The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes has just published a document called the Windsor Action Covenant. (See http://www.anglicancommunionnetwork.org/news/dspnews.cfm?id=144 ) About that Covenant the ANC News said, “the Council adopted a Windsor Action Covenant and agreed to take it to each diocese and convocation in order to develop a plan for implementation. The Covenant gives church members at every level a way to help the church choose between walking with the Anglican Communion and walking apart.”
This Covenant is an attempt to hijack the Windsor Report and make it the instrument of the realignment effort. It is yet another effort to spin an advisory committee’s report into a partisan litmus test.
Laity, Priests and Deacons and Bishops each have a different form of the covenant. In each form there are a set of bulleted pledges and a final pledge, not bulleted, that all have in exactly the same form.
The bulleted statements are of different sorts: solidarity statements, pledges of personal faith commitment, pledges to study and respond to the Windsor Report, mission statements, and discernment statements.
The discernment statements are of particular importance; for example, “I will seek spiritual oversight and direction only from bishops who teach the historic faith” (a lay pledge) and “I will seek spiritual care and guidance only from those who teach and practice the Apostolic Faith” (a priest / deacon pledge)
So much for the vows of ordination and or appointment!
There are references to a new sort of thing, “a Windsor Parish” and to a “non-Windsor Diocese.” The Windsor Report is being invested with a level of authority that its authors could surely never have imagined. Now there is this “Windsor Action Covenant” and “Windsor Dioceses” and “Windsor Parishes.”
All of this would be of no great import if it were not for the last pledge, not bulleted, which is the real basis of the covenant, and its only focus. That last pledge states, “If General Convention chooses finally to walk apart, I will not follow, but will remain a faithful Anglican, God being my helper.”
This then is the opening salvo of the battle of General Convention. One may be sure that the Network will come to Convention with pledge lists of persons who they contend will not be bound by General Convention action IF the Convention “chooses finally to walk apart.” And of course, it will be the Network and its leadership that will want to determine if General Convention has so chosen.
This Covenant is a marshalling of numbers, and an attempt to get members of this Church to pledge disavowal of actions of General Convention, leadership of the bishops of their dioceses, if not viewed as “Windsor Dioceses” and teaching of their clergy, if not viewed as “Windsor Parishes." Its purpose is to implement resistance to any leadership other than that of the realignment groups, and in particular the Network itself.
The fat is in the fire and the play is unfolding. It is time to be watchful. It is not a time to be nice, for these are not nice times.