Covenant or Common Declaration?

It is the day after the end of Lambeth 2008 and things are pretty quiet. While searching around for several follow-up quotes from various materials on issues about covenant I came across the Common Declaration proposal that was put forth in 1988.

Reading it again I was struck by its positive tone, its echo of the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and its value as a rather broad statement of Anglican values. It died at the time, but perhaps it ought to be commended again to as an alternative to a covenant. Perhaps
the national and regional churches in the Anglican Communion could agree on a common declaration of this sort.

The Common Declaration can be found in Anglicanism & the Universal Church: Highways and Hedges 1958-1984, by John Howe, (Anglican Book Centre, 1990) pg. 239-240. A shortened summary of the commentary on this document :

The Common Declaration was a statement proposed as one to be used at major events in the life of the Church, (for example the founding of a new diocese). It was published in the Lambeth 1988 Conference paper “Instruments of Communion and Decision-Making.” Resolution 19 of that Conference referred this to the Inter-Anglican Theological and Doctrinal Commission for consideration. Since IATDC had not yet met, the Primates meeting in 1989 commended the paper to the churches for comment prior to their 1991 meeting.

Here is the final form of that document, taken from Anglicanism and the Universal Church.

The Common Declaration of Anglican Churches:

(i) The Church (of the Province) of …. declares itself to be united under one divine head in the fellowship of the one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(ii) It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the Catholic Creeds, to which faith the formularies of this Church bear witness and which the Church is called to proclaim afresh in each generation.

(iii) It celebrates the divinely instituted sacraments, particularly those of Baptism and Holy Communion, as ordinances of the universal Church.

(iv) It expresses its continuity with the apostolic tradition of faith and witness, worship, fellowship and ministry by means of the historic episcopal order. It is in communion with each of those Churches which preserve the historic threefold order of the ordained ministry and are in communion with the See of Canterbury.

(v) It looks forward to the unity of all Christians based on a common recognition of the place of the Holy Scriptures, the Catholic Creeds, the dominical sacraments and historic episcopal order in the Church of God.

Maybe it's just the day, but it looks pretty good to me, and it is no six page document that can't be agreed to without legal counsel. And, for those who read my comment on the use of the term Province, there is no reference to Provinces at all.


  1. Perhaps we should adopt this Common Declaration and invite others to join us. Perhaps it is time to let the AC go. They focus on the GLBT issue while people in their own countries are daily living with hunger, fear, injustice and oppression. It is unhealthy for us to allow their values to be the focus of our ministry.

  2. I like it, and agree with Bonnie that it is unhealthy for the Episcopal Church and the LGBT people of faith within this church to be held hostage to values that are simply not ours.

  3. I recall seeing this as part of the ECP's Constitution.

    Thanks for posting this.

  4. Bonnie may have something here. Mayhaps GC should formally affirm this and invite those churches in communion with TEC to follow.


  5. I like it, but in light of Bonnie's suggestion that it might be time to let the AC go, maybe the language regarding which churches we are in communion with should be re-worked.

  6. I agree with Bonnie, too.

    Certainly the new draft of the so-called "covenant" that I have read, is as unaceptable to me as that which went before. Unless there are major revisions in a liberal direction, I say "NO!" to any "covenant",

  7. This does look pretty good. Then again, as I've written on my own blog:

    "Why can't we simply reaffirm what we've already affirmed as Anglicans [again and again in successive Lambeth Conferences and General Conventions of TEC]: the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and "The Five Marks of Mission"? Why can't what we've already agreed upon - what is already part of our inheritance as a global communion - be the sufficient basis for a "covenant"?


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.