The Fat is in the Fire: The Network and the Windsor Action Covenant

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.


  1. Thank you Mark for the comment that now is not the time to be nice. We are under serious attack by evil people that wish to destroy the church and we need to be fighting back with every resource that we have.

  2. How sad that fallen, stained people would have the nerve to presume a special holiness and try to take over our Church. Mark you are right, to all things there is a season, and this certianly is the season to fight back!

    One thing I want to know, is how often have the people pushing these "pledges" are divorced? How many are in bondage to credit cards? And as an added bonus, how many of the African Bishops are divorced or have clergy with multiple wives? They want to talk sin, well lets talk it!

  3. Thank you Mark for a fine response.

    At a sermon in the seminary chapel at Sewanee about a year ago, I said that "the Baptismal Covenant is our charter for mission in the Episcopal Church. No other charter is required." (with specific reference to the Network Charter) Now, I add, no other Covenant is required. The Nicene Creed remains the "sufficient statement of the Christian faith," as the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral specifically attests. (BCP, p. 877)

    Jesus was never nice. He was truthful and loving. (Indeed Truth itself and the Love of God lived out in a human life.) Love sometimes requires confrontation. It's past time to confront this effort to hijack the Church.

    (The Rev. Dr.) R. William Carroll
    priest, Upper South Carolina
    School of Theology, the University of the South

  4. GOOD! Glad to hear "not time to be nice!" I've been busy answering "back" for quite a while now...it's interesting to me these selfproclaimed "orthodox" folks are hateful liars who crave division, conflict and are feardriven with their behind-the-scene take-over manipulating at OUR Church...they are not honorable/fair and they whine, twist, throw tantrums
    and lie to get their way...we are not dealing with a emotionally
    healthy crowd and I believe THEY are cunning and EVIL! So much for fairplay with these nasty children...it's time to say NO and stand firmly against any more of their nonsense.

    I believe Pittsburgh/Uganda/Nigeria/SEAsia and the screamer/schemer from the Souther Cone (who has a tiny Province that appears too small for the size of his mouth and/or
    grandiocity) are simply thugs and thieves.

  5. Mark, you simply do not get it. I made the motion, which passed unaminously, for our Vestry to affirm the Winbdsor convenant for the Laity. I, and our Vestry, choose to follow God, not man, and my reading, limited as it may be, of Scripture clearly tells me the actions of thd General Convention were contrary to God's teachings. Do I follow my priest? Certainly, when he is not leading me in the wrong direction. When I disagree, I am not obligated as a Christian, to fall in step because he wears a collar. Ask him -- he will tell you I speak up and speak out. Even a military infantryman has the right, duty and obligation not to follow an unlawful order, and the "order" of the convention was contrary to Scripture. As for John Larson's comment that now is not the time to be nice, that has been the problem those of us who follow Scripture have had for 30 years -- we were "nice" and hoped and prayed our church leaders from the Presiding Bishop down to parish priests who fall into line with the revisionists would suddenly recoignize they are wrong. John, you apparently have not looked at the statistics -- "my" church which I joined by choice is quickly becoming irrevalent, and if the trend continues across America, will be gone in another few short years. From 4 million members 40 years to 1.6 million and quickly dropping following the actions of the Convention. Look at the drop in money from faithful Episcopalians -- it has reached serious levels. And as the Laiety Pledge says, if you choose to continue to go down the path you are on contrary to Scripture, God Bless you. I will follow Scripture and will work rebuild God's Church when you have long gone. Monk-in-training, I assume no "holiness." I am simply, as George Yount's wonderful gospel hymn says, "...just a sinner saved by Grace." And finally, to Anyonmous . . . be brave and throw a tantrum and say those of following Scripture are hateful liars, and the other statements you amde. My experience from a lifetime as a newspaper reporter, columnist, publisher etc and working in the community for 50 years is that people who write "anonmously" are simply bullies who themselves have an emotional shortfall. It is called "courage."I assure you none of my friends go to Grace Church to "crave division, conflict and are feardriven with their behind-the-scene take-over manipulating at OUR Church: Rather, we go to church to worship, as far as we are able being sinners, to follow God's word. We are in fact honorable/fair, do not whine, twist, throw tantrums
    and lie to get their way. Rather we are very emotionally stable. We take facts and deal with them. I urge you to show a single cunning and EVIL! On the other hand, the distortions of the Bishop of Connecticut and Alabama show something less than truth and openness. Your final statement "I believe Pittsburgh/Uganda/ Nigeria/SEAsia and the screamer/schemer from the Southern Cone (who has a tiny Province that appears too small for the size of his mouth and/or
    grandiocity) are simply thugs and thieves." This certainly belies whatever the sermon in your church must have covered yesterday. Our scripture readings yesterday would prevent such hatred and distortion -- at least for me. And God willing, I will follow his Scripture and unless the Convention does repent, I will work to rebuild His Church. And God Bless you all.

  6. pwf,

    It appears that for you, it comes down to "following scripture." Unless you are Amish, I think it is safe to assume that there are some scriptures that you set aside. I'm curious as to why the half dozen passages that are interpreted as referring to homosexuality are more important to you than those that say, for instance, that a disobedient child may be executed.

    There are many committed Christians who affirm the actions of GC. And, no doubt there are good Christians who oppose those same actions. Both groups would agree that the scriptures are a source of authority. The difference appears to be what we see as the overall message.

    Personally, I support the decisions of GC because I follow the scriptures. As I understand the teachings of Jesus, as revealed in the scriptures, we must struggle against bigotry, and never allow it to be the norm within the body of Christ.

    Claiming that those who oppose the actions of GC are the only ones who "follow the scriptures" rings false to many folks, because everyone can make that claim. To be convinced, I'd need to hear some reason beyond that.

  7. I have a response posted over at my blog: http://descant.classicalanglican.net/index.php?p=128

    I also affirmed the Windsor Action Covenant:


    I had lunch with Louie Crew last week:


    My main service for our Lord is prison ministry:


    I understand the liberal argument, the conservative argument, and the third angle:


    I am the thug, the thief, the evil person of whom you are speaking. Depsite John Larson's claim he is not attacking me personally, he is.

    How sad that fallen stained people would have the nerve to presume a special holiness and try to take ove r our church? Hmmm...

    Brad Drell

  8. Father Jake,

    I did not claim as you say, “those who oppose the actions of GC are the only ones who "follow the scriptures". I only said that I attempt to follow Scripture. I am just a simple “sinner saved by Grace,” as Bill Gaither wrote in a song for the great Gospel bass singer George Yount. You are correct, I probably do ignore some Scriptures. I readily admit I am not a Scriptural scholar. But I did not identify any scriptures referring to homosexuality, and further, I do not think any of them are more important than, as you say, a disobedient child may be executed -- if in fact there is such a scripture.

    My faith is very simple, and I admit that I should study more and pray more. I pray for that talent and desire daily. But Father, of this I am sure: I would never allow my child (now 42) to be led by anyone openly living in sin and flaunting it, be that person a homosexual or a heterosexual living with one not their spouse. For that reason, and that reason alone, we joined the Episcopal Church 35-36 years ago: to get our son enrolled in Grace Episcopal Day School. Now, with two small grandchildren, I will do everything I can not to allow them to be led by someone openly flaunting their lifestyle, hence they too are enrolled in Grace Episcopal Day School.

    I do not hate anyone. A dear fellow Episcopalian taught me 25 years ago that when you hate, it only destroys you, not the person you hate. He is gone now, but his legacy lives on in my heart and ion the hearts of others, for I frequently tell of our conversation those many years ago. My wife and I decided our son would not be led by a lay “minister” at Grace, and he did not participate in that activity 27-28 years ago. Later that “minister” was found to be, let us say too close to little boys, and our then controversial decision was vindicated.

    As a then member of the vestry, I chose not to follow the then Presiding Bishop in the early 1970’s and we chose to use our money for local and overseas missions rather than send it to New York, something that about a dozen other Parishes in our Diocese also chose to do until this day. Today, I choose not to follow this Presiding Bishop, and as Chair of our Outreach Commission, have worked to expand our mission work locally and overseas rather than send funds to New York.

    I think one thing that many people do not understand is that Presiding Bishops, Bishops and yes even Priests may be called by God, but they are men who simply pull their britches on one leg at a time. It is a job, just as I am a commercial printer and pulled my britches on this morning. One of my vocations and avocations is that I do political campaigns for candidates in whom I believe. I have never believed those candidates must do what I want -- rather I believe they must listen to all points of view and then use their judgment. If I disagree with their judgment, I am free not to help them in the next election and at times, I have even worked against them.

    A Priest’s sermon should be examined in the view of Scripture, and I reserve the right to speak against that teaching if I find it is contrary -- and I have spoken against positions taken by our Rector. You attempt to put my position into the small category of my choosing which Scripture I will follow. I ask you to put it into the small category of would you put your child or grandchild under the care of someone teaching by practice a sin, or if you do not believe it is a sin, someone that you would not want your child or grandchild exposed to. I believe that the vast majority of people agree with me when the question is posed in the terms I follow.

    Lastly, Father Jake, I stayed off the Vestry for 30 years and was astounded when I returned last year to see how our Church is failing. From a high of four million, we now have about 1.8 million (if you believe all the reports from parishes, which frankly, I believe may be exaggerated, perhaps grossly exaggerated. ECUSA has a budget crisis, because growing churches like Grace and Dioceses like the Diocese of Central Florida, have chosen to invest God’s funds into missions rather than New York. The Network is growing, and now represents about 10% of ECUSA’s reported membership. I expect the Network to represent 20% by the end of the year, as more and more people revolt against actions such as the Bishop of Connecticut and Alabama and California, and ECUSA may have as few as 1.5 million members by the 2006 General Convention.

    Should you follow the Network just because it is obvious to any person looking at reality that ECUSA will eventually be irreverent? Not unless you believe. But I believe in the positions taken by the Network, and as I watch our Grace Church continue to grow, now part of the top five percent of Episcopal Churches’ attendance each week, with a growing budget (up 10%) from last year, with a strong influx of baptisms, confirmations and affiliations, we must be doing something right. I believe in Bishop Howe and his leadership in the Diocese of Central Florida, but I reserve the right to disagree with him, as I did his predecessor on issues.

    What are we at Grace and the Diocese growing? Father, I believe it is Scripture and the fact that Father Curran preached the Gospel. Finally, I ask that you pray for us as we pray for you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

  9. Well two comments actually.

    First I think it is clear that the leadership has already decided that the,"realignment" will procede. Other than electing +Pittsburg to be primate, there is nothing that GC2006 can do that wont be called, "deciding to walk apart." The legalists have already begun the walk. What is really being discussed is how many people can be duped into thinking that their spliter is the Christian faith?

    Brad, you are certainly not a thug. But have you really, really looked at the ambitious, agenda driven, and dishonest leadership you are following?

    My elder son is most unhappy that GC confirmed +Gene. Not, interestingly to me at least, because he is gay but because he is divorced. He has however decided that whatever happens he wont. "follow the haters into the schism." His comments are that if he has to choose by being led by the likes of the "conservative" bishops here in Illinois or +Bill Purcell he knows the difference between a miter and a hood.

    I think he is a bit unfair to Bishop Akermann who is not my idea of a bishop but at least is not a thug to use our hosts word.


  10. pwf,

    Forgive the delay in response.

    You said;

    ...I do not think any of them are more important than, as you say, a disobedient child may be executed -- if in fact there is such a scripture...

    Deuteronomy 21:18-21: ...If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother.....all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die.

  11. This passage is applied to Jesus in Matthew 11:19 and Luke 7:34, indicating that he was perceived not to submit to paternal and divine authority. Probably because he disobeyed Scripture, exercising God's sovereignty over it.

    Thus, Jesus dies outside the gate as one who is accursed.


  12. Mark, this is Wendy, your old friend from St. Thomas's.

    Windsor is a significant failing in public theology. Furthermore, it is self-contradictory in that it requires the Archbishop of Canterbury to fulfill a teaching role, and then silences the present Archbishop from doing exactly that. If anyone reads the first chapter of Rowan Williams' "On Christian Theology", it is apparent that Windsor and its subsequent events are a violation of everything he says about theological integrity.

    But the wrong questions are being asked. Windsor, and the subsequent events and actions, is not about sexuality of any sort--it's about power. Everyone seems to be responding to the claims of the conservative side with biblical exegesis. Nobody is asking the question about how and when the sexuality issue became a defining credal statement. Nobody is asking about the church's public teaching on this--what place have these biblical passages had in the lectionary, hymnody and preaching of 2 millennia of the Church's history? And because they arguably have had little place, nobody is asking the questions about who benefits from making such a radical change to church teaching by displacing such trivial doctrinal issues as the life/death/resurrection/return of Jesus with those very critical ones of who does what to whom with what body parts.

    When such radical re-organizing of what is central to Christian doctrine is undertaken, one has to ask who are the revisionists?


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.