I was part of the working group that produced this paper and it was received and by resolution became the response of Executive Council. Because Executive Council was mandated by General Convention to do this work it becomes an (not the) official response of The Episcopal Church. Hopefully it will be read by the Covenant Design Group and will become a contribution to its work.
There has been considerable discussion as to the value of this Draft, and indeed of an Covenant at all. The Response speaks to this by saying,
"Our study process has led us to the conclusion that The Episcopal Church, as with the Executive Council, is not of one mind as to the efficacy of this particular Draft Covenant in either form or content. Furthermore, some parts of the Covenant have received broad endorsement within The Episcopal Church, whereas other parts have engendered vigorous debate and opposition."
At the end, we said,
"We are prepared to consider a covenant that says who we are, what we wish to be for the world, and how we will model mutual responsibility and interdependence in the body of Christ. We believe we must be open to God's doing a new thing among us; therefore, we remain open to explore such new possibilities in our common life while honoring established understandings....
The Executive Council believes that the Draft Anglican Covenant signals the beginning of a process for considering the future shape of our communion. Its ends are the hope for a communion whose member churches work and struggle in trust, with a full sense of mutual responsibility and interdependence in the Body of Christ. While some of our members consider the draft adequate as it stands, the majority believe that we must work in the hope that the final form of this document will provide a better means of engaging one another respectfully and with mutual regard, as we seek to agree on essential matters of faith and order while celebrating our differences."The paper deserves to be read in its entirety.
I will offer further thoughts on the matter but for now my understanding is that the following is true:
- The Draft Anglican Covenant unacceptable in its current form.
- The concerns raised in this paper and elsewhere may effect changes that would make a revised draft more acceptable.
- The Episcopal Church is willing to continue the search for an expression of the basis of our unity as a Communion in some form, a covenant or otherwise.