4/11/2012

Three resolutions on the Anglican Covenant

No matter that the Church of England has put the breaks on any early ( or perhaps any late) affirmation  by itself of the Anglican Covenant, The Episcopal Church and other Churches in the Anglican Communion have to come to their own decisions on the question. How the failure of the Covenant to make it to Synod in England affects our own discussion we can't predict, but it surely will have some effect.   

Here in The Episcopal Church there are now three resolutions that have been publicized, one from Executive Council and two from members of the House of Bishops.  The Executive Council resolution is perhaps the least supportive of the Anglican Covenant, although even that one is clear that it is not the Covenant as an idea that is a problem (although for some of us it is) but rather "its current form."  The two other resolutions, one from Bishops Douglas, and others,  and the other from Bishop Bauerschmidt and others, are more affirmational to varying degrees. 

For purposes of comparison I have put these resolutions in a side by side table.


Executive Council


1
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

Bishop Douglas, et al


1

Resolved , the House of ___________ concurring, That the 78th General Convention express its profound gratitude to those who so faithfully worked at producing the Anglican Covenant
Bishop Bauerschmidt, et al

 1

Resolved, tile House of              concurring, that tile 78th General Convention  express its profound gratitude to those who have worked faithfully on the Anglican Covenant as an expression of mutual responsibility and interdependence in tile Body of Christ (Toronto  1963);
2 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

2 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 ensure the continued integrity of the Anglican Communion
2. Resolved, that The Episcopal Church reaffirm its own historic commitment to constituent membership in the Anglican Communion (Preamble of Constitution of TEC)
3 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

 3 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;
3 Resolved, that The Episcopal Church recommit itself to living in a Communion of Churches with autonomy and accountability (Anglican Covenant 3.1.2), by acknowledging our interdependent life (3.2) and seeking a shared mind with other Churches (3.2.4)

4  Resolved , that as a demonstration of The Episcopal Church’s dedication to the unity of the Anglican Communion, the 78th General Convention embraces the affirmations and commitments of the “Preamble,” “Section One: Our Inheritance of Faith,” “Section Two: The Life we share with Others; Our Anglican Vocation,” and “Section Three: Our Unity and Common Life” of The Anglican Communion Covenant;
4  Resolved, that The Episcopal Church therefore affirm the Anglican Covenant and commit itself to adoption  of the Covenant in order to live more fully into the ecclesial communion and interdependence which is foundational  to the Churches of the Anglican Communion (4.1.1)


5  Resolved, that The Episcopal Church recognize that such mutual commitment does not represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction (4.1.3) and can only be entered into according to the procedures of The Episcopal Church's own Constitution and Canons (4.1.6; cf. 4.1.4)

6 (part of D020 Task Force recommendations) 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.

6  Resolved, the Convention asks the Presiding Officers to appoint a task force of Executive Council to consult with The Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons, at least one church historian, and The Episcopal Church’s members of the Anglican Consultative Council in order to: monitor the ongoing development of The Anglican Covenant with particular attention to the interpretation and practice of “Section Four: Our Covenanted Life Together;” document specific changes that would need to be made to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church in order to adopt the covenant; analyze how those changes may alter the identity and polity of The Episcopal Church; and consider other such matters helpful to The Episcopal Church’s continued unity with the other churches of the Anglican Communion;
6  Resolved, that the Convention ask its Presiding Officers to appoint a task force to assist the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons in the preparation  of whatever changes may be needed in order to make the Covenant constitutionally and canonically active and effective, accompanied  by a historical and theological study guide and whatever other teaching materials may be deemed useful;

  7  Resolved, that the Executive Council Task Force on the Anglican Covenant report its findings and recommendations to The Executive Council, and through the Council, to the 78th General Convention.
7  Resolved, that the Task Force on the Anglican Covenant and the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons complete their work in time for the 79th General Convention  to take whatever appropriate action may be required;


8     "Resolved, That the General Convention  request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $20,000 for the implementation of this resolution.

9  Resolved, that The Episcopal Church is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form









Looking at the rows, one by one - the first is mostly the same, save the Bauerschmidt resolution appends a reference to the Toronto Anglican Congress MRI document. This addition proposes that the Anglican Covenant is an expression of MRI.  This is one read, a charitable read, of the history of the Covenant. 

The second is again the same in the EC and Douglas resolutions, the Bauerschmidt resolution moves the commitment to a level described in the Anglican Covenant itself. It is on one level the same as the first two, but it is restated in Covenant terms.
The Living Church article on this resolution notes, "Four of the resolution’s seven resolves, repeatedly citing the Covenant’s text, explain what affirming the Covenant would mean for the Episcopal Church from 2012 until the 79th General Convention in 2015."  But these resolves do more. In the table, row 4, The Bauerschmidt resolution states,
"Resolved that
The Episcopal Church therefore affirm the Anglican Covenant and commit itself to adoption  of the Covenant in order to live more fully into the ecclesial communion and interdependence which is foundational  to the Churches of the Anglican Communion."  


This resolve is the next thing to adopting the Covenant outright. It essentailly states that we are committed to adopting, we just have to work out some details. This resolution is a commit to action.


The Douglas resolution has a similar affirmation, but only of the first three sections.


The Executive Council resolution is silent on the matter of the value of any or all of the parts of the Covenant, although in its full report it notes that the primary area of contention is section four.

The Bauerschmidt resolution inserts a section here (row 5) not in the others, that speaks to the concern about submission to outside authority and or ultimate adoption according to canon. This seems to be there to calm the supposed fears of the Covenant limiting authority in The Episcopal Church.  

The Douglas and Bauerschmidt resolutions then move (in row 6 and 7) to form and enable a Task Force to move things along towards resolution about Section 4 and or the canonical issues it proposes. The Executive Council D020 report included a recommendation for a Task Force as part of its report, but did not include that in the resolution it presented, but rather made it a recommendation to Executive Council. 

Only the Bauerschmidt resolution includes monies for the Task Force to do its work.

The last resolve of the Executive Council resolution stands alone. It states, "Resolved, that The Episcopal Church is unable to adopt the Anglican Covenant in its present form."  TLC inaccurately states this as "at this time."  Still, I suppose TLC was right, "at this time" with the Covenant as written, we are unable to adopt, but we might be able to adopt if the Covenant were revised and we better knew exactly what changes in our Constitution and Canons would be necessary. 

The answers provided by these resolutions are: we wish we could but we are unable given its form; we partially affirm and are willing to work further towards adoptation; we totally affirm and commit to adoptation at a future point. None of them is a flat out YES, although the Bauerschmidt resolution comes close. None of them is a flat out NO, although Executive Council comes close.


Where does it go from here, and who, when it is all done, will care?

28 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Mark, I am profoundly grateful to you for your work in doing the side-by-side chart. I'd find it hard to vote for any of the resolutions, for I feel no profound gratitude to those who produced the document. (All right, I admit the expression of gratitude is pro forma, and one does not have to actually feel the emotion.)

If either the Douglas or the Bauerschmidt resolution is adopted, I would hope that very little time and money would be spent on further study of the covenant. It's been studied to death by now.

Marshall Scott said...

Section 5 of the Bauerschmidt resolution sounds much like the "signing statement" included by the Church of Ireland to qualify what CoI meant by "subscribing" to the Covenant. I don't know how that really moves things forward. We have seen already two such "signing statements:" from CoI, and also the statement of what Southeast Asia meant by "accession" to the Covenant. I fear these (much less a third from us) will only complicate conversations, as signatories have to face what "adoption" (the term used in the Covenant text itself) might mean in light of these differents.

How anxious are we to be among those who are "still considering" the Covenant? That seems to be the issue. The definition of what it means to be in the Communion as written in the Covenant text is membership in the Anglican Consultative Council. The ACC is not meeting until after General Convention; but even clear rejection of the Covenant text in General Convention would not remove us from ACC. It would mean we wouldn't participate in further decisions about the Covenant itself, but not about the Communion. While I might be willing to live with some temporizing (and that's what both the Douglas and the Bauerschmidt resolutions seem to represent), I still wonder what frightens us so that we might feel the need to temporize in the first place.

Lionel Deimel said...

I find all these resolutions unacceptable, although the Executive Council version is the best of the lot. I have made my own proposal, which I commend to you. You can read it here.

My resolution is an unapologetic NO to the Covenant.

My proposal is my own, not one that has been endorsed by the No Anglican Covenant Coalition.

Douglas LeBlanc said...

Mark, thank you for pointing out my reporting error regarding the language from the task force.

I will correct it right away.

Doug LeBlanc
News Editor, TLC

MadPriest said...

Sorry to be pedantic, Mark, but you are not The Episcopal Church. You are an episcopal church. You are only AN episcopal church within the Anglican Communion. If I have to worry about offending the Scots and others, you should have to as well :-)

Anyway, I have long campaigned for the changing of "Anglican" to "Episcopal" and I don't want the rest of the world put off this idea by relating the word "episcopal" only to the USA. That would be just replacing English cultural imperialism with US American cultural imperialism.

The Episcopal Church of the USA will do fine.

Mark Harris said...

Esteemed Mad...you are not pedantic, and you are right. "The Episcopal Church" reads well in the US and in the dioceses of TEC that are not part of the USA, but reads precisely as cultural imperialism. The problem is "The Episcopal Church ....what? I mostly like The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America - its still official name. We are an Episcopal church, reformed through the protestant reformation, in the United States of America. That makes every overseas diocese understand that they start here, but they become Episcopal Churches where they are as they develop into self-sustaining entities.

At the same time it is easier, and well understood here, to say I belong to the Episcopal Church, meaning the PECUSA.

So why did you use this essay to bring this up? What was the trigger?

How is your train doing? I've been away from the computer for some days and only now know of your effort to get this ministry going full blast.

I intend to contribute. Hope others will.

Feel free to make a plug in the comments here.

Regards, M

Lionel Deimel said...

MadPriest,

It’s fine to say what the name of the American church should be. The official name(s), however, is set forth in the Constitution of the General Convention: “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, otherwise known as The Episcopal Church (which name is hereby
recognized as also designating the Church) ... .” “The Episcopal Church” works fine in the U.S., but it is problematic internationally. Prior to 2006, the church was frequently referred to as “ECUSA” (i.e., “Episcopal Church in the United States of America”). Episcopal News Service (or whoever was telling ENS what to do) suddenly decided that we should only use “The Episcopal Church” or “TEC.” (ENS eventually quietly droped the capitalization of “the.”) The current Presiding Bishop is particularly fond of reminding everyone that TEC exists in a number of countries and is therefore neither strictly a U.S. or American affair.

So, in the end, although I’m sympathetic to your complaint, I don’t know what to do about it.

MadPriest said...

For no other reason than I had just been reading one of Father Dougal's posts. He is a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Living so near to the Scottish border and respectful of Scotland's separate nationhood, I am always careful not to downsize them in any way.

The train is moving slowly. But yesterday I received some excellent advice from Doctor Dennis, the eminent Detroit psychologist and mutual acquaintance, that I will follow to the letter with the hope of better things to come. It was free advice, as well, which has to be a first for his profession.

Msgr said...

No one in Scotland who belongs to the Scottish Episcopal Church refers to it as 'The Episcopal Church.' Those in Scotland who are members of the Church of Scotland, and the general public, frequently refer to it as 'The English Church' (much to the consternation of some non-English background Scots).

Msgr

Lois Keen said...

I do not like the phrase, "With all due respect...", because it really means "With no respect at all towards...", and therefore, I shall not use it. I respect my bishop, Ian, and have absolutely no respect for the Covenant whatsoever. Down with it, I say.

Jim said...

The name chosen by GC was TEC. In retrospect, given the fact that the name of the church in Sudan and Scotland is TEC, we might should have thought of something else or a qualifier.

On the topic, I think all three resolutions are deeply flawed. I suppose that the EC version is the least weak, but I am at a loss when I ask myself why we need to express gratitude to those who performed so badly. It seems to me that something a lot shorter and more direct is called for.

The quick and easy approach, embodied in these drafts, suggests a horribly badly done history, and a remarkably weak theological statement (sections 1 and 2) are OK. Then sections 3 and 4 are not ready for prime time. These propose a weak and inappropriate response. They read like: your essay gets an F, but because you spent a lot of time doing it very badly, getting all the facts wrong, let me make it an F+.

FWIW
jimB
Member:No Anglican Covenant Coalition

George Clifford said...

The Anglican Covenant is a dead issue in the aftermath of its rejection by the Church of England. As your chart vividly illustrates, none of the resolutions is acceptable; spending time at General Convention debating these resolutions is pointless. Regardless of any action taken, the Anglican Communion’s unity is shattered. The Church faces more important issues that require constructive action, e.g., declining attendance and budget shortfalls.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, if nothing else, the money in the Bauerschmidt resolution means it is dead in the water - as well it should. The Douglas resolution is not a surprise and it may get some traction in the HOB but I think the resolution from the EC will be seen as the moderate compromise in view of the fact that there are many deputies who, like me, think the whole thing ought to be shot down and put out of its misery.

MadPriest said...

The problem lies in the fact that the word "episcopal" is an adjective that applies to all churches with bishops. When you chose to call yourselves The Episcopal Church you inadvertently (I hope) made a claim similar to the Roman Catholic Church calling itself the Catholic Church.

I am ever so careful on my blog not to upset Scottish readers and avoid certain usages of words which, although technically correct, cause offence to some Scots. I think if I was a blogger in the USA I would probably always write "The Episcopal Church in the US" or just TEC (as abbreviations in common usage are read as the abbreviation).

David and John said...

I detest using the word "protestant" in connection with The Episcopal Church.

Msgr said...

To repeat: The name of the church in Scotland that is episcopal in character is "The Scottish Episcopal Church." Its acronym is SEC. That has always been its name. Not until recently did much of anyone in the SEC think long about whether there was some confusion with a church in the United States. Very few do now. This is a non-issue.
Msgr

MadPriest said...

I think it is a completely different issue for you from what I've been talking about. You seem to think we're talking about two churches with the same name. I'm talking about the use of the word "episcopal" with the word "the" in front.

MadPriest said...

I have just received the following comment on my blog from Father Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, Glasgow.

"It does matter and it was rude and unhelpful of the Americans to start using the name "The Episcopal Church".

I'm reduced to calling them "The [US Based] Episcopal Church".

Father Kelvin is very much a "words man," a new media evangelist. He understands their power.

Msgr said...

You wrote

"If I have to worry about offending the Scots and others"

You don't.

Msgr

Msgr said...

Holdsworth -- a good scottish name. Give me a break. He's a committee of 1.

Don't people have better things to do? Next you are going to say the Sudanese are upset.

Tempest meet teapot.


Msgr

MadPriest said...

Pomposity is not one of the seven deadly sins. Nor is being an ass. But they ought to be.

Grandmère Mimi said...

How anxious are we to be among those who are "still considering" the Covenant?

Marshall, that is an excellent question. I've said earlier that we might want to delay a decision to stay in the game, but, as you point out, we would still be in the game if we rejected the covenant. And now that the Church of England has rejected the document, why should we not and be done with it?

Msgr said...

That's right, TEC changed its name from the mouthful of PECUSA so as to tell the SEC it alone was *The* Episcopal Church. You are joking?

You'll get no argument from me that TEC thinks of itself chiefly when it does these things and does not ask if the 50K member SEC might care. But in the case of the latter, Mr Holdsworth is hardly representative. I doubt 95% of the SEC know or care. They are the Scottish Episcopal Church. They are not The Church of Scotland. That is what matters in the name.

This is a non-issue. Name-calling doesn't alter the fact. Enough already.

Msgr

MadPriest said...

Mark, I notice this Msgr does not have a link. Is he a troll? He has the bombasity of one.

Lapinbizarre said...

"Name-calling doesn't alter the fact. Enough already." You said it. Any mirrors where you live?

Pomposity comes under pride, does it not?

Msgr said...

Pompous was the assertion that TEC changed its name so as to be *The* Episcopal Church and to claim that vis-à-vis others. Exposing it as fraudulent is, well, exposing it as fraudulent.

And yes, in addition, it was also "pedantic."

Pompous? How about "you are not The Episcopal Church".

Msgr

David Quittmeyer said...

I like the main conversation, but also the one about names. Years ago I was a lay clerk ("gentleman of the choir") at St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh. We always said Episcopal because there was a St. Mary's RC cathedral down the street! I pulled out my old Pitkin guide and it has a section vigorously entitled "English Incorrect." It goes on to say: "St. Mary's Cathedral belongs to the Scottish Episcopal Church. This is a separate and self-governing branch of the Anglican Church... Sometime it is spoken of as the "English" Church but this is incorrect and arises from the existence in Scotland during the years of persecution of a number of "Qualified Chapels" served by clergymen in English orders and using the English Book of Common Prayer. In the 19th century, these congregations joined with the Scottish Episcopalian congregations which had survived the period of the penal laws and accepted the jurisdiction of the local bishops...." The Scots have an independent streak (my mother was one), but I do remember that many in the congregation came from south of the border and everyone got along just fine.

David Quittmeyer

Msgr said...

Thank you David. Good local knowledge. grace and peace

Msgr