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Posts Tagged "Super Saturday":

More Exciting Than Quidditch?

What are your plans for this Saturday? If you like to follow sport, you have a choice of watching  football (Coventry v Birmingham), golf (Florida), rugby union (Wales v Italy), swimming (Olympic trials) or tennis (Mexico). And I believe there are several games of quidditch around our universities.

But I have another suggestion. The most exciting spectator sport on offer this Saturday, 10 March 2012, is the Pro Anglican Covenant v Anti Anglican Covenant encounter being played out in another six diocesan synods across the land. These are exceptional times we live in – it has been said (rather rudely) that a deanery synod is a collection of people waiting to go home, and I have not heard that diocesan synods are any more gripping. But, if you have any imagination at all, this contest should have you on the edge of your seats with excitement.

Let us recap the current state of play (since we seem to be stuck in sporting metaphors). Voting on whether the Church of England should or should not adopt the Anglican Covenant has been rolling out in the dioceses since 12 March 2011 when (we hope prophetically) Wakefield rejected it. Since then, a further 20 dioceses have voted. The tally is currently 13 against the Covenant, 8 in favour.

I think it is probably fair to say that the results so far have been a great surprise to everyone. The Church of England hierarchy has certainly been taken aback by the strength of feeling in the country against it. The Archbishop of Canterbury saw fit to upload a video on 5 March in which his usual charm is nowhere to be seen. This feels like being reprimanded in the headmaster’s study:

In contrast, on 6 March Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch offered the following succinct summary of the arguments:

If I didn’t know better, I would say that the tone of Archbishop Rowan’s video indicates that he is running scared. I am reminded of  Mrs Thatcher’s taunt in 1983:

The Right Hon. Gentleman is afraid of an election is he?… Afraid? Frightened? Frit? Couldn’t take it? Couldn’t stand it?  *

The significance is that if a simple majority of dioceses reject the Covenant, it will not be returned to York General Synod in July, as had been intended. There are 44 dioceses, which means that 23 dioceses must therefore vote in favour for it to continue. It cannot be brought forward again until July 2015, the end of the present quinquennium. Benny Hazlehurst has just blogged  about the voting so far throughout the Communion (as well as highlighting some of the arguments so far in England).

The dioceses voting on Saturday, then, are:

Ripon and Leeds 9.00 – 1.00

Bath and Wells 9.30 a.m.

Southwark  10.00 all day

Carlisle  10.30 a.m.

Coventry (not known)

Worcester (not known)

Results will be posted on Facebook at the No Anglican Covenant page, on Thinking Anglicans, and will be tweeted by Lesley Crawley (@RevdLesley) and me (@layanglicana). And then we go through it all over again on Saturday 17th with Norwich, Liverpool, St Albans, Chester and Ely.


This has been a David and Goliath struggle. The whole weight of the Church of England has been brought to bear on influencing the result, resorting to such tactics as ensuring that the only briefing material sent to dioceses was, so far as the hierarchy was able to do so, in favour of the Covenant. If David does indeed succeed in defeating Goliath, it will be thanks to the bravery of the clergy who stood firm for what they knew to be right despite jeopardising their positions. The story of the struggle needs one of the romantic poets of the nineteenth century to do it justice, Macaulay perhaps?

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
‘To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods


*”Prime Minister’s Question Time, House of Commons (19 April, 1983). The use of ‘frit’, an unusual Lincolnshire dialect abbreviation of ‘frightened’ which Mrs Thatcher evidently recalled from childhood, was missed by MPs in a noisy chamber but heard very distinctly on the audio feed from the chamber” (Wikipedia)


The illustration is by iQoncept  via Shutterstock.

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