Lay Anglicana, the unofficial voice of the laity throughout the Anglican Communion.
This is the place to share news and views from the pews.

Get involved ...

The Covenant: It’s Dead But It Won’t Lie Down!

Benny Hazlehurst has laid the Covenant to rest (without adding the now customary ‘And rise in glory’:)

There are those who are still trying to pretend that the Covenant is still alive, desperately trying to breathe life into its limp body, while claiming still to feel the faintest pulse.  They are mistaken. What is needed now is to recognise the will of the Synodical process, and express deep and sincere thanks to those who genuinely tried to find a way forward for the Anglican Communion in the form of a Covenant – and to let it now Rest in Peace. Having led hundreds of funerals since my ordination over 20 years ago, I know that the best funerals are those where the mourners gather to say a loving good bye – and the worst are those where the grievers meet in a kind of desperate denial. For the good intentions of those who tried to square this circle, the Anglican Covenant deserves a good funeral which will enable us all to move on and find new ways of living together as the living Anglican Body of Christ.

Bishop Alan has poured scorn on attempts to resuscitate the corpse (the Covenant – not the Church as a whole, which may actually be rejuvenated by events).

The Fulcrum website appears to recognise that the game is over, at least for now. First Andrew Goddard,

  It is also the case that General Synod cannot reconsider the Act during this Synod. It would be open to the new Synod, elected in 2015, to again request the dioceses to approve a draft Act of Synod adopting the covenant or consider an alternative way of the Church of England adopting it.  However, unless there are significant changes in the text of the covenant or strong evidence of a serious change of mind within the wider church (perhaps if most provinces do adopt it and we are a small minority refusing), both of these paths would appear unwise.

and then Bishop Graham Kings

…The Covenant was designed as a ‘web of mutuality’ across the Anglican Communion: a balance of provincial autonomy with world-wide interdependence and accountability. The Covenant sets out an orderly process towards the resolutions of conflicts to replace the chaotic, hastily arranged meetings of the past, which too often have led to a barrage of curses and contested statements. Tragically, last Saturday, the Covenant was voted down in three dioceses of the Church of England and now cannot be debated and voted on in General Synod next July. It needed over half of the 44 dioceses to vote for it positively. So far 23 dioceses have voted no, and 15 yes. Interestingly, the total number of votes, so far, is slightly over half in favour and, amongst the bishops, nearly 80% were in favour.


However, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office, Canon Kenneth Kearon, put out a statement sounding remarkably like Michael Palin as the unfortunate salesman in the Monty Python dead parrot sketch:

In short, it is dead, but it won’t lie down!

8 comments on this post:

Stephen Heard said...

It would be nice to think that we could be done with the covenant once and for all; but I suppose that is too much to hope for. Perhaps it will be like the Irish referendum on the Treaty of Nice (ie “We’ll keep asking you the question until we get the right answer.”) But, deo volente, we are free of it for a few years at least.

What hasn’t been recognised is the extent to which the CofE’s rejection of it is thanks to some of its most determined, and assiduously fair, opponents. There’s a real possibility that, without their alertness and efforts, we might have sleepwalked into something that would have cut right across the CofE’s historic status, polity and calling as a national Church.

I, for one, would like to extend my thanks to them. (They know who they are.)

28 March 2012 11:20
Revsimmy said...

I personally rejoice at the outcome of the synod votes at the weekend. Nevertheless, I also think that the temptation to take such an Anglocentric view (the CofE has rejected it, therefore the Covenant is dead in the water) needs to be resisted. Although it would appear to us that it makes no sense for the Anglican Communion to adopt the Covenant without the CofE, it may not look quite that way to the rest of the world, especially to those provinces who have already voted in favour and who may be asking themselves what was the point? Why might they not conclude that the CofE itself should be put on the naughty step along with TEC, ACC and NZ while they proceed to set up the structures envisaged in Section 4? I think we may be in for a very difficult period.
[Note, this was not, in my opinion and contra others, a good reason for us to have accepted such a drastic change in our polity].

Lay Anglicana said...

I agree that we are probably in for a very difficult period. My hope is that out of this will come a re-invigorated Church. I hope and pray.

Meanwhile, you are of course right to warn against being too Anglocentric in our reactions.

I plead guilty – and also not guilty! Guilty because that is my prime perspective. It is chiefly because the Covenant has been defeated in diocesan synods in England that we are saying that it is time to sign the death certificate. But not guilty because there are other reasons for thinking the Covenant dead. First of all is India, which was never going to be able to sign the Covenant in the first place. Then there is GAFCON, which has declared the Covenant no longer fit for the purpose they intended. And then there is the peculiarly nasty form of abuse levelled at Archbishop Rowan by the Archbishop of Nigeria:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd and Rt. Hon. Dr. Rowan Williams took over the leadership of the Anglican Communion in 2002 when it was a happy family. Unfortunately, he is leaving behind a Communion in tatters: highly polarized, bitterly factionalized, with issues of revisionist interpretation of the Holy Scriptures and human sexuality as stumbling blocks to oneness, evangelism and mission all around the Anglican world. It might not have been entirely his own making, but certainly “crucified under Pontius Pilate”. The lowest ebb of this degeneration came in 2008, when there were, so to say, two “Lambeth” Conferences one in the UK, and an alternative one, GAFCON in Jerusalem. The trend continued recently when many Global South Primates decided not to attend the last Primates’ meeting in Dublin, Ireland. Since Dr. Rowan Williams did not resign in 2008, over the split Lambeth Conference, one would have expected him to stay on in office, and work assiduously to ‘mend the net’ or repair the breach, before bowing out of office. The only attempt, the covenant proposal, was doomed to fail from the start, as “two cannot walk together unless they have agreed”.

It was for the Church in Nigeria and others that Archbishop Rowan and his predecessor devised the Covenant, as I would see it putting the whole Communion at stake for them. And this is the thanks he receives.

28 March 2012 14:20
28 March 2012 12:06
Lay Anglicana said...

The Treaty of Nice is new to me, but will join the little grey cells to be brought out in future – very Irish!

Thank-you as always for commenting.

As Stephen doesn’t mention, but is uppermost in my mind as I am sure it is in his, tomorrow is the turn of our capital, London, to vote on the Covenant. We are hoping and praying that it will give a lead. [‘]

28 March 2012 12:09
Stephen Heard said...

I entirely agree with you about the comments of the Archbishop of Nigeria. What have we come to? It will indeed be interesting to see how the London vote goes.

(PS the Irish rejected the Treaty of Nice in a referendum in 2001. Since this threatened to derail the grand EU plan, the Irish government were forced to hold the referendum again the following year – by which time (you guessed it) the Irish people had apparently changed their minds.

Lay Anglicana said...

Now I feel like Moliere’s ‘bourgeois gentilhomme’ who found he had been speaking prose for years without realising it. I knew about the Irish referendum, and holding it again, but had not heard of the Treaty of Nice, which I assumed was something esoteric from the 19th century! Ignorance, sheer ignorance!

28 March 2012 17:33
28 March 2012 15:53
UKViewer said...

I’m not a great fan of ‘out of sight – out of mind’. This isn’t the time to rest on our laurels. We need to ensure that the Covenant, that won’t lie down, is buried, upright if necessary. A precedent exists:

Our burial approach is distinctive in a number of ways:
Our approach to burial is environmentally friendly and ecologically sustainable.

The body is placed in a vertical position in a biodegradable body bag using a far simpler and safer approach to burial that removes the OH&S issues and labour costs associated with traditional horizontal burial
The burial service includes pick up, administration, burial preparation, and burial for a single, one-time fee of xxxx including VAT.

Each site is secure forever, with no additional fees/

As Kurweeton Road Cemetery is kept in a natural state, family and friends are provided with the exact location of the grave site and are welcome to visit at any time.

It seems to me that such a natural burial, would only be natural and fair. And the cost of the grave, wouldn’t be that expensive. And ideal for a bio-degradable Covenant, which can return to nature as intended.

Lay Anglicana said...

You are marvellous – an upright burial, this is obviously the answer! (I’d like to see anyone try it in our soil, almost exclusively large flints and very hard to dig, but in Australian sand entirely feasible). Perhaps transportation to Australia first, followed by upright burial in the bush, that should do it!

28 March 2012 17:35
28 March 2012 16:15

Leave a Reply

We rely on donations to keep this website running.