10/25/2011

The Resolution on the Anglican Covenant

Now it is out there to be seen. The Report of the D020 Task Force has been linked and available from the Episcopal Church documents area. The whole report can be downloaded / read  HERE. 

Episcopal News Service has done an excellent job summarizing the report and all the actions that led up to it being submitted to Executive Council today.  Read the ENS Article HERE.

Here is the text of the resolution to Executive Council, which both transmits the report to Executive Council and that Council submit the resolution on the Covenant to the General Convention. 

WM - 28

Resolved, that the Executive Council at its meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, October 21-24, receive the report of the Executive Council D020 Task Force for inclusion in the 77th General Convention Blue Book and be it further

Resolved, that the Executive Council submits the following resolution on Adoption of the Anglican Covenant to the 77th General Convention for its action:

Resolution A – xxx
On Adoption of the Anglican Covenant
“Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That this 77th General Convention express its profound gratitude to those who so faithfully worked at producing the Anglican Covenant; and be it further
Resolved, that The Episcopal Church commit itself to continued participation in the wider councils of the Anglican Communion and to continued dialogue with our brothers and sisters in other provinces to deepen understanding and to insure the continued integrity of the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, that The Episcopal Church recommit itself to dialogue with the several provinces when adopting innovations which may be seen as threatening to the unity of the Communion; and be it further
Resolved, that The Episcopal Church is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form.”
In the discussion of the report and the resolution it should be noted that the Resolution on Adoption of the Anglican Covenant is likely to be only one of several resolutions to come to General Convention on this matter. The Legislative Committee to which it is assigned will take all the submitted resolutions into consideration and in turn send a resolution on to the floor, where it will be debated and some final resolution will be perfected. Then a vote will be taken. THAT will be our response as The Episcopal Church.
This is an important statement and I was proud to be part of the Task Force. The examination of the Covenant is not over yet, and the decision as to what General Convention will finally vote for is still in the future. But I am content with the conclusion reached in this resolution: "The Episcopal is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form."
 


32 comments:

  1. Not a surprising resolution. The burden has always bee on those who would have us adopt this particular covenant to make the case for it and that case hasn't, IMV, been made yet.

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  2. Just as predicted.

    Who ever believed TEC would covenant?

    Samuel

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  3. TEC has a covenant. All of Anglicanism has a covenant. It's called Baptism.

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  4. and Christians have a covenant of grace with God... through Jesus christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of the Father.

    The ang cov strikes me as being not very anglican, and not very christian..shackling the Holy Spirit and the progression of the Kingdom of God with the handcuffs of conformity and the false idol of "thou shalt not do anything controversial to the religious status quo and the traditions of men". IMHO the ang cov flies in the face of The most basic tenants of Jesus and the reign of God.

    blessings danielj

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  5. I agree: TEC has a covenant with itself. Its special-ness covenant.

    All predictable.

    And very good news for the rest of the Communion.

    Samuel

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  6. Sorry, Elizabeth, the rest of the communion, save NZ, has not made the Baptismal Covenant what we have made it. And our simultaneous elevation of it and theological emptying of it (by not relating it to cross and resurrection in our teaching)is very strange to this pew sitter. As I see it it has become driven by ideology of inclusion not a theology of inclusion let alone a theology with Christ looming large.
    JOHN 2007

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  7. Well, we covenant with one another through Christ, not you or the "rest of the communion" and He's fine with it, so . . . thanks for your opinion, John, but we'll stick with what we got.

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  8. John Sandeman26/10/11 2:02 AM

    Mark,
    I think John was making a slightly different point. The "Baptismal Covenant has not been adopted by 'All of Anglicanism" as Elizabeth Kaeton suggests.
    Of itself, that doesn't affect whether God likes it or not of course.

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  9. Let's see, what Elizabeth said was:

    "TEC has a covenant. All of Anglicanism has a covenant. It's called Baptism."

    So, TEC is one of the few member - or the only member - to have a rite of Baptism through which the aspirant is covenanted to the Christian community?

    That is news!

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  10. John Sandeman26/10/11 4:49 AM

    Good catch Mark. I did misqute Elizabeth - so I apologise to you and her both.
    Does baptism form a covenant? It's a good question. Baptism is a reminder of the promises that God has made for sure. And incurably protestant as I am, that is how I read the 1662 prayerbook service for baptism of infants that is the doctrinal standard for my province. But I can't see a covenant being made in the service - it is the God parents that make promises.
    You have a different prayerbook of course and it has a different theology of baptism.

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  11. I don't consider Baptism complete (so to speak) until there is a conscious assent to the promises made - this is why I am violently opposed to the suggestions of doing away with confirmation, even though I have no objection to the thought of including un-confirmed-yet-baptized children taking communion.

    Yet, I would still hold that the Covenantal quality persists, even if baptism is limited to sponsorial promises, because it binds the sponsors (godparents and parents) to God by promising to raise the child in God's community - thus, also broadening the bond to the wider communal covenant, as well - and covenanting to the child by undertaking that responsibility, and all through Christ.

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  12. John Sandeman26/10/11 9:32 AM

    Mark,
    I think we can agree heartily on confirmation. It is taken very seriously at my local churh and last Sunday was our confirmation Sunday. We usually confirm 10-15 teenagers a year.

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  13. I would agree that the Baptismal Covenant, divorced from the rite itself, is theologically weak. However, it is never totally divorced from the liturgy. At the Great Vigil, on the Sunday when we recall Jesus' baptism, on Pentecost, at the celebration of All Saints, and at baptisms, the Covenant is set in contexts in which the death and resurrection of Jesus is proclaimed clearly.

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  14. Brothers Brunson and Sandeman:

    The baptismal theology of the Prayer Book 1979 is heavily influenced by Orthodox Christian theology (perhaps, really, as much as it is influenced by previous Prayer Books, although I would have to defer to Marion Hatchett's Commentary on the American Prayer Book, and I don't have my copy in front of me). The argument, as I recall, was that the Orthodox have been more consistent in maintaining the baptismal theology of the Early Church Fathers than most western Christians; and so hewing more closely to it was consistent with both Cranmer's and Hooker's methodologies.

    Looking again at the Prayer Book 1979, I can't say we're clear that the Baptismal Covenant is with Christ, although it is clearly in Christ. The first rubric states, "Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble." (p. 298) The Catechism states, "Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God." (p. 858) So, do "full initiation" and/or "adoption" address things the same way as when we speak of a covenant? That, I think, would be the topic of a long argument, probably somewhere else.

    I would say that the C of E alternative book, Common Worship also includes the baptismal covenant for use for adult baptisms, but isn't used, as it is in the Episcopal Church (and, if I recall correctly, in Canada) for all baptisms.

    I did note one other thing. In the Prayer Book on page 304 the title "The Baptismal Covenant" introduces the affirmation of the Creed and of the commitments to how we will live it out. However, on page 303 it is introduced this way: "Let us join with those who are committing themselves to Christ and renew our own baptismal covenant." I noted that there (and on page 416 in Confirmation) that "baptismal covenant" is not capitolized; and that in the Easter Vigil it is titled "The Renewal of Baptismal Vows." I wonder how it would change the conversation if we had been consistent and only spoken of "Baptismal Vows," rather than "Baptismal Covenant."

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  15. Fascinating baptismal theology:

    "I don't consider Baptism complete (so to speak) until there is a conscious assent to the promises made."

    Is this full-on pelagianism, or a version of Baptist 'decisionism'?

    One thing it ain't is Orthodox (OCA).

    I have often wondered what this emphasis on covenant promises (alleged to be some TEC 'contribution') actually meant in respect of Baptismal Theology.

    Samuel

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  16. How about a resolution about how we are going to reverse our membership losses. The stats are out and nobody should be holding onto their job who believes that "all is well". Wait, wasn't the 20/20 Vision going to address this about 10 years ago? It passed but got killed by the veto called institutional manuevering and apathy. Truly, ANYBODY that would want to covenant with us in TEC at this moment is exercising pure charity.

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  17. That would be because I'm not OCA, Samuel.

    I really do find the Orthodox entirely superstitious, frighteningly so. It's for that reason that I find the idea of pronouncing a liturgical formula over a baby far from sufficient to ensure the later adult's acceptance of Christ. It's lazy spirituality, a denial of the conscious acceptance on each individual's part of the salvific work of Grace, and an idolatrous reliance on form over Grace.

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  18. Take it up with Marshall Scott who mentioned the Orthodox.

    I find the idea of a unique TEC 'baptismal covenant' nonsense.

    And your definition of baptism is, well, Baptist at best. Right out of the Reformed Episcopal Church of 1875.

    Samuel

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  19. By the way, I'll give you progressives this much. You rarely break ranks.

    I can't believe that Fr Weir or Fr Marshall sign on to the baptismal theology of Brunton, but nary a peep. We are not even talking 'can't cook on a pilot light' here.

    "I really do find the Orthodox entirely superstitious, frighteningly so. It's for that reason that I find the idea of pronouncing a liturgical formula over a baby far from sufficient to ensure the later adult's acceptance of Christ."

    Where to begin? This sounds even worst than decisionist baptist thinking. It renders the sacrament of baptism itself a liturgical formula only, and then moves to a crucial adult decision as crucial.

    If this is what people think about a baptismal covenant, I suppose it stands to reason it is a set of adult commitments made earnestly, and really doesn't need water baptism at all. That part would make a Baptist worry.

    Samuel

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  20. No reason to discontinue my practice of staying the h-ll away from these parts, I see. Which is exactly (me and a few others) what Sam is aiming for, ain't it, Sam?

    (Don't bother replying. Won't be back to check.)

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  21. I leave it to others to read what I have written about baptism and discern whether I agree or disagree with others. I happen to agree with the idea that there is something important/ vital about the concepts appropriation of baptismal grace by those who were baptized as infants. Actually, I think is a lifelong process for all of us.

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  22. Christopher (P.P27/10/11 9:38 PM

    We were having this discussion this summer at my parish--the former Baptists, Nazarenes, and so forth were of the opinion that if the mind weren't properly disposed during the liturgy (we were talking adult baptism), it really didn't "take" and the baptism should be repeated, when the candidate was in a better state! They only regretted that there wasn't such clear scriptural warrent for this as in the case of communion. I was flabbergasted!

    As noted, baptism takes place within a liturgy that calls for sponsors and the willing assent of the community to support the baptized. It is public liturgy, and properly so. "It takes a village . . . ." And the consequences, as Fr. Weir note, are a lifetime to work out.

    Also, if anyone wants to note: according to the rubrics for the catechumenate in the BOS, the baptized may attend instruction but are not to be considered catechumens. This all might be against common sense, but that makes it a great starting point for a reflection on grace.

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  23. Yes, a lifelong process as we are made new creations in Christ Jesus.

    Even confirmation isn't a covenant of agreeing to do five things. It marks a sign--sacramental in some sense--of being prepared to live in Christ, because aware of important aspects of that life (creeds, prayer, Decalogue).

    Baptism is a sacrament of new birth. Water and the Holy Spirit are not liturgical forms, but outward and visible signs, instituted by Christ, for His church.

    All of this is prevenient, and as such, grace-ful. We accept what Christ has done, we don't sign on to a project. That is of course precisely why Catholic Christians baptize infants.

    The danger of focusing on baptismal covenanting rises clearly to the surface in Brunson's remarks. It is a deeply anti-sacramental instinct. Baptism becomes what we agree to do, as adults. It is in this form that some tout a special TEC contribution to the Communion. This both misunderstands the Baptismal theology of the BCP and then exports that misunderstanding as a special gift. Baptism is a universal gift, of Christ, for His Body. Even RC's accept that it is this!

    Samuel

    WV: ingrace

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  24. OK, this is going to open up a whole new can of worms, but I'm going to say it anyway: The only true Covenant we have is the one established (or renewed, depending on your opinion) by Christ at the Eucharist, the "new covenant in my blood." If we're going to be a Eucharistic community, then it should be obvious that this covenant between God and humanity is the only one we need.

    The snarky remarks about TEC never being serious about this in the first place don't ring true--TEC passed B033 over the strenuous objections of many and abided by a moratorium imposed upon us for many years. We don't attempt to in force our will onto her Provinces, why should they have veto power on us?

    I would much rather see an Anglican Covenant that affirms those things upon which we can agree and uses those as the basis for unity rather than being forced down people's throats in its present form. A forced covenant is no covenant at all.

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  25. I certainly never said TEC wasn't serious about a covenant.

    I said it was obvious they would never adopt one.

    That has proven true. And I think this is appropriate. TEC wants to maintain its own theology and identity and even thinks it is special (whatever that might mean for the Christian Church).

    Not altogether unlike the Diocese of Sydney, which also has decided not to covenant.

    Samuel

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  26. Sorry, this is off-thread.

    I see one of the abuse victims in the Concpetion Abbey case has a dedicated web-site and is publishing his email exchange with the Abbot.

    It puts the former Bishop of Nevada in a very bad light.

    As we watch Title IV gather momentum, will the concern that was reiterated on blogs like this take any concrete form in the way of informing the Intake Officer? Clergy actually have a responsibility to report this kind of thing, as does the PB herself.

    We now have charges made that the PB was fully informed before Parry was received. The abuse victim calls the behavior of the Bishop irresponsible -- his language is stronger.

    Grandmere was especially concerned as were others that the PB gave no account of her actions. Is that the end of it?

    Samuel

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  27. 1,951,907
    That's how many we have left now.
    We have now fallen below 2 Million. Where is the crisis meeting? Why aren't leaders being replaced?

    Perhaps 600,000 darken the doors.

    All of this talk about Baptism has vacated the central reality in pursuit of jots and tittles. Remember the original Baptismal Covenant meaning?

    Matthew 28:
    Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..

    Let's start there. Go back there, that is. We're so busy with social charity, personal rights, the place of this and that, that it appears as though we haven't lived up to the basic mandate yet. We are not relieved of the responsibility and if we replace speaking up for human rights and prerogatives for speaking up for Jesus Christ then we have our answer as to why God is not prospering this Church. Jesus wants us to covenant with HIM to teach and create disciples. That means after evensong get busy.

    Go. Teach. Make disciples.

    Why did this die in many parishes and in many hearts in this Church?

    1,951,907

    ...and now let us return to the din of arguments over chrism, communion spoons,chasuables, property deeds, and other important matters.

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  28. Allen--I share your concern, but if baptism becomes a pelagian 'here are the five things to do' covenant, you'll see the figures drop in half in 2 years.

    Baptism is about the grace of God in Jesus Christ. It is that kind of grace and that Gospel message that fills churches, God being merciful.

    You want to empty churches? Tell them to sign up for five marks of mission covenants.

    I agree that this church is likely going to become indistinguishable in size and in content to the UCC, or, 600,000 total (aging) membership.

    Samuel

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  29. The Great Commission, as it sometimes called, is not about increasing church membership. It is, among other things, about precisely those things that the questions at baptism seek to highlight. Is there anything about respecting the dignity of others or serving others that is contrary to the things that Jesus taught his first disciples? What is so often true is, as an English evangelical put it, that our champagne lifestyle makes out preaching about Jesus hard to accept. Why would anyone want to know about Jesus if our lives don't prompt them to ask,"Why do you spend so much of your time serving others?" Until our lives bear witnes to the Crucified One, our words will be clanging cymbals.

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  30. Christopher (P.)28/10/11 8:11 PM

    Samuel--

    While sharing some of your concerns, there is a great difference between equating baptism with the taking of a covenant, on the one hand, and noting that the life of the baptised does have a shape to it, and asking people to commit to try to follow that life, on the other. A pelagian church would require, prior to Baptism, evidence of having achieved success in the particular points of the Covenant--and our church doesn't. We remain a sacramental church, that is, we freely acknowledge that we live by grace.

    A few isolated instances doesn't alter the general truth. I decried those in my parish who weren't sure about baptism "taking"--the term "Baptists with liturgy" applies to them--literally. While liking the ritual, they've not left behind their upbringing. It's not the position of our clergy, nor of those who have grown up in the church, nor of most who have been with us, attentively, for some years.

    As a church, we remain in awe of the mystery that is Christ's love for us.

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  31. Fr. Weir asked,
    "Is there anything about respecting the dignity of others or serving others that is contrary to the things that Jesus taught his first disciples?"

    Not at all. It's sometimes missing. However, more often missing is Jesus call to "repent", and believe. When one is made a disciple it is to start a daily challenge to change one's mind and do as Jesus does and taught. However, the emphasis on "respecting the dignity of all persons" is often seen to take people where they decide to remain as people rather than to respect them as persons for whom Christ lived and died. Big difference on emphasis.

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  32. Christopher

    The paths we walk in are ones prepared for us, by prayer and a request for the Holy Spirit's renewal of our lives, giving us a spirit of obedience to walk as Christ's followers.

    I think we agree on this.

    Baptism isn't a ritual. It is the sacrament of new birth.

    Much of what I read here speaks of a baptismal covenant from the 70s as some high priority. I view it as a 70s addition that does not improve on classical cathechisms. But I also do not believe it intends to be taken as a detachable code of ethics. The strength we are given to do as God wills is the Holy Spirit's to give, and Baptism is the washing away of old Adam so that we might walk into the New Adam prepared by Christ.

    Thank you for your comments.

    Samuel

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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.
Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.