First off there is the complex matter of whether or not the Church of Uganda could appoint as its clergy representative to the ACC the Rev. Phil Ashey, a priest living in the US but part of Ruwenzori Diocese in the Province of Uganda. He got there by way of The Episcopal Church. He was at South Riding Church and he and some church members left and joined the Church of Uganda. On the way he was deposed by the Bishop of Virginia in 2005. He didn't buy it, nor did the Archbishop of Uganda. Since then Ashey has moved on and is now COO and Chaplain for the American Anglican Council.
Episcopal Cafe has all the particulars on the problems his nomination presents. Up to a point the Archbishop of Uganda is right in his contention that the Church of Uganda can appoint who it wishes from its church to serve as a representative. But only to a point. Here is the relevant part of the Constitution for the ACC:
4. Appointment and Retirement of Members
- Each of the appointing bodies shall have regard to the desirability of ensuring that any member appointed to represent it on the council shall be a member of its own representative structures and that such person shall be given appropriate opportunity to report the proceedings of the council to its own decision-making bodies and to convey the views of such decision-making bodies to the council."
- Any appointing body as set out in the Schedule of Membership shall have power at any time and from time to time to appoint any qualified person to be a member to fill a casual vacancy to hold office for the unexpired term specified in clause 4(b)
Tobias Haller has the best pithy comment on all this, of course.
So on this one it is the Archbishop of Uganda who has to give way. So much for Kings and their appointments.
Meanwhile there is the matter of cabbage. The work up on the Anglican Covenant is taking place. Archbishop Gomez, the chair of the Covenant Design Group made a report which deserves a careful read. It can be found HERE. (as a download) ENS reported on it HERE.
Two things to note:
(i) Archbishop Gomez made the argument that the Anglican Covenant in the Ridley Cambridge Draft is the last best hope for the Anglican Communion. He said,
"One thing I have to say to you in all seriousness, the Communion is close to the point of breaking up.
If we can’t state clearly and simply what holds us together, and speak clearly at this meeting, then I fear that there will be clear breaks in the Communion in the period following this meeting. Many of our Churches are asking to know where they stand - what can be relied on as central to the Anglican Communion; and how can disputes be settled without the wrangle and confusion that we have seen for the last seven years or more."
He later in the text restated the matter of impending breakup unless the ACC passes the resolution affirming the text and passing it on to the churches for approval.
The problem is, of course, that this is not the only thing the ACC could do, even while passing the text. It could take a deep breath and decide to pass the Covenant on with a codicil or two indicating just exactly what it proposed the Covenant will mean when it uses the word "church" or when it speaks of the work of the Joint Standing Committee. It could also decide that the section on the Joint Standing Committee is out of line, as it proposes new powers for an agent of agencies. A committee meant to coordinate the work of the Primates Meetings and the Anglican Consultative Council is now essentially becoming the star chamber in the making.
(ii) The resolution that is put forward on the Covenant asks that churches respond by 2014.
However, there are reports that a number of churches are ready to sign on right now. The Anglican Journal has a quite fine write up on the day's doings. I quote extensively from it here:
"Asked what the reason was for pegging the 2014 deadline, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, primate of the Church of the Province of Australia and JSC member, said it was because governing bodies of some member churches would not be able to meet until that date. He also said that the polities of at least three or four member churches requires two meetings of their general synod to render a decision on the covenant.
Dato Stanley Isaacs, who represents the Anglican Province of Southeast Asia, expressed that the 2014 deadline was “too long,” adding that the “urgency of the situation” in the communion requires an earlier response. He said that, while he recognized the constitutional difficulties that some provinces might have “if we all recognize this urgency, you can always have an extraordinary meeting to consider this for adoption.” His own church, said Mr. Isaacs, was “ready to adopt it.”
Archbishop Aspinall said there was “nothing to prevent a church moving very soon should it wish to” but the process recognizes the principle in the draft that “the communion guides and each church decides,” while being mindful of the implication of the matter to the communion. The Anglican Communion, composed of 80 million Anglicans in 44 regional and national churches in more than 160 countries, has been deeply divided in recent years over the issue of sexuality.
Another ACC delegate asked what would happen to member churches who choose not to sign on to the covenant. Bishop Gregory Cameron, deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said the Covenant Design Group had “wrestled hard” on this matter but felt that “we’re still entering a period of transition.” He said that it remained to be seen how many would adopt it. He said “at the moment, there is no linkage” between adoption of the covenant and participating in the life and activities of the communion. He said that if 15 or 20 member churches approve the covenant “it might move quite quickly and give it more gravity…”
Bishop Cameron’s statement was in contrast to a statement made earlier at a press briefing by Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, who said that the membership and participation in the communion of provinces which decided to opt out of the covenant would not be altered."
So the chopped cabbage that is the Ridly Cambridge Draft Covenant is quickly being morphed into the Anglican Covenant we dare not sign, must sign quickly, and "man, it's important." All of which one supposes gives support to a resolution to General Convention on adhering to the Draft Covenant's text while considering signing on new vigor. The steamroller is up and moving and the hand wringers are out in force. "Now, now, now!" is the roar. Doom otherwise.
Now we have Canon Kenneth Kearon giving one interpretation of the meaning of signing on and Bishop Gregory Cameron another. Making Bishop Cameron a bishop seems not to have motivated him to pay attention to his boss's views.
This thing is a mess. It is moving on to become another idol, not unlike the Windsor Report. It is moving rapidly from being a report of a committee to an iron-clad, no-nonsense, buy it or leave us proposition.
Life in Canada comes with a different history, but here in the US we have a history with constitutions in the making. The one we have looked pretty good and was an improvement on the Articles of Confederation, but it took only three seconds to realize that more was needed to even begin to address the problems it raised. A bill of rights was needed. We Anglicans at least need some assurance that there will not be wheels within wheels, except in visions.
The notion that we must rush to sign on so that things are not broken for good is too late. The GAFCON crowd has made that moot. The only question is whether or not GAFCON, the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, the Anglican Church of North America, etc, burns the village in order to save the villagers. The real value of the Anglican Covenant concerns those of us who remain, not those who have set their path on a different way, and for us the need for rush is less convincing.
The Anglican Communion is a fragile thing and will not bear up well under the meddling that is going on.
The last of the four items in the Lambeth Quadrilateral reads, "The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God int the unity of His Church." Perhaps it is precisely the historic episcopate that is locally adapted to varying needs that both gives rise to differences in decisions on moral and theological matters as well as on matters of "administration." Unless of course one believes for a moment that administration has no echo in theological or moral matters.
Those who believe there is no connection between the two also are likely to believe that the Anglican Covenant has no impact on Constitutions and Canons of the several churches of the Anglican Communion.
But then again denial is a wonderful thing to behold.