The unsought treasure: part 4 of the Draft Covenant

The Anglican Consultative Council spent the large part of yesterday afternoon and evening debating just what to do with the Ridley-Cambridge Draft Covenant. When they finished they found they had made the Anglican compromise - accepted part without question, approved part with questions, and sent the rest back for further work. Instead of having a single full text to take to the churches (meaning the Provinces, National and Regional Churches that make up the list of members of the Anglican Communion) and whoever else might be interested, they have no text to take at all. When there is one it will go ONLY to the Churches listed as part of the ACC.

The Covenant Bishops are left with the option to sign on to a text when it comes as diocesans but with the reality that their signatures are supportive only. They are not invited to sign. The Anglican Church in North America won't be invited to sign either.

Still, parts 1-3 of the Draft are acceptable to the ACC, even with the remarkable new powers granted to the Joint Standing Committee of Primates and ACC in 3.2. The first sections stand as an approved text. It is section 4 of the Draft that goes back for retooling. It won't go back to the Covenant Design Group that produced Drafts 1 to 3. It will go to a group appointed for the task. Their work will be to revisit the way in which the Communion will deal with divisive issues and the matter of inclusion in or expulsion from the Communion.

The Covenant has been touted as a treasure - a special gift that would make it possible for the Anglican Communion to remain a whole and repair itself when internal disagreements would arise. It appears that only some of the material found in the Ark of this particular Covenant counted as treasure. Other things found there were seen to be of lesser value.

Bishop Roskam, one of the Episcopal Church representatives to the ACC, suggested that the not so treasured part - part 4 - was something like a pre-nuptial agreement appended to a marriage contract. Others have seem part 4 as simply new and innovative and material that has not been widely distributed for discussion but rather plopped on the table for approval at the last minute. There is a good video of TEC representatives to the ACC discussing their sense of the debate, HERE. (I wish by the way that ENS had easily available ways to embed their videos in blogs.)

Had the Covenant text gone out the Churches as is, without further vetting there would have been real questions as to whether or not it would find even a majority of Provinces willing to sign on. The fact that the Draft is still not in completed form for distribution will be seen by detractors of a Lambeth centered Communion as additional evidence of the ineffectiveness of AC structures and faith stance.

For some, including myself, the fourth part of the Draft is an unsought treasure. And we ought to head the warnings not to seek such treasure. It may appear to be part of a covenant, but it is not. It is part of a contract, the part that has to do with default. It may be necessary but can be built into the rules of the various "instruments of unity" rather than into the shared vision of the covenant. If section four is considered part of the treasure, the ACC yesterday decided not to seek it.

I am reminded of the sequence in "O Brother Where Art Thou" where Everett and Delmar encounter Pete,the third member of the gang on a quest to find money, a treasure, buried by Everett. The encounter is in a movie theater. The whole thing is rather complex, but Pete tries to warn Everett and Delmar not to go after the treasure because the sheriff is waiting to ambush them. So he whispers, "Do...not....seek....the....treasure."

Here it is:


  1. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures (and, that includes covenant treasures) on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures (like seek and serve Christ in all persons, and...respect the dignity of evey human being. BCP pg. 305) in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matt. 6:19-20)

  2. More a post-nuptial agreement?

  3. RevRita said what I was thinking... exactly!
    Thank you, Fr. Mark, for keeping us informed.

  4. I wonder how Anglicanland will deal with Sunday's (Easter V) lection from I John 4.7-21?


  5. Funny video! ("We thought you was a toad.")

    The Covenant is dead or at least awaiting exodontofication. The Communion Partners thought had looked to it as a way to stay faithful and yet be part of the Episcopal denomination. That is now taken away from them. George Carey's prediction is looking more true, the pogrom of all orthodox from the denomination will occur in short order. But those that remain will realize that they have just sawed off the branch that they were sitting on.

  6. Robroy, well, no. No one is asking the orthodites to leave, although at times I do think it would be better if we did part, in many ways, I still think it is the wrong thing to do.

    That's the part of being a conservative I will NEVER understand. If you oppose gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex! Don't attend a gay marriage service! Tell you children, your neighbors, your coworkers, your fellow parishioners and priests that you oppose it with all your will! Ban LGBT from coming into your home and actively work to deny them equality through the political process! Write screeds, tracts, and books, give speeches decrying all things LGBT! Donate money to anti-LGBT causes and reparative therapy centers!

    All of these things are not only been "allowed" in today's TEC, and pretty much everywhere in the Anglican communion, they remains the norm. They are not banned nor are they reason for excommunication nor a pronouncement of anathema. Granted, some people will avoid those who have these inclinations, much as they themselves avoid LGBTs like the plague, but that is the price for one's beliefs.

    Yet every Sunday we open our same prayer books, follow the same order of service, sing the same hymns, listen to the same reading from the same bible, take the same communion, share a cup of same coffee or tea with a cookie, and go on about our daily lives. We still celebrate the same holy days together, we still engage in charitable outreach in our communities.

    It was this "live and let live" attitude that brought me into TEC 20 years ago. The only difference I see now is that instead of working from the assumption that LGBT are dirty, disgusting perverts and damned sinners destined for hell because the "biblesaysso" we have instead acknowledged that all baptized Christians are beloved by God, and welcome at His table.

    I don't understand why welcoming all into full baptismal covenant within TEC and the AC is untenable for orthodites, who knowingly or unknowingly kneel side by side to receive communion from adulterers, thieves, liars, usurers, and all other manner of sinner every time they have ever taken communion their entire lives. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God yet LGBT sinners are somehow grounds for schism and church abandonment.

    I've enjoyed my conservative/traditionalist brothers and sisters and developed close relationships with them. I don't want them to leave! I didn't leave the church when the status quo was hating on LGBT Christians, when women were considered second class at best, when the black church and the white church on the same block didn't even know each other's names, let alone share worship of God.

    Yet the orthodites claim they are actively being driven out. No, they are not! ALL are welcome. None may exclude or deny. The way Jesus presented it, right? I just don't get it.

  7. Pogrom?

    I think an apology is required.

    Jim Naughton

  8. RevRita - it does seem that some "thieves" have destroyed the covenant treasure which was the prospect of mending the "tear in the fabric of the Communion"....but I guess that is just fine for some as long as TECUSA gets its political way on a vote.....AC unity matters little to some in TECUSA, after all..... but staying in the club does matter given how few people, in the US and outside, attend liberal Anglican churches.....the big stage has to be captured as even greater irrelevance is the alternative. Political, procedural wins will not prove worth having.....remember Lameth 08 looked rather pathetic with 1/4 of the bishops from TECUSA (0.26% of the US population....and shrinking) but more than half of the AC not even there...... all that the politiking has achieved is the AC being on the brink - most Anglicans in the world have no need for Canterbury etc....they are bigger and growing, even in the West, without revisionist ideas to stem that growth..... even in sceptical old England, guess which CofE churches attract hundreds, even thousands of British people each week? Don't rejoice too much over a political win....liberalism dies out in the next few decades anyway (given so few people under 40 are in liberal Anglican churches) because fewer and fewer attend each week to hear the doubts and uncertainties of liberal vicars.....even in England, even in the US as TECUSA's dwindling Sunday attendance shows. In a hundred years, there will be lectures on how "inclusivity" as a goal included fewer and fewer people in liberal Anglican circles until extinction... not really inclusive ultimately. No doubt you guys have hundreds of people aged 15-35 in your liberal churches and know that I am talking rubbish........ or maybe you know it is the truth and don't really care as long as the political aims of TECUSA in the AC are won

  9. It is my view that section 3.2 is NOT a treasure. And I would hope that the various provinces might think about it and then send in conditional signatures or amended, signed documents. One can hope.

    Priscilla, what you are not getting is the difference between valuing polity and valuing relationships. Robroy is 'driven out' because he looses a vote. You are motivated to seek change. That is the entire difference.


    The security word is polizess!

  10. Priscilla, check out the simply amazing list of resolution after resolution on homosexual advocacy here.

    How can orthodox carry on mission when the organization is more a homosexual rights group then a Christian denomination? Answer: they cannot. They are not allowed to vary from the party line.

    Jim, former archbishop Carey stated there is a real possibility that the orthodox will be completely cleansed from the Episcopal denomination. That possibility is looking more like a probability. It is a remarkable feat to be sure that certainly justifies the term pogrom to describe the theological cleansing.

    Unfortunately for the remaining, there is little to no evidence that the cleansed denomination can carry on. Interesting that the Unitarian Universalist "Church", which only has ~160,000 announced that membership declined slightly. But we hardly need two UU "Churches".

    Those remaining will be singing this:

    O, Death
    O, Death
    Won't you spare me over til another year
    Well what is this that I can't see
    With ice cold hands takin' hold of me
    Well I am death, none can excel
    I'll open the door to heaven or hell
    Whoa, death someone would pray
    Could you wait to call me another day
    The children prayed, the preacher preached
    Time and mercy is out of your reach
    I'll fix your feet til you cant walk
    I'll lock your jaw til you cant talk
    I'll close your eyes so you can't see
    This very air, come and go with me
    I'm death I come to take the soul
    Leave the body and leave it cold
    To draw up the flesh off of the frame
    Dirt and worm both have a claim

  11. Robroy,

    Do you know what the pogroms were? Massacres, and I mean mass murder, not disheartened souls. Usually followed by destruction of property (homes, schools, synagogues, crops, livestock...depended on the location).

    My college roommate's paternal grandfather just missed the pogrom of his home village in Russia. His mother had sent him - a young boy - out to collect kindling in the woods; he was able to hide before the attackers spotted him when he returned home. He never found any other survivors, they nicely timed the attack for the supper hour.

    Want to try again?

  12. No one is asking the orthodites to leave . . . Not entirely true, Priscilla. I and some others have been asking that for some time. They can only bring destruction, misery and despair by staying. It is pointless to try to maintain unity with those who seek to destroy us. Recently, I've begun to believe excommunication the best available option, and do not feel outrage that the AC may do the same to us.

    Living cells divide to grow the body.

    The Body of Christ does not depend on sharing a single brand name.

  13. I think that Ephraim Radner+ probably sums it up best in a recent essay posted at Titus:

    Finally, and more personally, the ACC has only strengthened the sense that those traditional Anglicans who have “stayed” – in TEC, the Canadian Church, Global South engagement – have been yet again left to argue a case for which the Instruments themselves are offering little support, whether because of their own lack of commitment to this case or because simply of their own incapacity to speak and act clearly. Many of us are exhausted by this calling we have taken up, by the attacks it has engendered from all sides, and by the public indifference from Communion quarters to our work. We are friends of the Communion and its unity, as far as it can be maintained; yet some might think that such friendship is itself diseased.Here is a guy of incredible resolve and character who is doing his darndest to stay in the TEC and yet remain faithful and finding it impossible.

    I have no doubt that Ephraim+ will be chased from the denomination. What a ridiculous waste it will be.

  14. Well, Robroy, as the good Dr. Radner packs his orthodite bags to leave for cleaner and more pure pastures, I am sure you are right that he will continue to blame everyone else but himself.

    I have read much of his writing and his "staying" has always been predicated on eradicating those who consented to Robinson's elevation to bishop, those who value and see justice in SSB and SSM, and those who don't share his very narrow scriptural interpretations.

    He laid a lot on the line manipulating the Ridley Cambridge draft into allowing a back door for ACNA to enter the AC and although he no longer speaks publicly about his IRD days, the influence of stealthily taking over the church through for conservatives by fomenting internal dissent has never quite disappeared, has it?

    I've no doubt the good Dr. Radner believes with all his heart that he is right and those who agree with him are right and that he is absolutely flabbergasted that everyone doesn't see that he and his supporters are right about everything.

    I wish him well, wherever the Spirit leads him. But I don't pity him nor give him a false martyrdom as he goes.

  15. How can orthodox carry on mission when the organization is more a homosexual rights group then a Christian denomination?

    It's when I read a li(n)e like this, I can't help but wonder: is the writer "merely" insane, or actually demonically possessed? Both?

    All I can do, is pray for healing either way...

    JCF, on the road, who visited yet another Episcopal Church this morning for worship. Prayers were prayed, Jesus was eaten, but strangely enough, there was no evidence of a "homosexual rights group" anywhere to be found...


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.