The Covenant Design Committee names have been released. They are:
The Most Revd Drexel Gomez, West Indies
The Revd Victor Atta-Baffoe, West Africa
The Most Revd Dr John Chew, South East Asia
Ms Sriyanganie Fernando, Ceylon
The Revd Dr Kathy Grieb, USA
The Rt Revd Santosh Marray, Indian Ocean
The Most Revd John Neill, Ireland
The Revd Canon Andrew Norman, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative
Chancellor Rubie Nottage, West Indies, Consultant
The Revd Dr Ephraim Radner, USA
Ms Nomfundo Walaza, Southern Africa
The Revd Canon Gregory Cameron, Anglican Communion Office, Secretary
Jim Naughton, over at Daily Episcopalian, is not entirely comfortable. In that I join him.
Archbishop Drexel Gomez was at the second meeting of the Windsor Bishops, and the and Archbishop John Chew were in
In Drs Kathy Grieb and Ephraim Radner we have solid intellectual input from the
About the others I have less clarity. It is interesting that the three power players in this – The Archbishop of Canterbury, the ACC and the Primates (Global South or otherwise) are represented by individuals who will I suspect set much of the direction. At least there is present a Primate not from the Global South and Africans from at least several Provinces in
I have many questions about this group, but the primary one is whether inclusion in the group already means that they agree that a covenant – one called a covenant – is necessary. That is, are the members of this group already committed to the idea of a covenant rather than, say, a compact? I am very suspicious of ecclesial sorts who talk about covenants, mostly because the one covenant that gets talked about all the time is the covenant of marriage. That image of what it means to be the Anglican Communion is defunct, or ought to be. We are not married to each other, we are married to the Gospel.
According to StandFirm here is also something called a “corresponding group”, Standing Firm says that on multiple good authority the group consists of the following:
Bill Atwood, USA /Southern Cone
Paul Avis, England
Terry Brown, Melanesia
Tom Brown, New Zealand
Sathi Clarke, South India
Michael Doe, USPG
Norman Doe, Wales
John Gladstone, South India
Bruce Kaye, Australia
Paul McPartlan, PCPCU
Zac Niringiye, Uganda
Stephen Noll, Uganda
Martyn Percy, England
John Rees, Legal Adviser, ACC
Kathy Ross, NZ ( Oxford )
Eileen Scully, Canada
Stephen Sykes, Doctrinal Commission
This group is fascinating. It consists of some of the best minds in the communion. It also has an anomaly, namely Bill Atwood, who is listed as
So, what are we to make of this? Is this the drip, drip, drip of water torture, in which slowly it dawns on progressives that there will indeed be a covenant and its form will require a stronger Primates House… a kind of ecclesiastical House of Lords Spiritual? Is the end of all this simply to make the Anglican Communion an international church, with an international hierarchy? If so those of us who don’t like this idea at all will find strange allies.
Or is this really the opportunity for a fresh spring from which we can all drink? What sorts of checks and balances are there out there which could in fact help us all to make better decisions?
The Covenant Design Group will have to work hard to convince us that what is achieved reflects not the Primates or the Archbishop of Canterbury, but some sense of governance by lay and ordained people. Very little of what has transpired gives much hope that the Design Group will move in this direction.
It seems to me that we mostly have the drip, drip, drip of water torture, not fresh springs. The outrageous statements of Primates who say they will not sit at the table with our Presiding Bishop, the request that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw from the ACC meeting, and the most recent findings of the Panel of Reference, all point to prolonged struggle.
The Panel of Reference, a body appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to deal with oversight of parishes and dioceses with their bishops, has a mandate from the Archbishop that requires careful attention. It reads like a royal proclamation. It is full of recommendatory language, but its force is hierarchical.
It might be of some interest to note that among the members of that Panel there is one member of the covenant design committee, the Chancellor of the
There is a great deal already written about the Panel of Reference’s recommendations concerning
Into this mess the Panel of Reference now steps, and invites the Episcopal Church to continue living with a Diocese whose bishop down deep does not recognize the orders of the Primate of the Episcopal Church. This won’t work. The Panel of Reference, relying on the slippery notion of “reception,” is not helpful.
The Anglican Communion Network was pleased, as one might imagine. The Panel’s report recommended that, “the Archbishop of Canterbury continue discussions with the Diocese of Fort Worth and with The Episcopal Church with the aim of securing the place of
The Moderator states, “It is clearly up to the leadership of The Episcopal Church to choose either to continue pushing faithful Episcopalians who disagree with the majority on this issue out the door, or to accept the constructive work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference. Within the Anglican Communion Network, we have found that those of us who have embraced the ordination of women to the priesthood and those who have not have been able to work and worship together with great unity once we agreed to respect each-other’s theological convictions on this issue in both word and deed. This is why, at the very beginning, the Anglican Communion Network established its Forward in Faith Convocation to stand alongside its five other convocations, creating a means to enable and strengthen this very outcome. It would be a wonderful thing to see the entire Episcopal Church choose this path.”
The Moderator seems to think the Network solution is the one for the whole of the Episcopal Church. I can, and do, respect Bishop Iker’s convictions. That does not mean that I think he is right. He is ordained a bishop with license in the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church ordains women. If he doesn’t believe women can be priests or bishops, then this is the wrong church for him.
No doubt the Moderator is correct, we can work and worship with great vigor and unity given these disagreements, but it may well be across a line.
The Episcopal Church ordains women. If Bishop Iker cannot abide that, it would appear that he belongs to another church – not the Episcopal Church.
The Episcopal Church is governed by decisions made by lay and ordained people, assembled as a General Convention. Any covenant it enters into on a wider level that does not reflect that spirit of governance by a whole people belies our own progress in becoming such a church.
Someday the Panel of Reference and the Covenant Design Group will have to come to grips with these realities.
The sooner the better.