I have remarked twice on this blog, HERE and HERE that I thought the churches of the Anglican Communion might think of developing a compact among the churches, rather than a covenant.
We already have a covenant, one which we refer to in the Episcopal Church as the Baptismal Covenant. Covenant is in this sense a relationship between individuals – in this case God and the converted human. In the case of the baptismal covenant in particular it is a relationship established that cannot be broken, for it does not rely on our strength or purpose, but on God’s love and inclusion of us. The Covenant with Israel may have been with the whole people, and its assurances to the whole people, but it is signaled by the individual who does what God has required in the Covenant.
Compacts, however, are entered into not only by humans, but by human corporations or bodies. A compact can be devised among corporate bodies, organizations that are committed to common tasks and a common future. Compacts do not supplant the covenant of baptism: we are by covenant made part of the Body of Christ. I would argue that we are members of the Episcopal Church by compact, and the Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion by mostly unwritten compact. Compacts can address common mission, tasks, direction and purpose. Compacts can hold us accountable to one another.
This idea would have to be fleshed out a good bit to be of value in the current Anglican mess, but as we look towards the discussion of an Anglican Covenant, I would propose we think seriously about an alternative to “Covenant” language. Perhaps compact might serve. Let’s keep our Covenant with God, and compact with one another to get on with the work we promised in that Covenant.