The Anglican Consultative Council is discussing the Anglican Covenant and how people perceive it helping or hindering life in communion. ENS reports on this today. The background for this came yesterday from ENS:
"Members get covenant status update
While the ACC is not due to discuss the current status of the Anglican Covenant
until Oct. 31, a document handed out today shows that nine provinces
have made a final decision on the covenant with one rejecting the
covenant, six accepting it as is and two making modifications as part of
Those in the so-called Category A that have approved the convent are
Ireland, Mexico, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Southern Cone of America,
and the West Indies. In addition, according to the document, South East
Asia adopted the covenant with an added preamble of its own and the
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia has subscribed to
the covenant’s first three sections but said it cannot adopt section 4,
which outlines a process for resolving disputes.
And, also in Category A, is the Scottish Episcopal Church, which has refused to adopt the covenant.
The U.S.-based Episcopal Church is one of eight provinces sorted into
Category B, which is described as including provinces that have made
“partial decisions” about the covenant.
At the General Convention in July, the Episcopal Church, via Resolution B005, “declined to take a position” on the covenant. Convention also passed Resolution D008,
which pledged that the Episcopal Church would “maintain and reinforce
strong links across the world-wide Anglican Communion committing itself
to continued participation in the wider councils of the Anglican
Communion” and “deepen its involvement with communion ministries and
The other provinces in Category B (and a summary of their actions)
are Australia (sent to dioceses for study), Canada (sent to dioceses for
study, also seeking theological, ecclesiastical, legal and
constitutional implications of action to adopt or not), England
(majority of its dioceses voted covenant down, possible consideration of
“following motions”), Korea (acknowledged sections 1-3 as “excellent
and useful” with decision postponed for further consideration of Section
4), Melanesia (reports having no difficulties with first three
sections, consideration deferred until 2014 General Synod), Southern
Africa (adopted pending ratification at next synod meeting later this
year), and Wales (requested clarification from ACC15 on covenant status
and process in light of England’s position).
There is one province assigned to Category C — the Episcopal Church
in the Philippines. The summary document notes that the Anglican
Communion Office “is seeking clarification” of a report in the
“Philippine Episcopalian” newsletter that said the province’s Council of
Bishops had rejected the covenant."
What the report does not state straightforwardly is this: Roughly half the Anglican Provinces have reported out something, and half of those have said no or not yet. Only 7 of 34 Provinces have responded yes. Eleven have said no or not yet. Less than 1/4 the Provinces have said yes, and none of the United Churches have checked in.
Considering that the Anglican Covenant has been out there for review since December 2009 - just short of three years - this is not a great return.
Bishop Victoria Matthews in her remarks to the ACC on the Covenant said, “there are actually two documents going
around. One is the document that people have in their mind and the other
document is the Anglican Covenant on paper.” This has gotten a fair amount of press, bad and otherwise, in the Anglican blogsphere, some of which echoes earlier comments, not from the bishop, that people might do well to read the thing. Apparently Bishop Matthews was simply making an observation that is no doubt true: that the document itself is different from the document as received with whatever baggage accompanies it. That certainly is true: the Anglican Covenant, as a document, is (I believe) a mess, but messy documents are quite ordinary. We have little to fear from poor scholarship and theology, provided we can ignore it. But the Anglican Covenant - the one I have in my mind - is always envisioned as a tool in the hands of this or that body or person. It is this Anglican Covenant as a tool, that I find most difficult. The Anglican Covenant is a tool, and I am as interested in the tool users as I am in the tool itself.
Bishop Matthews misses the point, however, in pointing to a second document, the one people have in their mind. It makes it appear that there are only two documents. In reality there are many documents, an "idea" one for every person who forms such an idea. There are then many Anglican Covenants, as many as there are tool users.
I can only hope that ACC receives the monitoring report and simply moves on. If this thing were a constitution we would know what sort of tool it is. If it were an affirmation of belief statement, we would make a creed out of it. If it were an historical weaving together of Anglican themes, we could call it a short theological history of Anglicanism. But it does not declare itself as any of the above. It is a tool whose use is determined by the user, not the careful design of the tool itself.
No wonder the lack of interest.