant.

The preamble implies a process, but this document is not relational.
Nothing in the document calls for dialogue on even playing field.

While this is called a covenant, it reads more like a constitution.

Instruments of Unity
Some of the Instruments of Unity have existed before, but the Primates Meeting is new as Instrument of Unity.
Primates cannot declare themselves as Instruments of Unity.
Inclusion of Primates Meeting as Instrument of Unity is a “specious innovation”
We do not affirm the Primates’ meeting as a traditionally accepted Instrument of Unity.
Primates are all men but one. We believe it is an unhealthy innovation for a group of male bishops to be passing judgment. If there is to be such a body, then it should include presbyters and be equally represented by lay people and women.

We think it is important that the Anglican Consultative Council not be sidelined.
Anglican Consultative Council has never been asked to pass judgment and enforce and is now being asked to do so.
We don’t accept the idea that Primates are above ACC
Different symbols of unity are not in union with one another. For example, Canon Kieran at General Convention 2006 spoke for Anglican Consultative Council rather than Archbishop of Canterbury.

We are not clear that there is an unbroken tradition that these are Instruments of Unity nor is there a clear consensus that these are the unquestioned Instruments of Unity holding authority over the actions of indvidual provinces.

Paragraph 5, section 3—Archbishop of Canterbury as “first among equals” is ambiguous. 1st among Instruments or among primates or bishops?

These Instruments of Unity are 19th and 20th century developments. It remains to be seen what new appropriate ways can be developed to be in conversation.

There are world-wide gatherings of Anglican women. Maybe in the future the case should be made for allowing them to have the kind of voice that Lambeth has that is not authoritative but is listened to.

We believe that we are bound together by Baptism and Eucharist.
Sacraments as Instruments of Unity not addressed.

Foundational Documents

The tradition of common prayer is foundational but not the 1662 prayer book.

We question the statement that 1662 BCP is foundational. The first American Prayer Book drew heavily upon the Scottish Prayer Book of the time.
The 39 articles are not mandated in Episcopal Church.

Chicago-Lambeth quadrilateral is hardly reflected.
Reason needs to be defined, per philosophical debate. Nothing in document refers to or reflects our Anglican three-legged stool.

The 1662 BCP and 39 articles are “touchstone documents” not foundational. Wish to look also to Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity.
Assumptions have been made, for example when the document refers to the creeds, which ones are being referred to?
As a communion, we don’t even agree on the invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharist. The document needs to be more tightly written.


The Episcopal Church comes from a strongly democratic tradition. This document seeks to move communion to something more autocratic.

We feel we need to teach other parts of the Anglican Communion about our polity which has been a part of this member church since its inception. We strongly affirm and seek the input of all baptized.

Neither our primate nor our bishops speak exclusively for us. We have a wider participation by all baptized members of our church.

We do not judge the individual polity of other member churches, and we don’t seek to impose our polity on other member churches. It needs to be made very clear that every church is allowed its own polity.

There needs to be a place to say more about our diverse and varied polity.

New technology could allow for virtual gatherings of baptized people.

It would be good not to suggest that these relatively new ways of holding communion together are only ways to do it.

We cannot live by deadlines that are inappropriate to our polity, process and people.

Why This? Why Now?

This seems to have a tone which suggests that “obviously we should have had this in place all the time and we’re doing this in order to say, ‘step out of line and you’re out.’ ’”

Paragraphs 5 & 6 seem to be about creating grounds for exclusion so that they make the entire document suspicious.

This is not the time to be assenting to a document of this type. Much more conversation needs to happen among all of us before we trust one another in the honoring this document.

This document is a rush job on something that should not be rushed. Leads to the result that “you’re out or you’re in.” Says it’s not juridical, but it is.

Our recommendation: The committee needs to go back to the drawing board. This should be a long-term, not a rushed process.

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