The Church of England General Synod is debating the Anglican Covenant. And just in time GAFCON (the Global Anglican Fellowship Conference) / FCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans primates have released a statement making it clear that a significant number of Provinces are not signing the Covenant and are not taking part in the life of one of the Instruments of Unity - the Primates Meeting.
We have already heard that Archbishop Earnest is not attending, and now the list is growing:
The Most Rev’d Gregory Venables, GAFCON/FCA Chair presumably is speaking of the Primate of the Southern Cone, but we will have to see.
The following are out:
The Most Rev’d Justice Akrofi, Archbishop, Anglican Province of West Africa
The Most Rev ‘d Emmanuel Kolini, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Rwanda
The Most Rev’d Valentino Mokiwa, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Tanzania
The Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh, Archbishop, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion)
The Most Rev’d Henry Orombi Archbishop, Church of Uganda
The Most Rev’d Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop, Anglican Church of Kenya
Also attending was The Most Rev’d Robert Duncan, Archbishop, Anglican Church in North America, deposed bishop of Pittsburgh and holding dual citizenship in the Province of the Southern Cone and in the ACNA which is recognized by the other worthies (if not by their churches) as a church (province) in communion with the GAFCON folk. His presence and signature means that GAFCON is working the new world Anglican Order as they see it.
The Archbishop of Sidney was there as secretary, not as primate.
So the alignment for a non-Covenant, non-Canterbury, non-Anglican Instrument of Unity, worldwide Anglican-like body is firming up. The churches across the center of Africa and the Southern Cone are joined by ACNA as their more or less repentant Western companion body, and present themselves as a new improved Anglican Communion (NIAC).
They are not going to Ireland with the Primates, they are not signing the Anglican Covenant, they are not going to pay attention to the Archbishop of Canterbury's invitation, they are on their way to NIAC.
The publication of this GAFCON statement on the day that the Anglican Covenant is being debated by the CofE Synod is no accident. The GAFCON primates met in early October. Given GAFCON's record in putting signatures on papers without clearing it with the persons named, perhaps it too several weeks to make sure all were on board. Still, it is of some interest politically to note that release of this message precisely while the CofE debate is going on is a bit of a bombshell.
The Archbishop of Canterbury argues that the Covenant is an instrument for Unity, not punitive of dissent but supportive of common life. To have it dismissed by a sizable group of African Anglican Primates is bad enough, but for those same Primates to make it clear that no matter what the meetings are prior to the Primates Meeting, they are not going to take part in one of the "instruments of unity," is devastating.
GAFCON is on its way to forming an alternate way to be Anglican in the world, one which the Covenant does not support and the existing unifying elements in the Anglican Communion are irrelevant.
The Covenant will not draw us together. It has nothing to do with any of our reservations about it. The facts are now on the ground. Even supposing all the remaining Provinces signed on, the fact that a sizable group of Provinces will not consider it in its current form means that the Covenant that we have before us will not do what it was hoped it would do.
This is a mess and likely to get worse.