CofE moves towards approving Anglican Covenant, GAFCON shoots self in foot.

(Revision to meet critic's mutterings...)
(Title changed from "CofE approves Anglican Covenant." Elizabeth Kaeton is right - they didn't approve it. My text says what they did. They are committed to moving forward with the Anglican Covenant to the next stage... taking it to dioceses.)
(A friend said I ought to cross out, "may have" and replace with "has" in reference to GAFCON shooting itself in the foot. Done.)

Thinking Anglicans and Episcopal Cafe is reporting passage of the Anglican Covenant resolution in the Church of England Synod by overwhelming votes.  So the CofE is apparently committed to moving forward with the Anglican Covenant. What now? They are, GAFCON is not. They are supposedly committed to the existing instruments of unity, including the Primates Meeting, GAFCON is not.

GAFCON may have has shot itself in the foot, having effectively denounced the Archbishop of Canterbury and all his efforts.


  1. We'll see what the dioceses have to say, as opposed to their bishops.

  2. I'm looking online for a good picture of a little English child playing alone with his ball. Haven't found one yet.

  3. As I recall, Saint Athanasius lost a few votes too.

  4. According to Thinking Anglicans, the vote reported by Episcopal Cafe' refers to a decision not to defer debate till July next. Three amendments have been rejected, but the resolution to approve has not yet been voted on.

    Bob Dodd

  5. No Dodd. It is approved.

  6. Why don't we respect the CoE process?

    The draft Covenant needs to receive the consent of the majority of diocesan synods in order to return to General Synod for final approval. If this happens, the Covenant is likely to be adopted some time in 2012.

    I think an appropriate analogy is ratification of a US Constitutional amendment. The "states" must now approve. Just think ERA.

    Curious that the BBC hasn't posted anything yet.

  7. Is this a final vote, or is this the beginning of an approval process? I'm hearing 2 different stories. One says that this is it, the thing is now law in the C of E, and another that says that this is only the beginning of a process that won't conclude until 2012.

    I am not familiar with C of E polity, and I'm not clear on how autocratic or how democratic it really is.

    Do dioceses have a say at all in this, or is it assumed that their bishops decide for them?

  8. I think the only thing that got shot was the attempt to have the CofE NOT sign the Covenant.

  9. General Synod has voted to send the Covenant proposal to the various diocesan synods where it will now be discussed ready for a final decision in 2012.

    This is helpful because now a broader group of the CoE gets their say.

    A good analysis can be found on MadPrist


  10. Perhaps the celebrations of the Episcopal Church's detractors are premature.
    The English could still sink the thing once they read it and study it in their dioceses.

  11. As usual, Mark, I disagree with you. In your assessment 'GAFCON may have shot itself in the foot' I disagree with your use of the word 'may'. I think the sentence would read better and more accurately without it (and changing 'have' to 'has') :)

  12. The CoE did not approve the covenant. The General Synod voted only to send it to the diocese for debate. If and only if a majority of diocese approve of the document will it return to the session of the GS in mid 2012. If that happens and it passes, it will then go to a committee of Parliament which can either approve or not.

    This is a lot like getting into a fraternity in that any majority "no" vote kills the process but "yes" votes merely advance the process. So it is a long way down the road before the CoE process will be completed unless a majority of diocese vote no.

    Those of us in the three organizations working against the covenant, are gearing up for the diocese referrals to their several deaneries. If we can make the delegates aware of what is really going on, the covenant will never emerge from those meetings. If it does, well there are other stages.

    To borrow a phrase attributed to Yogi Bera, "It ain't over 'till it is over."


  13. The covenant has been sent forward. The point was that the vote was not about deferring debate until July (pace Dodd). All the effort to condemn the covenant and get a No vote--for surely that was the point of all the anti-covenant vituperation--failed by a huge margin. If this is a clever way to defeat it anyway, that seems very odd. Why not just vote No?

  14. Anonymous, I can only assume folks in the Church of England wanted to think about it more. However, if I understand the process correctly, the Covenant has two more hurdles in England, and a lot of time to run. That is, before it comes back to General Synod for "second reading," as it were, it has to be passed in at least 51% of diocesan synods. So, there is that 51% threshold, and then another vote in General Synod. I also would not be surprised for it to pass on "second reading" if the majority of dioceses pass it; but we're not there yet.

    If the timetable is as Point of Order describes it, that will coincide with our next General Convention. So, one side of the Atlantic will know how the other side has decided, one way or the other. My guess is that England will be determined first, whether due to failure in the dioceses, or in the second vote in General Synod. If their process is somehow delayed, they may well hear first from us. In the meantime, we will see more of the determination of the GAFCON/FoCA primates - will they hold their line, or will any of them find reasons to change their mind?

    If this had failed today in General Synod, it would indeed be all but over, because there is still some interest in much of the Communion in the patrimony of Canterbury. However, even with the passage today the process is far from over.

  15. The CofE seems to have a similar system to the (US) Presbyterians: the Synod proposes, the (regional bodies) disposes (that's what the US Presbyteries have done to every Synodical LGBT-affirming resolution, sadly).

    We'll see what the CofE dioceses say.

  16. If we condemn the Primates for being power grabbing we should applaud General Synod for not copying them but for making sure that the 44 Deanery Synods also get time to debate the Covenant and to vote on it.

    If I was a member of GS and opposed to the Covenant I would have done exactly the same.
    The anti Covenant debate in England really only started 3 weeks ago and at least the No Covenant organisations now have a lot more time to make their point and to get people to think.

  17. Peter Carrell - GAFCON just want the unrepresentative 'Standing Committee' to be replaced the Primates (all of them, by definition more representative than the SC as it is currently set up) THe ABC will agree to this in due course because it is a fair and sensible request... and then GAFCON will be on board.

  18. I have heard and respect the argument that the Primates are more representative than the Anglican Consultative Council or the Standing Committee, but I find it hard to think that a body with no lay people and no clergy other than bishops represents the Communion better.

  19. "...GAFCON just want the unrepresentative 'Standing Committee' to be replaced the Primates...

    That would almost literally be rearranging the deck chairs.

  20. Fortunately Anonymous, the ABC has no authority to substitute the power grabbing Primates Meeting for the Standing Committee of the AC. That committee is inscribed in the constitution and bylaws of the Anglican Consultative Council, registered legally in the United Kingdom. And as a legally registered charitable organization such a change in the Standing Committee would require an amendment to the constitution by the proper amendment process in the ACC. You can be sure that the rank and file clergy and laity representatives of the provinces in the body will never allow that to happen!

    The ABC should look out, he has no power here, someone could drop a house on him.

  21. hermano...watch and see..... Williams cannot afford to lose the GS / GAFCON .... he does not want to be the ABC who took the AC from 70m to 7m in church on a Sunday ...... he will do what is necessary - TEC has always helped him to date (eg accepting his decision not to invite one bishop to Lambeth (disgraceful, I thought)....but TEC still picked up the bill. Williams is thinking of his legacy .... and, sorry, numbers matter

  22. he will do what is necessary - TEC has always helped him to date (eg accepting his decision not to invite one bishop to Lambeth (disgraceful, I thought)....but TEC still picked up the bill. Williams is thinking of his legacy .... and, sorry, numbers matter

    Ya know, Nikita, it's a lot more dramatic if you pound your shoe on the podium while you yell that.

  23. Mark - not sure about Nikita but I can see that revisionists like MCU et al are not very influential in the CofE.... they even took out ads to influence the synod.... the results are crushing for them..... spin it whichever way, the CofE will ratify the covenant..... now, all that remains for the ABC to do is to get GAFCON on board. He will do it... for the sake of his legacy if for no other reason...

  24. Fertile fantasy life you've got there, last Anonymous.

  25. Let's be clear. General Synod did not adopt the Covenant. They simply decided to pass it along to the dioceses for study, comment, and local decision. Adoption by the CoE, by no means a sure thing, is at least two years away.

    If one message came from General Synod, it was "Let every voice be heard." I say, "Amen!"

    Robert Dodd

  26. Mark - your "headline" is wrong and therefore misleading. The CofE did not "approve" the Covenant. General Synod agreed to send it on to the dioceses where a simple majority - 44 - needs to approve it before it goes back to GS for "approval".

    It would be good for you to change it.

    The real story, for me, is the way Rowan was able to accomplish this. Read his opening statement. It was a pathetic plea for loyalty. As one of his aids said, so he could meet with the Primates. We've heard this manipulation before. Anyone remember B033? We voted for it so the newly elected +KJS could meet with the primates.

    Now, GAFCON not only won't sign the covenant, they won't go to the Primate's meeting.

    There's only one word for Rowan's "leadership" style: "Pathetic."

  27. Thank you and bless you, Mark.

  28. Words are cheap . . . especially if you are too cowardly to even own them.

    That's all I'm saying.

    Have a . . . whatever kind of Christmas people like you have. "Blessed" seems unlikely.

  29. Did we expect anything different?

  30. In retrospect, Mark, I am inclined to think that GAFCON did not shoot themselves in the foot. I think they knew exactly what they were doing (e.g. delaying the release of their October statement until the day of the General Synod). I think they are consciously looking for an excuse to walk apart, as further indicated by their refusal to attend the Primates' meeting in Ireland. It had become obvious that, however much the Covenant may be disliked by many of us, it is entirely too wimpy for their taste. What they want is a "Jerusalem Communion," but they aren't honest enough to admit that, so they are trying to find a way to make it all the fault of TEC, ACC, CofE, +Rowan, or whoever. I really don't know why they want to claim to be "Anglicans" -- they obviously don't understand the tradition as it has developed to the present time, and have seemingly forgotten that the word, after all, means "English." "Communion" doesn't seem to be too high on their list, either. Too bad. Very tragic. Oh well. We'll leave the light on. A few years down the road we may be able to reconcile.

  31. My crystal ball tells me that the CofE diocesan synods will approve the Daft Covenant to be sent back to GS for a final vote. My crystal ball further tells me that GS will approve the covenant in its final vote. But I do not plan to give up the fight. I will continue to speak out against the damned daft thing.

  32. The absence from this thread of an ongoing drumbeat from the usual suspects suggests that GAFCON's own supporters may be having difficulty figuring it out.

  33. Lapin,
    not sure if I am in your list of usual suspects, but I have little to add to what I have said in earlier posts. The "instruments of unity" have beem shown to be ineffective. GAFCON will seek to build new networks within the communion to supplement or replace them. This was clearly stated at the first GAFCON (in fact before) and things have been slowing moving in that direction since. far from being confused, the GAFCON supporters (at least this one) can see the way ahead clearly. But not without regret that the bonds of affection are so much weaker than before.
    I agree with a lot of what you say but I think the GAFCON group are not held back by a desire to make anything seam to be the fault of anyone else. They have come to the point of setting up their own meetings and network, and seem to be going faster not slower.
    GAFCON has a different view of the Anglican tradition than you - AFWIW I can trace both through a lot of anglican history. Your broad tradition is venerable but so is the evangelical one.

  34. Winston Churchill is reputed to have said on the issue of Indian independence that he did not want to be the prime minister who presided over the breakup of the British Empire.

    Similarly, +Rowan Williams doesn't want to be the ABC who presides over the breakup of the Anglican Communion. For him and for others whose primary aim is to keep the Anglican Communion, as an institution together, the Covenant may have some value.

    But what value does the Covenant have for those on one side who say that keeping the institution going is not worth what they see as a radical departure from "the faith once given"? And what value does it have for those who believe keeping the institution alive isn't worth what they see as "unjustly excluding" certain groups of people from "full participation in the life of the Church"?

  35. Mr Sandeman. You are absolutely are not on my list of "usual suspects". Two or three years back I was assured by a NSW resident of different churchmanship to your own - a person who I greatly respect - that you are a person of integrity. I have seen no reason since that time to doubt what he told me. Roger Mortimer

  36. Folks,
    The Anglican Communion has left the building!

  37. Thinks Lapin, after quite a long time of writing for church media, and trying to be fair, it's good someone noticed. I appreciate what your NSW friend/mate said to you.

  38. Also, and incidentally, it would be hard not to have a certain fondness for someone who would take the pen-name Obadiahslope.

  39. I would join Lapinbizarre in welcoming you, John Sandeman.

    We walk different paths, but you have never - to my knowledge - denied that we serve the same Christ, or that we have somehow come to illegetimately "taken over" the Church. Like me, you seem to realize that separation can be healing, and that one group victorious to the destruction of the other accomplishes nothing but harm.

    God bless you, and may we both please God in our ways.


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.