Bishop Dan Martins is a long time blogger. On his blog, "Confessions of a Cairoca" Bishop Dan has been writing about the House of Bishops' meeting at Camp Allan. On Day Four he wrote about two presentations held after dinner. One of those was on the Anglican Covenant. Bishop Dan writes,
"After dinner, we came back together at our tables for two presentations and brief discussions. The first was by Ian Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, on possible responses to the Anglican Covenant. He and two colleagues have prepared a resolution, which we saw tonight for the first time, that would affirm the spirit of the Covenant and the text of the first three sections, and call for continued study of all the implications that Section 4 would have on the Episcopal Church, including and especially our constitution and canons. There was brief plenary discussion. The intent of this resolution is to not "just say No" to the Covenant, but to not say Yes either, the end being keeping a place for TEC's delegation at the next meeting the Anglican Consultative Council this fall. My sense is that, even so, it will meet heavy resistance."
Bishop Martins make no mention of a conversation including anything about the Executive Council resolution which has been out and about for a while. I wonder if there was any?
You may recall that resolution: It reads as follows:
" 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."
It would appear that the resolution presented by these several bishops is significantly different from the one proposed by Executive Council. There is nothing, for example, in the ExCon resolution about affirming the text of the first three sections, or about the further study of the last section.
The Douglas et al resolution seems to give the flip side of the coin offered by Executive Council. Where Executive Council reported, "The Episcopal Church is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form," the Douglas resolution apparently proposes acceptance of the first three sections and calls for continued study (concerning the fourth, I presume.)
Such "continued study" is at least in part what a separate proposal from Executive Council to the Presiding Officers that they appoint a task force for study. The text of that recommendation is as follows:
"It has become apparent to this committee in the course of its work that the church requires a new study of the foundations and boundaries of our polity and governance as we seek to deepen our Communion-wide engagement and equip the leadership of the church.
Accordingly, Executive Council recommends that the Presiding Officers appoint a task force comprised of members of the Executive Council, the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons and at least one church historian. Their work would include:
• documenting the specific changes that would need to be made to the Constitution and Canons of the church in order to adopt the covenant;
• providing an analysis of how those changes may alter our identity from theological, philosophical and polity perspectives;
• considering other such matters as the committee believes helpful to our continued engagement with other churches in the communion around issues of unity;
• reporting its findings back to the Executive Council."That recommendation was made by Executive Council to its presiding officers and the assumption is that, if it were followed, it would continue our engagement with the Anglican Covenant idea, with the hope that some future form of that Covenant, or something like it, might be acceptable.
So the resolution presented for discussion at the House of Bishops was much more a "not yet" sort of resolution, and the one from Executive Council is an "not this one" document.
Which is best? We will see.
I was part of the working group that wrote the Executive Council resolution and I believe it truly reflects the concerns we heard that Parts 1-3 did not say anything more than what we already have said and that Part 4 raises such questions as to make it clear that "The Episcopal Church is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form."
At the same time I believe we have not closed the door to consideration of an body of Anglican affirmations that could call us to mutual account and loyalty. That could be in the form of a future iteration of the Anglican Covenant, it could be in the form of a preamble to the Anglican Consultative Council. And perhaps there is some merit in the notion that a resolution to take action is better than a resolution affirming an inability to do something. It turns out not saying "no" yet and continuing conversation about unity is different from saying "no" now and asking for conversation about unity later.
So it would appear that two possibilities are now in the pipeline: The Executive Council resolution and one from several of the Bishops. There will certainly be more.